Students begin scramble for affordable housing

Thousands of third-level entrants descend on cities in search of suitable accommodation

Students across Ireland are racing to find affordable accommodation for the fast approaching academic year. Gabriel Galway from Kerry and Emily Kavanagh from Wicklow let us into the world of finding that first home from home. Sorcha Pollak reports.

 

Student Emily Kavanagh has already viewed seven Dublin properties by the time she reaches the small house on the Harold’s Cross Road.

It’s clear from the moment she steps inside the door this isn’t the three-bedroom property she’d arranged to view.

The landlord scurries around the rooms, leading her through five sleeping areas crammed inside the small south Dublin home.

Any attempt to ascertain the price of a room is brushed aside with reassurances from the landlord that “we’ll discuss it after you’ve seen the house”.

As the tour comes to a close, the landlord finally reveals the cost: “Only €2,900 between five of you.”

In September Kavanagh will begin studying International Business and French at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

This week, she began the hunt for a place to live in the capital with her two friends from home in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

“I’ve noticed that wherever you look it’s so hard to find a house that will take students,” says the 18-year-old student.

“Most of them automatically ask if it’s students and if so, they’ll shoot you down straight away.”

Thousands of students embarking on their third-level education have descended on cities across the country in a desperate attempt to find affordable housing before college semesters kick off.

Kavanagh admits she has no real plan B if she fails to find somewhere to live with her friends.

She considered applying for student accommodation but said the prices were far higher than sharing private accommodation with friends.

“I live quite far away and I don’t really drive yet so it’s necessary that I get a place. If I don’t I’ll probably end up having to live with my brothers for a few months or maybe my cousins.”

The Harold’s Cross property Kavanagh has just viewed may be “a bit old-fashioned” but at least the landlord is accepting student tenants, unlike the unfurnished home she viewed earlier that day in Milltown.

“My problem is I’m a first-year student, which automatically puts people off. It’s a really good location and it’s great here because it’s close to town.

“The only issue is there’s five bedrooms and three of us which means we’d need to get two other people.”

‘Frat house’

Across the city, a mere stone’s throw away from Croke Park, Gabriel Galway from Firies in Co Kerry is checking out a “self-managed fraternity house for Young Europeans”.

Galway and his mother have travelled to Dublin to track down a suitable home for the 19-year-old, who will begin first-year at the National College of Art and Design in September.

Galway has already viewed digs accommodation in Castleknock, where he would live with a number of other students in a family home, with meals provided.

His mother is concerned about the €700 monthly cost of the digs, which exceeds the family’s budget of €500.

“My concern would be to get a place that’s a good fit for Gabriel,” his mum, Catherine Galway, says.

“He won’t be coming home every weekend, he’s to make a life here now. That’s the other problem, a lot of places don’t keep students over weekends.”

Galway was forced to change his original plan of finding a place to live in Dublin with friends after they decided to study in Cork. For now, he doesn’t know anyone in the city.

“Initially I wasn’t too bothered about finding a place but the more places you’re knocking off the list where you can’t go to, it’s getting harder and harder.”

Despite the ongoing struggle to find a suitable home, he’s optimistic about the “frat house” he’s viewed on Jones Road and doesn’t seem too bothered by the prospect of sharing a room with a couple.

“It was proper college living style. It’s really interesting compared to the other place we went to this morning. This place was college living, survival of the fittest. The other one was kind of more luxury.”

His mother, however, isn’t convinced. “I don’t mind him living in a grungy place, but that place was a bit . . . I mean . . . ” She hesitates. “But, really, staying with a couple and sharing their bathroom? It’s a long time since I was in college but it was never that bad.”