Young Irish leaving to escape the recession

A blog by @mircwalsh

Young Irish leaving to escape the recession

More and more Irish are escaping recession to explore new lands.


Imagine leaving your usual nine to five office job in rainy Ireland for a job teaching kids in the African sunshine or trekking up Mount Everest with wildlife enthusiasts.

This may just be a mid morning daydream for most but an increasing number of Irish people are making this a reality.

Rosie Plummer a spokesperson for Irish Travel group I-to-I this week said, “The number of people availing of their job placement service has increased by nearly 50% due to the economic downturn”. I-to-I offers many opportunities to people to travel abroad including working with children, helping the environment and helping communities. I-to-I also offers the opportunity to train as English language teachers work either temporary or long term jobs in countries such as South America, Japan, China and many more. From as little as 20 hours of TEFL training a person can then jet off to a country of their choice and

dictionaryexperience new cultures and life styles. There are many different countries that people travel to and lots of different reasons why people go. Teaching English is just one of the reasons out there.

John Nolan a mechanic from Cork explains that he wants to travel because he wants to try something new and go somewhere with better weather “getting work as a mechanic is more difficult now because of the recession and the weather’s not getting any better so I am leaving here in December and I don’t know if I will come back’. John has a temporary job set up teaching in a small school in Barcelona. He says,

“I’ve been there on holiday before I’m just not coming home this time”.

He mentions that after Barcelona he will travel and see where his training will take him. The recession is definitely a turning point for people leaving in this country. New graduates and tradesmen are finding it more difficult to find jobs whilst current employees are finding it difficult to keep their jobs.

John and Denise Horgan from Limerick recently took the plunge and moved to India. John had come to the end of his contract with an engineering firm in Shannon and because of the economic downturn was not renewed. After looking at job after job he applied for one in India. Speaking about the move John says, “It was a difficult decision but the job pays well and it gave me the opportunity to explore new places I would never have seen otherwise”. The climate is an added benefit as Denise adds “The weather is a lot better here, we love walking and cycling and those are difficult things to do on a rainy day in Ireland.”

While finding a job may seem the simple part it is easy to get caught out in the excitement of setting out on a new adventure. Emma and Gavin decided to move to Abu Dhabi in September. While Gavin had no problem transferring to an IT job,  Emma had trouble finding a teaching job there. She recalls

“I kept finding jobs and being promised jobs but things were different when we arrived here and those jobs didn’t exist”.

She recalls the first couple of months as being hard. “It was tough we had to live on one income, we thought it was all arranged, we sold our house, we sold our car we left everything behind but I had no job when we got here” She is now looking for a job in the tourist industry and hopes to find one by the new year.

Research by I-to-I and similar groups focus more on the individual but families are also moving away. In February Elaine and John Kavanagh moved with their two young kids to Lanzarote.Their 4-year-old daughter is now attending a local Spanish school, which caters for families. The school ends at 13.30 and they have an after school club which is open until 16.20. Here the children are fed and play games so working parents don’t have to hurry to collect their kids. As for regrets they have none what so ever. As Elaine says, “I have absolutely no regrets leaving Ireland, my life is so different here, and we are always out and about. The main thing about Ireland was that we had a big mortgage, the crèche fees were huge and we had no lifestyle, the older girl never got out as it was always raining. I also feel its so much safer here, children can be children, also people tend not to worry so much about the materialistic things in life, like big houses big cars the latest fashion, here anything goes. 

Moving with young kids is one thing but moving with older kids can be quite a different story. 15-year-old Ciara Hickey from Leixlip moved to Bangkok with her family. The reason for moving was because of her father’s job. Working in a company that manages travel distribution computer systems for airlines and travel agencies, gives him and his family a chance to travel. Over the years Ciara has lived in Singapore, England and Canada and spent the transition periods in between in Ireland. About moving this time she says “I wanted to leave Ireland because I was just getting bored of it and needed something new because I hadn’t stayed in Ireland for more than three years at a time before”. While she has had great opportunities to travel and explore the world she says the worst thing about moving is “I miss my friends and family back home in Ireland”. There are many more Irish young people settling in to life in Thailand. Thirteen year old Karen from Cork remembers the day her parents told her her family were moving

“I was upset, I didn’t want to leave my friends I would have done anything to stay”.

Months on she is happily settled into her new school and laughs about the fact that she was scared to move. She still talks to her friends on Bebo and is coming back to visit them for Christmas. She says the biggest challenge was moving school. “I didn’t know what school would be like, I was worried about the language but my parents found me a school for kids who’s families move from lots of different countries”. The school caters for families who have moved from a range of countries including UK, US, Australia and Ireland. English is spoken in the school, which also makes the transition easier.

So what will happen in future months, will the economic downturn and bad weather continue to influence peoples decisions to leave the country or will all these people decide to come back. It is difficult to tell but with the weather and economy the way it is it become more and more tempting to explore new horizons.