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A Different View

Why is our life’s ambition just to own our own home?

Dave O'Connell

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Kerstin Harrington getting ready for the VHI Mini Marathon in the woods in Clarinbridge at the weekend supported by Caoimhe and Paul Harrington and Mary Lane Heneghan of CF Galway. All funds raised will be used to improve facilities and resources for the 76 children and adults with CF treated at Galway University Hospital.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Perhaps it’s because our forefathers were tossed off their smallholdings like rag dolls by invading planters back in the day – but there is something deep in our psyche that puts owning our own homes close to the very top of our life’s work.

And we devote the best years of that life to getting our hands of the deeds of the place we call home as though owning the roof over your head was an achievement instead of a given.

We spend 20 or 25 years paying back the price of this home, sacrificing so much else we could be doing with our time, energy and money – just to someday say we’re actually homeowners.

And yet when us media-types speak of homeowners, we’re actually not talking about people who own their homes at all – because these days you’re lucky if you pull that feat off before you retire…if not before you die.

Your working life is likely to be 35 years – and for almost all of that time, you’ll spend a substantial part of your pay on reducing the deficit on your house.

But for what?

We place a notional value on our houses and we celebrated like Lottery winners as that price escalated through the good times as though we planned to cash in our chips and live off the fat of the land on the side of the road.

You can only sell your house for profit if you have two of them or you know of somewhere you can buy a cheaper one; for most people, how much their house is worth is utterly irrelevant because you have to live somewhere and it might as well be the place you’re already in.

The value of your home is important however when it is significantly less than your mortgage on it – and the hundreds of people traipsing in and out of courts up and down the country trying to hold onto those homes know all about this.

They are treated like common criminals because they made the mistake of getting caught up in the property boom, by buying a house that wasn’t worth what they had to pay for it.

They did this more out of fear than any notion of greed; the train of thought was that, as ridiculously dear as it is now, it will be twice as bad if you wait another year.

So the big guys built a thousand houses and if it didn’t work out they walked away from it all.

The little guy can’t walk away because they have nowhere else to go – and some of them find themselves stuck in a house that worth a third of what they paid for it, in a half-empty, unfinished estate in a part of the country that they never really wanted to move to in the first place.

Now the value of your home is important because the banks want you to pay up and you can’t – and even by handing back the keys, you won’t clear the debt because you just tried to get onto the bottom rung of the property ladder when the rest of the world was clambering all the way to the top.

Even if you’re lucky enough to own a house that you can continue to pay for – and one that’s not depreciating faster than your old eircom shares portfolio – you’re still spending a ridiculously big slice of your life earnings on what should be a basic human right.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Giving it all away can bring you the greatest wealth of all

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It must be the nicest thing that anyone could say about a friend on their passing, and the novelist Jilly Cooper wrote it about the former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans on his death last year.

“Harry died on Thursday at 5am (UK time), his heart perhaps only failing because he gave so much of it away.”

Because when all is said and done, your list of achievements – academic, sporting or stellar career – should pale into insignificance beside the way you treated your family, friends and colleagues.

We too often judge a person’s success or failure by the jobs they’ve held, the money they’ve made, the titles they hold – when the truth is none of that should determine your achievements as a person.

Even billionaires can grow to realise that eventually; just look at Bill and Melinda Gates – although recent events might make this a different picture in the future.

The former Apple golden couple have given close to $50 billion to charitable causes, including the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, since 1994.

In 2019 alone, the couple donated $589 million to charity, making them the seventh most philanthropic people that year. Whether they now give separately or collectively might be the question – but it seems most unlikely that they won’t give at all.

They’re alone in this world of billionaire philanthropists either; Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and one of the richest people in the world, has pledged $100m in prize money for technology that would best capture planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who tops the global rich list, has vowed to give out $10bn to worthy climate initiatives.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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