23rd Sep 2021
When I left in March 2020, I was certain I’d be back. But in leaving Dublin I realised that the city doesn’t actually want me, and never did
I’m never moving back to Dublin. It’s a strange realisation to come to. A place that was my home for six years before the arrival of Covid, a place that I loved, and loathed too, at times. But still, my home.
I moved to Galway as the pandemic hit, my partner had a place and it didn’t make sense for us to be paying two rents (his was €200 more for an entire home, while mine got me a room in a six-bed shared house). I’m not alone either, as many twenty- and thirty-somethings set up camp in other counties and are finding it to their liking.
And while it was a move that I always knew was coming – I couldn’t stay in Dublin forever, it’s too expensive – I resented having the decision taken from me, swept up the hysteria of those heady early days of the pandemic. It’s a big move and I wanted to make it, on my own terms and for my own reasons. Instead, I moved out piecemeal, initially with just a bag of clothes and a wait-and-see attitude and eventually, come August 2020, with a van and boxes and a resignation to my fate.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Galway. I love the smallness of it (I do not miss Dublin’s public transport), I love the waterways and the people. The sense that something is always afoot – a new marquee being erected on Nemo’s Pier, the sounds of the market setting up on a Saturday morning.
But I miss Dublin. I miss the buzz of it, the feeling of being part of a larger hive, the culture that exudes from the theatres that diverge from the river. I miss the night feeling young. And Jesus Christ, I miss the food. Nothing compares to Dublin’s restaurant scene and I have yet to sate the craving for really good dumplings or a perfectly gooey Cacio e Pepe (Lucky Tortoise and Sprezzatura will be first on my hitlist on my next visit).
But really, how and why would I return there to live? Thinking back on it, I am shocked by the amount of money I spent on rent and travel, groceries, even pints. Order a pint of Guinness in almost any Galway pub and you’ll get change (usually at least a euro something) from a fiver. And the barrel presumably had to travel west from Dublin’s St James’ Gate.
When new homes are advertised for “young, professional couples”, they’re not talking to me and my partner, arguably a young, professional couple
The more I think of Dublin, the more I realise that it’s a city designed for me to pause in, not to stay in. I have no family there, no home to inherit, no spare room to crash in. I could barely afford to live there with housemates (wonderful ones), how would I ever be able to raise children there? I see friends with kids who rent because they couldn’t afford to both own a home and raise their children. They’ve been shuffled from one rental home to the next, as landlords “decide to sell” or “want to renovate”, only to see them appear on Daft a month later, rent kicked up by a few hundred quid.
When new homes are advertised for “young, professional couples”, they’re not talking to me and my partner, arguably a young, professional couple (okay maybe “young” is a little generous at 31 and 32 respectively). They’re talking to these mythical young, professional creatures with €500,000 cash in their current accounts. Seriously, where are they because I haven’t seen one, yet they must exist because those houses are quickly whisked off the market.
Yet not living in Dublin damages me, professionally. My job is there. If I want to progress my career, move jobs or upskill in some way, most of the opportunities and post-graduate education and courses are there.
I spent the first half of the pandemic feeling frustrated that the decision to leave Dublin on my own terms was taken from me. But as the dust settles, I realise that it never really wanted me anyway. Our break-up was imminent, I always knew I would be shut out eventually.
Seems like a rather unhealthy relationship, but if this trend continues I’m not sure which of us will come off worst.
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