Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Price come down - quality of life stays high

I laugh to myself when I look at the poll we had there on the Irish housing market crashing. Little did I know.

But as these times of doom and gloom continue I have to let you into a little secret: life in Galway is still bloody amazing.

Yes, we have the same taxes, the same dodgy bankers, and the occasional ghost estate sitting on NAMAs to-do list, but when you get right down to it the basics of life in the West of Ireland are still fantastic.

All the lovely countryside is still there to enjoy, the lake, the seaside, the mountains and the bogs - all there in serene beauty. The fish still jumping in the rivers and lakes, the craic still there in the pubs (and you can find a seat unlike in the capital), and people are still living life at a pace where they will happily share a few words as they pass. I'm not trying to paint old De Valera's image of comely maidens dancing at the crossroads, but the basics are there, even if they are listening to i-Pods now.

At the moment there are job losses and lots of them, but there are also new job openings in Galway. A few new tech firms are opening or expanding and the medical devices sector still has a massive presence in the city. You are competing with a lot of people for jobs - just like in the rest of the country - but if you live here in the West of Ireland you have the bonus of, well, living here.

And then there is the core subject of this blog: homes. At the moment house prices have fallen hugely. This is not a surprise to you, and is only really good news to the first time buyer who is able to arrange one of the very few new mortgages being offered. As the saying goes - every cloud has a silver lining - and even in the collapse of all we came to know there is some positives in the housing collapse. Lets look at a few scenarios.

You may have a home in Dublin or elsewhere with hug negative equity, and need to downsize. This is actually a great opportunity to get back to the core things that it is about - home, family and quality of life. Is moving from a 5 bed in a congested city to a 2 or 3 bed in the countryside really such a bad thing? It is what a lot of us dreamt of all through the boom.

Or if you have lost a job and need to downsize and find new work - is this the time to move somewhere where you can enjoy the free wonders the West can offer? Tourist amenities like Lough Corrib, the Connemara mountains and the arty thrill of Galway city. Is it so bad to consider a job in Galway or Castlebar where you don't spend 10 hours of your week on a bus or in your car stuck in 1st gear?

And what about if you have no negative equity. No equity at all? Well, where are you going to find such a buzzing nightlife, where you don't have to fall over junkies while queuing for a taxi home? (correction: you don't even need to queue for the taxis!). Yes, Galway has it all when it comes to starting out as a homeowner, and there are truly a mass of bargains to be had.

So don't rush into anything but take some time to investigate the options; maybe a move West is just what you need to brighten up the New Year.