So, Why Leave Ireland?
I’ve been back home now for well over a year and a half, have seen the end of a winter, the entire of another, and here we are facing into it again. I came back so that we could both take up jobs here, and because Frankfurt – well, it had sort of run its course to say the least. Ireland seemed to be having a very slight reprieve – or at least, easing – of the hard-core misery of the previous years since I graduated college, and it seemed like a fairly safe bet given that both myself and Anna have lived here for long stretches of time.
We’ve both been working in pretty decent jobs (certainly, I’ve enjoyed much more autonomy than I would have elsewhere), it’s been a busy time, we’ve had a nice apartment and pretty reasonable standard of living – so then, why leave? It’s a question I’ve been busy trying to answer multiple times a week to different people these last few weeks…
It’s Not Just Jobs!
The most obvious one – and something even a lot of my family seem to trip up on regularly – is that with politicians going on and on never-endingly about jobs, needing more jobs, driving job creation, etc., I think largely we’ve lost sight of one important thing; it’s not just about jobs. I’ve had a (really well-paid, considering my few years of work experience) decent job – but increasingly, even with the two of us sharing costs, it’s difficult to enjoy much of a standard of living. Rent in Dublin is on the up again and sooner or later we’d have either had to downsize or move home, followed closely then by rising energy (electricity/gas) costs, then UPC upping the bill in the middle of summer, plus food/groceries which definitely isn’t getting any cheaper. By the time you maybe, possibly, file away a hundred or two for savings – if you’re doing very well – there’s enough at best for a trip to the cinema or two during the month. And nothing more. I’m sorry; but that does not represent a ‘standard’ of living for any young person, it’s just simply living – and nothing more.
Value for Money
Another tired old hobby-horse of mine. Ireland, in spite of what we might be frequently told by supermarkets, retailers and others, has appalling value for money – especially when you consider the service often received. Owning and keeping a car on the road is shockingly bad value for money, between motor tax (I wish I could say the quality of the roads reflect this tax), maintenance (don’t get me started on garages), petrol, NCT, etc.
Fine, not everyone needs a car, right (in my case, public transport took 3 times as long to reach work, so not an option)?
Right – but then you’re stuck with what must be one of the most expensive and yet still appallingly bad public transport systems in the modern world. A trip return to Clontarf on the DART cost me nearly â‚¬7.70 recently; once I found a ticket vending machine that worked. For that, you get to stand around in a train station of varying colour schemes and logo’s (because it’s fun to keep spending money on design and image consultants, isn’t it?) for anything up to 20 minutes – but you’ll never be sure in advance because the sign keeps changing forward and backward – only to get on a packed train because Irish Rail are reducing the carriage numbers to as little as they can get away with, without needing to employ those Japanese train-packers to get the doors closed. Dublin Bus, to be fair, is marginally better although their complete lack of predictability, high ticket prices and general state of industrial relations which could collapse at a moment’s notice also makes the system dicey at best.
We’re very lucky as we keep hearing, in Ireland, to be graced with some fantastic multinational companies who are here to primarily avail of our corporate tax rate and incredible tax arrangement possibilities, followed by hiring a few natives. Between all the PR/Media stunts perpetuated by many companies here about how many jobs they’re hiring for – many of which will either be filled internally, not advertised, released in stages over a year or more, or are one-year contracts that won’t (or only ‘might’) be renewed – it can actually be tough to know genuinely what new jobs there really are.
When you do get round to finding one, the way the market here is at the moment, it is nearly impossible to be working already and apply given the ridiculous nature and length of the modern-day recruitment process (which often consists of multi-stage interviews, aptitude tests and possibly even group interviews and more), and vice-versa, employers don’t really seem to want those who are unemployed. To be honest, I would much prefer if companies weren’t allowed make jobs announcements unless the job position was guaranteed for 5 years on a full, proper salary and was being hired for within the following 3 months.
Grass Always Greener?
It’s always easy to criticise when you’re in the place, and I’m sure there’s plenty of graduates and young people who are already weathering and will weather out the situation in Ireland at the moment – and who also think nothing of the appalling value for money and my other complaints, purely because they don’t know a difference. Certainly, I’ve had plenty to criticise in Germany before, and in Malaysia before that. So there’s no doubt, there’s a part of me that just actually wants to travel and be elsewhere. But I also know that by heading to Asia, and possibly Australia if needs be, I can weather things out for much longer for much less, while enjoying a bit more of a standard of living – and you never know, maybe when I come back the train station at the very will have been painted in just one decisive colour.