Thursday, 21 September 2017

Renting in Dublin: The Digs Experience

Renting in Dublin is notoriously extortionate and difficult to sort out, and as a student it can be harder because everyone thinks you'll trash the place. Digs are one solution: here's my experience living in digs for my first year in college. 

I moved out in September 2016, a month after my 18th birthday. For a year, I'd been banking on a free apartment in Grand Canal Dock, and that was pulled out from under me just a week before college started. I suddenly had to find a way to live and rent in Dublin on 330 euro a month (my SUSI grant), and oh boy things were stressful. 

The first place I tried (the first to answer the frantic emails I sent out through the next day) was a place on Dorset St being advertised by a Mr. Razor "Ray" Razor (I kid you not). I arrived on time and was kept waiting for an hour with a crowd of about ten mature international students before being brought to the house (which was nice enough) and told they didn't like first years, the deposit was three months' rent, and they'd only consider giving me the place if I recruited a friend to share the room with me. Nooope. 

I actually saw that place on Daft this year again, a white cottage on Dorset Street. I know rent is €200 per month, but don't do it. Dodgy as hell. 

Then I had emails with some other people, all room-shares because when you're looking to rent for under 250 per month that's the most you can hope for, including more very creepy ones, but about four days later I got a phone call at 9 pm telling me I'd won the Naughton Scholarship (thanks Naughton) and would get 5000 each year for four years. Since I've been entirely financially independent since I moved out aged 18 and that's what I've been living on, that was pretty helpful. 

I could upgrade to non-shared rooms! 

Anyway, I eventually (this was within a couple of busy busy days in fairness) got viewings at two digs, one in Skerries and one in Saggart. The one in Skerries had a beautiful bedroom, I will say, but I went with the one in Saggart and lived there for a year. Here's the experience I had. 


The identity of your landlord isn't as important in other rented accommodation, but it's very important with digs as you'll be living with them. Luckily, my landlady (or digs mom, as I ended up calling her) Viv is lovely and we had great chats when I came back at night. She was really helpful -- one example: I missed the last bus and had to get a taxi from Tallaght but didn't have cash to pay the driver, and she stayed up into the early hours and met me at the door with cash to give him -- and thoughtful. She also gave me the comfiest dressing gown ever, honey-and-lemon tea when I was sick, some lifts to the Luas, the odd cupcake ... Viv is awesome. Thanks Viv. The rest of the family were also nice, so it worked out well. 


Digs is generally significantly cheaper than other rentals, and it was a good match for me. Mine was also far out (see next point) so it was only €280/month, which is hella cheap. It varies but digs generally is that bit cheaper, and food is often provided too which helps.

Bills are also typically included in the price from what I've seen, which wouldn't be the case with an apartment rental or houseshare.  


The location of my digs was incredibly inconvenient, a 90-minute plus commute each way between it and college, which meant I was late a lot because on going to college I lost the ability to get up at 7 for a 9 am. But digs are dotted around everywhere, this is just the case with particularly cheap ones. 


Digs are typically for the academic year only and may not apply over Christmas and Easter breaks. This one was a Sunday to Thursday night arrangement (I stayed with friends or sometimes family the other two nights of the week). 


Digs aren't ideal for independence, in the sense that I wasn't allowed have any guests over  (at least not to sleep over) or use the cooker and I didn't do any chores, so I didn't get the full adulting experience. That said, I could still come and go as I pleased and conduct myself as I wished and had privacy in my room so it was a nice transition since I moved out early. I'm enjoying the increased adulting in my new apartment (even really enjoying the chores honestly), but that was nice for the year to let me focus on dealing with college. College is already really intense, so I got to figure out how that worked while moving out and living independently, but still having a safety net -- as long as I could pay my rent, I knew I wouldn't starve. 


Cons: I wasn't allowed use the washing machine.

Pros: Breakfast and home-cooked dinner were provided every night. I was rarely up early enough to eat breakfast and I was often too tired to eat much of the dinner (god I was so tired on coming back from college at 10 or 11 every night), which I felt bad about, but I appreciated having it there. 


I loved my digs despite the annoying location and not being allowed have people over, mostly because my landlady was awesome. You don't always get lucky like that, but if you do I recommend digs for first year in college. If you're still searching, I found mine approx last week a year ago so there's still hope. Good luck!

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