The downsides of Irish countryside living

There are plenty of really positive reasons why anybody would want to live in the Irish countryside. Affordable housing, clean air, friendly neighbours, beautiful scenery are just a few of them. However there are some downsides too.

I get questions on and off about the affordability of living in Irish cities, in particular Dublin. If you've looked into this, you'll find that it can be quite high. When I tell people to have a look at what is available as regards housing 10-20 miles out from any major city/town, they are amazed at what they find. Beautiful homes, on huge plots of land, for a fraction of what they'd pay nearer the city. 150k to 250k will buy you the most amazing house in many parts of the country. You just have to be prepared to commute for work, play, groceries and many of the other daily needs in life.

I've never lived in the countryside myself but I have many friends who do and/or have. I've asked a few of them for what they consider to be the worst aspects of living in the Irish countryside. They've been kind enough to offer up some thoughts.

The thing you dislike most about Irish countryside living is:

The lack of decent internet and mobile phone coverage was probably the biggest let down for us. With the internet we didn't really think it would be as big a deal as it was until we tried watching Netflix using our satellite broadband connection. It'd be ok at times, but un-watchable often. Similarily with the mobiles. You'd get ok connection outside, but you can imagine what it's like having to run outside to take or make a call. Landlines are not a thing of the past! - Stephen in Cork

About a year after we moved in we had an issue with the septic tank. The whole septic tank thing was new to me to begin with, but then needing a repair soon after we bought the house was a bit of a pain. Being from the city, I hadn't been used to having these sorts of issues. There's relatively new laws in place now too for registration and inspection of the tanks. I don't know many of the details but is the official source for info. - Graham in Limerick

Can I only pick one? 🙂 I suppose if I had to pick, it'd be the distance/time it takes me to get to work. I live in a lovely house near Kilbrittain in Cork. The drive in to town (Cork city) where I work takes me about an hour most days. I love the country life, and the fact that we get a great house for what we pay out, but the driving is a killer! - James in Cork

We've had a few issues with our neighbour farmer about dogs (ours) and parking (his). He's threatened to take pot shots at our dogs if they come near his land. Our dogs are timid old things, and I understand he's concerned about his own animals, but threatening to shoot them is a bit over the top! The parking thing...he'll often block the roadway with a tractor or trailer and not think a thing about it. He kind of thinks he owns the lane just because there's not a lot of traffic comes down it. - Dermot in Kerry

Funny you mention it Dermot - a place near where we used to live!

Funny you mention it Dermot - a place near where we used to live!

It drives me nuts when I'm trying to get to work (or just want to get home), and there's a load of cows crossing the road. To be fair it only takes a few minutes for them to pass, but I'd still prefer not to wait. I suppose it's not too much worse than a busy section of road really. - Paula in Waterford

When we bought our place up here near Mallow back in 2013 we didn't really think of the small things that we'd miss from being nearer to town. For example nobody will deliver food to our area. Like I say, small, but it can be the little things that you miss. - Kevin in Cork

The lack of local amenities really comes to mind, Liam. Playgrounds for the kids, shops, pubs, etc. We have to drive to them all, and have limited options. - Caroline in Limerick

And there you have it...
I didn't put these thoughts together to deter anyone from living in the countryside. Everyone who you just heard from said that even though there are downsides, they know there are too in cities, and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
But it's good to have some insight in to what's in store. House prices are low in rural areas for a reason. There's less to do, further to drive, and not too many well-paying jobs nearby.

I'd love to hear from those of you who do live in the countryside. Or even if you've visited Ireland, and have an opinion on this. Add your own perspective in the comments below.

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9 Helpful Comments

  1. Profile photo of Tony Calland

    Love the “townies”, living in the country is nice but it doesn’t have what you can get in the town. 😉

    I grew up in the country, played out in the fields till well after dark, my old folk never worried about me being out there alone. Of course those were the days before Internet and Gameboys. So I see the country through country eyes. Sometimes you have to make do.

    No we don’t have netflix and the fist job I had when we moved in was to fit up a Satellite dish because 4 channels with each coming from different transmitters in different directions! no had to be freesat, now we have Sky! Second job was a gym in the barn but that’s another story.

    Internet, is better than it was, as is the mobile phone options but there can still be odd times without coverage and yes it can be slow when the local transmitter gets loaded.

    Shopping, If its milk or something we don’t have then the local shops 3 miles away are fine but the weekly shop is 12 miles in either direction.

    Work, yes anywhere within an hour away is reasonable but I have always travelled for work, Chris finds it different not being able to leave 15 minutes before start of shift as she did in the UK.

    The country roads are Bad! and yes you can get stuck behind a tractor or very occasionally livestock. Our dogs don’t roam but a couple were shot the year before last after the owners were warned twice about them chasing sheep. another was shot the next valley over by a local nutter but that’s something else.

    Rubbish. having to take the bins 1/4 of a mile to the closest point where the bin men collect. That’s a bind. 12 miles to the Dr is a bind at times.

    Needing to have a portable generator and chain saw as essential winter kit might not be what folk would expect?

    • Profile photo of Liam

      Ah, the local nutter! One in every town 🙂
      Thanks for the additions, Tony.

      Being a country guy, maybe you can shed light on what may be a misconception of my own… Country people seem lovely from the outset. They’re usually welcoming, laid back, up for the craic etc, but I get the feeling when somebody new moves to the area, they are treated with suspicion. Can someone who didn’t grow up in a rural town in Ireland ever really be fully welcomed in? I think this is an Irish thing in general, but possibly more prevalent in the countryside. What do you think?

      • Profile photo of Tony Calland

        A lot depends on how the “Blow in” (Irish term) integrates themselves. Move in like you own the place and invite problems, yet its surprising how many do. We were welcomed in surprisingly quickly and invited to parties and a Station the but our cottage is still the “Old Morans place” and might be for a few more years 🙂

  2. Profile photo of Cfin

    In comparison to living rurally in most other countries/states Ireland is great. Usually a post office and/or shop close by, even in the most rural of places in the most rural of counties. Broadband? usually. But you might get 1-2 mbps in the most rural areas. In the likes of Westmeath and 90% of the country they do have broadband, just not in the most rural of areas.

    I’m in Donegal which is the only place without trains in Ireland, and even still, the bus runs from Letterkenny to Dublin every 2 hours. It is also lowest county for average income and broadband reception, but still, most people can get it and regardless of income, there is hardly a soup kitchen in site. We also had a struggle with the bun man to have him come out our way. But alas, we do have the service. Main roads also now run everywhere even through the glenveagh national park. Can’t really complain, seeing as I made the choice to move to the middle of nowhere and still have a lot of services.

    Biggest issue in reality? The standard of houses out here. Damp, broken down, often moldy and in ill repair. Yet when you look for something else, you’ll get the same old nonsense in the middle of nowhere. And don’t expect sympathy or understanding from neighbors. THAT, is the biggest issue. Then call a plumber and Jimmy will arrive out after his job at the local shop to give it a look. He will then tell you that he’s not a “real” plumber. Again, only in the darkest, most rural areas but be prepared for it.

    • Profile photo of Cfin

      For Americans, think of Vermont or any place rural in the US as similar. It is our equivalent to almost cabin living.

      • Profile photo of David

        Vermont isn’t all that isolated. I grew up in several rural places including places where the nearest real grocery store was an hour drive away.

    • Profile photo of Liam

      The housing thing is definitely a concern, especially with older rentals. Thanks, Cfin. For those of you renting/buying, definitely pay close attention to the details in the BER report.

    • Profile photo of Liam

      P.S. the local cowboy coming out to fix something at your house after his day’s work is not reserved for country dwellers.

  3. Profile photo of Kate

    I grew up in a very rural area of in the U.S. and when we moved to the Washington D.C. area it was a bit of a shock. The noise, the traffic, and the work-obsessed people were really unpleasant after living in a small college town. Of course we got used to the convenience of living there fairly quickly — far more choices in restaurants, free museums all over the city, beautiful scenery and historic homes to explore. Then we moved to a beach town on the West Coast and it was getting used to a different culture all over again.

    So many of the things mentioned on this thread ware similar to life in small-town rural America. As much as I love the idea of living in the countryside, I’m not sure I would enjoy it as much as I would have a few years ago. After living in Yorkshire for two years, I loved the pace of life, availability of passenger trains (we didn’t have them where I grew up), plenty of interesting places to visit, short drives to the moors and the sea. The main things I missed were real Mexican food and my friends at home, but I truly grew to love living in the UK and would have stayed if my student visa hadn’t run out and I found there was no way I could.

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