WEST Cork is where Kate Eames and her family have called home since they had to leave their native Zimbabwe under traumatic circumstances.
Kate, her husband Nick, and two sons travelled to the UK first where they lived for four months in 2004, before getting a ferry to Cork where they lived for four years before settling in Union Hall, where they’ve lived for the the past 13 years, eight years in one rental property, and the last five in another.
Kate’s mother grew up in Glandore and so they came here from Zimbabwe to ‘start over again’.
‘And since we arrived here, Ireland has given us a safe place to live and work and is educating our boys,’ she said.
But now their future here looks uncertain as the house they’ve lived in for the past five years has become unavailable, and they need to be out of it by October.
‘It’s causing us a lot of stress,’ admits Kate, a Montessori teacher in Skibbereen.
‘Most places in West Cork are only being rented outside of summer, but we’re not prepared to take a house for a few months, only to have to move out again.
‘We’ve been very lucky with two fabulous landlords in Union Hall and are looking for something long-term,’ she said.
Having had to start from scratch when they moved here, she said they’re not in a position to buy a house.
‘I’m 52 and my husband is nearly 60 so we probably wouldn’t get a mortgage,’ she said, even though the monthly rent they’re happy to pay is the equivalent of a mortgage.
Kate’s husband works from home, and their sons (aged 20 and 23) are both studying in UCC.
The family are fully prepared to move beyond Union Hall, despite being embedded in the community, and while Kate’s husband can work remotely, she says they need to find something that is in commuting distance of Skibbereen where she works.
‘We’ve our names with estate agents, and are hoping to hear through word-of-mouth, but have not had much luck yet.
‘The October date is really looming very large over us now.’
This is part three in a series about the West Cork rental crisis. Read part four on Thursday.
Read part one here.
Read part two here.