But Come Ye Back?

Home in Ireland (Image source: Flickr)

Home in Ireland (Image source: Flickr)

Due to a slow economic recovery, the low real estate prices in Ireland may tempt some immigrants to return, not permanently, but possibly purchase a holiday home in Ireland.

Is now the right time to return, albeit temporarily, to Ireland?

There are lots of great deals to be had, but the money that you will pay to purchase a home in Ireland won’t be the only thing you will have to pay for. Apart from the usual expenses such as food, electricity, and house oil, you’ll need to consider the hidden expenses that come with owning a second home and maintaining it. Here is a list of things to consider before you decide to pack your bags.

 Non Principal Private Residence Form (Image Source: Docstoc.com)

Non Principal Private Residence Form (Image Source: Docstoc.com)

1. The Non Principal Private Residence Tax requires that owners who own a second home that is not their primary residence in Ireland pay an annual 200 Euro tax to the local government.

“The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended by the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011, introduced a €200 annual charge on non principal private residences, payable by the owners to the local authority in whose area the property concerned is located.”

2. Because of the lack of gas pipeline in rural areas of Ireland, house oil heating is the best option to heat your second home. The cost of 1000 liters of heating oil for your home according to Cheapestoil.ie for the Galway region is 890 Euro. If you pay with your credit card there will be an additional surcharge. How long will 1000 liters of oil last to heat a house in Ireland? Lots of factors affect this. How cold the outside temperature is, how large your house is, and how well insulated the house is all come into play.

Most of the older homes in Ireland are not well insulated, therefore heat will be lost through the walls and roof. You might have to insulate the older home to get more value for money with house oil. On average, most people time the heat to come on for an hour or two in the morning and then it turns off. It comes back on again before they come in from work. One home owner posted the following comment about heating his home in Ireland on askaboutmoney.com.

Oil tank for home heating oil in Ireland (Image source: inspectapedia.com)

Oil tank for home heating oil in Ireland (Image source: inspectapedia.com)

“I moved into a new log house just before Christmas. I’ve run out of oil for the second time today. I’ve already spent 700 euros (1000 liters) in 3 months. At the rate I’m going it’s costing around 40 euros a week!! I’m getting different opinions on how long 500 liters should last and want to know what is the average length yours lasts and any advice on making my system more efficient.”

The response given to his/her query was as follows:

“A 1000 liters lasts me 12 months. I am out all day and only use it from 4pm onwards in winter and not at all in summer I would use it for longer sat and sun. I also have open fire so I burn coal. I have 4 bed house.”

The most important thing to note about buying oil to heat your home in Ireland is the shocking new trend of home owners having their oil tanks siphoned off. Another commentator gives sound advice about this:

“A friend of mine in Kerry, like yourself was very surprised when her oil ran out so quickly. Turns out oil tanks are being siphoned off on a regular basis all over the place. Get a lock on the tank!!”

As the second comment states, open fires are also needed to heat a home adequately in Ireland. Wood, turf, coal and peat briquettes all cost extra!

Cars on Irish Roads (Image source: Breaking News.ie)

Cars on Irish Roads (Image source: Breaking News.ie)

3. If you live in the countryside in Ireland you’ll need a car to get you around. Car tax, insurance and petrol/diesel are all pricey, and remember if you are now a US citizen you can’t spend a day over 6 months out of the US or your citizenship will be revoked. So that car will be sitting idle for 6 months. You’ll have to trust someone to come over now and again to check on your home, and start the car to make sure the battery isn’t dead! Let’s hope someone will do it for free, but I don’t think they will.

Irish and American Flags (Image source: www.clker.com -)

Irish and American Flags (Image source: http://www.clker.com -)

4. Speaking of American citizenship, remember this when you are in Ireland for the duration: American citizens still pay taxes even if they live abroad for 6 months of the year. You’ll be paying taxes on the car and house laying idle in the US as well as any US income you are earning while you are in Ireland.

5. On average groceries and necessities will cost more in Ireland, the Euro exchange rate will not give you more bang for your buck either. There’s not much of a difference, but big enough for you to notice the price hike in necessities such as in petrol, house oil etc.

Bank of Ireland (Image source: The Guardian.com)

Bank of Ireland (Image source: The Guardian.com)

6. The biggest shock is the pace of life in Ireland. While some people love the slower pace, there are times when faster is better. Banks close for one hour for lunch every day. The post office will not deliver mail as quickly as it does in the US.

6. Customer service isn’t the same. I’ll give you an example. When traveling by Iranród (Iron Rod) Éireann (Irish Rail Road) three years ago, my husband and I stood on the platform and asked the IRE employee where we should sit on the train as there had been some confusion about it. His response was, “How the f*#!k should I know! Sure I am just the driver!” (Yes, we can laugh at it, now!)

Really bad customer service (Image source: www.techtv101.com)

Really bad customer service (Image source: http://www.techtv101.com)

More recently as we stopped at the toll booth leaving Shannon Airport after just arriving from the US my husband offered the worker in the booth $10 because we had no Irish money on us. “Now if I was in America, would you take my Irish money?” was his response. Yet he took Sterling money from us. So in my opinion, customer service is lacking in some places in Ireland. Not all, but in the ones that, ironically, have a lot of dealings with tourists. The hotel industry could teach these fellas a thing or two about “customer service.”

That’s not to say that there are no places that offer good customer service, but it was shocking to experience the negative customer service in areas that deal with a lot of tourists such as the Irish Rail Road and the toll booth outside of Shannon Airport.

But hey, we have some poor customer service here in the US also, but I have to say, after 20 years of living here, I can only recall two. It isn’t the end of the world when you do have a bad experience, but when you are on vacation and it happens, it does leave a poor opinion of the place visited.

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