Now you can ‘earn’ $90,000 by moving to remote Irish islands

Global press gets the wrong end of the stick on new Government islands plan

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Arranmore Island. Photograph Pat Cook

The Miami Herald told its readers that you could “earn” $90,000 by moving to one of Ireland’s remote islands; Australia’s news.com said expats were being offered $140,000 to “pack up and relax into remote island life”; and both CNN and Euronews said that the country’s “gorgeous islands” were going to “pay you” $90,000/€80,000 to move there.

Meanwhile the India Times reported that in “an extraordinary move”, the Irish government was offering “substantial financial incentives” for those willing to make the move.

It may have missed the point of the Government’s Our Living Islands initiative, but global reporting, which focused on people being offered significant sums to move to an Irish island, certainly attracted attention.

The scheme, which is aimed at revitalising the numbers living on offshore islands, offers a souped up grant, of up to €84,000, under the Croí Cónaithe scheme, for those looking to renovate properties on the islands.

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Ireland isn’t the only country looking to re-populate deserted parts of the country

What it does not do however, as was so widely reported – Euronews said that Ireland was going to pay “generous cash incentives” to people who move to one of the qualifying islands – is offer a bumper payment for those looking to move to any of the 23 islands covered by the scheme, such as Arranmore, Bere Island, Inishbofin, Heir Island or Clare Island.

As anyone who has embarked upon a renovation project recently will be fully aware of, even €84,000 doesn’t go very far in Ireland – never mind a project whereby building materials will have to be transferred by boat.

US business magazine Forbes was left a little red-faced after the incident, and published a correction to its original article, clarifying that the payment “is not a subsidy for moving to one of the islands”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Rural and Community Development says it is aware of the “misleading information” given in global reports, and confirms that “it is not the case that people will be paid to relocate to islands off the coast of Ireland”.

But has the publicity – incorrect or otherwise – paid off?

Well the spokeswoman since its launch on July 1st, there has been “significant international interest” in the new policy.

Looking out to Bantry Bay and the Caha Mountains from Bere Island. Photograph: Lenny Antonelli

Some 23 islands are covered by the initiative, which is to run for 10 years, including those that are cut off daily by the tide; are not connected to the mainland by a bridge or causeway; have permanent year-round populations; and are not in private ownership.

Key to the plan is an upgrade of the existing Croí Cónaithe scheme, which gives grants of up to €50,000 to renovate vacant homes, and €70,000 to renovate derelict homes.

For those moving to one of the offshore islands, the amount of the grant available will increase to €60,000, and €84,000, respectively. Applicants must use the property as their home, and not for a holiday rental.

The village of Potamos in Antikythera island, Greece

Ireland isn’t the only country looking to repopulate deserted parts of the country. Ollolai, in the heart of Sardinia, as well as parts of Sicily, introduced the “Case a 1 euro”, or “houses for €1″ scheme a number of years ago.

Aimed at luring new residents, the scheme allows them to buy a house for the princely sum of just €1. There is a catch, of course – the owners will have to foot the cost of renovation. It has been estimated that it would cost at least €25,000 to renovate a typical property, and you’re required to do this within three years of your move.

Antikythera in Greece meanwhile, launched a scheme whereby it would pay a monthly cheque of €500 for the first three years of residence for people to move to this idyllic island on the edge of the Aegean Sea. In addition, the chosen few will also be offered a house, as well as some land, to start farming on.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times