This article originally appeared in our 28-page DREAM HOMES WEST CORK magazine which is free in this week's Southern Star. Pick up a copy in shops across West Cork now or via our digital edition.
THERE has never been a better time to make the move to West Cork.
Since the start of the pandemic, estate agents have been inundated with queries about West Cork properties, at all ends of the scale.
Lockdown in a city made many apartment dwellers and homeowners living in crowded suburbs realise there just had to be more to life.
The yearning for wide open spaces and beach walks isn’t just an Irish phenomenon. Right across the globe the arrival of Covid-19 has left people wondering if there has ever been a better time to just go for it – find that home by the beach, on a leafy country road, or nestled in an atmospheric forest, and just do it.
In July, The Southern Star reported how estate agents Sherry FitzGerald O’Neill said they had numerous enquiries from couples and singletons wanting to move ‘back home’ and leave the cities.
And Sean Carmody of Charles McCarthy auctioneers told us then: ‘Interest levels have grown significantly, especially for young families,’ Sean said. ‘Last weekend I had viewings from a number of people in Dublin and Cork city.’
Auctioneer Martin Kelleher told us he had the same queries, but also calls from London and New York.
The biggest drawback stated by those interested in making the move was, of course, connectivity.
Broadband services have been getting quite a bad rap recently, but to counteract that, e-centres and digital hubs are springing up faster than daisies on a warm summer’s lawn.
Cork County Council has its own supply dotted all over the region – but there are also many local business groups getting together to organise ‘hot desking’ facilities for those wanting the comfort of an office environment with top quality connectivity, but within a few minutes’ drive of home.
A situation which drove the people of Gaggin round the twist – and off to their local church carpark – recently, but luckily a local TD and broadband provider 3 came to the rescue.
But if you do need to work from home in West Cork, as well as broadband solutions, there are lots of other supports available.
If a new life choice comes with a plan for a new business start-up, then Cork County Council’s Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) can offer expertise, know-how and financial support.
There are two Local Enterprise Offices in Cork county and the Cork North and West one has an office in Kent Street in Clonakilty.
The office provide direct financial supports to micro businesses (ie those businesses with 10 or less employees) and can advise on a range of alternative funding options available.
They offer business information, advisory services and enterprise support and can even organise high-quality training and mentors and can guide you to the services most relevant, to support the growth and development of your business.
The LEOs also provide advice on local authority regulations, planning, accessibility, environment and procurement and can put you in touch with resources like the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection for Enterprise Supports; Microfinance Ireland for business loans; Revenue for start-up relief for entrepreneurs, education and training boards for business courses, Enterprise Ireland, and the Credit Review Office if a bank has refused you credit.
They can also offer local property solutions for start-ups and business expansions and help you organise key enterprise events.
For more see: www.localenterprise.ie/CorkNorthandWest
It’s all about the lifestyle, really
So, if you do opt to make that fantasy move home, or just to the coast, what’s on offer in West Cork?
Well, quite a lot, actually.
There are the obvious lifestyle benefits: cleaner air, less populated towns and villages and an overall sense of calm and well-being.
While there are many people who move here for the lifestyle, there are many more who only discover themselves after they have made the move.
After years of being office-bound, many have discovered a latent swimmer, or hillwalker, or painter, or vegetable gardener, was just looking for the chance to get going.
Instead of weekends spent in overcrowded city centre parks, here you can take your choice between a stroll through a farmer’s market, a kayak around Bantry Bay, a hike to Hungry Hill or through the stunning forest in Gougane Barra, or an afternoon just sitting by a lake, on a beach, or a hillside, reading your favourite writer.
Less commuting means more time for the stuff that makes life worthwhile. Painting with the kids, bringing them to nearby riding lessons, sports events or baking with them – drawing from the amazing selection of local produce in West Cork for your ingredients.
Instead of a Saturday sipping an overpriced coffee on a polluted street, why not grab that flask and a blanket and head to the sea – there are so many tiny coves and nature walks on the peninsulas that you could find a different spot every weekend.
And, if you need that urban ‘hit’ every now and then, the city’s just up the N71. You can leave before lunch and be back home for the tea!
So, go on, make the move. You know you want to!