Let me tell you about the housing crisis...
Since before I applied to my dream school in Ireland, I was well aware of the challenges that I would face with moving to a country that is still swinging up from the crash of the economy in 2008. When I studied abroad in Dublin last summer, I learned about all of the economic and political problems plaguing the country; including the student housing problem. Today, just a mere 29 days away from my return, I continue to look for a place to live within my budget while slowly losing my mind.
So here's the deal, there are a few factors contributing to this problem that I (along with many many other students) are facing. Though my Irish boyfriend might argue with me on my analysis of the problem, here is what's going on:
1. Dublin is an especially young city. Half the population is under the age of 26, and according to my professor from last year, young Irish people are flocking from the countryside and small towns to live in this hip metropolis. The night life is good, the beer is good, and the numerous universities in the area provide an incredible education. This leads to a problem though; there isn't room for everyone to live, resulting in a serious shortage in housing for students and young professionals. Rental rates are rising and finding housing is like swimming in a pool of sharks, except you're a shark too and the landlords are the people. You have to bite on every lead quickly and effectively before the other sharks do too.
2. Like I mentioned before, the economic crisis in Ireland was really bad, but as things continue to improve and bounce back rapidly, there are more and more students than ever before and the place just cannot keep up. Buildings to house students are not popping up at quickly enough rate, and once again students are left grasping at leads for places to live.
3. The emphasis for living on campus hardly exists. In America, most universities have an emphasis on students living on campus for at least a year. At my own university, many students will live on campus beyond their freshman year of college. I myself lived on campus all four years because the facilities were great, it was easier, and I didn't have to cook for myself (I am a terrible cook). From what I have gathered, Residential Life on campus in Ireland is not nearly as large of a part of student life as it is in America. This means that Irish universities also provide less housing for college students, and more students live at home or off campus. Again, this contributes to there being less rooms for students in the areas surround the universities.
With all of these factors, finding a place to live off campus surrounding UCD (University College Dublin) has turned out to be incredibly difficult. It is frustrating and discouraging, but I know that in the end, I will find a place. Since I began looking months ago, I have learned a lot of things about finding a place to live around my school. For anyone else in the same situation, here are a few things I have learned that might be of use:
- Be aggressive. Inquire about places EVERY SINGLE DAY. I find that it helps to have a pre-made message to send so you can quickly reach out to people online.
- If you don't have an Irish number yet and the landlord of a perfect place only put down their number for contact, check and see if they have Whatsapp and give them a call!
- Join Facebook groups for housing around your college. People will always be posting and you never know what could turn up.
-Be aware of other expenses such as how much transportation will cost based on the location of the place!
-Be prepared. You might not find a place before you get there, so be ready to stay in a hostel or Airbnb for a little bit until you find a place.
-When you go to viewings, bring enough cash to cover the deposit and first month's rent. If you like the place, offer it to the landlord right then! Cash payments right away can be very tempting for the landlord.
I myself am going to continue to try and find a place around UCD. Wish me luck!