The housing crisis threatens to trigger a new wave of emigration for young Dubliners
Published 19/03/2016 | 02:30
Forget 'don't mention the war'. Don't mention your rent. A friend of mine casually dropped the monthly cost of renting her northside Dublin apartment at a party recently.
It is quite a bit lower than average; she is friendly with her landlord and got a good deal. The volume of the room dropped. Stormy expressions flashed across faces. I suspect she won't casually mention her rent again.
Rent has become a sensitive subject at parties because many young people living in Dublin are angry and frustrated, and some are giving up.
Recently we learned that the average amount it costs to rent in the capital now exceeds what was being charged at the height of the boom. The average monthly rent for a house in Dublin is now €1,430 a month, the Private Residential Tenancy Board said.
A city apartment at €1,312 costs you €100 more per month than it did this time last year. Neither of those figures are too far off the average working person's monthly income.
It was welcome news to Dublin's young renters because for a few days we enjoyed plenty of publicity for a problem that reached crisis proportions months ago.
The rule introduced in December by the government, which reduced the number of times landlords can raise rent to two years, made things worse.
Most renters I know saw their rent increased by a couple of hundred euro a month in the run up to the rule's introduction.
Cost isn't the only issue. Lots of people trying to find somewhere to rent in Dublin right now will tell you they hate the search process more than the cost. Queues at viewings snake around the corner. Unprepared arrivals to the city spend months on friends' couches.
Those without previous landlord references haven't a hope. Successfully fighting off all that stiff competition still does not mean security.
Tyrrelstown showed us that renting in Ireland means constantly running the risk of being turfed out if your landlord decides to sell.
The alternative, buying somewhere to live, seems equally broken to Ireland's 20 and 30-somethings.
House-buying has ground to a halt among young people. Nobody my age is buying. Statistics suggest the age of the average first time buyer will have climbed to 40 by 2020. High rents eat into young people's ability to save for a deposit, a deposit which was recently upped by thousands by the Central Bank's new lending rules.
The pool of homes to buy is also tiny. There are 50pc fewer houses for sale in Ireland today than there were in 2010. In Dublin there were around 4,100 properties advertised for sale in January 2016, for a population of around 1.3m.
The shortage is so acute that the Economic and Social Research Institute suggests we need to incentivise pensioners to leave their homes, awkwardly pitting the old against the young.
There are some young people still determined enough to make it happen.
They are often the ones keen to start a family, desperate to avoid raising a child in a home they could be asked to leave at any time.
These wannabe parents are moving to other counties, committing to years of long commuting.
But others are taking the opposite path and abandoning ship altogether.
There is a growing wave of emigration among my generation, different than the last wave of emigration prompted by the rising unemployment rate of the recession. Some young Dubliners are opting to leave, not because they can't find work but because they want to live in a city where it is easier to build a life.
There are plenty of these cities out there; rent is cheaper in every other EU country bar the UK.
Globalisation and the internet has made it easy to work remotely so some are even hanging on to their Irish jobs.