'We just thought the value for money wasn't there in Dublin'
Bertie Daly and his wife Louise have been living in Maynooth for 10 years. Originally from Cork, he moved to Dublin after being headhunted by biopharmaceutical company Wyeth, now Pfizer. "I said I'd go to Dublin for a year, to get some experience, and then go back to Cork," he explains. "Thirteen years later I'm still in Dublin." Having rented for three years in Dundrum, the couple decided to buy a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Maynooth, in a new homes development, Straffan Wood.
Local Maynooth estate agent Will Coonan of REA Coonan, from whom Bertie bought his house, explains that most buyers in the commuter belt will be motivated by family or employment, either buying near to the motorway that connects them to their original home, be that in the west, south or north of the country, or by employment in the area. At the time of moving, both Bertie and his wife were working in Clondalkin, with a commute of 15 minutes.
"I found it really difficult, the first year I moved from Cork to settle into Dublin, to be honest. I actually found the move to Maynooth really settled me," Bertie recalls. "It had an awful lot of appeal. I thought the people were really nice, the likes of Carton House and the golf course up the road, the fact that it was a small town, it was very personal. It was just a lovely place to live."
While Bertie hails from Cork, his wife Louise is from Ringsend in Dublin. "Initially just trying to get her out of Dublin was a challenge," he laughs. "She agreed to trial it, shall we say. Now she loves Maynooth. Within six months she said she'd never live in Dublin again."
If it hadn't worked out, or if work required them to move again, the strong rental market in Maynooth, bolstered by good employment and the university, was a factor in choosing to buy in the college town.
"We looked at Dublin, and we just thought the value for money wasn't there, for what we were getting," Bertie explains. "I was also looking at the rental market, in case I ever relocated back home, and I knew the rental market in Maynooth was excellent. So then it just made an awful lot of sense to buy in Maynooth, with regard to investment."
A year ago, they traded up to their current home, a five-bedroom detached with a large garden, for a newer development, Hayfield, beside their old home.
"We were always looking at this field at the front of our old house, saying if they ever developed it, it would be an ideal location for a slightly bigger house," Bertie recalls. "So when we heard of Hayfield being built, myself, my wife and two boys - a three-year-old and an eight-year-old at the time - sat in reception waiting for Will Coonan to see if he was available, because we were really passionate about buying a house in this new estate. In fairness he accommodated us, there were tea and coffees, he sat us down, gave us a good hour showing us the plans, the layouts of the two beds, the three beds and the five-bed detached house that we ended up buying. It's just a really beautiful house."
Moving far from established networks of friends and family hasn't proved isolating. In fact, says Bertie, now people tend to come and visit properly, arriving on a Saturday evening for a Chinese takeaway, and staying overnight, with the large house easily accommodating guests. His wife's sister has recently taken on the role of childminder to the couple's two children, commuting from Dublin to Maynooth every morning.
Bertie's own commute has changed drastically with a change of job. Now working in Deansgrange, the daily commute takes an hour each way. "My commute is a bit more difficult," he acknowledges. "I have to leave early in the morning, I leave at half six, then leave the office at six in evening. It's absolutely worth it though. To be honest I'd rather move job than move from Maynooth."