Do you dream of life on a distant island? Eire might be the reply

If you’re moving to a remote island in Ireland you could secure a grant – but there are conditions.

Chris Hill | Photo Disc | Getty Images

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting away from it all and living on a remote island, now might be your chance. Ireland will give you a grant of up to €84,000 (US$92,297) if you settle on one of the country’s coastal islands.

There are strings attached to the deal, however, and there are also a few factors that may discourage people from taking the plunge. According to the Irish Government, the islands concerned are cut off from the mainland by the daily tide and are not linked to the mainland by bridges or causeways.

Around 300,000 visitors come to these islands every year, as the government states in its draft policy – ​​but hardly anyone lives there. Some islands have as few as two year-round residents, while the largest has over 700 residents. A total of around 3,000 people live on around 30 islands.

Population decline – particularly the lack of young people – is a major concern, according to plan details released earlier this month. Between 1996 and 2016, the population of the islands covered by the policy decreased by 12.8%.

However, the goals of the policy go beyond boosting the population.

“‘Our Living Islands’ consists of 80 actions aimed at supporting and empowering our island communities and the people who live on them,” said Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Rural and Community Development.

“It’s about improving housing, improving access to essential healthcare and education services, providing high-speed broadband and further developing our outdoor facilities, which in turn will increase tourism and support sustainable island communities.”

Improving infrastructure and increasing job opportunities, including the ability to work remotely, are also part of the 10-year plan, she added.

The moving process

With little infrastructure and a lot of solitude, moving to a remote island may not be for everyone. And not everyone who dares to switch will receive the full cash payment.

The grants are part of an existing program that the government is running across the country. Buying an existing vacant property will set you back €60,000 if it is on a remote island, just €10,000 more than buying on the mainland.

The largest amount – 84,000 euros – goes to those who decide to take over old properties. The purchase of such a property on the mainland is associated with a subsidy of 70,000 euros.

The grants are designed to help people refurbish old properties that might otherwise fall into disrepair – so the money could quickly disappear depending on the amount of refurbishment required. And it has to be used for this purpose, for example by providing additional insulation.

The properties in question must also have been built before 1993 and have been unoccupied for at least two years. The program officially starts on July 1st, but is valid for existing home purchase applications.

Similar programs have also been introduced in other countries. Sardinia, an island in Italy, last year offered people €15,000 to move there if they used the money to renovate a property, and various cities in the country have historically sold houses for as little as €1 or given them away for free .

Other Italian cities and regions have tried to lure people into moving there with cheap accommodation and annual grants, as have several cities in Spain and Switzerland.

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