One day, after we'd been living in Waterford for maybe three years, a couple of readers stopped by our office. They were Indians, in the country to investigate the possibilities for relocating their software company from India to Ireland. Did I have any advice for them, they wanted to know. The couple represented the contradiction of the day. The Celtic Tiger was roaring loud, attracting investors (like us) from far and wide, entrepreneurs and businesspeople looking for opportunity, but we were all misguided. Ireland was holding out great opportunity, but not of the kind we were in the market for at the time, and that young Indian couple was confused when I warned them away. "Don't come to Ireland to run a business," I told them. "You'll be driven mad."
I'd stand by that advice today, but I'd add that that advice misses the point. We lived in this country during the apex of the Celtic Tiger, which generated great amounts of wealth, more money than this island had ever known. As a result, the Irish then, like us, were distracted from was right in front of them. They were busy covering their ancient green land with suburban track homes, shopping malls, and fast-food franchises. We watched as pubs were replaced by nightclubs and as car dealerships eventually kept Saturday business hours and banks finally remained open through lunch. Ireland wanted so badly to compete on the global business stage. In that regard, it failed completely.
But now, when I think of our time in Waterford, the things that come to mind have nothing to do with business. I remember the owner of the corner shop across the street from our office and how he and his wife sent us a small gift when Jack was born and inquired after both Jack and his big sister Kaitlin every time we saw them. I remember the cabinet-maker who helped to restore our big old Georgian house to its original glories, shutter by shutter, wood plank by wood plank. I think of the castles and the gardens we explored on weekends. I think of the few times we braved the beaches at Tramore, sitting on the sand in sweaters, shivering and shaking our heads, while, out in the cold Irish Sea, the Irish swam and surfed. I think of cows blocking the roads and of sheep dotting the green fields. These are the pictures of Ireland I carry with me now.
By the time we left, Ireland had gotten very expensive. Today the cost of living is far more affordable and the property market is on par, more or less, with where it stood when we arrived more than a decade-and-a-half ago. As a result, this country makes more sense as a place to think about living and investing than it has in a long time.
The surest bets for real estate purchase are the tourist trails—the Ring of Kerry, the southwest coast, Galway, and Dublin. Pay attention to proximity to amenities that are important to you—the ocean, a nearby airport so you can hop around Europe, or a town so you can walk where you want to go rather than driving (remember they drive on the left).
Editor's Note: Ireland is one of the 21 countries we will showcase for both the retiree and the property-buyer during our Third Annual Retire Overseas Conference, taking place Sept. 4-6 in San Antonio, Texas.
We opened registration for this event officially only yesterday. As of this writing, the VIP places are nearly sold out (I believe a handful remain available). This is shaping up to be the biggest and most important retire overseas event of the year.
This is the only event on our 2013 calendar that will take place in the United States, and it's the only event that will showcase all of the world's current best retirement options, from the Americas to Europe to Asia.
Again, this event is filling faster than any other in our history. If you'd like to join us in San Antonio in September, I urge you to reserve your place in the room right now.
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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.
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