Have you always dreamed of returning to a simpler life in a small remote community away from the stresses of the city? You may have just encountered your best opportunity!
The Irish government has an offer that might be interesting for digital nomads and remote workers. It is offering grants of up to €84,000 to individuals who want to buy and renovate vacant houses on 10 remote islands on the Atlantic Ocean.
Among the islands are the Aran Islands, located 30 miles from Galway Bay. They are the last lands between Europe and America. Photos of the islands are instantly recognizable as the lush green land is crisscrossed with traditional stone walls.
You can reach the islands via ferry, but some services only operate between March and October. For most of the rest of the year, the islands are cut off from the mainland! This is one of the reasons the islands have seen a dramatic drop in population over recent decades as young people move to the mainland for opportunities. It is estimated that only about 3,000 people live on the 30 islands in the Atlantic, but more than 300,000 tourists visit each year.
It is in response to this dramatic depopulation that the Irish government has launched a 10-year plan to encourage more people to move to the islands. This is where the €84,000 grant comes in.
Irish Homebuyers Grant
The Irish government is offering big grants to individuals who are willing to buy and renovate vacant properties on 10 islands in the Atlantic. The islands include the three Aran Islands – Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr – plus Inishbofin, Inishturk, Clare Island, Coney Island, Dursey, Bere, and Toraigh.
You can receive up to €60,000 to renovate a vacant property, and €84,000 if it is considered derelict. To qualify, you must show that you already own or are in the process of trying to buy the property and submit a plan showing how the money will be spent. The money can be used for a wide range of purposes from demolition to painting, but there are caps on certain activities. For example, only up to €7,000 can be spent on kitchen fittings, and €2,800 on bathroom fittings.
Once the grant has been approved, you have 13 months to complete the work. Invoices should be submitted to the governing body, which will pay contractors directly.
When making the application to must commit to either living in the house as your primary residence for a period of 10 years or renting it out. If you sell the house within 10 years, you will be required to pay back part or all of the government grant.
How to apply
To apply, you should send the completed application form and the required supporting information to the local city or county council.
You must show that you own the property that you propose to renovate or that you are in the process of trying to buy it. You must also show that it has been vacant for at least two years, and proof of its derelict status if you want to apply for the higher grant. You should also provide proof or planning permission and quotes for the work that you intend to do on the property.
To be eligible you must be a private investor, and not a registered company or developer, and you must be able to demonstrate that you have your taxes in order.
The project does not come with any special visa status. So, while foreigners can buy property in Ireland, it could be challenging to commit to one of the Irish islands as your primary residence for the next 10 years unless you already have the right to live in Ireland. Ireland does have an investor visa scheme, but to be eligible you must demonstrate a net worth of at least €2 million and invest at least €1 million in an approved investment scheme.
Full details of the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant can be found here.
More About the Islands
Ines Mór is 7.4 miles in length and 1.8 miles wide and has a population of around 800. The island is spotted with ancient rules such as Dun Aengus and The Seven Churches, plus plenty of stone walls. The coastline is characterized by wave-sculpted massive cliffs and is home to thriving sea colonies and rare birds.
Ines Meáin is a traditional fishing village famous for the knitted jumpers worn by the fisherman. While the fishing is good, in the interior of the small island you will find ash-colored rocks covered in delicate flowers and green fields cut through by dry stone walls.
Inis Oírr has miles of cycling roads through its traditional walls which are specked with bright wildflowers in the warmer months. Here you will find soft white sandy beaches and crystal clear but chilly waters.
Inishnofin, or White Cow Island, is 5.7 by 4 kilometers and has five major towns with an overall population of around 170. It is estimated to have been inhabited since 8000-4000 BC and has interesting remains from the 16th century. The island is known for its populations of lambs and butterflies.
Inishturk is just 5 by 2.5 kilometers and has wall-like cliffs looking out over the Atlantic Ocean and white sandy beaches looking back at mainland Ireland in the distance. It has an estimated population of just 50 people who mainly make a living through fishing and tourism.
Clare Island is the largest of 365 islands in Clew Bay and is the ancestral home of the legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley. The island has historical sites dating back as far as 6,000 years and its mountainous interior hosts many adventure sports!
The original Coney Island is accessible by foot when the tide is out via the 5-kilometer Cummeen Strand is exposed and marked with 14 stone pillars. Expect to have the beaches and parks to yourself, but not the pub, as McGowans is the only pub on the island.
Dursey is separated from mainland Ireland by a shallow stretch of water filled with reefs that become exposed at low tide. You can cross over to the island via cable car. As well as tourists, dolphins, and whales are regular visitors to the island. Bring your own food and drink as there is little to buy on the island.
Bere is one of the most populous islands with around 170 residents. It has several megalithic tombs and standing stones to visit. Divers can also see the Bardini Reefer shipwreck just off the north coast of the island.
Toraigh (Tory Island)
Toraigh is home to the most northwestern community in Europe other than Iceland. It has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age and the relics of a 6th-century monastery survive on the island. Today it is a thriving fishing community.
Do you think this is an attractive offer? What are the pros and cons of living on an Irish remote island in your opinion?
Let us know!