Posted September 23rd, 2010
There was an old story told by a Limerick fellow in a Brooklyn bar in the late 1980s. About how Ireland couldn’t possibly be any less kind to those of his generation, who had spent their formative years in education only to be rejected time and time again when it came to standing on their own two feet and making money. About how he had been forced to flee the eternal gloom of home, with ‘Fairytale of New York’ ringing in his ears. About how he was having a stab at the American Dream, but it wasn’t all it was made out to be. A story repeated up and down Irish bars in New York, Boston, Chicago and London at the time.
If our friend had returned home ten years later, he wouldn’t have believed his eyes. A country at the beginning of an era now known as the Celtic Tiger, people finding they had more money than they knew what to do with and nobody paying any attention to the fact that it could all come crashing down again. But crashing down it came and, as Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’ would allude to, here we are again.
Many Irish people aged in their early twenties to their late thirties are facing a crucial dilemma – shall I stay or shall I go? With the Celtic Tiger gone the way of the dodo and economic depression now firmly set in, this key decision now rests with many people: from recent graduates of our colleges and universities to newly redundant workers who were in the middle of their careers.
Where to go?
The first question facing potential departees: are faraway hills actually greener? In some cases, yes, they are, certainly from an economic point of view. The Irish diaspora stretches from London to Sydney, via New York. Aside from the three main areas of emigration (the UK, the US and Australia), Canada offers a stable economy that, like Australia, has almost completely avoided the global economic downturn that affected and still affects so many nations. As with all of the countries mentioned above, language wouldn’t be an issue and the preconception that Canadians are essentially a boring race is misguided. The landscape is beautiful, and both Vancouver and Toronto regularly feature in shortlists of the world’s most liveable cities. Citizenship and Immigration Canada is currently actively seeking skilled workers in a number of sectors and a Canadian work visa is easier to attain than its American equivalent. Visit www.cic.gc.ca for more information.
What about my family and property?
If you are at the top end of our ladder, i.e. somebody mid-career who has been made redundant (or just seeking change), the most difficult issue you will face is packing up and leaving. Arranging schools for your kids seems simple when compared to the dilemma of what to do with your property.
With our property market on the floor, you may be facing thousands of euro worth of negative equity – if you are able to sell your property at all. You may wish to consider leasing your property and, in turn, leasing a property abroad. This way your tenants can cover most, or all, of your mortgage at home. If and when the property market picks up here, you can then look to sell your house and explore buying options in your country of choice. By doing this you also have the added security that, if things don’t initially go to plan abroad, you can return home safe in the knowledge that your property is still in your possession.
What are my options if I’m looking to hold a citizenship of my chosen country?
Obviously different countries have different visa regulations. The UK has an open border to Irish nationals, so holding an Irish passport in the UK will get you almost as far as holding a British one. Australia and Canada require you to have been living and working in the country for three years before you can apply for a permanent residency. Once you hold a permanent residency you can then apply for citizenship. It should be noted, however, that citizenships for these countries require an exhaustive amount of paperwork to be completed, a long waiting period, and cost several thousand dollars.
Emigrating is a huge, life changing decision. However, Irish people can be found all across the globe; our charm, intelligence and humour welcomed by citizens and employers alike. If you are considering emigrating, do it carefully and certainly seek the opinions of those who have gone before you. And spare a thought for our friend from Limerick, wherever he may be!