"I Moved To Ireland Because Of Brexit": A 23-Year-Old Woman Who Gave Up On Britain

Photo by Pinghung Chen/EyeEm.
There's less than six months to go until "Brexit Day", when the UK will leave the EU once and for all, but if you've been following the ongoing negotiations you'll know they're not exactly going according to plan – particularly the confusion over what will happen to the Irish border. That's on top of the fact that if the referendum were re-held two years on, Remain would clinch it, according to numerous polls.
So the recent news that there's been a spike in British people buying homes in Ireland is only somewhat surprising. House sales to "Brexit refugees" from the UK have increased by 10% in the last year, with almost half of estate agents citing a rise in enquiries from the UK in the last year, the Irish Independent reported this week.
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Brexit was cited as a direct reason for moving to Ireland in almost a fifth of all sales, with nearly 40% of buyers relocating to Ireland from London and the southeast of England.
But the data from estate agents suggests that Brexit is proving to be a "double-edged sword" for the country, because British people are outbidding Irish homebuyers and putting pressure on an already stretched Irish housing market, the paper concluded.

Brexit was confirmation that it was time to go...I was no longer welcome in London.

While emigrants wanting to return home make up a chunk of those moving to Ireland, many others are British-based workers moving there for the first time. One such woman is 23-year-old Isabella*, who lived in London for 22 years before moving to Dublin this July. She is among the over 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds who backed Remain, and her decision to move was "directly related to Brexit," she told Refinery29.
Following the June 2016 referendum, Isabella, who works in tech, "made an active decision to expand [her] search to Europe," when searching for her next role. Applications for Irish passports spiked in the first few months after the Brexit result (an Irish passport would allow eligible British citizens to retain EU citizenship) so she clearly wasn't alone in deciding to plump for Ireland.
"I've always wanted to work abroad, but Brexit was confirmation that it was time to go. At the beginning I was in a state of shock and felt I was no longer welcome in London. The initial worry died down, but the shift in environment and how everyone felt really changed how I felt towards the city I'd spent most of my time in."
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Isabella suffers from diabetes and was also concerned by the "scaremongering" around potential disruption to the insulin supply chain in the event of a no-deal Brexit. "It's a small thing but not having to worry about picking up prescriptions is a big relief," she said. "It seems there's no coherent understanding of where the UK is headed, and talking to my Scottish colleagues, you can really feel the divide within the UK, exacerbated by Brexit. My concern is that the uptick in racism after the Brexit vote isn't going to be dealt with. This might be a major factor in whether I ever return."
Since moving to Dublin, she says she has a healthy work/life balance for the first time and is able to explore Ireland's famously rugged landscapes – a far cry from central London living. "In the UK, I was working six days a week, evenings and weekends and now I have full weekends, and finish work at 6pm most days. The weather is similar, but slightly windier!
"It's lovely to be so close to the beach, being able to get on a train and be in the Dublin mountains in half an hour, and to have a new city to explore. The stereotype of everyone being friendlier than Londoners has so far held true for me, and it's been considerably easier to establish myself in different social circles than I expected."
The similarities between Ireland and the UK have made the transition easier than it may have been if she'd moved to mainland Europe. "It's a lot closer to my life in the UK than I expected," she said. "Small things, like P45s, are almost the same, which makes it a little easier to get to grips with a new city, tax system and job."
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This may be part of the reason why she knows "many [other] people" in her industry who have made the same move. "If you want to go into tech, Dublin is the place to be. The working hours seem much more reasonable than those of our fellow grads in the UK, and even though the living costs are similar to London, the size of the city means no one is commuting for hours on end to make ends meet, making it more sociable.
"The work/life balance is a big draw for many, and the opportunities presented by so many companies moving headquarters to Ireland," she continued. Indeed, Ireland is the most popular destination for businesses relocating in a post-Brexit world, according to a recent report.
She said she was not "in the slightest bit surprised" by the fact that British people are increasingly buying properties in Ireland. "Even though Dublin has very high rent – I'm still searching for a house – this seems abnormal and not representative of Ireland. Knowing how many people have moved here, the average wage and what the costs are like compared to the UK, it seems a reasonable decision. The rental market is insane, but the housing market doesn't seem to be anywhere near as inflated as that of the UK."
Isabella would encourage other young British people to "keep their options open" and consider Ireland, among other countries, if they're in employment and disillusioned by the idea of living in Brexit Britain. "I'd encourage young people to travel for work as far as possible, to discover new cities and really understand what it's like to go somewhere that's not home. It's an exciting change, and something people should be encouraged to consider, especially as travelling abroad for work may get considerably more difficult in the following years."
*Name has been changed
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