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Single people on typical salaries can afford homes in only seven counties

A single person on a typical salary could only buy a typical house in seven of the 26 counties in...
Paul O'Donoghue
Paul O'Donoghue

11.27 7 May 2021


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Single people on typical salar...

Single people on typical salaries can afford homes in only seven counties

Paul O'Donoghue
Paul O'Donoghue

11.27 7 May 2021


Share this article


A single person on a typical salary could only buy a typical house in seven of the 26 counties in the Republic, new figures show.

This is based on a person on the median salary, looking to buy a home at the median price.

Experts say the figures give an insight into the difficulties that single people face when trying to buy a home.

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Kieran McQuinn, a professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), said: “For people working in the housing area, this wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

“Ever since the early 2000s, it’s almost like the mortgage market is assuming that you’re talking about a dual-income couple buying a property, unless the single income is a really high level. It’s almost built into the system.”

Median

The median is the midpoint of a group of numbers.

For example, if five people work in an office. Lowest to highest, their wages are €20,000, €30,000, €40,000, €50,000 and €110,000.

The middle number is €40,000. This is the median.

This differs from the average salary, which is based on adding up all five numbers and then dividing by five. The average in the case above is €50,000. This happens at a national level with wage statistics, with high earners dragging up the average.

Many analysts say the median often better represents what a typical worker earns.

Housing

The most recent figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show median earnings per county between 2016 and 2018.

Newstalk used the increase in earnings between 2016 and 2018 to estimate median earnings for 2020.

For example, the median income in Limerick was €33,422 in 2016, and €35,313 in 2018, a rise of 6%.

Based on an estimate by Newstalk that there could have been a further 6% increase between 2018 and 2020, the median salary in Limerick was estimated to be €37,311 in 2020.

With a 20% deposit, needed for second-time buyers, a single person on this wage could afford a house worth €172,138. This was well below the median house price in the county at the end of 2020, which the CSO said was €207,750.

Ireland

Newstalk repeated this for all counties in Ireland, comparing the estimated median 2020 salary in a county with the median house price.

There were only seven counties where a single person on the median income could afford to buy, even with a 20% deposit – Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.

Across Ireland, the estimated median salary for 2020 was just over €38,000. With a 20% deposit, this would allow a buyer to get a property worth €185,200. This was far less than the actual median house price of €260,000.

Prices were well above what someone on the median wage could afford in Dublin and the counties surrounding the capital - Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and Louth.

For example, in Meath, a person on the estimated median income of €39,000 with a 20% deposit could afford to buy a house worth €193,334. This was well below the median house price of €285,000.

Single buyers generally had the best chance of buying in Ulster or Connacht, with the exceptions of Monaghan and Galway. This was reversed in Leinster and Munster, where the one affordable county in the two provinces for single earners was Longford.


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