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Is Donegal the best value place to live in Ireland?

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19 Jun 2017

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Historical royalty runs through Donegal’s blood: Donegal Town is the traditional seat of power for Tír Chonaill and was the former stomping ground of the ruling O’Donnell clan from the 15th to the 17th century.

Say what you want about the O’Donnells but they certainly heeded the old rule about “location, location, location.” Most house hunters will be looking for something smaller than Donegal Castle but there are plenty of enviable properties on the local market.

The Wild Atlantic Way initiative exposed a whole new audience to Donegal’s natural beauty and scenic charms. With seaside settings, gorgeous beaches, mountains, a great quality of life and some of the cheapest prices in the country, this could very well be the best value place to live in Ireland.

Buying a House in Donegal
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The asking price for an average property in the county is just €132,442, according to the latest Daft Report. Prices rose by 10% since last year but prices in Donegal have proven to be relatively stable, even during the boom times.

“Property prices never really went over the top,” says Billy Johnston, Manager of the EBS Donegal Office. “Back in the bad old days, as I call them, young couples were buying properties for €170,000 or €180,000. Those properties are still worth €130,000 or €140,000. They haven’t been badly affected. It’s a different story for properties that were going for €250,000. The dearer the house, the more you lost.”

“We also find a lot of people from Northern Ireland and England are coming to the Donegal area to settle down,” says Billy. “The fact that sterling was very strong meant that people who were getting houses in the €140,000 to €150,000 range were only paying £100,000 in sterling at one stage.”

First Time Buyers in Donegal
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The latest EBS DKM Mortgage Affordability Report shows that a couple would need 9% of their disposable income to make their mortgage payments in Donegal, compared to Dublin, where a couple would need 20% of theirs.

“The popular places are in the range of €145,000 to €160,000,” says Billy. “That’s basically in the bracket that first time buyers can afford.”

Demand is high but lots of first time buyers bought homes in the development at Cúirt na Rí, on the Old Laghey Road. It sold quickly but there are two more phases planned. Many first time buyers are getting around the lack of supply by building their own place on family sites.

“There’s still a few self builds happening around Donegal,” adds Billy. “The dream for a lot of people is to have their own detached bungalow with a garden. That’s starting to happen again.”

Families in Donegal
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Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick famously own a holiday home in Kilcar in South Donegal and Sarah previously spoke about the attractions of the county.*

“We would be delighted to decamp to Ireland,” the Sex in the City star said in an interview. “Move the children, put them in school there, have tea every day, a proper fry. It’s just an exquisite, beautiful, relaxing, wonderful place for ourselves and for our children.”*

Likewise, Donegal Town is a great place to raise a family. Stunning beaches at Rossnowlagh and Murvagh are just down the road and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor activities like fishing, boating and hillwalking. Kids can get involved in GAA, athletics, rugby, soccer, golf and much more at the many local clubs.  

“It’s not the biggest town in the county but I think the people look after each other very well,” says Billy. “It’s unspoilt and it’s safe. There’s a very good community spirit.”

Popular areas in Donegal

“Donegal Town has always been a popular town to settle in,” says Billy. “You’re right beside the sea and it’s a crossroads for the county. Even Mountcharles has become a very popular place to live. It’s a dream of a wee town that’s pretty close to Donegal Town. It’s been bypassed and it has everything in it. It’s popular with people coming up to Donegal from Dublin or over from England to settle down.”

The nearby Rossnowlagh is another attractive area that’s traditionally popular with buyers from Northern Ireland. It’s a surfing hotspot but the huge beach and quiet surroundings also make it an attractive place to buy. 

Commuters in Donegal
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Abbott Laboratories and Magees are two of Donegal’s biggest employers, along with the hotel and service industries in this tourist town. Many people commute to work in the town from the surrounding areas and villages but Donegal also acts as a handy base to commute into Letterkenny, Sligo and Northern Ireland.

Whether you’re planning to commute, build or buy, Donegal is one of the most beautiful and affordable places in all the land. You can see why it attracted royalty all those centuries ago!

Thinking of buying a house in Donegal
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If you’re thinking about buying a house, it pays to have your mortgage approved – or at least know what you can afford.

Get the ball rolling with our First Time Buyer and Next Time Buyer guides.

If you'd like to talk through your mortgage options, book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting with Billy or one of the team in the EBS Donegal Office. You can use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.

Why not pay us a visit on our Facebook page for more home news, entertainment, or great competitions?

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Billy Johnston & Co Limited trading as EBS Donegal is a tied mortgage agent acting solely on behalf of EBS d.a.c. EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

*If we mention celebrities, we're not saying they love us. They secretly might, but it doesn't mean they endorse us.

House Prices taken from Daft.ie accessed April 2016.

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