In Ireland, foreign buyers now account for half of all country homes sold. (Not just luxury “country houses” but all homes sold in rural Ireland.)
Americans and Europeans alike are moving there for the breathtaking landscapes and dramatic scenery, the rich culture, and the friendly people. And more and more, they’re moving there because remote working is allowing them to.
They can get incredible sea or mountain views, lots of space, and a quiet, easy-going lifestyle. However, what they won’t find are any strong deals.
However, that doesn’t mean that the lifestyle benefits of owning in Ireland have diminished…and in the right corner of the country, you can still find comparatively reasonable value even on homes near the sea.
My senior researcher, Margaret Summerfield, has been exploring Ireland’s southern coast over the last few months.
Below, she takes you to one of the most reasonably priced beach towns in Ireland.
Wishing you good real estate investing,
The Baldy Man, The Metal Man, and the Big Beach
By Margaret Summerfield
I’m in Tramore on Ireland’s southeast coast. In Irish, it’s “an Tra Mhór,” or Big Beach. That’s exactly what you get in this seaside resort. And a whole lot more…
This morning, I walked past the Baldy Man. He’s a local landmark. There’s even a nightclub named after him.
The Baldy Man is a sand dune, in case you’re wondering. Unlike the other sand dunes around it, it’s not covered in marram grass. So, it’s bald—hence the name.
On the other side of the bay from the Baldy Man you’ll find the Metal Man. It’s a huge metal statue of a man, dressed in a British sailor’s uniform, on a high stone plinth. It was erected after HMS Seahorse went down in 1816 with the loss of more than 360 lives. Seahorse was one of a convoy of three ships. The other two were also wrecked with a loss of 200 or so lives. The ships mistook Tramore Bay for Waterford Harbor, a safe port. The Metal Man with his raised arm was a clear warning to passing ships to avoid Tramore Bay.
Tradition has it that if an unmarried woman hopped around the base of the Metal Man three times she would marry within a year. Nobody can provide any proof that it works, however!
When I was a child visiting, Tramore was a magical place, with the beach and fairground rides and mini golf. Visiting as an adult, it’s slightly skewed. The four-acre amusement park, a trailer park, a water park, and a couple of big car parks occupy much of the space behind the beach. Prime real estate, but not a prime use of it.
The town’s promenade though is a nice feature, running above the beach with views of the sea and the town. Close to the beach, there are ice cream parlors, chippers (selling that seaside favorite, fish and chips), hotels and souvenir shops. It’s exactly what you’d expect of an old-school seaside resort. There’s still a market for that today. My sisters take their kids to Tramore in the same way that my parents took us, and our grandparents took our parents. With the rise of staycations in this pandemic time, places like Tramore are seeing a surge of interest.
Tramore town proper sits on hills above the beach and bay. Here you’ll come across historic homes, a couple of churches and a small selection of shops. There’s an unexpected Japanese garden, open to the public. A golf course, stables where you can book horseback riding, and a racecourse for horse racing.
The bay is popular with surfers. Ireland’s first surf school was set up in Tramore in 1998. Surfers today are joined by paddleboarders and kayakers. Early morning swimmers brave the cold. Joggers, walkers and cyclists take to the trails around town. My morning walk takes in the beach and the sand dunes. The dunes separate the beach and sea from an inland lagoon. You can walk alongside the lagoon, called Back Strand, at low tide. It’s a bird sanctuary, where you can hear the distinctive call of curlews as you walk past.
Tramore holds a couple of surprises on the food front. The first is Mezze, a deli offering Middle Eastern delights like falafel, hummus and olive tapenade. The second is the Seagull Bakery, with its sourdough bread, good coffee and pastries. (If you’re ever in Tramore, pick up some of their cruffins—a fabulous cross between a croissant and a muffin.) Then there’s Brooklyn, with its excellent New York style pizza—a firm favorite with locals—which has gotten so popular it has opened a second location in nearby Waterford City.
It’s also now a commuter town as well as a resort. It’s a short 7.6 miles from Waterford City, a city of 50,000 or so. With good road and bus connections, it’s an easy commute—apart from busy summer weekends and holidays. But houses, as is the case across Ireland right now, are in short supply compared to demand. New developments often have waitlists many times longer than the number of available homes.
What’s on the market as I write? The answer is not much. Here’s the best of a very small bunch.
A two-bed, two-bath apartment in a small complex. Listed at €165,000, it’s newly renovated and only 50 meters from the beach. It’s 742 square feet. The biggest downside is the lack of private outside space.
One house is listed at €395,000. It’s a seven-bed, four-bath end of terrace house, with 2,400 square feet. It’s an older home in town, and a short stroll to the beach. Inside, it’s got nice light-filled rooms but needs a little work. There’s a small yard front and back.
Finally, a house in the center of town that dates to the 1820s. With four bedrooms and one bathroom, it needs a total renovation. Its streetside location, with no buffer between it and the pavement, is not to everyone’s taste. But it has sea views from the back. It’s listed as POA (price on application). The agent tells me the list price is €350,000. While I waited for the agent to confirm the price, I searched online. And, found a gem. This site lists all the changes made to the house’s original features over the years—good to know, and also a potential bargaining chip when it comes to buying.
My take on Tramore is it’s a traditional beach escape at a reasonable price. You won’t make your real estate fortune here. But you’ll certainly enjoy the sandy beaches, the food, the friendly locals, and the laid-back lifestyle on offer. And you can generate some rental income from a second home if you’re willing to rent in the summer season.