House hunting in Dublin

We’ve been trying to relocate to Dublin but finding a two-bed property to rent in Dublin is literally impossible. I’m grateful to everyone who has offered advice on the subject but the housing crisis there is now so acute that strategies that worked a few years ago are no longer effective. So, for any future travellers, I wanted to document our experience.


The biggest website in the Irish property market is Daft. There are others (we tried them) but everyone uses Daft. It allows you to browse letting listings and apply via the Daft website. The problem is that nobody responds to these messages.

The reason is that they get so many. For each listing that is posted 1,000 people apply for it. Not my words, the words of a staff member at Brock Delappe. So they just pick 10 people at random to offer a viewing. You cannot game the system or put the right magic words in the box because they literally pick at random and you have a 1% chance of getting a viewing (let alone getting the place itself).

Dublin has rent control, a system they call the Rent Pressure Zones which prevents landlords from raising their rent more than 2% a year. This seems like a good thing. But has several unintended consequences. The first is that demand increases much greater than this but because the market is restricted on how much it can increase prices it cannot find the correct level. So, you end up with 1,000 people applying for each available house because the house, in a capitalist free market, is worth much more than this. The second problem is that if you do get the house, the landlord is going to treat you like dirt because you’re easily replaceable by 999 other tenants: and there are many horror stories on Reddit and Facebook to illustrate this. And there will be problems because there is no incentive to make a property more attractive, or even fix the basics, when the price is suppressed below market value.

Common strategies involve setting up property alerts so you get a push notification whenever a new ad is posted and having pre-written text you can submit straightaway. We did not find this improved the ods.

After applying for hundreds of properties, we ended up with two viewings. Both were unfurnished which seems harder to shift in Dublin. Unfortunately, both went cold, possibly when they found out I was self-employed. The law in Ireland says they cannot ask for more than two months’ rent upfront, so even though I have a year’s rent sat in a bank account, it is no help.

Calling estate agents

If nobody is replying, the next step is to call them, right?

Except they won’t take your calls. They all say that they will refuse to take your calls but I wasn’t to be put off so easily. I called plenty of them. But they all told me to go back to Daft. When I told them nobody replied on Daft, they said tough luck and hung up. And those were the estate agents that actually answered the phone.

Relocation consultants

There are companies that specialise in helping people relocate to another country. You pay them a bunch of cash and they help you with temporary accommodation, finding a long-term property, orienting you in Dublin, moving your stuff, etc.

I called four of them (which was all of them that I could find) and none of them would return my messages.

Ask the university

If you’re enrolling at Trinity Collehe Dublin, maybe they could help. TCD explicitly don’t help with private accommodation: they said come to our halls or nothing. I ignored these warnings and contacted them anyway but nobody emailed me back. They also setup an International Postgrads group and I did ask around in there but it was just other students in a similar situation and one person who suggested a relocation consultant which I discussed above.

Trinity College Student Union also has an Accommodation Service so I contacted them. However, they said that as I had a family they couldn’t help.

Facebook groups

In addition to property sites, many Facebook groups such as “renting in Dublin” have sprung up to fill the gap. These are mostly full of nieve people like us posting about how they are moving to Dublin next month and need some housing.

The next tranch of people in there are scammes. We were contacted Sevills (not Savills) who said they had a new way of renting: simply pay two month’s rent upfront and move into the property without a viewing. If we didn’t like it, we could leave within the first seven days using their money-back guarantee. They sent a video of a host who remains mute throughout the video giving us a tour of the apartment.

If you’re thinking “that’s obviously a scam”, you don’t know the Dublin property market as well as you think. In this case, we concluded it was a scam. But a refusal to do viewings and sending a video instead is sometimes done by legitimate estate agents who can’t even be bothered to do a group viewing. And property developers like Vesta do offer a move-in without a viewing money-back guarantee. Most property developers don’t even publish a phone number; it’s email-only if you want to get in contact.

The third tranch of Facebook users is people with weird requests. These range from the relatively normal for capital cities: it’s a room in a shared house but you’ll be sharing the bedroom with someone else (or occasionally the offer is one half of a double bed), to the bizarre: the whole house is yours but you need to vacate for one weekend a month so that the landlord can spend some time at home.

Luxury developments

A number of build-to-rent companies have cropped up in Dublin. The idea is that they build a large block of flats that they manage themselves, furnish it to a high standard and flog it off for large amounts of rent despite it being nowhere near Dublin city centre. There are two ways to categorise these. The first is those asking for over €3,000 per month for a two-bed. These are closer to the city centre but outside of our budget.

Then there are those asking for under €3,000 a month, usually around the €2,500 mark. These are often outside of Dublin itself (but still technically in County Dublin). There is so much demand for these that they all go before they are finished building. So, if you want one, you have to commit to taking it and then moving in a few months later when they have finished building it. If you want to wait until the building is done, it is too late.

Temporary accommodation

If you are lucky enough to get a viewing via Daft, you better be ready to go. We were offered the chance to go to an open house but were only given an hour’s notice to get to the other side of Dublin. So, you best be here and be ready.

That is tricky, though. Temporary accommodation is difficult and expensive to find. This is true at all times but particularly difficult at the moment because a lot of it is filled with Ukrainian refugees. They clearly need it more than I do so fair enough. But it does make the problem trickier.

You can get cheaper prices if you do not book anything in advance: i.e. just take whatever is left that day. But if you don’t have a permanent base you can offload you stuff into and you are constantly having to check out at 10 and check in at 4, it is difficult to make plans, go through Daft listings, and generally get organised.


It’s been 18 years since Dlyan Moran filmed his comedy show You know it’s a sign of a country thriving and a city being very successful when you can’t afford to live there anymore. People say “yes, I have a very easy commute; I live in the Aron Islands. No problem. Yeah, we live in a tree. It’s only €400,000.”

Since then, things have become way worse.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023 at 11:00 am and is filed under Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.