Buying property in Ireland is a viable alternative for expats who plan to stay in the country for an extended period. Prices can be astronomical, though, especially in the capital where property prices have skyrocketed recently, and continue to rise.

Expats will therefore have to think carefully before taking the plunge and, depending on the terms and duration of their contract, they may still prefer to rent property. 

Buying property in commuter towns

With the prices climbing to ridiculous heights in Dublin, many workers are moving away from the city and into towns in surrounding counties such as Navan, Maynooth, or as far as Leitrim. While this often means travel times of up to two hours each way, the financial savings are considerable.

If expats are looking for somewhere rural, quiet, and with a good sense of community, bargains can be had in these areas. Expats should be sure to check estates carefully, though, as some lack facilities and may be a little worse for wear. 

How to buy property in Ireland

The basic steps to buying property in Ireland are similar to those in many other European countries. Expats can start the search by browsing the listings of real estate agents, newspapers and online sources. Finding a good solicitor can be particularly helpful during this stage of the process.

The next step is to choose a property and arrange financing. Expats should be aware that despite making a verbal offer, there's still a chance of being outbid by another buyer. For this reason, it is important to draw up a clear official offer and make the offer as soon as possible – this initial offer is dependent on the contract and survey.

Once the surveyor has assessed the house, it is normal to amend the offer if hidden problems are found. Damp, for example, is a constant problem thanks to Ireland's climate. 

Finalising the mortgage with a lender involves quite a bit of paperwork which is where a solicitor comes in most helpful. At this stage buyers would usually pay the full deposit; usually about 10 percent of the final cost, but this is usually negotiable.

Ultimately, buying property in Ireland is completely dependent on personal choice and situation. Property prices have shot up in major cities, so for expats on a short contract leasing may still be a better option. Expats would be wise to do thorough research, weigh up their options and ultimately decide if they'll be staying long enough to make the investment of buying a house worthwhile.