Would the last Java person leaving Ireland please turn out the lights?

Over the last 6 months, I know of 5 top Java guys who have either left , or seriously planning to leave, Ireland. I’m not happy about this.


Halfpenny Bridge Dublin

You’d think that I’d be delighted that the idea of the all the competition leaving. Reality is that all us IT Consultants live in an ecosystem: if companies don’t have a pool of talent available they will find somewhere or some other way of doing it.

All of the 5 guys have very different reasons for going (and they are guys, just to confirm the stereotype). All are going for very positive reasons. They want to go to the UK, USA, France and further afield. Some are going on spec, some have work with top companies lined up. There is a mix of nationalities, but all have been in Ireland for three years or more. These aren’t people who came to Ireland for a working holiday or are leaving do the ‘Big OE’ in New Zealand. They’re also people Ireland can ill-afford to lose.

The common thread in all the stories was that the Irish Property Market; It’s great to have an itch to travel, but you’re never going to leave unless somebody gives you a push. High rents and impossible property prices gave these guys (at least some) of that push.


  1. I am not surprised.

    I have been working in Ireland only for 18 months, but to be fair, it does not seem to me like the place I would like to live forever.

    Don’t get me wrong. My time in Ireland is being terrific and I would recommend everybody to gome here. People is great, nation is lovely, countryside is just awesome but there are many things that make difficult to build a proper life and take roots here.

    You made a good point. Property market either for buying or renting is dreadful, it makes almost impossible to have a proper house for somebody that does not have wealthy origins, and additionally the construction quality standards are very poor.

    But another there are another couple of things in my opinion that hurt this country a lot. One is lack of infrastructures. Having proper roads, highway or public transport is key to increase quality of life and that is not the case here. Second, basic consumer goods cost is simply scandalous. You only have to go to the supermarket and buy some milk, peppers, potatoes, oranges, etc. At least in Dublin it is something terrible and is something that drives me mad. The cost of life in Dublin is disproportionate and when we are talking about basic things like those or basic services to build a family like creches then you know that perhaps your place is elsewhere.


  2. Martin,

    I had the opposite experience: I lived outside of Ireland (UK, France, Belgium and New Zealand) and had to *choose* to come back.

    What tipped the balance for Ireland (instead of Belgium and New Zealand as No1 and No2 choices) was family connections. If it wasn’t for that, there is definitely a better wage:rent:quality of life ratio elsewhere.

    It’s not that the entire population of Ireland will choose to move; it’s more that it only takes about 1000 key people to make a serious hole in our productivity and innovation.


  3. I would probably have done the same. For me the weight of the family/friends factor is quite high on my conception of life. I think it is very good to spend some time abroad because enriches you in so many ways, but at the end I need my family and friends.

  4. hey, great blog, I stumbled across this looking for info on Dublin and ended up spending some time around the site as I am an Experienced Java Guy and found it quite well done and I learned a couple things. I am thinking about coming to Dublin from Vancouver, Canada for a work stint.

    There are some interesting parallels between Dublin and Van. It appears permie pay in Vancouver is about the same or a bit less than Dublin, income tax rates compared to my province are also similar, but it looks like rent might be quite a bit more in Dublin. For example, I am very central in Vanc. and I pay EUR550/month for a older place ~40-45 square metres, but it’s fine. Brand new condos, centrally located, ~50 square metres are EUR900-1000. Buying is ridiculous these days, whereas rents haven’t even come close to the home price inflation, prices were already high, but over doubled in 5 years. It seems Dublin prices at least started from low had shocking increases, although from what I gather rent inflation was/is also staggering. Bubble or no bubble, sounds like both cities, Dublin and Vancouver are in the same boat, housing is prohibitive and is or is turning into a social problem, people may start to take their home equity, pack it in and move away, families most likely.

    Paul, I was wondering if maybe you could post what you think rent on a mid-level studio would be in a central location in Dublin and/or an area where one would be doing Java-based contracts (I hate commuting)? double the EUR550 I pay now will be no surprise.

    One of the most attractive things about Ireland and the UK is the contracting market is vibrant, wheres in Van. employers shy away from contracts and they don’t really pay a premium like Ireland and the UK. Personally, the contract money is important, but also huge is the lifestyle. I am dedicated to project successes, I play to win, this can be exhausting, so it’s a relief to be able to end a contract and take a time out and not feel anchored. Further, being exposed to different environments and people is a great way to get different perspectives on software approaches and technologies.

  5. Joel,

    I’d be happy to see Java talent coming into Dublin instead of leaving 🙂

    For rent figures I think you’re pretty accurate – I was lucky enough to buy before the worst of the bubble, but from talking to people who rent the numbers appear about right.

    Dublin contract market is vibrant enough to have supported me for 8 years now; other places in Ireland (e.g. Belfast , Cork or Galway) you can pick up contracts, but you might have long gaps between that and the next one.

    Good thing about Dublin is the air connections; It’s entire feasible to be Dublin based and work in London / regional UK/ Belgium / other continental Europe during the week.


  6. oh .. forgot to ask the obvious question: how’s the Java contract market in Dublin these days?

    I am a bit paranoid as I am tracking the US economy meltdown, then there’s trouble in housing in Ireland it seems, as well. At least this one isn’t a tech-driven downturn and even if growth slows significantly my guess is there will still be work in software.

    I’ve lived in Paris and London. My experience in London with getting contracts was amazing, it was IT paradise, great rates and contracts were abundant, this was 2004/2005. BTW, I found London all around to be much easier and convenient to live in and that comment has nothing to do with the languages. I didn’t contract in Paris, but I think it would be pretty low on the wage:rent:quality of life ratio. If you work in London in a non-professional domain, it would be a brutal wage:rent:quality of life ratio, but IT pays so well, high rent doesn’t matter.

  7. Joel,

    Irish economy is very exposed to the US , so if they catch a cold, we could be in for rough times … 2007 was a very good year but I think things will be quieter in 2008. Question is whether it will be ‘nice quiet’ – e.g. enough work to keep the good guys going, or ‘bad quiet’ e.g. the end of 2001 quiet.

    Paris I liked when I lived there – not sure of the rents now, but I got the impression that everybody is looking for secure public sector work, and are amazed that you want contracts of 3/6 months. Think the tax system goes against contracting as well , but you’d need to check that out.


  8. imagine this: 80% of Canada’s export go to the USA.

    I am gonna see how the global economy plays out the next couple of months, then make my move. The only catch is that I am trying to influence process change where I am and it is quite motivating, just did the scrum master thing, but I am more interested in getting some Lean principles in, I really appreciate Mary Poppendieck’s work, something she calls ‘One Piece Flow’, a lot of common sense, but for many where I am it will be considered ‘radical’. Currently trying to get ‘1 click build’ in, our wars and ears are wrapped by RPM .. but most of the apps just have RPM moving a couple of files around, but there are still holdouts to keep RPM .. anyway.

    Yeah .. Paris, I was on C.D.I. there .. it seemed their contracting was just a C.D.D , basically everything the same as C.D.I. but the work period is short, not much incentive there, not much change to run an Ltd company.

    I also found the French attitude about work interesting, like you, the job security thing. I guess chronic structural unemployment will change the national mindset even in fields of high employment. I’ve also seen colleagues that lacked motivation .. they know they can’t really get canned. One woman ‘quit’, but behind the scenes they just gave here thousands of euros to walk.

    cheers again

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