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Relocating family to countryside

  • 26-10-2022 2:37pm
    Registered Users Posts: 15

    Hi all, first time poster, longtime lurker here. I am hoping for some advise.

    My husband and I currently live in Dublin and have done so for the past decade. We are married and have a kid, own our home and to be honest have a great set up with good friends around us.

    We both love returning home to our parents houses down the country once a month or so. Still have all our childhood friends down there and in general love the freedom of the countryside and the way of life.

    During lockdown the longing to return back to where we grew up began to grow and we decided to begin saving to build our dream home down the country near family. Fast forward a number of years and we are now at the stage where in the next 12 months or so we will seriously begin looking for a site to begin the process we discussed.

    The problem is, I don't know if I want to move anymore. I am trying to establish if it is the fear of the unknown - relocating a perfectly happy family or that I genuinely prefer living in a big city.

    Can anyone who has done this move please advise of things we may not have thought about or any advise in general would be much appreciated.

    To add. We both very much understand what a lucky position we are in to have these problems.



  • Registered Users Posts: 28,047 ✭✭✭✭looksee

    If you own a house in Dublin you should be able to afford a pretty good rural house.

    Of course between releasing the value of your existing home (selling it) and buying a site/building a house in the country you will need somewhere to live in the meantime.

    What do you visualise as 'rural'. This could be anything from a one off house literally surrounded by fields (in which case buy an existing house (not an old stone cottage) and develop it, easier, cheaper and more manageable, to a house in a small town or village with amenities to hand - though nothing like as many amenities as you are used to.

    Building a house nowadays is a much different experience than it was years ago. There are so many rules and regulations to building now that it is an expensive job that needs a much more complex approach than just finding a builder and asking them to build you a house. And there is a serious shortage of tradesmen - plasterers appear to be a very rare and dying breed judging my recent experience.

    Also, depending on how rural you are you will find your options much more limited in finding tradespeople willing to travel to you, they can get all the work they want in the towns and cities. Though the likelihood of getting a greenfield site outside a village or town is now quite slim, be very careful, estate agents are still sometimes willing to describe a field as a 'site' when there isn't a hope of getting planning on it, though this is becoming less likely. If an ad says 'subject to planning' it generally means you likely won't get it.

    However, if you have considered all this, how will affect you generally?

    Your child will need to be ferried by car to visit friends - the romantic notion of biking around the countryside is ok until you realise how dangerous country roads are now with cars trying to do motorway speeds on roads that are barely two cars wide.

    You will need a car to do pretty much anything, fetching a litre of milk can be a car journey, depending on where you live.

    You are moving into a different social set up, one that is lovely for a holiday - get away from it all - but may not be quite as appealing on a permanent basis. Can you happily live without city facilities and amenities? Will you miss shops and choice of restaurants and such things as evening classes?

    I live rural and love it, but its not for everyone. If you have a life you find satisfactory and enjoyable where you are I would think very carefully about leaving it unless you have a very clear idea of what you want from rural living. And for heavens sake, talk to your spouse, really go into detail about what your plans, hopes and dreams are. Maybe they feel the same way and you are both deferring to each other!

  • Registered Users Posts: 78,243 ✭✭✭✭Victor

    Rent a house and try it for a year. See how it goes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    Thanks for the reply looksee. To us rural would be 10/15min drive to a large town - similar to how we both grew up. In terms of greenfield site/doing up an existing house both are on the table once we are within that limit to a big town.

    I have spoken to the relevant local planning authorities - at a high level and qualify for once of builds due to local need.

    Added to that we are aware both our sets of parents are not getting any younger and would like to be around should they need us - this is not something they would ever say or expect but is a honstant at the back of my mind.

    I take on board what you say - It is something we need to flesh out more as a couple. After aggressively saving for so long now I am questioning is it just cold feet - something I personally need to work on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,999 ✭✭✭Glaceon

    As a child of a family who did the same, you should carefully consider your child in this.

    I moved from a busy city to a rural area, about 8km from the nearest town. The isolation hit me badly and meant that I lived a very sheltered life growing up. My eldest brother was the same, we both moved back once we got old enough.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    Thanks Victor - Due to relocation requests in work, I think it would have to be more of a permanent request unfortunatly.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,562 ✭✭✭zg3409

    I second this and rent out your existing house but be sure you can return to your existing home by only allowing 3/4 month leases not 6+ months.

    If you sell it may be impossible to move back to the same area due to house prices and availability.

    Work would be my main concern, and having to commute or work from home, second would be access to services like shops, cinema, specialist clubs and hobbies.

    Building a house from scratch is one of the most stressful things you can do. Banks may stop the project part way if money on international money markets dries up and if you have stages payments for the build. From first plans to completed house can easily take 4 years and double in cost. When completed it may be worth less than you paid and difficult to sell big house in low demand area. Some mortgage providers (the cheaper ones) won't give loans for rural areas and interest rates are going up. If build stops before house is completed you may ho bankrupt. Better to buy finished house even if not ideal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    Do you mind me asking what age your were when you moved Glaceon? Our child has not started school yet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    I understand you are of local stock?, I absolutely understand how blow ins with no blood ties to a rural area might be apprehensive but that doesn't apply here ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    Yes, local stock lol... We would literally be moving '' home''

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    International money markets is not something we have considered but we are not the sort to put ourselves under financial pressure, for what we want we would not even be borrowing 3.5times salary in the current climate

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,505 ✭✭✭✭Mad_maxx

    OK, that's clear , so is it the prospect of building you're own home that's daunting?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,239 ✭✭✭✭Furze99

    Well then you know what's it all about, the pros and cons of where you grew up.

    FWIW we grew up in city/ town and moved to rural area many years ago, partly as we couldn't afford to buy around Dublin. Absolutely fine here over the years but children grown now and age catching up healthwise. Some talk about moving back nearer town/ city. Would hate to move but there are certain practical benefits in terms of services and transport etc. If we living in Dublin now, it'd be far handier.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    It's more so leaving Dublin with good friends around (no family) where we are perfectly happy the majority of the time - to move back to where we 'think' we will be happier. The grass isn't always greener and I hope we are not looking back through rose tinted glasses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,668 ✭✭✭whippet

    renting / trying it out for a year is really the only way you'll know for sure.

    We moved from dublin about 10 years ago now and rented in the area for 6 months before deciding to buy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,111 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    If you are happy where you are, have good schools and like the area I’d be inclined to stay put. Living in the country means getting into the car for even the shortest journeys, due to road conditions.

    I’m rural in Kildare and drive to get to a walk as the road is just too dangerous to even think of walking. Lived in a town and loved being close to everything. Much healthier as you are more inclined to walk or cycle to schools and shops.

    I cycle a bit but again am terrified of the traffic.

    Moving back to your “home” place is also not as easy as you would expect. It’s not so easy to re integrate as your peers will have established their own lives.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,999 ✭✭✭Glaceon

    I was 11 and my brother was 15. In fairness to you, your situation would be different to mine because of the age of your child and the fact that you're locals to the area that you're planning to move to. We were exactly what @Mad_maxx said above - "blow ins with no blood ties to a rural area".

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,344 ✭✭✭Thoie

    My circumstances were different, but examine the "good friends" around bit carefully. I moved away from one set of good friends, but was moving near another set. When I stopped and looked at how often I saw the first set, it wasn't that often at all - while we were regularly in touch, we didn't physically meet up often.

    In general I'd suggest drawing up a schedule of what a normal week looks like for your whole family. E.g.

    Monday - Person1: work, home, sports club. Person2: work, bar with friendA, home. Child: Creche, dance class, home

    Of the things that are not work and home or a family outing, which would you really miss? Are there similar alternatives in the new location? E.g. replacing "meet friend in coffee shop" with "drop over to mum for a pot of tea".

    If you have willing friends with a spare room, the monthly trip home could be replaced by a monthly trip to Dublin to hang out with friends.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    I bloody love this. (am I allowed to say bloody on boards?) We need to do this. How have I not thought of it before. That will add so much clarity (fingers crossed)

  • Administrators Posts: 53,358 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭awec

    Genuine question, but can you really meet the "local needs" requirement if you already own a house?

    I thought that this usually rules you ineligible?

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 Zelaouz

    The local planner I spoke with for the area we hope to return to confirmed we did anyway. This was last year. May have something to do with moving from a different county? Will defiantly double check this if there is a question over it/change in rules

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,499 ✭✭✭John_Rambo

    I have close friends that did just that. Moved back to the rural area they grew up in as childhood sweethearts. They wouldn't suffer from that "blow in" label that seems to pop it's head up in certain parts of the country. They developed a good mix of blended work from home and the kids were pre-school so they went for it. They both have good jobs that require degrees & masters, high pressure jobs, but excellent money.

    They're happy enough with the move for now, but were taken aback by the differences their kids future holds compared to their own childhood. Main points are: •The kids can't cycle where they used to be able to cycle, it's off. Done.. •They can't really walk anywhere, things have changed on the farming and road landscape. •They spend way way more time indoors (once it's dark, it's in for the night). •Their carbon footprint has exploded (heating bills, fuel for travel, second car purchase). •They miss walking to local pub/restaurant for food. •There was lots of things that the kids could have done in the suburban setting that they can't do where they are, it seems GAA is a predominant activity where they are now. •One of the kids has special needs (not major) but they need to go to counselling once a week and it's a 50k drive there and back every Wednesday after work & school.

    They didn't sell up so there's options to move back and they're carefully looking at long term, when the kids get older and what they'll have to do regarding college, cars and all that goes with that like car insurance, accommodation etc... But they 100% admit that their kids won't have the childhood they had growing up in the rural enclave they grew up in.

    Eyes wide open.

    Best of luck with whatever decision you make.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭The Spider

    Think I can comment on this as I’m a bit of a mix, I’m not from Dublin I’m from another Irish city though, but lived there for 15 years before I met my wife who has a rural background. We moved out of Dublin down to her neck of the woods around 10 years ago,we didn’t go full on out into the countryside (city boy not Dublin but still a city it would’ve killed me), We moved to a town about 80k from Dublin and 20k from her family.

    She adjusted in a heartbeat, I did too entually, we worked in different industries I commuted to Dublin, could do it in an hour or just over most days, but my job tended to need a lot of going to pubs and networking etc to get ahead, but that was off the table when I commuted, one of the big things I missed when I left.

    The friends thing is a different thing, you will drift no two ways about that, there’s no more casual pints or coffee, every time you meet it’s a major arrangement, all the hard work will be from your side, travelling up etc, and if you go to that hassle every time you do it will be a big night out, also if you’re a certain age you may not want to stay in your friends house if they have kids etc, all boils down to how good friends you are.

    Also a big thing to remember here is college, if your kids are going to college living in Dublin is a lot easier than down the country especially with the price of accommodation etc, we’re an hour away they’ll be commuting.

    Good things I love the house down here it’s great, bought at the right time, prices are shooting up now though, the area is fantastic, no dodgy estates etc, schools are brilliant and the. kids love it.

    See family a lot more,my neighbours are brilliant we’re down in their house for drinks and they’re up in ours, summers are amazing I have a giant garden and we have regular garden parties and barbecues that people travel to come to.

    Even though we’re not back where I’m from we’re a lot closer to it so down there a lot I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends as I get to see them a lot more.

    At the end of the day I probably do feel a connection to the town through my wife and it’s my kids hometown at this stage. I can safely say that all the years I was in Dublin I never felt connected to it, I wasn’t from Dublin and always suspected if I left I’d never look back, and ha I was right, sure there’s a few things I miss now and again, but anytime I’m there I can’t wait to run out of it.

    As for the friends I have in Dublin they’re still friends but a lot were ex work colleagues etc, some have moved onto other countries (yes even the dubs) others moved further out in Dublin to buy houses for their families and we ended up not seeing each other that much anyway.

    End of the day you’ve got to do what you think is the best way to spend your life and is it really fulfilled in Dublin, if you didn’t see your Dublin friends as much would it bother you? Does not seeing your family as much bother you etc.

    only thing that’d give me pause for thought would be the college thing

    Post edited by The Spider on

  • Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭suilegorma

    Similar to the above post, can you list the "freedom of the countryside and the way of life" for your family in real activities, behaviours? As in, more time with family....will this actually happen given schedules? As in space to roam, is this realistic with increased car useage? Etc etc. Do a critical analysis of what your new life would be like for yourselves v staying where you are. Really tease it out.

    I do feel like there's a idea of rural living somehow being more wholesome. Or that maybe rurally raised people couldn't possibly be happy living in a city and vice versa and will always hanker after where they were raised. But I think rural/suburban/city life all have their positives and negatives. Some if these can be mitigated or enhanced depending on how you set them up. It all depends of what your preferences are for you and your family are and how well each type of life sits within that. And it sound like you are doing a lot of thinking about it so well done and best of luck with your decision. Also remember doing nothing is also a decision!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,786 ✭✭✭DownByTheGarden

    My brother and his wife moved back to our home village about 4 years ago.

    Id love to do the same myself but my wife wont hear any of it :)

    He loves it, his wife and 3 kids hate it. Its really effecting the kids. They just cant get used to it. 2 teenagers especially.

    They have looked and they cant afford to move back to Dublin now anyway, so they will just have to stick it out. Its one way to get the kids to leave home i suppose :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 893 ✭✭✭FlubberJones

    I moved rural from Dublin, it looked great initially but within a year the drawbacks crept in...

    Everything is a car journey

    Schools were miles away and the infrastructure to support the kids was also a car journey away.

    Any sort of trade required was a hassle as it was always a journey out of town for them

    Once the sun went down there was nothing to do, unlit rural roads meant our son was not able to travel anywhere unless driven. (Car again)

    Having a social life meant using a taxi, which was a 20 euro trip into the town and the same return.

    Quickly needed two cars, fuel bills went through the roof for them

    Bad weather (frozen roads, snow, floods etc.) meant having to be careful on the roads and power outages were ridiculously frequent in a storm

    It ended after a few years (many reasons) and I now live in Dublin near the Luas, the office, the gym.... I will never look back.

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite

    I'm a rural blow in. We moved from the city when son was due to start school. While it's OH's childhood stomping ground, I didn't know anyone, but felt very comfortable living rurally given I come from a rural background myself as well. I'm 10 miles from the nearest town and about 4 miles from a garage/deli/ mini market. You will need at least one car - but likely 2, because if one doesn't start one morning, it's not like you can hop a luas or cycle to work! The next time we change our cars though I want to go electric or at least hybrid, because with a long commute, plus needing to drive a few miles to pop to the shop, the petrol can add up!

    Our main reason to move was to be nearer family - and we knew the school in the area was good - good class sizes and the teachers were well regarded. As he was young, we weren't wrenching him away from school friendships luckily. There's really two main ways to integrate.. local sports activities and the school. I joined the parents association of the school and also the first year we moved, invited all his 14 classmates to a party, mainly so that I could get to know the other mothers - and that worked nicely.

    Son started school, acquired 2 best friends on the first day but all the small class are a close knit bunch and they all get along. He does GAA - but at this age it's more for fun. There's soccer, hurling, and the local town's pool has great swimming lessons so he does that on the weekend. He plays out with the other kids on our lane and often until well after dark. Strange cars would stand out so it's very safe.

    5 years on, I've a solid circle of friends now. Quite a few 'married in' like I did, so bonded that way. They are close enough I can rely on them for a childcare emergency, organise car-pooling and vice versa. You get creative for nights out - it's less of popping around the corner to the local and more of taking turns to drive or recently a gang of us just hired a mini bus for the night at 20 quid a head and pub-crawled to an event 45 miles away and got a lift right back to the door again. Or for a date night, the kids go sleepover and you and the other half go away for a night to a hotel and do dinner and all that.

    The cousins up the road are teens so there is a lot of ferrying around. Generally the parents of friends share the driving. But the upside of that is that you can spot if they are in any state when they get in. Or often there's a bus bringing them as well. The good thing about living in the sticks is that you always know where your teens are because they needed you to drive them!

    Food-wise, after the first week of people giving out that there's nothing to eat in the house you learn to grocery plan, and stock up - and a decent freezer is a must really. I still work in the city so I do a Tesco click & collect and pick it up on my way home. That saves time at the weekend. Most other stuff I order online if I can - packages are usually safe at our door, and for anything that might get rain damaged, our local delivery guys will stick it in the shed.

    One thing I didn't see mentioned here is check where your intended area is at with regard to broadband /fibre. Especially if you intend to hybrid work. Our village is about 18 months away from getting fibre if we are lucky, and the broadband is pretty crap. We can still stream and work, but there are some days when it's brutal. Having said that, there's a work hub nearby I can use if I need to WFH until that happens. And don't rely on the providers to tell you, they just talk the talk until you sign up. Speak to people in the area to get an idea of the actual internet service you can get.

    I'm glad we moved, as I love it here. We've a lot of wildlife around - Owls, bats, pheasant, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, and even spotted a pinemartin and a red squirrel once. I'm a light sleeper so no traffic to wake me. Overall I do more driving but I catch up on podcasts and audio books in the car, and actually love driving now. Someone I know used their commute to learn a new language but I'd be afraid it would put me to sleep while driving, but also a good idea.

    A lot of rural houses have solid fuel. We moved into a house with a back boiler and we get turf. I got 300 quid of oil last year at the end of December, as our oil ran out. We've still got some of that oil left as it was only on the odd time. With the new turf laws proposed though, it might be tricky in the future (though I can kind of see the government rolling back on that)

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,629 ✭✭✭Wildly Boaring

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,632 ✭✭✭El Gato De Negocios

    We did just that OP and are hopefully moving into our new house in early December. We moved back to where I grew up and were lucky in that my parents gifted us a 1 acre site and because of my connections to the area we had no issues with planning however I know for Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, its usually not that straightforward. It was easy for me as where we are building is 30 seconds from my parents house and I still have alot of friends and family in the area. My wife was a born and reared Dub from near the city centre and she loves it. Moving down and building has meant that she was able to take a couple of years out of work until the kids are in school. We have a now 5.5 year old and a 4 year old and moved down almost exactly 2 years ago. As the kids were young and were in creche full time the move had zero negative impacts on them and they absolutely love the country life style. The house is approx an 8 minute drive to the nearest town and 5 minutes to 2 villages so we arent exactly in the wilderness. We are 100% happy with our decision but i can understand why you might be reluctant. For me personally, the only downside really is potential impact on my career progression. Im lucky in my employer is fully supportive of full time remote working however the issue would be if i wanted to change jobs. I dont know how many employers would support full remote work for someone just in the door on a decent salary but for the time being im more than content doing what im doing. Genuinely, the only thing i miss about Dublin is easy access to gigs as i used to go to alot but other than that, there is nothing at all.

    One note of caution is the cost of construction. We were lucky in that we got the major stuff done before things went bananas but I know its alot more expensive now than it was when we started in the summer of 2021.

    If you can do it though, Id recommend it. We have no regrets and IMO, a country upbringing for kids is infinitely better than city life.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,363 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    This is a big issue. Every journey is a car journey. Every pint of milk, every school run, every sports training, every playdate or teenage get together. Every journey is a car journey. That's not a sustainable lifestyle.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,629 ✭✭✭Wildly Boaring

    My last house in the countryside I cyvled to the shops, walked to the pub. Wife often took the buggy to playschool.

    We were about 1.5k from the school and not more for shops and pub.

    My parents are in the countryside but 1km by a footpath from the school and church. Small shop 1k the other way 75% path.

    There are amenities in the country