It’s hard to believe it has been more than six months since my family and I moved from Dublin to Limerick in search of a better quality of life.
The decision to leave Dublin, where we had lived in the same home for 17 years and built a life for ourselves, was hard, but it was based on the cold hard fact that life in the capital was simply too expensive.
Despite both myself and my husband working full-time, it got to a stage where there seemed to be no end to the stresses of childcare expenses, cost of living increases and the insecurity of renting.
Then I saw a job advert for an exciting new position at University of Limerick (UL) and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a break for it and try something new.
So, six months on, how are we getting on?
One of the reasons we left Dublin was to try to escape the ever-increasing stranglehold the capital had on our finances.
While the move itself was expensive – with the van and skip hire, the first month’s deposit and rent for our new home, on top of endless hidden costs associated with relocating – thankfully, with help from family and friends, we can now hold our heads above water and keep them there.
Life in Limerick is not cheaper than Dublin when it comes to things such as groceries or the general cost of living. But the move for us means that, for the first time in eight years, we no longer have to pay for childcare, as my husband now works from home full-time. This is saving us hundreds of euros every month.
The accommodation crisis, as we all know, is not restricted to Dublin. The lack of affordable housing continues to cripple the entire country and while rents are not cheap in Limerick, the rent money certainly goes further, especially if you are prepared to move to more rural areas.
After several nail-biting and hugely stressful few months looking for accommodation that would suit our needs and allow our menagerie of pets, we finally struck gold. We found a spacious four-bed bungalow with a large front and rear garden for the same price we were paying for a tiny two-bed townhouse in Dublin.
The space is phenomenal and we are still getting used to filling it. Our daughter has a playroom and a much longed-for trampoline and we also have a home office and a conservatory. Pure notions.
Our new home was unfurnished and we came with nothing. But thanks to the generosity of friends and the kindness of strangers – coupled with my newfound passion for freecycle and local buy and sell groups – we have more or less furnished the entire house for a song.
Another reason for moving out of Dublin was the opportunity to save money to finally own our own home. While that dream is still a little way off, once we have caught up with the cost of the move, we will finally be able to save towards a home of our own, something we could never do while living in Dublin.
In Dublin, I was spending approximately three hours a day commuting to and from work. Here, in the mid-west, it takes 14 minutes.
I recently signed up to participate in a new research study in UL which saw me cycling to work on an e-bike for four weeks. So the move has also been good for my health. (The ISCycle – Inclusive e-bike uptake and Sustainable use – is an research project examining how e-bikes can change transport behaviours to improve health and protect the environment. Led by Dr James Green, School of Allied Health and Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, Health Research Institute, UL, the research team, working across physical activity, health psychology, sustainable engineering and economics, will examine how an e-bike loan could impact the dominance of the private car.)
While incredibly wobbly at first (it has been 30 years since I rode a bicycle and I seriously questioned the adage of, ‘it’s like riding a bike’) I was determined to give it a go.
It’s not a great idea to give a 52-year-old with no sense of direction or balance, who has recently moved to a new city, a bike, but after getting lost a few times I slowly built up confidence and fell in love with Eleanor (my e-bike).
Sadly, I had to say farewell to Eleanor recently, as my time in the research project came to an end, but I am currently looking into buying an e-bike on the Bike to Work Scheme. I am hoping to be able to cycle to work in the future, something I would never do while living in Dublin.
I loved my job in the capital and worked with a great bunch of colleagues, so I was understandably anxious starting my new job in UL, despite hearing nothing but good things about working there. As the first day approached, the new girl nerves kicked in. I worried about fitting in, would I be good enough, what if I got lost (I get lost a lot) the campus is huge and what would my colleagues be like?
Well, all I can tell you is that if Carlsberg did work colleagues they would be my new team. From day one everyone was so kind and welcoming, they even ensured I didn’t get lost and I genuinely enjoy going to work every day.
UL is a wonderful place to work. It is situated on a beautiful verdant campus. The river Shannon runs right through it and the stunning Living Bridge connects the Limerick and Clare campuses. West Clare has always had a special place in my heart and in Limerick we are closer to my dad’s birthplace, my beloved Kilkee, where I have spent many long happy childhood summers.
When we decided to move from Dublin our biggest priority was and continues to be our eight-year-old daughter’s happiness. She was thriving in Dublin with lots of friends and a social life to rival the busiest Kardashian. Thankfully, she has taken to life here like a duck to water. She loves her new school and has started to make lots of lovely new friends. Crucially in this part of the world, her lifelong passion, since the age of five, for hurling and Gaelic football has served her well.
Life in Limerick is good, if lonely at times. We don’t miss Dublin, but we do miss people. We miss our friends and neighbours. We miss the ease of the familiar.
It’s hard starting again at our stage in life, but we knew it wouldn’t be easy. However, the extra space here means that friends and family can visit and stay overnight. We have also met some of our new neighbours, all of whom have been incredibly welcoming.
The less said about the weather in the mid-west the better. I had been warned that it rains more here than in Dublin, but I don’t think I was prepared for six months of downpours.
We recently spent a few days in Dublin and it was heartwarming to reconnect with old friends. I was unsure about how I would feel about returning to our old neighbourhood and steadied myself for feelings of regret or loss.
However, on the drive back to Limerick I asked my husband and our daughter about the visit and we all agreed that while it was lovely to see our old friends and neighbours again, we were all very happy to be heading home.