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Working in mines in Oz, I saved enough for a home in Ireland

Electrician Darren Kane saved a 40% deposit for an apartment in Dublin. He returns next year

‘The majority of Irish I know here are going home and are looking at properties.’

This week, Darren Kane will sign the contracts to buy his first home in Dublin, without having set foot in the property.

Still living in Perth, Australia, the 29-year-old electrician is among a growing number of Irish emigrants who are buying homes “at home” in Ireland, in advance of moving back.

“I always thought I was in Australia for good,” says Kane, who left Ireland for Sydney, then Perth, following a few months on the dole after his apprenticeship finished in 2009.

“But I went home for Christmas about two years ago and fell in love with the place again. That feeling didn’t go away after I went back to Australia. I started to really miss my family too, and my friends, and the Irish way of living.

“I heard about the economy picking up again in Ireland, which was a big factor as well, that there would be work to go home to.”

About six months ago, he started looking at the property market in Ireland online from Perth. He wanted a three-bedroom apartment - he plans to rent out two rooms - within walking distance of Dublin city centre, with a parking space, a balcony and central heating.

His parents took time off work to drive up from Monaghan to view one he was really interested in, but it disappointed.

He couldn’t keep asking them to travel to view properties for him, and flying back from Australia wasn’t an option, so he employed the services of an agent - Shane O’Connor of Eldron Property Consultants - to do the work on the ground for him.

O’Connor found an apartment close to Connolly Station that ticked all the boxes, viewed it, and represented him in the bidding process when Kane was happy to proceed. The sale was agreed with the vendor, and the contract will be signed this week.

Kane admits he has put a lot of trust in O’Connor, but is “very happy” with his purchase, which is near where he used to work.

Rising prices

Kane has been working in the mining sector since mid-2011, on fly-in, fly-out contracts, which are known to pay very well.

“I have managed to save quite a lot of money here, which is the reason I was able to get a mortgage, because emigrants living in Australia need a 40 per cent deposit with the Irish banks,” he says.

“I’m employed here in Australia. If I wait until I go home, I would have to wait about a year after I find a job before I would get a mortgage. It is easier for me to do it from here.”

Rising house prices in Ireland were “definitely a factor” in his decision to buy now rather than later.

“I see the report on RTÉ News every couple of months,” he says. “I could see the prices going up very fast. Even since I started looking, they have gone up about 10 per cent in Dublin.”

Depending on how his current job goes - he is working on the Wheatstone gas project in northwest Australia - Kane hopes to move back to Dublin early next year. In the meantime, he will rent out the apartment he has just bought.

“The majority of Irish I know here are going home and are looking at properties. They have the funds to do it, especially after working in the mines. For a lot of them, that was their goal, to come out here, do a couple of years in the mines, and go home and buy.”

This article is part of an Irish Times Abroad series on "Finding a home at home". If you would like to share your experience of applying for a mortgage from overseas, or buying a home or renting in Ireland on your return, email