The judges chose their shortlist of five finalists in The Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021 competition, which is supported by Randox Health.
The five locations are: Clonakilty, Co Cork; the city of Galway; Glaslough, County Monaghan; Killarney, County Kerry; and the city of Waterford.
Over the summer, more than 2,400 members of the public named 470 locations in every county in Ireland. While the number of nominations was a factor in our initial selection, the judges have now visited all of the sites to determine the quality of each for themselves.
Each place was judged on criteria including: natural amenities; buildings; community initiatives and spirit; presence of clubs, societies and activities; good local services; the diversity; a welcome for foreigners; transport links; employment opportunities; the price of real estate and the supply of housing; Cost of life; digital links for remote work; Safety and security.
Real estate prices are just one of many measures our judges use to choose the best place to live, but in the midst of a housing crisis, they are an important consideration. We visited villages where houses are quite cheap and suburbs where property is beyond the reach of most people. This article includes an analysis of the affordability of each location, comparing local prices to the ceilings for regionalised “affordable” housing listed in the government’s plan for housing for all.
The long list of 20 has been announced September 4. Each stage of the competition is documented here. The winner will be announced on September 25.
Here’s what we said about each.
Clonakilty, Co Cork
Nominated by: Marcus Bateson
Total number of applications: 9
What the pitch says: “Clonakilty is an incredibly progressive and forward-looking community that champions inclusiveness and diversity, a pioneering city that can be seen as a role model for other cities around the world. Living there is a dream; with access to stunning sandy beaches, a large farmers market, a plethora of artisan food businesses and specialty coffee roasters, but it’s the strong community of Clonakilty that fosters a spirit of inclusion and creativity that makes people of all backgrounds and identities feel welcome here. “
What the Irish Times says: “There are 12 beaches within a 12 mile radius, but community interaction is Clonakilty’s strong suit. It was the first “fair” city in the country and the first “autist-friendly” city. The chamber of commerce was recently awarded “cool community” status for its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It has both a local economy and a suburban economy, and the housing supply is improving.
Government definition of “affordable housing” in County Cork: less than € 350,000.
Average of the last 50 sales in Clonakilty: 290,000 €.
Average asking price of homes for sale on myhome.ie: € 361,000.
Number of homes for sale on myhome.ie: 39 (nine are sites).
Affordability: The average asking price is slightly higher than the average Co Cork price. The average of recent actual sales is below. Sixteen of the properties for sale are looking for less than € 350,000; seven are less than € 200,000. Be prepared to look out into the backcountry as well as into the city.
Nominated by: Henriette Broderick
Total number of applications: 9
What the pitch says: “Its contrasting skyline, narrow winding streets, gray stone buildings and proximity to the ocean make it a wonderful place to live. It’s rural, but cosmopolitan. Everything is within walking distance. It is a culinary mecca. It’s colorful, bohemian and relaxed. The Galwegians welcome young and old alike. It is a jewel in the crown of Ireland.
What the Irish Times says: “The heart of Galway is commercially vibrant, with high occupancy rates and well-used public spaces, such as Shop Street and the surrounding area. The city is full of cultural assets and has a vibrant arts scene. It has grown considerably over the past decades, with a strong multinational employment base. Galway is a culturally diverse city and a great place to live.
Government definition of “affordable housing” in Galway City: less than € 400,000.
Average price in Galway city: € 325,000 (according to Daft.ie Housing Report 2021).
Average asking price of homes for sale on myhome.ie: € 365,000.
Number of houses for sale on myhome.ie: 204.
Affordability: The current average asking price is below the government’s definition of € 400,000 for an “affordable” house in the city. There are 167 homes for sale at or below the affordable level for the region, and 46 of them are looking for € 200,000 or less. As the government’s affordability cap suggests, prices are high in Galway, although many sales fall below this level.
Glaslough, County Monaghan
Nominated by: Ann McGhee
Total number of applications: 246
What the pitch says: “Glaslough has everything you need for a happy life. A friendly and welcoming community with beautiful architecture, Glaslough has 13 community organizations and two excellent elementary schools. There are lots of beautiful hiking trails, gardens, and things to see and do. As current winners of the Tidy Towns National Competition, it is clear that we are the best place to live in Ireland.
What the Irish Times says: “Beautiful, waste-free and flowery, the village has a symbiotic relationship with Castle Leslie, but also an exceptionally active and proactive community, which they themselves have created. Well-maintained public seats – apparently before the pandemic – encourage chatting and a way to be social. It is very attractive, with beautiful buildings and a lot of charm and atmosphere.
Government definition of “affordable housing” in County Monaghan: less than € 225,000.
Average of last 50 sales in Glaslough, Co Monaghan: € 139,000, dating back to 2017.
Affordability: Excellent, but only five sales in the past year and very few available now. If you see one, grab it.
Killarney, County Kerry
Nominated by: Sandra dunlea
Total number of applications: 31
What the pitch says: “Killarney is a unique place to live, we have a wide range of schools, employment opportunities and access to very good transport links, train, airport and major main roads for children. buses and cars. We live in the midst of 26,000 acres of protected national park, have a beautiful art school, a variety of dance and theater schools, GAA, football and water sports. We have a beautiful city that has visitors all year round. We have a large number of volunteers who dedicate their time to keeping our city and our park clean and beautiful. “
What the Irish Times says: “In a beautiful location, Killarney is a bustling and bustling town, full of cafes, restaurants and bars. And because he’s used to visitors, it’s part of the culture to be very helpful to foreigners. Everyone is talking to each other in the street. All the amenities, both natural and man-made, are impressive. It’s easy to see why people are proud of the area.
Government definition of “affordable housing” in County Kerry: less than € 250,000.
Average of the last 50 sales in Killarney: € 266,000.
Average asking price of homes for sale on myhome.ie: € 417,000.
Number of houses for sale on myhome.ie: 33 (nine are sites).
Affordability: The average asking price of existing homes is well above the average Co Kerry price, but the average of recent actual sales is slightly higher. Seven of the 33 available properties are looking for less than € 250,000; five are less than € 200,000. So there are homes for those on modest budgets, but the average is increased by some upscale and expensive homes. Overall, affordability appears to be a victim of Killarney’s success in other areas.
City of Waterford
Nominated by: Michel O Foghlu
Total number of applications: 47
What the pitch says: “The city of Waterford is great for height: not too small nor too big. Most amenities, from shops to cliff walks, are within 15 minutes of town. Tramore and Dunmore East are hubs for surfing, sailing and everything in between, and the Waterford Greenway has opened up the area. The IT and pharmaceutical industry is booming, and the local housing market offers many reasonable options for all types of housing.
What the Irish Times says: “No one here was surprised to learn that Waterford was considered one of the best places to live in Ireland. It is not perfect and suffers from the same problems as other cities, but perhaps on a smaller scale. But what it lacks in these attributes, it makes up for with its rich history, pedestrian potential, quality of life and ease of access to outdoor facilities.
Government definition of “affordable housing” in the city of Waterford: less than € 250,000.
Average house price in Waterford City: € 202,150 (according to the Daft.ie Housing Report 2021).
Average asking price of homes for sale on myhome.ie: € 295,000.
Number of houses for sale on myhome.ie: 76.
Affordability: The current average asking price is above the government’s definition of an affordable house in the city. Nonetheless, there are 51 homes at or below the affordable level of € 250,000, and 44 of these are € 200,000 or less. Affordability and variety on offer is good in Waterford City.