Googleland rents on the rise
The cost of renting in Dublin has soared, especially in the Docklands area where international workers for US tech companies compete for accommodation
Rental negotiator Angela McCabe with prospective renters husband and wife Guillaume and Blanche de Montalivet view an apartment for rent in The Hibernian Apartments, The Gasworks, Barrow Street, Dublin. Photograph: David Sleator
For 25 years, the Relocation Bureau has been helping workers from overseas locate to Ireland, but rarely has the lack of accommodation been as acute in Dublin as it is now. Relocation Bureau founder and managing director Francine O’Byrne says that even in the heyday of the Celtic Tiger, prospective renters in the capital could be guaranteed a private viewing. This is no longer the case, as many estate agents and landlords say demand is just too great.
A rising economy, restricted credit and a lack of housing supply have put unprecedented demands on the rental sector. The difficulty of finding a place to live is accentuated for foreign workers arriving in Dublin looking for a job.
Dublin has become the European headquarters of social media titan corporations such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn which between them employ a multilingual, multicultural staff of thousands in the city. “The situation is extremely challenging at the mid to lower level,” says O’Byrne. “It is very difficult to find an apartment for less than €1,500 a month.”
She said finding property for prospective clients is a case of “managing expectations”. Overseas workers assume because Dublin is a mid-sized city that rents will be similarly priced. “Some of them are really upset because they haven’t budgeted for the high rents they have to pay,” she says.
Several viewingsPawel Zosik of the website Dublin4You, which offers advice to foreigners coming to live in the city, has advised would-be residents to be patient.
He says Dublin is not an easy market and a considerable amount of time will be spent finding a place that suits both budget and needs. He advises would-be renters to be prepared for several viewings.
Many of the problems of finding a decent city-centre location in which to rent have been experienced by French couple Guillaume and Blanche De Montalivet who arrived from Paris three months ago to live and work in Dublin.
The rents being sought in their new city came as quite a shock. They are currently living in north inner-city Dublin, but want to move close to the centre and within reach of the Dart as Blanche works in Blackrock. To date they have visited 10 or 12 apartments with a view to renting, but haven’t found anywhere suitable. They are puzzled as to how rents could be so expensive with houses relatively cheap. It used to be the other way around.
The De Montalivets were among approximately 20 people viewing an apartment in the Gasworks in Barrow Street recently.
This is “Googleland” and the one-bedroom apartment is so close to the Google headquarters, you can see in the windows. The apartment is on the market for €1,250 a month and there is no shortage of potential takers. Most of those viewing are part of the multicultural mosaic of the Docklands.
A Chinese-American girl and two separate Turkish emigrants who have arrived to work in Google view the apartment.
Ovgu Suzem from Turkey said she has been amazed at how quickly apartments are rented. “If you see the apartment, the next moment is gone. That’s what I’m not happy about.”
Massive demandOne potential Irish renter said there is a “massive demand as many young people were put off buying by the recent surge in property prices in Dublin.” Vendor Angela McCabe, from estate agents Owen Reilly, based in Dublin’s Docklands, says the rental sector remains a landlords’ market.
Three of the couples who viewed the one- bedroom apartment were already living in the Gasworks but were sharing with others and wanted to rent on their own.
Employment growth has been one of the few economic pluses of recent years as Ireland emerges from the downturn. Predictably, accommodation shortages are most acute where growth is strongest.
MyHome.ie spokeswoman Angela Keegan says it is undoubtedly an issue for multinational employees arriving in Dublin who have to compete with Irish tenants looking for accommodation. “Stock is at its lowest levels since I’ve been in the business,” she says.
ShortagesAbout 18 months ago, MyHome.ie made a presentation to Google staff about finding accommodation in Dublin. Since then, though, the situation has tightened considerably. There are just 760 apartments currently available to rent in Dublin on the MyHome.ie website, not including new-builds, which are also scarce.
There is also an acute shortage of houses for sale, just 3,500 in total at present, down from a peak of 6,000, so those who wish to move out of the rental sector and thereby free up rental accommodation are not doing so. “I do know this is an issue for the Googles and Facebooks in Dublin. There is serious competition for good apartments in the city centre. It is talked about a lot,” Keegan says. Foreign workers coming into Dublin like to stay close to the city centre and are not interested in living in suburbia, she believes.
However the apparent shortage of rental accommodation hasn’t become a source of major concern for the US multinationals. American Chamber of Commerce spokesman Brian Harrison says it is not an issue that had been raised by its members, which include most US multinationals operating in Ireland.
Google is the biggest multinational employer in central Dublin, with 2,500 staff. Just 30 per cent are Irish. Nearly 2,000 overseas workers have had to find accommodation in Dublin. A Google spokeswoman said they have been encouraging their workforce in Dublin to expand their horizons beyond the docklands area of the city.
High rents “Occasionally we receive feedback from Googlers about the challenge of finding good accommodation in Dublin. We’ve been helping our employees to look more broadly around Dublin, and not just in the immediate vicinity. We believe this will not only open up a broader pool of accommodation choices and price ranges to them, but it will also expand their horizons and allow them to experience living in lots of different places in the city.”