Wednesday 16 October 2019

Gabija Gataveckaite: 'No country for young people ... as living costs soar while our planet is on fire'


INN Journalist Gabija Gataveckaite. Photo: David Conachy.
INN Journalist Gabija Gataveckaite. Photo: David Conachy.

Gabija Gataveckaite

Another year, another gloomy Budget that will likely have little on offer for young adults.

In the depths of a housing crisis, where paying a mortgage is cheaper than paying rent, but saving for a deposit is next to impossible, and the planet is quite literally on fire, the answer is simple - climate action and social housing.

Ireland has become a place which, to misquote WB Yeats, is no country for young people.

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Today's Budget will have to seriously up the ante on housing, spiralling rents, climate action and student supports in order to make the country appealing for the graduates, the students, the young professionals.

Dublin now has average rents of more than €2,000, a figure that has been rising steadily recently.

Monthly mortgage payments are now cheaper than monthly rents. This may give the impression that young people should be able to afford to buy an apartment before they can afford to rent one.

However, this isn't the case, as banks still haven't forgotten the 2008 crash and securing a mortgage is a different story. Deposits requiring 20pc or 30pc of the total price may tot up to €20,000 to €30,000.

Sadly, there are few young people with the odd €20,000 or €30,000 lying around.

For young people fresh out of college, hoping to move out of damp student housing and into somewhere without a shared bathroom or kitchen, racking up ever-increasing rents or bundling together sky-high deposits simply isn't an option.

Just last week, former UCD president Hugh Brady attacked the Government's failure to tackle the lack of funding in higher education.

Not only is higher education underfunded, universities have been forced to source cash in different ways, one of which has been raising the costs of college accommodation.

The problem has extended beyond Dublin - colleges in Cork and Galway, once safe havens of lower rent and lower cost of living compared with the capital, are now seeing rents at the same level as in Dublin, around €450 and €500 for a single bedroom.

Meanwhile, if recent protests have taught us anything, it's that the planet is quite literally on fire and the Government is doing little to tackle it.

However, a carbon tax may not be the answer. Hiking up petrol and diesel costs will not only make life even more difficult for rural communities who have practically non-existent public transport, but also targets young drivers.

Insurance costs for new drivers, especially young men, are sky-high. But not everybody can leave a little earlier in the morning and hop on a Dublin Bus instead - what about those living outside of Dublin, where public transport is so unreliable and infrequent?

Buying their first car, shelling out all their savings for insurance, keeping the car on the road with essential maintenance and then coughing up cash for fuel is a costly business.

Once upon a time, Ireland maybe did have no place for old men - but today, it's the graduates, the students and the young professionals who seem to have no place in the country.

Irish Independent

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