Our housing crisis and homelessness crisis has dominated Irish political discourse for the second half of the 2010s. It was perhaps the defining feature of the 2020 general election which itself redefined the Irish political landscape, or perhaps, revealed the shift that has been happening among Irish citizens. As a generation that was defined by the Celtic Tiger then by European austerity, seeks to crave out its patch of the world, how are they going to be able to do this?
The facts and figures are not in their favour. If you can’t escape to another city (and it’s most likely a city you are going to) Dublin does not favour those who aren’t already wealthily. According to data complied by David McWilliams and Cliff Taylor for The Irish Times, its much easier to find a wider variety of rent prices in cities like London, Tokyo or Paris than in Dublin.
A consequence of this lack of rent price diversity, as homeless charity Focus Ireland has been keeping track, is the increase of the homeless population to over 10,000 for a population of under 5 million. Census 2016 showed a significant increase in the amount of young working people living with their parents.
A controversial market solution that has emerged globally around the world this past decade has been co-living. Co-living is where you rent a room as part of a building run by a co-living company which additionally provides communal amenities. What those amenities are can vary. Some provide different scales of accommodation, from rooms to apartments.
One who does business in Dublin is called ‘node‘, they are focused on 20-30 year old creative professionals. Once you become a member of node, not only will you have access to their Dublin building but be able to swap to another city around the world. CEO Anil Khera says that there is a demographic that would find this appealing.
“node is really a reaction to fill that gap of globally mobile creatives wanting a place to live, wanting to live in authentic communities but also have the benefits of being global. What we really created at Node is the concept of having an instagram-ready apartment that you could move into pretty much at the touch of a smart button and with it, try to curate a community of vibrant, creative people that would be interesting to live with. When you put that all together, you getting convenience and community in one offering, in a plug and play way…”
That is one solution for a specific audience but is it for everyone? Pat Dolan from the Institution for Lifecourse and Society in NUI Galway argues that we could be seeing intergenerational mortgages in Ireland. “I think in Ireland it may move to where what it is like in some European countries, we’re putting it very bluntly, the grandfather buys the house and the grandson[or granddaughter] pays off the last payment. It may take two generations to pay off the house because of cost.”
Sebastian goes to Naas, Dublin, Galway and London to chronicle what the future of living will be. Listen to the “What Happened to My Home?” episode of Overinformed.