To buy outright in commuter belt or mortgage for city

MY DILEMMA IS: to buy in the city or buy outright in the commuter belt.
I can’t seem to find anything in Dublin City or south side city in my range that I like or appears to be value. Most houses need a lot of work. Should I buy a house outright in the commuter belt and be mortgage free? I could put money into my pension and be free to go travelling later on.

Influencing factors:

  • I have enough cash to buy a modest home outright in Dublin commuter land.
  • My age (40) means I would only get a 25 year mortgage
  • I have mortgage loan approval topping up my savings for modest city centre purchase
  • I don’t want to extend myself borrowing more to buy a more expensive house as
  • My salary is not going to go-up in next few years and I could have another pay cut
  • I don’t want to be trapped in a house I can’t sell in the future or where the rent won’t make the repayments as I might like to consider a career break down the line.
  • Due to my age I need to put as much money as I can into a pension as I only have three years under my belt

Commuter option:

  • I would be half way between work and my ageing folks if I were to buy in easy commute of Kildare.
  • I have health complications which I reckon will make getting life insurance a bother and or expensive on a mortgage.
  • I could buy outright property from 160-170K in:
    Newcastle there is new eco-friendly development
  • It would mean commuting into the city daily and for social events.
  • I currently have parking at work but it is not guaranteed, although I think it is unlikely I would lose it as I pay for it there could be new building works taking place on the site in the future
  • Public transport doesn’t always suit the hours I work in some of the above but not all of the above locations. There are solutions like driving to the Red Cow or Hazelhatch etc. I could get promoted thereby working 9-5pm changes my travelling problems and public transport would suffice.
  • the Rising cost of petrol
  • the likelyhood of congestion charges (how likely is this?)
  • Are commuter areas set to decline further in value?
  • What do people think of the warehouse look of the Newcastle/Adamstown developments, is this lack of charm going to damage resale values?

Re: City option

  • I would struggle to buy mortgage free in the city or city suburbs bar:
    Crumlin doer-uppers These aren’t great locations for the non indigenous.
  • I have mortgage approval but may have to increase it if I hope to get anywhere half decent in the city.
  • I feel I would be in debt-land as a single average earner with hardly anything left over.
  • I would have an easier social outlet as I work unsociable hours in the city centre. Although I have extended family in Kildare and I see a lot of them, I am increasingly finding more social outlets in the city centre. I can fit them in around my working arrangements or I can nip back to my city rented pad and have a sleep and still go out. I could do that in the commuter belt but not to the same extent, traffic and time being the issue and I wouldn’t be as motivated to make the trip after getting in.
  • There would be no commute and no stress
  • Reduced petrol costs
  • No worries if congestion charge came in
  • No worries if I lost parking

Sorry this is so long, but I over analyze and get confused. I just can’t seem to make a sensible decision without all the what ifs freaking me out.


Or rent in both spots for 6 months each, in which time your savings will be a much larger percentage of the cost of a house either reducing your final commute or giving you a better location in the city for the same money.
What’s the rush.

Yes that is true. I am just getting tierd of not having enough space renting, as I have been sharing to date. This is because it is cheaper and allows me to save some of my salary towards the purchase and in part explains why my savings are so healthy that is in addition to living abroad and bringing back my cash.

Plus due to my age I am getting subtle pressure to settle by friends and family. I am also getting nervous that prices will go up and I won’t be able to afford anything-although in my heart of hearts I just can’t see prices going up. I am very confused about all the conflicting information bouncing around about a pick up in the economy etc.

If you must buy now (must you?), I think the commuter belt option would be the better one. You won’t have debt. That gives you the freedom to up sticks and travel. It means if you lose your job or your health disimproves you have one less thing to worry about and have a good chance of living within your reduced means. If you’re a non-Dubliner it shouldn’t be difficult to re-adapt to country living. You’d be closer to your parents. You’d get more living and gardening space for your money. With that, you’d have a longer journey to work (but you may not always have that particular job) and fewer social outlets. It depends on what you think you can’t live without. I moved out of the city and am surprised how little I miss cinema, theatre, exhibitions, lectures. I now begrudge the time travelling to see/do something which might be hit-or-miss and only make the effort for something/someone special. It’s no hardship. I’m debt-free. That brings a lot of freedom.

No I guess I don’t have to buy now, it is just that I feel I will go stir crazy if I don’t get a decent living space. I should start looking to rent somewhere bigger really, that is if all this chit chat about hitting the bottom is not the case. Otherwise I would be demented thinking I had missed the boat.

Being debt free is very attractive-it gives one options! I think if I were really interested in a social event I would make the effort where ever I was, however spontaneity sometimes is where the most fun happens. Thanks for those pointers.

Why is buying even on your horizon? I just really don’t see your dilemma.
You are 40, with a nice wedge, debt free, with a job, paying into a pension (some might say a bit late but really with the losses of the last couple of years I reckon you’re quids in).

You are in a good place don’t complicate it…


I’d certainly prefer a nice gaff in the sticks (but not too far) , with my own garden and no mortgage, maybe even an open fire in Winter, to a mortgaged shoebox with no garden, plus service charges in Dublin Centre.

You’ve answered your own question. You don’t need to buy. You just need some more space. Rent a place on your own. Stay within reach of your job. Continue to enjoy your social life. Ignore all and any pressure to settle and don’t waste your energy worrying about missing the boat. It won’t be ‘anchors away’ for a long time yet.

To one step behind; I guess I am over complicating it but it is the homing instinct and the fear that I will never get one of my own if things start to pick up. I feel

To; I think you are right about the commuter belt, that is if I went with the decision to buy now, I may just hold off. Although I feel I need more evidence that this is the right course of action, I must do some research.

I ruled out city centre flats as most are former sect 23, very small 50-60sf and are badly built. More often than not their are not owner-occupier so the impetus for community pride is reduced. I have first hand experience of the awful situations tenants can be left in due to management co problems. No water for days due to problems with pumps, under funded sinking funds is another big issue.

To Dame, this is helping me work out the thought processes.


You are in a great position Strongbow and I can see the advantages of buying in the commuter belt and being mortgage free. However be careful of where you do buy. Beware of estates in commuterland with high levels of rental. While you might own your own house your neighbour may not and it may not be that well kept. This can happen any where I know but it seems to be a particular problem in some of the commuter land I am familiar with. Also take into account how the fully completed M50 makes it much easier to navigate the city and get in and out with much greater ease than in the past. This could give you a much greater variety of locations to choose from.

Thanks Monkeywrench.

There are a quite a lot of rentals in Ballbrigan and Adamstown and parts of Blanch as well as Tallaght from my research.

The better options appear to be parts of Blanch, Lucan and Newcastle. I am veering towards Newcastle as it still has an oldy world feel and isn’t as built up as the above. I like Maynooth and Celbridge but they really are the country in my view not commuter belt.

I haven’t considered going as far as Tallaght (it doesn’t really appeal). I drove around Firhouse and although it is nice it seems just one big housing estate, Bray is nicer but probably getting a bit pricey for me. They might also just be a little far for Kildare i.e. getting back to my ageing folks.

The other issue with the M50 is the traffic. Although it should improve when works are done. Traffic on approaches both rush hours can be mental on N4, N3 and N7.

Have you had a look at the Carpenterstown area of Castleknock? It has the train line in to Dublin and is within taxi ride of city centre for socialising (through the Phoenix Park), a reasonable pub, cinema /shops at Blanchardstown and is quite settled. Prices are still a little high there for your budget to buy outright but maybe keep an eye out?

I found one house under the 250k mark for sale at the moment, remember asking price is NOT the sales price There are apartments under 170k asking price there at the moment.

Prices will continue to drop in the next year, there’ll be no sudden boom starting any time soon. So don’t be worrying about missing the bottom.

I can understand your concerns regarding your age and the length of the mortgage, that was certainly something I took into account when buying, but taking another year to consider your options won’t make any difference.

If I was in your position I’d rent in the commuter belt for a few months and see how you get on with that. I’ve lived in the city all my working life, but a few years ago I spent six months renting on the outskirts of Dublin and hated it. In fact, I gave up a well paying contract because I couldn’t bear the commute. I also felt terribly isolated and it was such a huge rigmarole to go in to Dublin for a night out that I stopped bothering.

Don’t commit to buying somewhere until you’ve tried living in the locale. Test the waters first.

I hope all goes well for you whatever you decide to do.

For what its worth i live in Newcastle and it is nice there, true alot of estates have gone up over the last few years Newcastle Lyons prices have dropped significantly. I drive to work each day , work in Ballsbridge drop baby to creche in rathfarnham(That bit takes anything from 10 mins to 20mins)i leave newcastle at 7.10 ish and at work for about 8.15 ish(On a normal day) that includes dropping baby to creche.
Hope this helps.

Since you don’t mention a family, I’ll be presumptuous and assume you’re single. So the logic of buying a house at this point, when you don’t need somewhere to bring up the sproggies, or something to leave to them when you pass on to that great estate in the sky, defies me. Perhaps only because the fact we don’t have children was the deciding factor in me recently kitting my study out in very nice Ikea shelving rather than getting someone to build something lovely. I’d rather have the money for something else more transient for myself or us than invest it in something solid for nobody important. I know that’s a consideration for my siblings who do have children and the investment is more important for them.

You’re thinking of a career break, which might involve travel and there are a number of issues around your job.

Given your circumstances, and the tone of your posts, it seems to me that a house would be a noose around your neck rather than something which would liberate you in any way.

If you have only started putting money into pension in the last three years and were in a position to do it previously then you are an idiot because a little over a long time can become a lot and the cost neednt hurt.
If you feel you have to buy now then it sounds like peer pressure or mid life crisis, which?
The market will continue to fall in this country for the next few years, bank lending will dry up even more than it has and force prices down so you are in a reasonably good position and actually better than you think.
In terms of pension I hope you have paid close attention and havnt been stupid enough to go directly to a life company on your own as its better to get independent advice.
On both the pension and the mortgage talk to an Authorised Advisor and pay a fee, its worth it if only to prevent you getting ripped off by a scumbag or a life company.

Hi all,

Been sleeping on it and the advice given. I am getting clearer as to my decision. I worry that if I don’t buy I may not get approval for same amount in future. But I guess a year is not going to make any difference but I would like to have the security of my own nest as I would like children into the future despite being single.

If I buy outright I free up my savings to start living now. I know that sounds dramatic but a lot of my lifestyle decisions are based around the restrictions of saving, if I buy and stop saving I actually have more disposable income. Having said that I have not done the sums as to the returns I am getting on my wedge. I am getting 2% at the moment, not great is it? It was in a fund making a loss so I took it out and have it in Rabo bank online as they aren’t going to go poof overnight.

If I buy soon, I could still travel especially if I don’t have a mortgage to worry about. I sound all over the place but I do have a plan it is just hard to reveal all here.

To respond to Oops I didn’t look at Carpenterstown in Castleknock I thought it would be too dear, but will keep an eye out. Good to know there are other options.

To mrs Lemon, glad for the reassurance that the market isn’t going to take off for a while. I am being taken in by all the hype. Where are the level headed commentators? I can see why you hate the commute, I have done it from Kildare to the city and Pearse St during rush hour-it is awful. It could take up to 1:30 mins on average from the city each way every day. Traffic does stress me out, I would prefer to sit on a bus and not worry about the drive, read a book and meditate. Working outside of the key hours I can do it, say from Newcastle or Lucan. I do worry that I would be inclined to hibernate a bit in commuter land but I don’t think I would have the same aversion to going out as you.

To Tranquil, seems you are coping well enough with Newcastle those timings are reasonable in my book. I noticed there is a creche in the village wouldn’t that be more convenient for you?

To Karen P, I am single and have no kids. Travelling was something I was interested in down the line as I have family abroad in hot and sunny land. I could take time out there, live rent free in my own space and use my spare cash to do my own thing and work on the kids issue. It is an option that has been in the back of my head as I am not getting any younger but my health issues could rule all that out. I await some test results. Yikes I bare all!

As for Author, I worked in the UK for years, I had a pension but it had only started when I left that firm to go back to college, so I never managed to start it up again as I was breaking ground in a new job and was at the bottom of the ladder.

When I came back, I got some dud advice and transfered all my UK stamps over here which probably will get me nothing in the future now based on the way social welfare is being cut back. I probably would have got some kind of UK state pension if I had left it and topped it up when required. My folks did that and they get a UK pension which boosts their Irish one after having contributed a few grand to the UK scheme.They are delighted with the extra cash.

When I came home I was on low paid temporary contracts so a pension wasn’t an option. I have since gotten a permanent job and have pensioned myself up for the past three years. I am paying into AVCs as wells, I could buy back years but nobody really seems to understand them.

I have been looking online trying to find out more and am not sure yet if I will cancel the AVCs and buy back years if I can afford them and if I am eligible. Don’t hate me I am a public servant. Most financial advisors don’t really understand the notional service scheme/buying back years issue. They don’t get commission from it, there are only a handful of firms my employer has sanctioned to operate the buying back years scheme. My employer won’t advise me either way as there is a directive out restricting their influence on either. I would happily pay for advice if I knew the advisor had a grasp on the issue. So that is another drama I have yet to sort out. To the moderators there is a link to this thread, buying a house outright would mean I would have no mortgage and would free up cash flow to top up the pension and my future security. The whole issue is interwoven. I am trying to touch all bases but maybe I am being over ambitious and getting tied up in knots. Simple steps maybe are needed?


Oh sweet jebus… If you can’t get approval for the same amount, what happens to everyone else’s approval in this circumstance? And then what happens to price?

I understand the age thing but look at what is happening to retirement ages! Doesn’t seem to be any pressure especially as you have the option of buying cash which will only improve options wise over the next couple of years…

Thanks but not sure I follow what you mean about buying cash, are you referring to me being able to buy back years? I guess the increasing retirement age is another issue, we could all be dead before we get to cash in on our pensions.

Sorry am being thick, follow you, you mean buying outright for cash. Scrap earlier post.