After penning an article on moving to Ireland and the costs associated with the move, I received 78 emails from all around the world. The article went viral on IrishCentral.com, the sister site to the Irish Voice, and my inbox was hopping.
The content of the emails are very much the same, people wanting to live or vacation in Ireland. The majority of the mails are from Irish Americans who are seeking advice on purchasing properties in Ireland, how they could go about it, and what are their citizenship entitlements.
Others just want to buy a vacation home here, and others still just want to visit the home of their ancestors. There were a few emails from Irish people looking to relocate and one email from a gentleman, who relocated, hated it and moved back to the U.S.
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I was surprised that the emails weren’t only coming from the U.S. I had some from Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, France, Mexico and London, the power of the Internet I guess.
Although I’ve sat down and responded as best I could to some of those who emailed, I’ll be a while shifting through everyone. People also wanted employment tips, information on social welfare, taxes … the list goes on.
Unfortunately gathering this information is time consuming, hence the reason it’s taking me time to respond but I will. I’d like to help out our big Irish American family, also known as the Irish diaspora, who love this country of ours as much as I do. I know the feeling of being away but longing for your roots.
What I’d like to address in this article are some of the hasty decisions we nearly made from New York concerning our return to Ireland -- the biggest of these being purchasing a property blind.
John, my Limerick husband, and I had been planning to move home to Ireland for about two years. Against the advice of others, (those living at home really) we were determined to buy a house before we moved back.
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Why would we want to spend another $10,000 or more on paying another person’s mortgage? It didn’t make sense to us to rent. Hadn’t we done that long enough in New York, and now in the age of technology we were able to view homes for sale online.
Both John and I would spend a good hour every night shifting through pages and pages of homes for sale in Limerick with the prospect of buying. We spent endless hours sending emails back and forth to auctioneers and home owners.
We had family back home view properties for us. We had friends check out schools in areas we were thinking of buying in. We were blue in the face from it, but we really felt it was important to have the home before embarking on our trip home with our two babies.
We were on to the bank about a mortgage. We submitted the relevant paperwork, and paid a lot of money to do so. We had old bank statements sent from Ireland.
We were on the road to becoming homeowners and it was exciting.
There was one particular property in a village outside Limerick called Fedamore that really caught our eye. Family told us it was in the middle of nowhere. There was only a shop and post office combined and one church. There may have been a pub too, not that it mattered to us.
The house was perfect. It was only a few years built, and the property came with a decent amount of land and seemed to be in pretty good condition from the pictures we were seeing on Daft.ie. The price was good. They were willing to accept what we were willing to offer.
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It seemed right but didn’t feel right. Something (and everyone else) was telling us to hold on.
What if we really didn’t like the area? What if the house wasn’t all it seemed online? What if country living wasn’t for us? After all, both John and I grew up in towns surrounded by houses, neighbors and friends.
Just before our final negotiation with the auctioneers and our last submission of paperwork to the banks we decided to press pause on our buying spree. We were only months away from moving back to Ireland at this stage, so we promised ourselves we would hold off and as soon as we set foot in Ireland we would visit the property (assuming it was still on the market) and we’d rush off to the bank to finish our mortgage application.
Always follow your gut people. As soon as we arrived home (I think it was literally a day later) we went to visit the property of our dreams, and although the house itself didn’t disappoint too much those who said it was in the middle of nowhere were correct.
As we drove out the long windy road to get to the house I had my mind made up. The house itself needed a lot of work since the pictures went online, but that’s always the way isn’t it?
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It was still a nice house but it was surrounded by nothing and it didn’t feel right for me. Thankfully John was having the same thoughts.
We quickly thanked our lucky stars that we hadn’t ploughed ahead and purchased this property blind. We made a decision there and then to look for an unfurnished house in the country to rent.
We needed to rent, despite spending money on someone else’s mortgage. And within three weeks we had found a beautiful four bedroom home in the middle of the countryside yet only 15 minutes from the city.
The house was unfurnished which allowed us to move in our belongings from New York. We spent the next 12 months home shopping while renting.
After a few months in the countryside we decided we loved the feel of it, but we certainly missed having neighbors. We drove around every neighborhood and village within 30 miles of Limerick until we found homes we liked.
We visited countless ones. Some were beautiful but too remote, others were in the perfect location but were too expensive or just plain ugly.
And then we found her. We never thought of living in Tipperary, but the house of our dreams popped up on Daft.ie last summer and before we even saw it we knew this was going to be our home.
Those of you who read this column regularly will know we bought a detached home in a housing estate in a village called Newport. It’s on the border of Limerick, 10 minutes from John’s work and nine minutes from the motorway.
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The house is only eight years old. It’s modern, fresh, and we just love everything about it. We moved in last November.
So what I’m really trying to say here is if you’re planning to return to Ireland after being away for years, or you are planning to buy a home here so you can retire in the country your grandparents hailed from, please come first, rent for a few months to get a feel for life here, and then start the journey of finding the perfect home.
We often say how blessed we were that we didn’t buy that house in Fedamore. I’m sure we would have made the most of it if we had, but the very last minute decision to wait was definitely the right one.
A decision to spend a small fortune on every sort of household item known to man before we came home was a silly one. I bought bed linens, towels, pillows, Martha Stewart pots and pans, kitchen utensils, bathroom paraphernalia --- you name it I bought it in New York, because I was convinced it was going to be so much more expensive in Ireland.
Wrong! If I had been any way sensible I should have waited, and when we finally did get into our own home I could have gone to Dunnes or Home Store and More and gotten great bargains that would have matched the décor of our new home better.
We also bought furniture to kit out a four bedroomed house. Our furniture fits thank God, but we have friends who brought home all their beautiful and expensive American beds and sofas and they had to sell them because they were just too big for the homes here.
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And as for the clothes shopping, I’m not sure what I thought! Maybe that Ireland was going to be so expensive for nice clothes that I wouldn’t ever buy a thing there again.
Wrong! With shops like Penneys and Dunnes stylish clothing is very affordable, more so than New York I find.
Now if you’re a sucker for labels then that is an entirely different story. The likes of Tommy Hilfiger clothing and Ralph Lauren are astronomical when compared to the sales in Macy’s and the likes of Jersey Gardens outlet stores, but to be honest people aren’t into labels here like they used to be in the recession.
So these are just some of the lessons we learned when we moved home.
And to the 78 people who’ve been in touch, I promise I will reply to each and every one of you individually in the coming weeks. It’s a busy time around here.
* Originally published in 2014.