Thursday 18 December 2014

From emigrant to immigrant: the Irish are coming home

The recovering jobs market has led to many emigrants returning to a better life in this country. But it may be causing a rise in property prices.

Linda Murphy
Mary Elizabeth Kenny, husband Simon and daughters Imogen and Claire
Shane O'Connell

Did you hear the one about the Irish emigrant who returned home for enhanced job opportunity? Well an absurd notion for some is becoming a reality for many former ex-pats who are benefitting from a recovering jobs market.

More than 120,000 people have returned since 2008, according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), with nearly 16,000 in 2013 coming back to claim one of the 61,000 new jobs that has reportedly been added to the Irish economy in the last 12 months.

"At over 3pc, we've the fastest rate of jobs growth in the EU and the OECD," says a spokesperson for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

"Though unemployment at 11.8pc is still far too high, there are job openings spread across growing sectors including technology, tourism, manufacturing, construction and food/agriculture."

While outward migration still remains the dominating direction of Irish nationals – with 89,000 leaving the country last year – 55,900 people came to Ireland overall, giving a net outward migration figure of just over 33,000, 2,000 fewer than last year. "Up to 16,000 Irish people returned in the year to April 2013 and we would expect the last 12 months to be similar despite the continuing difficult economic conditions," says Joe O'Brien of Crosscare Migrant Project.

"Many come back to be closer to their family and what they still regard as home."

The returning numbers could also be having an unexpected impact on the country's property prices.

Research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) suggests house values are likely to rise as cash-rich ex-pats snap up property.

"In the last year, it wasn't unusual to have many people flying in from all over the world for a weekend in order to secure a property very quickly," says Clodagh Murphy, branch manager at Gunne.

"Most of the surprise activity has come from young couples, who had children while living away and decided to move back for education reasons."

However, Murphy adds much of the purchasing traffic is bound within the high-end property bracket.

"Where prices are being pushed are houses at the million-euro mark upwards. The demand from returning emigrants has been phenomenal.

"One property in particular, in Dublin's city centre, had two bidders based in Singapore, while I auctioned by phone. A couple of years ago, that was unheard of. But how this will affect property prices overall in the country, remains to be seen."

After nearly two and a half years in London, advertising account executive, Linda Murphy (26) from Cabinteely, was planning a move to Australia before landing a position at Twitter in Ireland.

"There were a few responses from UK recruiters but then I got a reply from Twitter in Dublin for a position in social-media advertising that I'd applied for on Jobs.ie

"Next thing I flew back for my interview, landed the job as a UK and Ireland Account Executive, moved back at Christmas and started the new position in January.

"I never thought I would find something like this back at home.

Irish Independent

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