For years, decades, even generations, we’ve been building our lives all over the world. By now emigration must be encoded in Irish DNA but for one of the first times in our history it has become a possible, and even appealing, prospect for the diaspora to return. Its only natural that eventually you ask yourself; is there a life back there for me now? How can you live away from family, friends, community and the culture you were brought up in and not wonder?
I left Ireland in 2003 to live in the UK and then Canada but I felt a longing for home building as the years went by. For me the decision to return was weighted by the desire to be close to family, a scenario not uncommon for far flung emigrants these days whether it be because of aging parents or new arrivals. The difficulties involved in relocating from another country at short notice due to an emergency scenario did not bear thinking about and I knew I wanted to spend quality time with my parents while they were in good health. In May 2016 my new Canadian husband and I picked up our life in Vancouver and dropped it back down on the Emerald Isle.
Being sure about the decision did not mean the road was paved for us, it was more like a bóithrín; some sizeable potholes, lots of blind corners and the odd tractor to overtake or avoid. Returning emigrants must overcome all the same obstacles they did when they left; no credit rating, no local work experience or references, no driving record, no insurance history. I hope that by sharing some of what I learned you may be better prepared than I was.
The housing crisis is real. Obviously, everyone’s scenario is different, many people will plan to return to parents or family homes before getting a job and their own place, but not everyone will have that luxury or for that matter consider it to be a luxury! If you need to find somewhere to live on your return you should budget €1,250-€1,750p per month (for the first months rent and a security deposit depending where you are in the country) and €1,500 for moving costs and miscellaneous expenses. Although most places are rented furnished, they might not come with kitchen equipment and utensils, bedside tables or enough storage. €1750 p/m will get you a nice one bedroom in Dublin city centre, a two bed a bit further out, or a nice family home in other areas of the country.
Landlords have the right to request a significant amount of personal information if you want to rent from them so be ready. Before you leave your adopted country get at least two written references from landlords, a character reference or two from former employers and bank statements showing a years worth of rent payments and evidence of current funds. If you already have a job here get a letter from your employer that states your position and your wages. When you go to a viewing have everything printed out and try and make a personal connection with the estate agent. You need to make yourself memorable and a very appealing tenant in a market where there could be 30-50 other people there to view the property – at least that was my experience in Dublin.