The majority of Irish people prefer to live in the rural areas of the commuter belt rather than central urban settings.
That’s according to Property District CEO Carol Tallon following reports Wicklow has surpassed Dublin as the most expensive county to buy a house.
According to property startup Geovox, the median price of a house in Wicklow is €425,000 compared to €424,000 in Dublin.
Kildare and Meath are also among the highest priced homes in Ireland – and Ms Tallon said it’s because of Irish people’s rural roots.
“There is an element of catch-up taking place,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“The urban [prices] did rise [first] and they were at a higher baseline, so the rural baselines tend to lag behind.
Despite that, Ms Tallon said the increased demand for rural houses is not simply due to catch up, or even because of affordability – but because of an Irish desire to live in rural settings.
“For the first time in a generation, people are getting to choose,” she said.
“They are choosing what is not in line with Government policy on urban development – the reality is the majority [of people] are rural dwellers.
“The majority of Irish people are within two generation of the [rural] land, and when they can choose, they choose open space and to be immersed in nature.”
Ms Tallon said deciding where to buy a home, raise a family and start life is a “once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime decision” and people don’t want to “take risks”.
“People who don't have a choice are choosing the urban setting, but where people do have a choice, they’re choosing the rural setting,” she said.
The desire for rural life goes against Government policy pushing people to the city, according to Ms Tallon.
“We've been talking about it for 10 to 15 years, but policymakers don’t want to hear about it,” she said.
“I’m frustrated by the push towards getting everybody into urban settings and trying to indoctrinate people [into] taller buildings within closer proximity because we know that’s not what people want.”
Cities are improving landscaping, access to nature and their focus on biodiversity – but people still don’t want to “risk” urban living, according to Ms Tallon.
“It’s not even about lack of stock [in the city],” she said. “Even where there are new developments, people are not choosing that because they just don't know what urban developments have to offer,” she said.
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