The cost of living: The accommodation crisis in Dublin
Balancing work, education and bills in our capital city is no mean feat.
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A crisis is defined as “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made” but the reality of the accommodation crisis in Dublin is far from just making an easy verdict. The entire situation is a societal convoluted and tangled mess that has been fast approaching for some time, and like every other major societal crisis that crops up in Ireland, it is only when it smashes past the zenith do we own up to the problem. So now we stand about and shrug our shoulders mumbling, “Ah, yeah we’ve made a balls of it”.
The reality is bleak, and frustrating. One reality is queues of 27 people outside in the rain, clambering over their umbrellas, shaking in their rain jackets in Dublin suburbia to view a house only knowing that someone else will be the one who is going to leave them without a home, again. With the arrested development of houses and the scattered surreal plots of ghost estates dotted around the country our little islands population kept increasing.
All the while people were flocking en masse in a hopeful exodus towards the crowded capitol. With internship culture poisoning employment markets, graduates are ashamedly stuffing jobseekers allowance into their pockets and becoming trapped in a poverty circle. Unable to find positions where our skills can flourish, we’re left scrambling for full time employment below living wage or fall victim to internships for pitiful pocket money while masters qualifications are being demanded from us.
Others comment and reflect on how they slaved through multiple jobs during college and that the young adults of today “need to cop on and get over it”. This shared identity created as a tabloid phenomena known as generation Y of pampered, whinging young people is utter nonsense. If you look around you, hardly anyone fits this false persona.
Estranged from my father for over eight years, then forced into immediate independence from home during my final year of my undergrad with nothing, I wholly began to support myself. But this is not a plea for sympathy; it’s to highlight the immense pressure that comes with the accommodation and financial fiasco from just one Irish citizen with one story. Sure, I’ll get a loan like people are barking at me to do, but who will be my guarantor?
How will I repay it along with fees and living expenses (priced at €13,000) when JobBridge isn’t even available to students, and part-time work dominates the market? I have garnered a considerable amount of savings already but it’s not a scratch on the mammoth amount I will need. I left comfortable Cork behind in the dust along with somewhere to live, a full-time minimum wage job and a bank account with some savings to start a new life here in Dublin with no accommodation, no income and those pretty pennies for college fees in my bank dwindling away daily for these fabled opportunities that do not seem to exist outside of the city. For a lot of students, don’t you think we’ve thought about fetching jobs? It’s difficult to find employment when you can’t scribble down a home address on a form.
The housing crisis has left Irish society, especially students, to endure a form of social natural selection and competition for resources. We are like flowers (wilted, but still multiplying) and Dublin is the flowerbed where housing is that vital resource. Darwinism dictates that the stronger flowers will eject and replace their weak counterparts when there is a struggle for scarce resources in competition.
Now, imagine being that one student out of the 27 people in that queue for a house. You’re up against families, so immediately you fall at the bottom of the housing food chain. How can I compete with that? I don’t even want to. But I have to, it is natural selection after all and I don’t want to be the weakest link. The lucky ones who squeezed into houses are then faced with the 17.2% increase in rent. Happy days, they’ll have a roof over their heads but now they have to worry about affording bread. The pressure of returning to education, the cost of living, budget cuts, trying to secure a loan and competing with 79,999 other SUSI applicants has left me and countless others in a state of uncomfortable limbo, anxiety and sleepless nights.
Before we even start the race in education we’re running with an exciting naivety. By the time accommodation, employment, assignments, rent and other psychological or social factors dare come into play, we are left out of breath, dropping to a painful jog gasping for air - and for what? So I can earn €50 extra through JobBridge along with my social welfare. We need to stop strangling the Irish state with short-term quick fix solutions before I am forced out of Ireland as part of this social natural selection, and learn some foresight to prevent further cataclysmic crisis before Ireland becomes one gigantic ghost estate.