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Monday 20 August 2018

'You end up feeling like a failure' - Today FM's Kelly-Anne Byrne forced to commute to work from Glasgow due to 'extortionate' Dublin rent

Today FM presenter and DJ Kelly-Anne Byrne
Today FM presenter and DJ Kelly-Anne Byrne

Sasha Brady

Today FM presenter Kelly-Anne Byrne commutes from Glasgow to Dublin every week for work. She explained to Independent.ie that financially it makes more sense than living and renting in Dublin

The move to Glasgow was a last resort. “I’d been renting my flat in Dublin for four years when I got a letter under the door in March advising me that the lease had been terminated and I’d four months to get out,” explained Kelly-Anne Byrne. “I couldn’t understand it because I’d originally been told that the lease was going to be renewed. It came out of nowhere.”

As one of the biggest club and festival DJs in the country, and a presenter on national radio, you’d expect that finding a new home would have been easy for Kelly-Anne but after three months of searching, she found that affordable options were near-mythical.

“I was okay with spending €1,250 for a one-bedroom flat but I had to increase my budget because that just wasn’t enough,” she said. “Prices were extortionate and a lot of the places were just awful. It was soul-destroying.”

Kelly-Anne Byrne
Kelly-Anne Byrne

Kelly-Anne searched outside Dublin but the situation wasn’t much better in Cork and Galway either. According to a Daft report, the average monthly rent in Dublin at the end of March was €1,875, and in Cork and Galway, average monthly rents were €1,210 and €1,131 respectively.

Without a car, rural options weren’t viable so she expanded her search overseas. She’d always liked Glasgow and the cultural vibrancy of the city really appealed to her. After doing the maths and calculating costs based on a weekly commute to Dublin, a move to the Scottish city seemed like a logical option.

She packed her bags in May and found a two-bedroom apartment in the vibrant West End of Glasgow, near Kelvingrove Park, for the equivalent of €770 per month. "I had my pick of apartments over there," explained Kelly-Anne, who is originally from Finglas in Dublin and had been renting in the capital for 19 years. "I didn't want to leave Dublin but in all my years renting I've never seen the housing situation as bad as it is now. Leaving wasn't easy but I had to do it."

An international commute might seem daunting for many but thankfully Kelly-Anne's job as a radio presenter and DJ allows her some flexibility.

"I need to be in the Today FM studios on Saturday and Sundays when my show airs and a lot of bookings for gigs are for events that run over the weekend but I can do a lot of my work remotely during the week from my laptop," she explained. Return flights to Dublin work out at €30 each week (€120 per month), once she books them in advance. And the journey isn’t excessive either. It’s a 35-minute flight from Dublin to Glasgow and a 50-minute bus ride from the airport to the city centre; from there it takes Kelly-Anne just five minutes to get home.

While the decision to leave Dublin was difficult, Kelly-Anne feels like it was the right one for her. She didn’t want to leave her friends and family behind to start a new life in a different country and travelling back and forth each week can be tiring. However, in many ways, her standard of living and sense of wellbeing has improved.

“I have to be positive. I’m in a nice place, not sitting in an overpriced flat in Dublin. For my state of mind alone, this move was very important,” she said.

“I wasn’t sleeping at home. You end up feeling like a failure, like there’s something wrong with you. Landlords in Dublin seem to want a certain type of tenant, I was almost apologising for working in radio, which is ridiculous because I make good money, I have a decent job.”

Earlier this week, when musician David Kitt announced that he was leaving Dublin because he can no longer afford to live in the city, Kelly-Anne was saddened but not too surprised by the news. She has seen too many people leave the country due to the confluence of increasing living costs, stagnant wages, rising demand for housing and rent hikes.

"When he announced that he was leaving most of the comments on Twitter were sympathetic but you do find a nasty attitude creeping through," she said. "A Fine Gael councillor tweeted that if people can't get a real job, they should do something else. As if the housing issue doesn't affect people right across the board.

“I’m lucky I can commute like this but so many people have left the country or feel like they are moving backwards all the time and that has a massive impact on their mental health,” she said. “I have friends with babies who have had to move home with their parents; people who are nurses, teachers... It’s heartbreaking."

But Kelly-Anne said she's still positive that the situation can change before the current instability is accepted as the norm. She believes that social demand could drive change by putting pressure on the Government. “You have to believe in the people of Ireland, look at what we did with the marriage and abortion referendum. We need to talk about this, it's not okay, we're being denied a roof over our heads... we need to make the Government give a s**t.”

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