Ireland Becomes a Low-Cost Place to Retire

After years of soaring prices, Ireland is becoming a budget-friendly retirement locale.

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Ireland has long been a top retirement choice. This beautiful and welcoming nation of hospitable folks who speak English has a long-standing affinity with the United States. For decades, the retirement daydream of many Americans has been a white-washed, thatched-roof cottage on the Emerald Isle.

[See Discounts and Perks When You Retire Overseas.]

But for much of the last decade, the Celtic Tiger roared. Ireland was no longer a sleepy outpost but an investment haven. As foreign money and business ventures migrated to the island, the face of Ireland changed. For the would-be retiree, the cost-of-living and of owning a small cottage soared. Inflation and the building boom pushed prices up sharply year after year for over a decade.

All that came to a dramatic end in 2008. In the three years since then, the Celtic Tiger balloon has flattened and the Irish economy has flat-lined. For soon-to-be retirees overseas, there’s an up-side to this economic storm: Prices are down and the cost of real estate in Ireland is lower than it’s been in two decades.

[See 10 Tips for Retirement Overseas.]

A distressed property auction was held in Dublin last month, the first of a series of such events planned through the end of the year. Townhouses, apartments, period homes, and small businesses were auctioned off for as little as 15 to 25 percent of the amounts they sold for prior to the bust. And it’s not clear that the bottom has been hit. Real estate values in Ireland may still have further to fall.

I lived in Ireland for seven years at the height of the boom. My husband and I arrived in Waterford with a clear agenda. We came to Ireland as entrepreneurs looking for business opportunity. Now, with age and time, I see that we were misguided. Ireland has great opportunities, but not of the kind we were in the market for at the time.

The opportunity Ireland offers is for an idyllic retirement among the rolling green hills and the sheep farms. You can escape to a simple country life in one of the greenest countries on earth and begin a new lifestyle. It’s easy to make friends because the language is English and the Irish are among the most agreeable people anywhere.

[See The World’s Best Beaches for Retirement.]

Ireland has seen an unprecedented boom and dramatic bust. Through the wild up and down, though, the country has retained its heart. Irish retirement living is an appealing and charming idea, and now it is also more affordable than it has been in nearly two decades.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.