“I never thought I would love the country but it turns out that’s exactly what I want”
City life is no more urban than a house in the heart of Dublin Liberties and for many years architect Brian O’Brien and his family have been very happy here. His young sons were well integrated into the local community through their school and social life, and although the idea of a major movement may have floated in the ether from time to time, it took the pandemic to bring it to pass. the front of the stage.
Eighteen months later, the O’Briens are now settled in their new home in Schull, West Cork.
Initially, the family went south for a few weeks when the first lockdown was announced. It was a reconnaissance to test the waters and they stayed in Airbnbs. As the lockdown continued, weeks turned into months, and about four months into the experience, they broke the news of the permanent move to the boys.
“It was more difficult for the older boy (12) because he considers himself a Dub. Dublin was his world and it was difficult for him to imagine another. But it has become easier since the school and other activities reopened and there is generally more life around the place, ”says O’Brien.
“We are within walking distance of the school and the village. We no longer need childcare because we are so close to everything and can at the same time be flexible in our working day.
Professionally, O’Brien continues to practice as an architect and teach at the third level. Aside from the occasional worry of becoming too professionally out of touch with the world, he doesn’t regret the move.
“We don’t take jobs from people in the area. We brought them with us, which is the holy grail of rural regeneration, ”he says. “My only advice to anyone considering a move is to do your research and choose the right place.
Teleworking and e-working have been around for more than a decade. What has changed and made the whole process much more viable are the huge improvements in technology
“We have since bought a house, luckily just before the prices started to go up, and we have a lot of space. We now have a beautiful big dog, which we could not have had in our previous house because he was too small. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too quiet here, but this feeling never lasts more than a second.
Tomás Ó Síocháin, chief executive of the Western Development Commission (WDC), said several factors are fueling people’s decisions to relocate right now. Growing awareness of climate change and the impact of unsustainable travel is one of them, a candidate labor market that makes it easier for employees to request flexible and remote work is a second and 18 months experience of the reality of working from home have made many employers a lot more open to decentralization.
“Teleworking and teleworking have been around for over a decade. What has changed and made the whole process much more viable are the huge technological improvements, ”says Ó Síocháin.
For those who have already moved, statistics from the National Remote Work Survey conducted in collaboration with NUIG show that the most popular destination for relocations in April this year are Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Cork, Kerry and border counties. Of the nearly 6,500 people surveyed, 75% work entirely remotely and more than half of them have never worked remotely before.
Two other interesting statistics emerged: 47% of those who manage other people found no difference between remote or on-site management, while 44% saw no difference in productivity and 44% saw a difference. improvement.
Ó Síocháin points out that remote working in a rural environment is not necessarily the same as working from home imposed on many by the pandemic.
“We’re not talking about people who have to work in their bedroom or on the kitchen table all the time,” he says. “There is a network of hubs along the Atlantic Economic Corridor where people can go to work in a comfortable and more formal setting – but without the long commutes – while enjoying the benefits of good broadband, socializing and spending time. ‘good coffee.
We often hear it said that encouraging people to move will kind of dig cities. Reality can’t stand this
“From an employer’s point of view, hubs tick the box because they are regulated spaces that meet health and safety requirements.
“The advantage of overflow for rural communities is obviously economic but also social because people are not so much on the road. They are more present and have more time to give something back, ”adds Ó Síocháin.
“We often hear that encouraging people to move is going to kind of dig cities. Reality cannot stand this. We’re talking about relatively low numbers overall, but nonetheless they’re big enough to make a difference in rural areas – the difference between a small business like a local cafe or a school that stays open or closed for example.
Aoibheann Boyle is only four months into her new life at Co Clare. She moved there from Wicklow and has so far no complaints.
“I have always been drawn to the west because my grandfather is from Limerick and my family came here on vacation. Somehow I feel completely comfortable here and more myself, ”says Boyle, who returned to Ireland in 2019 after four years of teaching in Spain.
She now lives in Kilkee and works with The Tourism Space, an online training, leadership, networking and mentoring company for the hospitality industry. Boyle works three days from home and two days at the company base at The Ennistymon Hub.
“I never thought I would love the country, but it turns out that’s exactly what I want,” she says.