“The place is crap but it’s all I can afford.” “There’s black mold everywhere and the landlord told me to open a window.” “How am I meant to save for a house when my rent is this expensive?!”
These are few of the many complaints I have heard about renting in Ireland, a frequent conversation among the 20s-30s living here. I can’t say I know what it’s like in other counties but I know in Dublin searching for decent, affordable housing is a disheartening and exhausting process. We’ve all seen the dreadful Daft.ie ads online. Back garden sheds that are advertised as ‘quaint studios’ with a €900 rent, tiny spaces or properties that have been left unkept because landlords know someone will rent it. We’re desperate. Entering into the renter’s market in Ireland kind of feels like the beginning of most Star Wars battles; “It’s a trap”. You pay big rent for sub par properties and even bigger rent for a nice place to live. If you want to spend more money on rent that means less money into your savings which makes it even harder to save for a mortgage. I look around at my friends and I know we share the same universal worry “will I ever be able to afford a house here”? The figures point to no.
A popular rule of thumb is that rent should be no more than 30% of your salary. This allows you money for other essentials, some niceties and frequent saving. After discovering these figures, something didn’t add up. So let’s do some maths! The Central Statistic Office report that Irish people aged 15-30 earn an average of €1676 a month. The average rent for a one bed apartment in Ireland is €746 a month. As normal, the average in the cities is higher; Dublin is €1465 a month, Cork City is €1258 and Galway City is €1020.
If a young Irish person was to try rent a one bed apartment by themselves in Ireland outside of the city they would be spending 44% of their wage on rent. Those in Galway City would be spending 60%, Cork City dwellers would spend 75% and those in Dublin would spend 87% of their wage on rent. The thumb has been broken. The lack of properties caused by the Irish housing crisis has caused the cost of rent to spiral out of control. Paying this price is not feasible for most and sharing a place with a partner, friends or strangers is the only option. Trying to buy a home becomes incredibly difficult under these circumstances and moving back in with the parents while one saves has become incredibly common in the last number of years.
The thought of renting for the rest of your life seems daunting in a place like Ireland. Especially when a disproportionate amount of stories like this continue to appear.
The crux of the issue is we don’t have enough housing so landlords can charge whatever they want for crappy places. People don’t report bad landlords because they don’t want to be thrown out. We need affordable housing and we need it now. For a brief moment we had a number of Co living spaces opening. A layout similar to a hostel, each tenant has their own room and then share common areas like the kitchen, dining and work spaces with other residents. On the CoLiving.com website it is described quite nicely as a “A group of people who choose to live together to fulfill a common purpose”. Looking at the rooms, some look good; you have your own bathroom and kitchenette. They advertised cooking demonstrations and gym classes but when you look closely you notice the flaws. A lot of these co living spaces had small rooms, only useable if you folded up the bed. If your kitchenette wasn’t big enough you could be sharing a kitchen with 100 other people and there was no sense of privacy bar the small room. I posed the question to my Twitter followers to see if they would live in a co living space. I had a 93.3% no answer. I asked why. Here are some of the responses;
However one of the comments I received on Instagram stopped me in my tracks; “Housing crisis – there will always be somebody who will live there”. He’s right! If someone had to move for to a city for work and their budget is €600, some of their only options are co living spaces or run down studio apartments. I am not saying Co Living spaces are all bad, far from it. In London they are being used to take pressure off emergency housing, many professionals who have to constantly travel for work find these co living spots perfect for their lifestyle and it’s ideal for students. I would prefer more Co Living spaces than hotels but let’s stop pretending they’re anything other than short term housing. As a young person grows and matures they want their own space, their privacy. The current renter’s market does not allow for this. So what do we do? We get up or we get out. Write to your local TDs, demand affordable long term housing. If you are unsure who to contact, go straight to the housing department; QCSOfficer@housing.gov.ie. We need to raise our voices and be heard. Also don’t be afraid to look elsewhere whether it be another county or country. With many jobs becoming remote due to Covid, it is no longer essential to live close to work. Why not check out the soothing coasts of Connemara or the hills and mountains of Kerry! Ireland isn’t the only option either. Check out the average rent for one bed apartments in European countries below.
So what do you think? Will you continue to fight the fight here? Demand better housing at more affordable rates or has the Irish renter’s market already exhausted you too much? Are you playing with the idea of jumping ship? I know I am. Where I’ll go, I don’t quite know yet but I know I deserve more than using 50% of my salary to line a landlord’s pocket.