There are about three-and-a-half million Irish people living outside Ireland, each with their own unique reason why they left.
For some, moving away from the Ireland they knew a decade ago was not part of their dreams but was necessary to achieve them. Unemployment and poor prospects due to a global recession limited their futures in Ireland.
Now, almost a decade later there is a different story emerging–people coming home to Ireland for good to start a new chapter in their lives.
For Irish nationals returning home after time spent away, there are some important changes to know between the Ireland they left and the Ireland of 2019.
For Irish expats moving home from places like Australia, Canada, Hong Kong or New Zealand, Brexit is now the headline du jour. The UK’s divorce from the EU has brought up many issues around citizenship– a topic expats would be familiar with– with reports of British citizens looking to source a solution that will work for either a deal or no deal Brexit. Our Brexit Trends and Analysis survey conducted by YouGov, revealed that 32% of the British expats surveyed living in Ireland are seeking citizenship or permanent residency in another country due to Brexit.
The future of Brexit is still unknown, with the battle to be the new leader of the Conservative Party underway. The successful candidate’s next challenge is then to find a Brexit deal the British parliament can agree on.
No article about moving to Ireland would be complete without addressing the housing problem here. Regulation created to protect the market is restricting access to the property ladder for first time buyers.
A report by Goodbody Stockbrokers showed that in 2018, the output of new housing had grown by 31% and Ireland produced the highest number of dwellings since 2009. Despite these improved numbers, the number of people needing new homes is greater than what is being produced. Schemes like Rebuilding Ireland and Help-To-Buy are positive steps towards solving the issue.
An issue that is not just in Ireland. Recent housing protests taking place in Berlin indicate that affordable housing is a problem in many growing economies, where urban populations grow and the housing gap widens.
The island of Ireland has endless potential. The unemployment rate is now at the lowest rate seen in 14 years and the economy is predicted to grow by 3.2% , despite the uncertainty of Brexit.
International firms looking for a European base see the power of the Irish workforce, the graduates en route to the market and also the skills of returning expats bringing their overseas experience home. Major multinationals are making the decision to invest long-term in Ireland, the people, culture and economy by building offices and headquarters across the island.
To support this, many are offering a more flexible working model to their employees. Remote working not only means leaving a smaller environmental footprint, but there are also tax incentives for employees with a home office. They can avail of a tax break on the costs associated with working from home like heating in the winter, electricity costs and increased broadband usage.
From expanding the cycle path network, banning single use plastic convenience items and the sales of new petrol and diesel cars, the Irish government has set out an ambitious Climate Action plan to create serious change for the climate by 2030. The long-term goal of the government is to make Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050.
This comes on the heels of the passing of the 2018 Fossil Fuel Divestment Act that saw Ireland became the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels.
Steps are being taken to ensure Ireland is not just talking about climate change, but also contributing to the solution for it.
Ireland is Good
Ireland is changing for the better. It moved from 11th place in 2014 in the global Good Country rankings to being in third place in 2019. The categories range from Science and Technology to Cultural Contribution. Ireland excelled in in the category for global contribution to International Health and Security, where we are in fourth place. Out of 153 countries, we are ranked in sixth place in the category for Prosperity and Equality and ranked in eight for Health and Wellbeing.
According to the Good Country Index, a country starts to become “good”, “...when they find out that thinking internationally isn't about altruism or self-sacrifice: when done well, it produces better thinking, and that means better policies, with better outcomes both at home and abroad.”
The Ireland of 2019 is looking bright. It is ever-improving. Working towards long-term solutions for housing, Brexit and climate change. It’s not perfect but is trying to move in the right direction to deliver a better life for all the people living here. Never a country to stand still or be kept down, the hard work is underway to get the country to where it should be.
The opening of CurrencyFair in 2009 started the conversation about charging fair fees to transfer money online. This was at a time when people were most sensitive to the need to save.
As a company founded and headquartered in Ireland for almost a decade, the stories our community share everyday influence the work we do. Customers that left for foreign shores and are now coming home for good.
This conversation about transparent, fair financial services is one CurrencyFair continues to be part of today. The nature of our services means CurrencyFair is also part of the story of migration and the costs of relocating.
Ireland might never be perfect. That is perhaps the grace and appeal of it, the acceptance of imperfection, the beauty in the flaws and the battle to try for better.
There is promising momentum here. For expats who still haven’t found what they’re looking for overseas, maybe it’s time to rethink Ireland and to come home.