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‘It’s nice to have Europe on your doorstep but rent is absolutely ridiculous here’

Englishwoman Leanne Dodd came to Ireland in 2022 after 10 years in Australia

Leanne Dodd went to Australia from Hastings in England for a year in 2012 to go travelling.

She ended up getting married, having two daughters and staying in Perth until 2022, when she and her family moved back to her husband’s hometown, in Walkinstown, Dublin.

The pair were introduced through a mutual friend, and her husband also moved down under in 2012.

“My husband wanted to try again in Ireland, he has a massive family and he’s very close to them, and he’s always said that of some stage of our life he would like to try it back in Ireland,” Dodd says.

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“When he left in 2012, I don’t think things were great here job wise,” she says, “he just wanted a fresh start in Australia, so I think he was a little bit scared he’d come back to that.”

But they did not, with Dodd working here as a corporate banker, and her husband training as an engineer while working in a data centre, having been a plumber in Perth. She says they found better job opportunities in Ireland than in Australia.

Instead, there have been other difficulties.

“We moved to Walkinstown to move in with my husband’s parents purely because we weren’t going to rent, because rent is absolutely ridiculous here. And if we did want to rent, we’d have no hope of saving for a house, so the only real option for us was to move in with them,” Dodd says.

The family of four are still living with her husband’s parents.

“I don’t know if I expected to be living with the in-laws for such a long period of time, I think in my head I was thinking we’d be there for six months, maybe we’d find a short-term rental, but I didn’t realise how bad the rental market was.”

“In this area alone [Walkinstown] there are like zero rentals, even if we wanted to rent in this area we couldn’t and other places – we need three beds, because obviously we have two kids – you’re looking at a minimum of €3,000,” Dodd says.

“I didn’t quite expect that when we moved here, I thought maybe this would be like a short-term goal, living with the in-laws, and it turns out like over two years later, by the time we’re probably going to move out,” she says.

However, Dodd adds, although she likes the area and her two daughters, aged four and six, like their schools, ideally she would like to move towards the coast, if possible.

“It’s hard for us, because we went from having our own space with our two kids, to sharing our space again, so I think with that I really struggled. I didn’t expect it to be as hard as what happened when reality played out,” Dodd says.

If I could look at my weather app and say, right, for the next two weeks it’s going to be sunshine in spring or summer, and that be guaranteed, I think it’d be a lot easier to deal with

—  Leanne Dodd

“Now, my in-laws are fabulous, they’re really laid back, they’ve helped with the kids which is something we didn’t have in Australia, so that’s positive. We’re not paying rent, so that’s good, but having your own space means a lot to us, if we were in our own house, just us and the kids.”

Her children love living with their grandparents, even though Dodd’s eldest struggled a bit after the move from Australia.

“My eldest, at the beginning, was talking about her friends in Australia and was sad at times, but I mean, she’s made a heap of new friends now, they’re all her best friends and she spends a lot of time with Granny,” Dodd says.

“She was a very outdoorsy kid, she loved the outdoors weather, so when we came to Ireland, she used to say, ‘Mummy, when’s it going to stop raining?’ because she’s never seen as much rain, but they love it,” she laughs.

Dodd’s children have cousins that they can spend time with for the first time too and they have made friends in their school and day care.

Sometimes she wonders if they moved at the correct time, often thinking that if they had saved a bit more in Australia before coming to Dublin, might it have been easier to buy a house? But if they had waited a few more years, would the move have affected the children more?

“I am still in two minds about where I want to be long term, if I’m being honest. My husband loves Ireland and he’d be here for the long term if that was the plan, but for me it’s a little different,” Dodd says.

“I didn’t grow up in Ireland, my family are not in Ireland, my friends are not in Ireland, so I’m essentially starting again whereas he’s come back to his childhood friends so he’s just gone back into his old friendship groups.”

“I’m starting again, building relationships again, friendships again, like it is a lot harder in that respect, so I am always in two minds, is Ireland my permanent home or would we go back to Australia at some point? I’m not sure, but if you ask that question to my husband, he’ll say we’re here for the long haul, he loves it,” Dodd says.

Making friends has been a slow process for Dodd, but she has been introduced to her husband’s friends and their partners, which has helped, alongside friendly colleagues welcoming her, and friends she made in Perth who moved back home to Ireland.

Regardless of the housing situation, Dodd says the biggest negative to living in Ireland is the weather.

“I loved the sun, I loved the fact that when you have spring and summer in Australia, you’re guaranteed sun,” she says, saying that their first summer when they came, she felt like it rained all the time, having lived in constant sunshine for 10 years.

“If I could look at my weather app and say, right, for the next two weeks it’s going to be sunshine in spring or summer, and that be guaranteed, I think it’d be a lot easier to deal with, but it’s just that the weather is so inconsistent, you’re never guaranteed anything,” Dodd says.

But she knows no one comes to Ireland for the weather.

“Overall, are we happy living in Ireland? Yes. Are there things we’d want to change? Yes, our living conditions, the weather, but overall, we’re happy to be closer to family. I like Dublin city, and it’s nice to have Europe on your doorstep.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email newtotheparish@irishtimes.com or tweet @newtotheparish