The Returners Series
The Returners Series

Why there’s never been a better time to return to Northern Ireland!

Don't miss our six-part Returners video series

Whether you’re returning to Northern Ireland or maybe just considering it – there's so much on offer. From world-class job opportunities, thriving cultural scene and excellent education system, Northern Ireland is not the place that it used to be!

As a popular global tourist destination, the UK’s most affordable place to live and a hotspot for good food, live music and nightlife – it's no surprise that many diaspora are making the decision to return to their homeland.

Our new six-part monthly Returners video series looks at some of the many reasons our diaspora has returned home to Northern Ireland. Whether that was for family reasons, a new job offer or to be around like-minded people. In our series we chat to six Northern Irish natives about their experiences on why they left Northern Ireland and their decision to move back home.

Here’s a taster of what’s to come!

Anna Isaksson and her husband run Hot Box Sea Sauna, a mobile sauna on Benone Strand. Being big sea swimmers while living in Sweden, they always went for a sauna after a swim. They decided to bring that to Northern Ireland. After travelling and settling in Scotland, Anna felt there was always something lacking, until she moved back home. “When we moved back here, we realised everything we want is here. The only thing we need to fix is the weather ever so slightly!”

Cathy Craig, CEO & Co-founder of Incisiv, creators of virtual reality technology / software to help people improve performance and manage injuries. Growing up in Armoy on a sheep farm in the 80s, Cathy remembers Northern Ireland not being a nice place to be with the troubles, was scared to go places and would never have visited Belfast. She made the decision to come home in order to raise her family, she could see the change and optimism in Northern Ireland, post the Good Friday Agreement. Coming back to Northern Ireland, Cathy could feel and see the change here. “There is a new optimism…the opportunities now are even bigger than when I first came back.”

Claire Halliday grew up in Dundonald and moved to Canada at age 23. She returned home to take up a post with the Ormeau Baths Technology and Innovation Hub. She thought her long-term future lay in Canada! Growing up in a very tight knit family, she loved Northern Ireland so much that she never though she’d actually leave. “When I was away, I always said I was a square peg in a round hole and coming back home I never thought I’d feel that way, but I did for a while, but I chose to look at it as an opportunity instead of a challenge. There’s a reason why, when we go into the world that people want to be around us. We’re good people who want to see the best in people!”

Matthew Thompson, Best of Belfast Podcasts, grew up hating Northern Ireland and couldn’t wait to leave! After his gap year travelling, Matt settled for three years in New York. Met and fell in love with a German girl and decided to get married in Belfast because it was cheaper and ended up moving here! “It was only meant to be for a short while. I was working for Deliveroo cycling around the city and it was then that I fell in love with the place.” Matthew realised that Norther Ireland had like-minded people, equally as creative anywhere else in the world.

Peter Rollins, Freelance Philosopher grew up in East Belfast and left to work in America kicking and screaming but ended up enjoying and living there for 15 years! He came back to recharge his batteries and to be around like-minded people. His reason why he loves loving Northern Ireland… “We’re all in it together and I love that!”

Ryan Milligan is a Lecturer in the Astrophysics research Centre, QUB. He went back to university as a mature student after stints working for his family fishing business and as an HGV driver. He got the opportunity to move to Washington to work at NASA post PHD and due to funding he found himself dividing his time between Washington and Belfast, moving 25 times in 9 years! Ryan would encourage everyone to travel but with the idea of bringing back the experiences and creating opportunities for others. “You can’t replace where you grew up, there’ll always be that connection…it’s that feeling of home.”



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