Ireland’s property market: ‘We envy every generation that came before us’

Readers share their stories of high rents, stagnant salaries and inability to buy homes

Millennials in their 20s and 30s are likely to be the first generation in Ireland to have lower living standards than the previous one, research has found.

Earnings for workers in their 20s have flatlined which, meaning they are earning less than people their age did in the 1990s and 2000s, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Rapidly rising rents are compounding this situation and home ownership rates for people in this age group have also collapsed.

We asked Irish Times readers to share their experiences of high rents, stagnating salaries and inability to buy homes.


Dublin 12
I'm 31 and currently living in the attic of my parents-in-law's house while me and my partner of 13 years are trying to save to buy an affordable house. We've both been working with our current employers for five years and have been back living with the in-laws for two years as we try to get our deposit saved. Soul-destroying stuff, but we're considering emigration again. We lived in Australia for two years from 2013 to 2015 and came back with hope for a better future here, but it's worse than ever.

We got approval in principle but we’re just being outbid on anything that we look at in our approval bracket. My boyfriend works in banking and I work in film production. We’re on pretty average salaries but we still need an exception for a mortgage to be able to afford anything really liveable... we’re literally a stunted generation. It’s stunted so much of my life because I would have loved to have been able to have a child by now. I’d love to have roots settled down somewhere but I just don’t have that reassurance.

Ennis, Co Clare
I'm 28 years old and live in a converted campervan.

After I split with my boyfriend I couldn't afford rent in Cork city anymore and after sleeping in a friend's spare room for eight months I decided to get out of the city.

My plan was to move to Northern Ireland but Covid hit and I got stuck in Co Clare for nearly a year. I was a musician before this and now all the work has dried up so I'm going back to university to study landscape architecture. There's no way I could pay rent in Dublin so I've decided to convert a van and live in it, rather than dig myself into a debt hole. It's not ideal but it feels better than the alternatives.

My three grown brothers all still live at home and none of us expect to own a house in our lifetimes.

Galway City

My wife and I have been together for 10 years. In that time we’ve been together we’ve never been in a position to save. When we got together we were both working but due to circumstances beyond our control we’ve turned into a one-wage household. As hard as it would be to get a mortgage with two people earning, it’s near-on impossible with one.

We’re currently paying €965 for rent on our house in Galway. Granted, this is actually lower than the average around us, but that’s only because we’ve been in this house for eight-plus years with the rent gradually going up annually. We’ve paid nearly €75,000 off someone else’s home in the time we’ve been living in this property. €75,000 – it’s staggering when you see it written down.

How are you supposed to save 10 per cent of a deposit for first-time buyers when you’re living payslip to payslip?

All credit to my employer – they do performance-based wage increases annually, which is absolutely appreciated. The downside is any increase in wages is then countered by the annual increase in rents. There is no position to save any money.

My wife and I often sit down and discuss the fantasy of owning our own house and what we would do with it. We envy every generation that came before us. It’s not fair that we, along with many other people in this country, are in a position that’s not our fault.

Dublin 7
I am a 32-year-old single man from Dublin. I have been looking at buying a property in Dublin since February of this year. I have been monitoring the Irish housing market for the last four years whilst saving for a deposit.

I work for a large tech organisation and have done so for the last five years. I have my mortgage approval in principle, ample savings for a deposit and some, and have been advised I am eligible for an exception from the bank to increase my loan approval.

However, with all that being said, I am still struggling to buy a property in Dublin. I either get outbid by couples who are going off two salaries, or cannot bring myself to offer more money for second-rate properties that need too much work done on them to be habitable.

The last place I was bidding on, the asking was €350,000 and it sold for €415,000 – 18 per cent over asking. How am I to compete in this market as a single buyer?

Long story short, I am in a fortunate position to have a secure job that pays well, plenty of savings and an exception offered from the bank, however, I still cannot afford the right home for me, in this current housing situation.

I am going to hold off purchasing a property for another year or so, in fear that if I do buy now, there will be a crash like 2008 and I will end up in negative equity.