To kick this off, I’m going to give you a rundown of the last five places that I’ve lived in:
- Double room in five-person share in Stoneybatter, north Dublin / a period of around four months in 2016 / bills not included – €600
- Double room in two-person share in Stoneybatter, north Dublin / around a year between 2015 and 2016 / bills not included – €500
- Double room in four-person house in Harold’s Cross in south Dublin / just about a month in May 2015 (sorry Russell) / bills not included – €450
- A box room in Cabra in north Dublin / around nine months between 2014 and 2015 / bills not included – €450
- Double-room in a house with an engaged couple who caught the worst of the 2007 collapse of the housing market who had to suck it up and let a single man in his mid-twenties live in the spare room and dry his underpants in their kitchen / around 18 months between 2013 and 2014 – €400 a month
*IT’S PROBABLY ALRIGHT TO SKIP TO HERE.
The point I’m trying to make here – one that any mildly employed single person under 35 living in Dublin will be familiar with – is that renting a room can be a complete nightmare.
You may be willing to pay above the market rate, provide dazzling personal references and boast immaculate personal hygiene – but could still well find yourself scrambling for the dregs.
Beyond just the not unsubstantial amounts of cash I’ve been dishing out, the other thing to note from the above bullet points is the frequency with which I have changed my place of dwelling.
Three of those places I left off my own accord, and two of those I left because the landlord wanted me gone.
Sorry, I do realise most of you don’t care in the slightest about my living history, but I’m coming to a bigger point.
This is my profile page on CompartApto (the Colombian version of Daft.ie):
These are eight unsolicited offers of rooms I’ve received in the past 24 hours, and doesn’t show the more than 70 unread messages I earlier had to delete – all of which came off the back of posting something that I didn’t even realise was an advertisement.
My rent for a double room in a complex with a swimming pool will now be €180 a month.
While I hope that information really annoys everyone I know that lives in Dublin, it does also beg the question why things are so insane back home, and so reasonable over here.
Well, for one thing, I’m what Malcolm X would call a blue-eyed devil – and as such my idea of what might be cheap or expensive does not harmonise with the outlook of the average Colombian.
The minimum salary here is just under 700,000 pesos a month (around €210), and last year GDP per capita worked out at less than €13,500.
Those on the minimum wage may well count themselves lucky, with estimates that around half of the country’s workers could be informal – and probably earning a good bit less.
The other reason rooms are relatively cheap is that there is a lot of them.
You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to work that out… you don’t even need to be a tree surgeon.
Check out this neighbourhood:
It goes without saying that these are the homes of the city’s less well-off residents, and a fair number of them would have been thrown up illegally.
So while I may be able to have my pick of the places in the most honky-tonking neighbourhood around, the reality is that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in this city who would find my new residence well out of their price range.
The third reason that I am getting my room so cheap may well be down to the swelling numbers of people in Colombia that own their own homes
It has been a slow change, but since around 2012 homeownership has gradually become more available to Colombians, with a drop in the housing shortfall of around 480,000.
Households with the potential to buy their own properties has also been on the rise, with Colombia’s middle class swelling by between 13% and 20% between 2006 and 2014.
Lack of supply back home is at the heart of the reason that rents in Dublin are now higher than they were at any point during the boom.
So what’s to be learnt from all of this? Besides the fact that I like to Google statistics to make myself appear clever.
To be honest, I don’t know enough to be drawing conclusions – and wouldn’t wish to draw the chagrin of any experts on the subject.
What I think it is safe to say is that – much like shopping in Primark – if you’re getting an absolute bargain, someone somewhere could well be stitching a ‘help me’ note to the inside of novelty Superman T-shirt.
(Bonus points if you can name the Bob Marley song the title is taken from. Reply in the comments.)