One thing to note is that a large portion of Cork is really just middling. I don’t remember, and still don’t experience, any ranking of areas the way people look at Dublin.
There’s a few posh areas, a few rough areas, and most other locations are middling. They are priced according to popularity or amenities. The area around Douglas village, for example, can be popular because there’s a nice village with restaurants and bars to an extent that isn’t replicated within or close to the city boundaries. But Douglas isn’t in my experience regarded as more ‘upmarket’ than, say, Bishopstown. It just gets a premium for having an alternative to going to town, and being well serviced in general. Good schools are found throughout the city, and I’m not aware of any panic over places within a particular area.
There’s a much better relative standard of living for a regular ‘professional’ in Cork. I guess there isn’t anywhere near the proportion of execs/professionals/senior civil servants/wealthy business owners, to regular employees, as you’d find in a capital city like Dublin. There’s a scoffed at ‘south mall’ class, for sure, but they’re pigeon-holed to a couple of good areas and not driving up ordinary 4 bed semis to mad levels all over the city (recent nationwide madness notwithstanding).
Houses in Cork aren’t cheap, but two professionals can buy a good place in a good area on a regular wage. And if your wage is a little lower, you can buy in a good satellite town which is within 7-15km of the city centre without a big commuting hit.
All the people that come on here saying: “My wife works in FOO and I work in BAR, we should be able to buy in a good area, with our combined FOOBAR salary” would have a much better standard of living in Cork. My wife and I are actively planning to move back for that very reason and I’m glad we have an alternative in Cork, a city we have a connection to which we can move back to. I feel sorry for some Dub couples of our circumstances, the less pragmatic of whom are trapped under the weight of a self-perpetuating league table of Dublin suburbs.