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Work-from-home policies allow women the flexibility to go it alone and get a firm footing on the property ladder


Accounts manager Angela Crawley left Dublin after eight years to buy in Drogheda, Co Louth.

Accounts manager Angela Crawley left Dublin after eight years to buy in Drogheda, Co Louth.

Accounts manager Angela Crawley left Dublin after eight years to buy in Drogheda, Co Louth.

With more people able to work from home in affordable properties outside cities, the opportunity has arisen for an increasing number of single buyers to go it alone and get on the property ladder.

As a result, it is becoming more common for Irish women to buy on their single income.

Among those who are seizing the moment is Angela Crawley (34), an accounts manager who lived and worked in Dublin for eight years before buying in Drogheda, Co Louth.

“People said I was mad leaving Dublin to go to Drogheda, but the houses prices were so much cheaper,” she said.

“I’d previously been looking at one-bed apartments in Swords, and for the same price I was able to buy a brand new three-bed semi-detached in Drogheda.

“I work in Tallaght, but I can also work from home and enjoy having the nice house. Plus, as my friends and I get older, we plan in advance to meet, so my social life is nearly the same as it’s always been.”

IT specialist Mary Garvey (45) left Dublin after 10 years to buy in her home town of Strandhill, Co Sligo.

“I was looking at properties around the €300,000 mark and I wanted a three-bed semi. There wouldn’t have been a hope of getting that in Dublin,” she said.

“Then I caught Covid-19 and my family wanted me to come home because I was on my own. Being there, I realised this is so good and something I want.

 “Without new work-from-home policies, I wouldn’t have entertained going home permanently, but having this new possibility put a rocket under me to get a sale done.

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“And while my job is still based in Dublin, my employer is an advocate of flexible working.”

Michelle Flanagan (34) is also heading west. The manager is living in the capital but is preparing to buy in her home county of Roscommon.

“When everything happened with Covid-19 and I was in Knocklyon on my own for eight weeks, I kept thinking, what am I still doing here? Now I can buy at home where there’s better value for money and keep my good job in Dublin,” she said.

Tony Deane (36), founder of estate agency Moovingo, said these women are part of a growing market.

“Across my company website and social media, 70pc of visitors are currently women,” he said.

But empowering as this trend is, the route to ownership can be difficult. “There are still so many disadvantages for women in terms of promotions and pay scales,” Mr Deane said.

Ms Garvey has experienced this first-hand.

“It took me a long time to realise I was underpaid for the work I was doing, and I had to move roles to get the salary I deserved. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have got myself into a financial position to be able to get a mortgage,” she said.

“I also found that, with more traditional estate agents, you get the look of ‘You’re a woman, you can’t afford this’.”

She also believes women are more limited than men in the house types they can consider.

“We’re not taught DIY skills, so many women don’t want to take on renovation projects in case we’re out of our depth.”

Pay gaps and gendered education are not the only barriers.

“Some people have the attitude of, ‘Why would she go and do that? Does she not want to meet someone? Does she not want to get married?’” Ms Flanagan said.

Ms Garvey said outlook is everything, adding: “It did cross my mind, am I closing myself off, but if I’m secure I’m going to be more relaxed and open in my life. Buying on your own is the starting point, it’s not closing the door.”

With house prices rising in rural areas and a dearth of properties for sale, the window for women to capture a new independence may close.

Ms Flanagan said: “There aren’t many houses to buy in Roscommon. After the Celtic Tiger days, building just stopped. We went from having too much and selling off houses cheaply at home to now having none.”

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