I am one of the many young people leaving Ireland, here’s why

As my college career is coming to a close, I’m starting to accept the harsh reality that there is no longer a space for me in this country. As much as it breaks my heart to say it, it’s undoubtedly true and something I’ve known for a while now.

I’ve grown up on this island, I’ve been educated on this island, I love this island. Everything I know is on this island and yet I can’t help but feel pushed out.

I look around and realise that I am only one of many who feel that way. According to a recent study carried out by Red C on behalf of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), more than seven in 10 young people between the ages of 18-24 are considering moving abroad in hopes for better quality of life. I’m not surprised.

I fear that if I stay, I will be living to work. I fear that I’ll spend my wages on rent and bills leaving myself with very little disposable income, let alone any money to put aside for future investments. If I did have some disposable income, how far would it really get me in this country with inflation sitting at 9.1%, the highest it has been in 38 years?

Realistically, I wouldn’t be able to both pay rent and save for a mortgage at the same time and expect to be looking to buy or build my own home any time soon. Say if I did decide to stay and rent while saving, where would I live? Not only is rent drastically increasing, but the demand for accommodation has also become too high for young people to compete with.

Statistics from the European Commission found that the average age of Irish people moving out from their family home in 2021 was 27.9 years. The Future Trends in Housing Tenure and the Adequacy of Retirement Income study, carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI), found that only one-in-two people between the ages of 25-34 are likely to own a home by the time they are to retire.

That’s just the reality and it’s a miserable one at that. What kind of life would that be? It is an unfortunate fact that that is the life that many know but I don’t want that for myself especially when I know I can achieve a better quality of life elsewhere. I can’t imagine anyone wanting that for themselves, and with Ireland becoming as expensive as it is, I don’t think I could actually sustain it the way older generations have. Ireland is currently the most expensive country in the EU with the cost of goods and services sitting at a staggering 40% above the EU average, according to research by Eurostat.

Our ancestors have left the country worse off for us. Unknowingly I’m sure, but it is worse off now, nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Ireland is bad country or one to speak down on entirely. It has truly been a privilege to grow up here. It would be a luxury to stay in Ireland but unfortunately many young people like myself are not yet able to afford such luxury. Ireland is quickly becoming a country for the older and richer population, a demographic that I am not yet a part of.

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