Revealed: The Sunday Times lists the three best places to live in NI

Three locations in Northern Ireland have been highlighted by The Sunday Times as being the most desirable places to live in the UK.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 3:10 pm
Holywood golf course in Co Down, where Rory McIlroy cut his teeth

The annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live, which will be published on Sunday, was released online today and gives Holywood in Co Down the nod as the premier spot in NI.

It is top of a list of three locations in the region, followed by Magherafelt, Co Londonderry and Strangford Lough, Co Down.

Last year’s winner was the seaside town of Ballycastle in Co Antrim.

Magherafelt town centre

This year’s overall winner is Stroud, Gloucestershire.

The Sunday Times’s expert judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor said: “Holywood seems to be unshiftable as Northern Ireland’s premier address thanks to its unbeatable combination of coast and countryside so close to the centre of Belfast.

“Highlights include swimming and sailing in Belfast Lough, panoramic dog walks in Redburn Country Park and the lively and unusually attractive high street.”

Flock of brent geese at Strangford Lough, County Down

Judges were also impressed by Holywood’s convenient transport links, the quality of schools such as Sullivan Upper and the golf club, where Rory McIlroy cut his teeth.

The average sale price for Holywood is £174,950.

Magherafelt was picked by the judges as a “supremely practical choice for families”, thanks to its convenient central location, rapidly improving town centre and excellent schools, especially Rainey Endowed, which has been named as the Sunday Times Northern Ireland School of the decade.

They were also impressed by the sports facilities at Meadowbank Multi-Sports Arena and Moyola Park Golf Club – one of the best courses in Northern Ireland and the choice of hairdressers, beauty salons and coffee shops in the centre.

The average sale price is £135,000.

Discussing Strangford Lough, judges said: “Live in Strangford, Portaferry or any of the villages around this beautiful island-studded lough and you’ve got unbeatable wildlife and scenery on the doorstep.”

They also liked the excellent restaurants in Strangford – the Lobster Pot, the Artisan Cookhouse and The Cuan, as well as the choice of schools, especially Regent House School in Newtownards, a co-ed grammar that’s in the top 25 of The Sunday Times Parent Power league for Northern Irish state secondaries.

Average sale price in the Strangford Lough area is £199,950.

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Alistair Bushe