My Move To Waterford And Falling In Love With Ireland

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Back In Ireland, Where It All Began

Some 18 years ago, Lief and I, newlyweds, with eight oversized suitcases, our two laptops, and my 8-year-old daughter, moved from the United States to Ireland.

Lief and I knew we wanted to be in Europe. Circumstances defaulted us into Ireland, specifically the small town of Waterford on Ireland’s southeast coast. Beyond “we’ll be based in Waterford,” we didn’t have much of a plan when we arrived at Dublin airport all those years ago.

In Waterford this weekend for our first return trip in years, I’m remembering those early days fondly…

We had a reservation at the stately and Old World Granville Hotel, situated quayside in Waterford, where we lived for six weeks while we searched the city for a suitable house to rent. We ran our business from the desk in the hotel room… answered For Rent ads in the local paper, for both office space and a home for our little family…

We scheduled meetings with the Waterford elementary schools where we were considering enrolling Kaitlin… met with a banker at Bank of Ireland to begin the process of opening personal and corporate bank accounts…

We took day trips to Dublin as necessary to meet with our attorney there regarding our incorporation and other business set-up paperwork…

We walked around Waterford at all hours of the day and evening, trying to identify the best places, long term, to locate both ourselves and our new enterprise…

Our attorney told us about a local recruiter who helped us to find our first local staff. We were starting a direct-mail publishing business. No such industry existed in Ireland. Our first hires were hotel receptionists and horse groomers…

We visited the Irish immigration office (in the local gardai, or police, station) to begin the visa paperwork process, which would stretch over years, as, at the time, the country’s immigration infrastructure was overloaded trying to deal with an influx of refugee immigrants from Africa…

We visited every real estate agency in the city. We had no choice. Ireland, like most of the world, has no multiple listing service, meaning that, to get a real idea what’s available for purchase, you have to meet with as many different agents as possible, as each has his own listings and suggesting to an agent that he might share listings with other agents to make more sales (a suggestion we made often until we learned better) was likely to start that agent’s face twitching…

We bought a car… on a Monday. We wanted to buy a car on a Saturday but couldn’t. We had to take a day off work to shop for a car, as car dealerships were closed on Saturdays back then. When we asked our Monday salesman about it, he replied, “We tried staying open on Saturdays, but it meant our salesmen had less time with their families…”

We attended a live property auction to see how these worked. In fact, we almost bought a small Georgian townhouse in the center of Waterford City at auction. Fortunately, before we were able to pull the trigger on that bad idea, the attorney we’d been referred to sobered us up.

I can hear her now…

“You two have just arrived in town? Have you bought property at auction in Ireland before? How well do you know the city? How much do you know about the property purchase process? Have you spoken with a bank about financing?…”

And on and on.

Morette made her point in charming Irish fashion. At the time, Lief and I had no business buying a house in Waterford at auction. What were we thinking?

Thanks to Morette’s sobering questions, we passed on the auction purchase, then, about a year later, bought, with Morette’s help, the Georgian country house that would be our family’s home for the next six years.

In Waterford this weekend, we’re visiting with Morette and her husband David, who was our architect in Ireland. With David’s help, years ago, we renovated our old stone house in the country, as well as another old house in the city, this one into office space for our in-country staff.

In Waterford, we put Kaitlin through elementary school… we had a son, Jackson, born at Waterford Regional Hospital… we acquired Irish citizenship and today hold Irish passports…

We took the proceeds from the sale of our Irish country house with us to Paris in 2004, where, with those profits, we purchased a small apartment just off the river in the 7th arrondissement that was our family’s home for the next four years.

You know the rest of the story. After four years in Paris, in 2008, we relocated to Panama City, to launch the Live and Invest Overseas operation.

All along the way, we’ve enjoyed lives and adventures we never could have imagined way back when we arrived at the Dublin airport with our family, our laptops, and all that overweight luggage.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. In Ireland these several days, we’re reconnecting with old friends and also taking an up-close look at the current property market in this country, specifically in Waterford. We feel connected to this town where our family got its start. If we were to buy in Ireland again, it’d be in nearby County Kilkenny, perhaps in Inistioge.

I understand that our old house, in County Waterford, is on the market as a bank foreclosure. The couple who bought it from us defaulted on their mortgage, and the house has been for sale from the bank for some time. The price has been reduced and reduced. Today the place is available for less than we paid for it.

Seems like an opportunity.

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About Author

Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With 30 years of experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring and investing overseas in her daily e-letter. Her newest book, "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas," published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.