I want to buy a house so much that I can’t watch television any more. I can’t concentrate on the plots: instead I’m calculating the likelihood of characters affording their made-up mortgage on their made-up house with their made-up jobs.
“She lives in that area of Dublin? With windows? And she’s a TV producer? That income-to-loan ratio is way off. What do they take us for? Mugs?” Then I feel terrible for yelling at Amy Huberman, who as far as I know is not responsible for the housing crisis and wage stagnation that are keeping me trapped in the rental market.
Worse still, I’ve lost all empathy for anyone who owns a nice house on telly. The sad, white-cardigan-wearing women of Big Little Lies? Don’t feel one bit sorry for them, even with all their bankruptcy and awful ex-husbands. I’d trade places with them in a second to look sadly out of the sash window of one of their kitchens, with its ocean views and double-door fridge.
That woman's husband might be a serial killer, but she has a separate shower and a clawfoot bathtub. She's got a tastefully appointed window nook she can wave to him from as he gets carted off to jail
Even horrific British crime dramas can’t move me. That woman’s husband might be a serial killer, but she has a separate shower and a clawfoot bathtub. She’s got a tastefully appointed window nook she can wave to him from as he gets carted off to jail.
I’m not alone. Many of us are fighting off bitterness at never being able to call a house our own, and it has deteriorated over the pandemic. It has created two classes: buyers and renters.
There is a chasm between people who can hang pictures up with proper nails and those lumbered using those sticky hook yokes that don’t come off as seamlessly as promised. Those who can paint their walls any colour they want, and the rest of us, who are stuck with a lovely shade of investment-property beige. Those who curate their furniture, and those of us doomed to sit on landlord-picked Celtic Tiger-era leather couches that claim the skin from the back of your thighs when you stand up on a warm day.
Living in Dublin reminds me of being in an emotionally abusive relationship. I love her, she hurts, but I can’t leave. I’ve moved house four times in less than three years in Ireland because the person I paid rent to needed their house back. The first landlord sold the house. The second landlady had a baby and, quite selfishly if you ask me, needed my lovely, natural light-filled room back to put her own offspring in.
When she is 16 I will convince my former landlady's daughter that a tattoo of a dolphin is a great idea and one she won't regret at all. Then I'll drop her to the parlour and sign the permission form, pretending to be her mother
We’re still friends, which means I have to see my very cute little usurper regularly. When she is 16 I will convince her that a tattoo of a dolphin on her lower back is a great idea and one she won’t regret at all. Then I’ll drop her to the parlour and sign the permission form, pretending to be her mother.
When I moved into the third house a woman holding a little girl’s hand approached me eagerly. She asked me if I was moving in, if I had a husband and, most importantly, if I had kids. Her daughter peered up, filled with hope of future pals to play in the street with. I let her down. “Nope, just me and my best mate, housesharing,” I said.
“Ah, so only renting then,” she said, and then she walked off. I fumed. I know my rent is double her mortgage. (I know this because I stalk property websites and price registers because I like pain.) I deserve to be in the street as much as she does. But maybe she just didn’t want to get attached, because I would one day inevitably be moved on.
I remember the talk of “bloody renters” growing up. Usually aimed at houses with long grass or dirt gardens instead of flowers. “They don’t take care of the place,” came the scoffs. But why would they spend money planting trees they won’t see grow instead of hoarding it to scrape together a deposit for their own house, their own back garden?
If your parents are like mine they bought a three-bedroom house in the late 1980s on a single factory worker's wage for about €50. They do not understand how I went to university but can't afford to buy a house
If your parents are like mine they bought a three-bedroom house in the late 1980s on a single factory worker’s wage for about €50, a spare button and a voucher they cut out of a cornflakes box. They do not understand how I went to university but can’t afford to buy a house.
“We sacrificed a lot, interest was high and we certainly didn’t go jetting about on planes.” It is no use pointing out that the €30 return flight to Seville isn’t the problem. Don’t bother charting the variable interest rates compared to housing affordability to show they’re still much much better off. Just remind them that’s why they don’t have grandchildren. I don’t even have the stability to get a pet. Googling “How to put your parents in a home in order to steal their house” and leaving it on their massive-fonted iPad is also effective.
In the past what your dad did for a living determined which political party you would vote for. Labourers one way, lawyers another. Or it was what side a great-great-grandad fought on in a war. The next voting cleavage could be between those who own houses and those who do not. Party strategists should be scrambling to work out which side they sit on. Or maybe we already know.