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05 Jul 2019

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Is Dublin’s commuter belt the right fit? The ultimate guide for home buyers

Buses, trains, cars…and paddle boards – all equally legitimate ways to get to work (though a paddle boarding commute may raise a few eyebrows).

Believe it or not, in the last couple of years a Dublin company, Big Style, championed the ‘Paddle to Work Scheme’. Starting in Chapelizod, the company took eager commuters eight kilometres down the Liffey to Ringsend.

Perhaps it’s impracticable, but it’s certainly a different way to see Dublin – and in a pressurised housing market, there’s no harm in having a sense of humour about your commute.

With prices in Dublin at record highs, plenty of buyers are opting to move out of the city centre and into the surrounding commuter zones. But is it the right move for you as a home buyer? Read on to find out.

Rent or buy?

Dublin is a business hub that’s already home to massive international companies like Google, Facebook, and CRH, with turnover in the billions. Post-Brexit, Bank of America is looking to make the move to Dublin while international megastars HubSpot and Facebook are hoovering up more office space.

By all accounts, business is booming in Dublin – and commuters are willing to make the trek if it means they can get to work in a reasonable time while enjoying the benefits of cheaper mortgages or rent.

Low housing stock and fervent demand have seen rental prices hit an all-time high in the capital and it’s causing people to look to Dublin’s commuter belt to be a good option to call home. Add that to the fact that Dublin’s reach in terms of economic activity has sprawled into 11 counties, with Kildare and Meath in particular being swallowed up as satellite towns for the capital, so commuting makes sense for many.

With more affordable houses, steady economic growth, and a vibrant feel, many of Ireland’s commuter towns are an attractive proposition for people who are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Big Smoke.

The commuter belt: choices abound

Ashbourne, Naas, Navan, Dundalk, Drogheda, and Newbridge are some of the most popular commuter towns – but how do you know where to settle? Each town offers something different, while still maintaining a quintessential charm and a reasonable commute time into Dublin.

Up until the 1970s, Ashbourne was a small town with a population of 400 – though in recent times it has exploded as a commuter hub. If you can find a home in the south of Ashbourne, you’ll avoid the tolls and you’ll have an easy journey into Dublin.

At the time of writing homes in Ashbourne are in good supply with 63 properties listed on Daft.ie, with prices ranging from the low €200,000s and up for 2-bed stock, making it a great choice for first time buyers (house prices were gauged in November 2018 ).

Naas and Newbridge, the Kildare contingent, are equally solid options too – and they offer more of a big city feel than Ashbourne, which is still quite small with its 14,000 inhabitants. The train from Newbridge will get you into Heuston Station in a half hour, so that’s a massive positive, and travelling by road will put your trip at around 40 minutes to an hour or so depending on traffic.

While the influx of commuters has had a knock-on effect on prices in Kildare, houses are still affordable with the average being significantly cheaper than in equivalent Dublin areas.

The commute itself from both Naas and Newbridge is manageable too, though Newbridge to the city centre in busy traffic can clock in at around an hour and 20, so make sure you find a podcast you like or a radio show to keep you company.

Drogheda and Dundalk are further afield choices for a place to call home, but the Louth towns are Ireland’s first and third most populated areas – so you’ll still feel like you have a taste of city life with the vibrant atmosphere and abundance of amenities.

Given the size of the towns, it’s no surprise that Daft listed ample choices, with upwards of 350 properties available to buy – and there’s good value to be had too.

A 4-bed on William Street in Drogheda was going for €250,000 at the time of writing, with many other similar-sized houses fetching price tags in the same region. Meanwhile in Dundalk, savvy buyers could potentially pay €150,000 for a 2-bed apartment or around the €185,000 mark for a 3- to 4-bed home in the new development at Chuirt Naomh Mhuire.

The train is a scenic option for commuting and will get you into Connolly station in under an hour. You can check out the fare prices on Irish Rail.

Wherever you chose to settle, the commuter belt is a very real option for people who are willing to travel a little further in exchange for better value properties and a more peaceful pace of life.

Thinking of buying a house in on the commuter belt?

Before you go house hunting, it's a good idea to get your mortgage in perspective – or at least discussed so you know where you stand and where to look. 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. Why not try our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow?

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