My doctor wife and I couldn’t buy the house we wanted. So we moved abroad — and life is much better

We couldn’t afford what we needed in or around Dublin. So we’ve come to the Netherlands, and now own a large family home near Amsterdam

I moved to the Netherlands in April 2019. I was living with my parents in Rathfarnham, in Dublin, and hitting the same wall as so many. I wanted to get married and start a family, which is as good as impossible in Dublin if you want stable accommodation to do that in.

I had been working for one of the Irish retail banks for about four years. It was a fantastic place in terms of the people, but I had no realistic chance of buying a home within a reasonable commute, given my pay.

Central Bank of Ireland lending rules did not help us. I would have had to be on an astronomical salary to enable my doctor wife — yes, I said doctor — and I to purchase what we considered a basic home in the capital or one of the commuter towns around it under the regulation that would have capped our mortgage at 3.5 times our salaries.

We talked about our options, drew up for-and-against lists and made some blunt calculations. It all just hammered home the point that our lives would be so much better in the Netherlands.


I could talk endlessly about how this country works just that bit better than Ireland in basically every aspect of day-to-day life, whether it’s to do with healthcare, transport (particularly rail transport), childcare, mortgage interest rates, insurance or broadband.

At this point I should probably disclose that my wife is Dutch. I also spent a lot of my childhood up in the Netherlands, as my dad’s job brought us here. So I was not jumping into a new country blind. In fact I was jumping into a country, culture and language I knew very well. All of this trumped my desire to raise a family at home in Ireland, where there is, for lack of a better word, a certain vibe, character and niceness in the people. But we needed to be able to have children before we could raise them, and we felt that wasn’t going to happen without a home in which to do it.

I picked up a job with a big bank in Amsterdam on a salary similar to the one I would have earned in Dublin had I left the Irish bank I was working for and moved to an international one. And as Dutch rules mean we could borrow 4.5 times our income, we purchased a home — a lovely large one — relatively easily. It’s in Hillegom, 30km southwest of Amsterdam, in the middle of tulip country. We had our wedding here — a small one, during lockdown — and in 2021 we welcomed our first child. Number two is due early in 2023.

Despite everything, however, I can’t escape the nagging feeling that it would be great to be able to move back home, for our kids. Let’s hope the powers that be can make the pros-and-cons list I made with my wife less one-sided sometime in the near future.

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This article was edited on September 29th