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A sold-out city? The fight to save Dublin’s nightlife (huckmag.com)
90 points by coffeedrop 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments



I understand the opening sentence is a rhetorical flourish... but it is also astoundingly wrong.

> This year, on Imbolc – a Gaelic tradition that sees Ireland celebrate the patron saint Brigid, a Celtic goddess...

Imbolc is a celebration of the Goddess Brigid, which very few Irish celebrate. The feast day for Saint Brigid is on the same day, and is celebrated more widely. While she was possibly a Christianised version of the goddess, she is probably a real person who was later given the characteristics of the Goddess by her hagiographers and by confused lay people. Apparently the tradition continues.

> ...who allegedly had 7th-century lesbian romances and carried out the first abortion on the island...

I don't think that the 'allegedly' is a strong enough qualifier here. It's a relatively modern interpretation of a piece of hagiography (rather than a text considered to be more historical). Historically, neither has been asserted by the Catholic church or by scholars generally.

And finally... The goddess clearly existed much earlier than the 7th century, so assuming they're talking about the saint... she lived from the middle of the fifth century to the first part of the sixth. The book about her was written in the 7th.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid_of_Kildare


Your comment highlighted the similarity between religion moving into new places and crossover [fan]fiction. It's neat how things develop


So... the opening paragraph contains two factual mistakes and one politically (but not factually) correct statement.

But I'm sure they've done the research and checked their data for the rest of the article.


Dublin has been having a bit of a boom (of which tech is a major driver) in the last decade, but this just feels like another symptom of the city which is not allowed to build denser or to sprawl with the result being anything less profitable in terms of land value is getting pushed out of the city (including many families who have lived their behind) while rents reach some of the highest levels in Europe


There are so many commenters here repeating this mantra "just build higher, just build denser", with seemingly no grip of facts about property in Dublin.

There's no restrictions on height nor density in the Docklands area of Dublin: an area within walking distance of the centre of the city, and with a good regular tram link, that is mostly vacant. Similarly, many areas on major tram routes are not so restricted, such as Sandyford and Cherrywood (these three areas, along with East Point, also happen to be where much of the tech boom is focused). So your denser/higher suggestion is being done and is having no affect—residential rents in these areas are the highest in the city, and much of the units available are left empty as a result.

Meanwhile, in terms of actual supply, even outside of those areas, Dublin has an estimated 40000 vacant residential units, and plenty of vacant commercial units on top of that.

The primary reason for this is that rent prices are not demand-based as much property is financialised—rent isn't a driver for owners, and there are little to no penalties for lack of tenancy, as other cities have.


The Docklands are a _tiny_ area, and all the development I've seen there focuses on high-end apartment complexes that most people just won't be able to afford - including a lot of the people working at Google, Facebook and Amazon offices nearby that the developers are seemingly targeting.

And it's not like they're actually building tall there. 12 stories? 15 stories?


> There's no restrictions on height nor density in the Docklands area of Dublin

That's a tiny area compared to the demand for housing.

> your denser/higher suggestion is being done and is having no affect

Nonsense. Dublin has a very low density compared to any other European city. It's almost rural.

> Dublin has an estimated 40000 vacant residential units

...which is clearly not enough to lower rents given the 1347359 inhabitants in the metro area.

> The primary reason for this is that rent prices are not demand-based as much property is financialised—rent isn't a driver for owners, and there are little to no penalties for lack of tenancy, as other cities have.

True. But investors cannot buy unlimited amounts of property. Increasing supply of cheap and good quality (for a change) apartments would obviously help.


If 40000 is accurate, that's a vacancy rate of 3%. Which sounds pretty low to me. That's one month every 3 years.


You're assume the 1.3 million inhabitants all live alone, which doesn't sound likely to me.


Not sure what metric you're using to come up with 3%? Vacancy rate in the state is 12%, or 9% excluding holiday homes (not sure what the figures are for Dublin, but they're way above 3%).


Someone was quoting 40000 but I don't know the source. A 9% vacancy rate indeed sound very high, especially for a hot market... wait does "state" here mean the entire country? So that may include a lot of dying villages where nobody wants to live? Would be interesting to see accurate numbers of Dublin.


State is country, so Dublin would be quite different yes (though still unlikely to be too many points off).

40,000 was my figure, but the population isn't that high; 40,000 is a lot more than 3%—back of a napkin math would put it closer to the 12% gross mark, but I'm pretty sure there are real figures available as that figure came from AIRO who analyse/republish CSO[0] data

[0] https://cso.ie/


OK, thanks... probably I just added noise on this thread!

Did not get to digging through CSO data... but probably a better idea than googling & finding only people counting advertised apartments as a measure.


Yeah, that's definitely below average, meaning that the housing supply is seriously constrained.


Why would the property owners rather have the units sit empty than rent them out at market rates?


Anecdotally, I live near a small UK town that has some empty commercial properties. I've been told that the landlords are London-based, and the rental rates reflect London rather than local pricing. Allegedly, the landlords are keen to show that all of the properties in their portfolios could in principle attract high rates, and that to let some out cheaper would dilute the brand as perceived by investors.

Don't know how true this is, or whether it applies in Dublin, but it is one answer that I've heard when I asked the same question.


Commercial property often has really long leases, like 10-20 years. So one reason it may sit empty is that an investor thinks a slump will be short & doesn't want to be tied to a low-rent tenant. (Or doesn't want to break up a large space for small tenants, to wait for a large one... or because they are thinking of knocking it down & building housing, etc.)

I'm dubious that people in real-estate can't understand local prices, I mean within London there are vast differences by street-by-street. I'm also dubious that empty properties & claims about what they could rent for will fool many people.


> I'm dubious that people in real-estate can't understand local prices

IIUC, it's not that they don't understand local prices, they instead don't care. At this scale the landlord's focus is investors in the property portfolio, not people who might actually use the property.


I get that the CEO doesn't know everything, but why doesn't bigger scale just mean more people below that? There must be someone who knows about each property, in or outside the company... there are agencies who hustle to rent out student flats, every year. Why not here?


I know for a fact that Dublin in particular has been plagued by 'land barons' They buy as much land and property as possible in Dublin city, and then just leave it sit there. This lowers the supply of space in the city thus increasing the value of all their land, which enables them to get loans to buy even more land.

I know a councillor who worked on a report which predicted, in the 70's, that because of Irish property laws it was possible that this could be happen, and the laws should be reformed. The laws were never reformed and it happened.

https://issuu.com/conormccabe/docs/1974kennyreport


A lot of vacancy is simply that the unit hasn't been rented out yet, or is being renovated, or you're planning on selling it in the near future and you'd rather eat a few months of lost rent vs signing a minimum year-long lease which would hamper your future plans. A 3% vacancy rate is quite low.


I think it is because the last to move makes the greatest profit. So people just wait to be the last wave of available apartments so they can hike the price up to whatever. Which leads to a bottleneck of sorts since nobody is willing to demand lower rent which would actually lead to people moving in...


Could they not increase the price in the following years if the market price goes up?

An apartment sitting idle should be a disaster - the higher rent obtained in the following years would need to be significantly higher just to break even in terms of yield.

I would've thought as full occupancy as possible at all times, i.e. renting out at market rates, would be the most profitable strategy.


Thus speculation haha. Especially if you can pass laws in your favor or the like I think this is the train of thought most of them have. If it didn't bring some kind of profit why would they do it? The only reason to not rent it out is if they think they will make more profit by holding out. The alternative is that they just hate their own money and want to burn it so that's how I come to this conclusion. By process of elimination.

Well it depends on where you are. Some places have different laws no idea about Dublin but some places protect renters from having the price spike up too quickly and have fixed rates once a contract is signed.

Edit: I of course have a subjective opinion on this from my point of view and where I am from the laws are heavily in favor of tenants so it is next to impossible to throw people out or hike up the price once an apartment is rented out.


This doesn't make sense to me. I don't think apartment complexes or individual landlords (who generally aren't super sophisticated) are thinking this way. Also, I just don't think this logic is sound. An individual landlord (or apartment) isn't going to affect the market as a whole.


Large investors (billionaires, hedge funds...) do this, and they are powerful enough to drive the market in most cities. Individual landlords usually seek rent.


It's a very typical pattern in speculative finance


It kind of makes sense if the apartment is more valuable as new than as having been rented out before. But I do not think that is the case in Dublin.

Even if the apartment prices are rising rapidly and you plan to sell the apartment once the price goes up - why not also collect rental yield while you are waiting?


Renting out something is a lot of work managing things. Much easier to keep it empty.


Not only that, but every empty apartment contributes to pushing up the prices by being empty.

Then, when the prices hit peak value in a decade or two the investors might sell and keeping the apartment empty was more effective than renting it.


But you can have an agency manage it for you, for about 10-15%, in any city.

Keeping it empty long-term means leaving on the table an amount of money comparable to the mortgage. You could fill it and buy another one! If they both appreciate, all the better.


Aren't a lot of these real estate investments about safely parking money and not about chasing profit?


Also happens a lot in Sydney, for the same reasons.


There's been plenty of papers published on this topic in far greater detail than I'd ever go into in a short HN comment, but the short answer is: property is a financial asset for owners, rather than a source of rent. This is largely about scale: these are large international owners, with significant property investments worldwide.

If you search for "financialisation of property" or "financialisation of housing", you'll find quite a lot of research in this area (mostly paywalled :( ) but also quite a few elucidating articles.


Seems like an exponential tax for domestic property not in use as domiciles could be a way out. Something tolerable the first year, but doubling every 6 months of vacancy without at least 6 months of occupation between.


The owners are so huge they can't be bothered to care about hundred dollar bills lying on the sidewalk.


I suppose it does make some sense if we are talking about 'dirty' money trying to safeguard their wealth from some form of confiscation. So they don't care about the price tag, they just want to safeguard as much of their wealth in a jurisdiction with strong property rights. They are happy if they don't lose more than 90%.

Still, it seems very irrational and thus unsustainable.


Markets can stay irrational for a long time.


I don't know, I agree that all the speculation about speculation sounds crazy to me -- the rent usually adds up to the cost of buying (via the interest rate, I mean) so not taking it is an "order 1" loss.

One possible reason is rent control, can anyone comment?

If what you risk is getting stuck for 30 years with a tenant paying last year's rent (and you think it will rise) then that could be serious money, of the sort which might make a rational landlord leave it empty.


There is no way a landlord in Dublin can get stuck with a tenant for 30 years. Rent increases are capped/set at 4% a year. The length of a lease is meant to be six years, but a landlord can terminate a tenancy at practically any time using a number of exemptions/loopholes in the law – to let a family member use the property, selling the property, refurbishing the property, etc. The rent increase limits should apply between tenancies too, as the landlord is legally required to tell new tenants the rent of the previous rent if they ask, but it is up to the prospective tenant to enforce this. At a time when demand for rental properties has never been higher, landlords can easily choose the tenants that don't ask these kinds of questions.

The root cause of high rents in Dublin is two-fold: competition for rental units is extremely high, which drives prices up; meanwhile rent is usually a function of the mortgage that exists on the property, which is determined by the price of the construction and/or the value of the land it's built on – and that's where you get massive amounts of speculation in Dublin. Land in Dublin is so expensive that it drives up the cost of everything else along the chain.

Most of the vacant units in Dublin are old, and in terrible shape. They're largely owned by people who either don't have the resources (money/energy/time) to improve them so they meet minimum standards, or they're owned by people who know they can let them sit for five or ten or twenty years and sell them for a profit then. The site they're on is nearly always going to increase in value, regardless of the state of the property.


The kind of low-end large space nightlife the author wants requires an abandoned warehouse district. SF SOMA used to be like that. Either a more productive use for the land is found, as in SF, or everybody young leaves, as in Detroit or the Cleveland Flats.

Dublin isn't cramped by geography. Five miles west of downtown is farmland.


Yeah. Those kinds of venues are going strong here in Williamsburg and Bushwick, in the numerous formerly industrial areas that are being re-colonized. And given the sheer noise and foot traffic of those venues, being out of the way is a good thing.


Seriously. And when space is at such a premium, and it's possible to build up as much as demand warrants, why exactly should nightclubs be prioritized over, say, people's housing? Perhaps the fact that they're diminishing in number reflects the simple fact that housing is a better (and more economic) use of limited space?

It sounds like they're not allowing enough construction to meet demand, and then being shocked when the obvious outcome (prioritization of some uses) occurs.


The existence of things like nightclubs is a reason there is demand for the housing. A city with only housing is not one that anyone would want to live in.


False dichotomy. You can close all the city's nightclubs and you wouldn't have a city with only housing.

Only a very small subset of people living in the city will use nightclubs. It is reasonable that they are not given priority over things essential to living (housing, accomodations, transport, public services, etc..).


Nightclubs are one thing. I said "a" reason, not "the" reason. People don't go to the expense and trouble of living in cities because they have the bare essentials of keeping yourself alive. That is available in any town.

People move to the city because of things to do which includes nightclubs, restaurants, museums, theater, sports venues, cultural events, etc.

If all you want is a bunch of houses and roads connecting them and basic public services, you can get that for a fraction of the price in the suburbs.


Okay

> People move to the city because of things to do which includes nightclubs, restaurants, museums, theater, sports venues, cultural events, etc.

Now remove nightclubs from this list, and you still get a list of attractive reasons to settle in a city.

You don't have to infringe on the night of others to still have an enjoyable city. To repeat myself: you could close all the nightclubs in a city and you would still have plenty to live for there.


that's a good point. But also people move because of jobs, higher salaries and adequate living conditions (including housing cost). The last one can't be said about Dublin. Lots of friends of mine moved back to their countries even though wages were lower, but considering prices for food, entertainment and rent at the end of the month they have more money in the pocket.


Agreed. Lets get some stats of the distribution of jobs and average commute times and see how that comes out then vs now.

Edit: Also worth noting is the daylife, shall we say. That is, cafes and the like are a lot more popular than they used to be.


Anyone? Keeping a vibrant nightlife is great but there are many city residents who don't care about that and wouldn't even notice if it disappeared.


Nightclubs also mean drunk people, which correlates with broken glass being spread around and aggressive behaviors. I’m quite happy to live in a neighborhood in Berlin that doesn’t have the active nightlife the city is famous for!


My retired uncle lives in Kreuzberg with his family since he was a teen. They quite like it and just never moved out.

It has a lot to do with what you can expect from your neighborhood. A nightclub opening up right next door in a silent neighborhood is a recipe for a disaster, but it is similar with people moving into regions with a famous nightlife expecting a normal place to live. I for example dont have much sympathy for people moving in next to Frankfurt central station and then start to complain about the drunks, punks, junkies and hookers. Its like moving in next to train tracks and complaining about the sound of the trains.


Mind if I ask which area? Planning a move soon!


Alt-Treptow, more precisely on the west of Treptower Park.

People in the neighborhood are mostly families.


The Irish are pretty nice when they are drunk. Not all ofc, but with the amount of alcohol been drunk here in Dublin, the amount of drunk fights and things like that is quite low. At least in city centre. Lived in the Docks for 3 years and every weekend was out in town.


That's really a good point. The whole reason city living became popular again is that the supposed "utopia" of suburbia was really boring.


At what point was city life not popular?


In the US (and a lesser degree in other countries), the advent of the car in the 20th century (and especially after WWII) meant that the "good life" became defined as moving out of the cities (where housing was generally in apartment blocks or row houses) to the new suburbs where detached houses with their own yards were the norm. Cities were viewed as places where one might work, but if you were middle class or above, you returned to your suburban home at night. But over the last couple of decades people (particularly people born in the 1970s or later) began to see the advantage of living somewhere where you didn't need to drive everywhere and shopping, restaurants, and bars were just a short walk away.


In the UK, anytime before the late 90s. I can't find the statistic, but I remember reading that in the 80s, less than 1000 people lived in the city centre. Contrast that with the numbers now: https://www.centreforcities.org/blog/the-return-of-city-cent...


1977 comes to mind: https://youtu.be/bnVH-BE9CUo


I suppose this is true. But as a grumpy old bugger I much prefer a city without nightclubs. They're so bloody noisy they infect everything around them. And the appeal of damaging your hearing in an environment where it's literally impossible to communicate is a complete mystery to me. When I think about it I felt pretty much the same way even when I was young.


It's not housing though. It's hotels - quite different. Rents have been climbing up for the past years (it's now worse than London or Munich) and they don't seem to slow down. Tech boom (low taxation on tech firms), Brexit and AirBnB are the main drivers. People are coming in (quite often with fat paychecks) but few new apartments/houses are being build. New hotels will compete w/ AirBnB but will do little to alleviate the housing crisis(1).

1. It has been publicly recognized as such for quite long now. Crisis meaning that lower income families are unable to compete in this market (i.e. evictions and such). Also this is a hindrance to further economic development (who's going to work on all these new jobs when s/he'll have trouble making ends meet?). You get the idea.


Why can't a nightclub be included as part of "first floor" commercial/retail space that can be found in many cities? You have the best of both worlds, a mid/high rise with housing and close proximity to retail and entertainment spaces. Sure, clubs have noise and people issues, but these can be designed around for noise abatement and traffic control or put them underground. Bars have these issues too.

Just because land owners can make more from developing housing in the modern urbanization doesn't mean commercial retail/art/dining/entertainment spaces should be pushed out, otherwise the declining proximity benefits of urbanization lose their appeal.


Nightclubs are pretty loud though, and that bass travels a long way and is hard to isolate.

Maybe if the club was in the basement it might work, but I'd love to get some insight from someone who deals with acoustics!


If it were a high rise, I don't think it would be a problem. You could do a nightclub on the ground floor, 10 floors of office (which would would be empty when the nightclub is open) and 10 floors of apartments above that.


Have you ever lived near a night club? I used to live in an apartment with a nightclub down the street on the next block. I couldn't hear noise from the club itself but I could always tell when it closed by the loud people on the street. I was 20 floors up.

People can decide they're willing to live with the noise for the convenient location but there will always be some amount of noticeable noise if you live on the same block as a night club.


Oh crap, i had forgotten about that. I lived on a corner of two streets filled with clubs, several floors up. 23:00 onwards it was like someone was shouting constantly and directly outside each of my windows. Granted after a few weeks this became "normal" and every place I've lived in since as seemed strangely quiet.


True, that does seem like it would work.


My ex-flatmate left our flat to live above one. He didn't stay long in that new place. So yeah, good luck with blocking out low frequencies.


Any nightclub in a new residential build is going to be a terrible place full of shiny teenagers.

The sorts of venues mentioned in this article remind me of the old warehouse parties I used to go to here in Melbourne ~10 years ago, when I was well in to my 30s. They just wouldn’t have worked in a new place.


Sure, but eventually places age and develop their own character and audience.

In the same vein and more my crowd, you can't just open a (good) dive bar, it takes years to develop the community atmosphere they wind up becoming.


Who in their right mind wants to invest in a new build with the knowledge a late license was issued to the floor below?


This can exist, for example the Islington Academy in North London.

The exit is into the shopping centre, so noise and chatter from people leaving isn't a big problem.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O2_Academy_Islington


Indeed. If you like ~60% of SF rents with ~39% of SF pay it's the city for you.

I still like it here, but I have a flat that I got crazy cheap in 2013 and is rent controlled (incidentally, a horrifically stupid policy enacted _especially_ badly here, making the housing crisis even worse). I also just got a remote job and bought a house in Offaly.

I used to encourage people to come to Dublin because it offered better QOL than the bay (I like not being annoyed on weekends and holidays, and that even my non-tech-worker wife gets a month off a year by law) but I really can't any more unless your housing is arranged or you have a fantastic (California-level) offer


Eh, I meant ~30%. 39% would be rather specific.


> is not allowed to build denser or to sprawl

Don't confuse density with its opposite, sprawling. Irish and british cities often have large, low density, horrible sprawls.


There's nothing at all stopping Dublin from being much more dense than it is, and there's no need whatsoever to build high to do it.

Huge gains could be made by bringing more 'above the shop' units into use. Vacancy and dereliction are massive issues, both in the city centre and further out - tackling that through vacant site levies or compulsory purchase orders would be huge. Regulating the abuse of AirBnB could bring a few thousand rental units in the city back into long-term use practically overnight.

As far as building new stock goes, everything is too expensive because land is too expensive. Development land around the city has been stockpiled and hoarded for decades, creating artificial scarcity and driving up prices. It's basically impossible to make a profit on reasonably dense, reasonably priced, two or three bed apartment schemes in Dublin. The SCSI and PII have good reports on this if you want to look them up. It's nearly always more profitable (and easier) to just sit on the land rather than actually develop it. The reason all the nightclubs are being replaced by hotels is a result of this: hotels are a lot more commercially viable than almost any other form of development right now. (Hotel beds in Dublin had over 90% occupancy rates last summer - they're bursting and demand is massive.)

The majority of new residential building happens in the outer suburbs and commuter belt, from Lucan to Navan. Just 31 (!!!) new homes were built in Dublin 1 (the very centre of the city) in 2018.

Apartments made up just 13% of new builds in the state last year. The apartments we do build are, on average, smaller, darker, less well serviced, and more expensive than almost any other European city. The apartments built between 1995 and 2008 are riddled with issues, from fire safety to damp to electrics. I think that accounts for a lot of Irish people's apparent antipathy towards apartment living, much more than any nonsense about an inherent desire for a semi-d with a garden.

Rents are expensive because of an increase in the numbers renting (doubled in last decade); because the rent-certainty regulation is weak or non-existent; because tenure security does not exist; because build-to-rent is expensive to develop; because REITs and larger commercial landlords are soaking up all supply and charging as much as they can. Take your pick. It's a mess.

Sorry to go on, but I just finished a six-month deep dive on the reasons behind the housing crisis in Dublin and there is just so much misinformation out there, it's frustrating.

P.S. In case anyone wants to hear more, I made a four-episode podcast series about this, the final episode of which just went up today:

www.dublininquirer.com/2019/02/27/supply-demand-a-podcast-about-dublin-s-housing-crisis-episode-4


Why isn't the city allowed to be denser?


NIMBYers mostly.

There's an awful lot of urban sprawl because of those archaic rules and you add to that a pretty terrible public transport by Western Europe standards. Dublin is pretty terrible place to live in if you're not wealthy.

Any attempt to improve both situations are thwarted by aforementioned NIMBY folks which are only looking out for themselves, among them the people in power.[0]

[0] https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/the-irish-times...


Partially because people don't want it to be, too. Irish people have an obsession with land, and see any dwelling that isn't at least a semidetached house with a back garden as a "temporary space" for students and unmarried young couples. We just don't like apartments.


> We just don't like apartments.

People have legitimate reasons for not liking apartments in Dublin of which noise is a major reason.

Lax planning & building regs. dictated to politicians by developers ensured that apartments were small and had neighbours on pretty much every side.

Most people who left apartments did so for valid reasons, not an obsession with land.

Living long term in 98% of apartments in Dublin would ruin your quality of life.


I’m Irish and I live in a 60 square metre flat with my wife and we’re expecting a baby. I can distinctly hear one neighbour’s music most evenings and while the other is quieter I can hear them shagging. This is not a big deal. If most of the population of Shanghai can do it Irish people can too. My quality of life is great.


I lived in a "nice" apartment which had neighbours attached above, below, to the back & 2 to the same side(staggered, joined apt blocks).

There was 0 chance of being able to sit quietly in that apartment and just concentrate or listen to music at an ambient level.

It's great that your tolerance level for noise is that high - most peoples' aren't, thus the constant exodus to the surrounding counties to get a house(which itself is no longer doable with a sane commute (<1 hr))

Dublin's population is 1.3 million. It's not London. It's not San Francisco. It's not New York.


Yes, the building quality is shockingly low and the majority of people accepts that.


Same as any other city: zoning. People want to live in cities and local governments won't allow developers to build more housing to accommodate them. The rare scraps of land that are zoned properly for high density are developed into luxury housing.


Same as anywhere else. The locals don’t want that to happen. Unfortunately, other people want to live there too, and there’s a market for housing so it has the obvious effect.


Pure speculation. Like in many other cities the density is limited, often with silly excuses, in order to drive up the market.

Home owners, including large financial groups, sustain this policy.


for some reason i never considered this as a motivation for nimbyism. but it’s probably the best/simplest explanation in most cases.


The reason I didn't even consider Dublin over London or another major European had little to do with the rent prices as it had to do public transportation.

Being dependent on mainly in Dublin means you'll likely want to restrict yourself to areas which can get you to your workplace with zero connections (and everyone else who works in your general area will probably feel the same). Being an especially wet country (nowhere near as bad as the west of Ireland, mind), means even this is gonna be an utter misery many mornings and evenings. As far as nightlife is concerned, with a better public transportation system you can get away for ages by just continuing to push stuff further out.

In London I've the option if I want to live pretty far out (but still on a line that stops near my office) and live alone for not a whole lot more (if anything) than I'd pay to live within walking distance and share. Hardly anyone I know on my pay level in Dublin could even consider living alone, which puts even further pressure on living as near to work as possible.


I've lived in Dublin for two and a half years years. I like to tell about its public transport to people who complain they have it bad in their city (not that it's an excuse, it's just extremely entertaining to see their reaction):

- There's one suburban train service (DART) that kinda goes through the centre and then just takes you to suburbs. It's like an S-Bahn except it doesn't stop anywhere useful in the city itself. Unless you live in one of the expensive suburbs it takes you to, you can basically forget about it. I've only used it to get out of the city for hikes.

- There's two tram lines, that until a year ago didn't even cross. Oh, and the trams are _extremely_ slow because they have barely any dedicated lanes in the centre, instead sharing the street with the rest of the road traffic. Even when they are on dedicated tracks, they're still absurdly slow for some reason (in comparison to all other tram systems I've used elsewhere).

- There's buses. They're ugly, loud and extremely uncomfortable. They have no timetable, instead they leave their terminus at some fixed time and then go as fast or as slow as they can, sometimes skipping stops if the traffic is bad. [1] Since this means you basically cannot make distributed, reliable connections between buses, they maximize their usefulness by running most of them through a single choke point in the city centre, where it can take up to 30 minutes to go through. Each line has a ton of stops, and every time passengers get on the bus, they go single-file through the driver that asks for the target stop and charges their pre-paid card accordingly (or you can go through a separate card reader that just charges you a daily flat rate, but that doesn't make sense if you're not commuting a long distance that day).

And that's it. Nothing else. Unless you're lucky enough to be on the _two_ tram lines or _one_ commuter train, you're stuck with shitty, expensive buses. Don't move to Dublin.

[1] - There is real-time bus tracking, but this doesn't help you to make a connection, just to leave home/work and not have to stand in the rain for too long. Just hope you bus doesn't get stuck in traffic along the way.


You left out the atrocious(in the few places it exists) cycling infrastructure.


Everything you wrote is correct. And yet it's vastly superior to what I had living in LA.

BTW, if you want to help improve bike infra please consider asking your employer to support https://dublin.cyclingworks.org/ - we're trying to pressure Shane Ross to take cycling seriously.


> There's buses. They're ugly, loud and extremely uncomfortable

Ireland didn't invent these buses just to annoy you, the Volvo buses used in Dublin are used worldwide, including London and Berlin. They're as modern as you can get.


They look good from the outside. It's when you actually want to use one that things go downhill:

- Extremely rattly and loud. No idea why, but I assume it's because of the extra resonance created by the double-decker design. Any time the engine is idling, you're shaking with it, and you're likely to get a headache in the long term. Don't even get me started about how it leans and kips hitting tree branches on tight corners in Sandymount. I don't generally get nauseous in public transport, but Dublin buses would without fail get me extremely dizzy.

- Terrible seat design and spacing. I'm not a tall person, but there's some rows where I can barely fit my legs. Not to mention the seats tend to bend back with use, giving the person behind you even less space.

- Dirty. I haven't ever seen a single bus without an empty can, bottle, or other packaging. Spilled liquids are common, too. But that's a general Dublin problem - for some reason it's one of the nastiest cities I've seen, people just don't seem to care for it at all.

Just to be clear - I'm not comparing this against an imaginary Perfect Bus. I'm comparing this against existing bus systems I've used and loved (Warsaw, Munich, Berlin, ...).


This must be a route-dependent thing (e.g. Sandymount routes would have lots of students on them). My routes rarely/ever have trash or liquids on them, hit branches etc.

Again re: seats and engine....these are the same seats and engines used in Germany and England also.

Still, I prefer the trains to buses in Dublin.


I would think Sandymount routes would have few students on them, considering the price of living in that part of the city. What's more, blaming the problem on students/young people (ie. me and my peers) seems short sighted.

I have lived near Ballymun/Glasnevin for years (where there are indeed students), and would consider the problem similarly widespread everywhere I've seen in the city.

I think the mentioned problem of the choke point in the city centre was the important one for me; it's impossible to get from where I live to more or less anywhere else on the Northside without a half hour's bus to O'Connell, a change, and then a 30 minute bus again in the other direction, even if where I am trying to go is just a 10-15 minute direct drive from where I started. Walking to my destination, no matter where it is, has almost always taken a similar amount of time as getting a bus, since I moved to Dublin.

All this said, there's new bus routes coming in, so we'll see if it changes. I'm leaving the city ASAP though.


In SF, that happened to Cocomos. It was a great club that was closed and sold for development. That’s understandable but it brings to mind the Yogi Berra quote, Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.


As an aside. Great to see so many HN readers from Dublin. We should totally do a Meetup at some stage. Check my bio if you are interested!


Dublin has plenty of shitty meetups. I wonder if an HN one would be above or below the average.


Fair point.



Tech workers move into a city and drive up rents. They complain about lack of density driving rents up. Meanwhile, New York and Chicago are not really tech hubs, even though they have dense downtowns. Hong Kong should be the center of the tech universe with all that density, but alas it is not. Maybe the thing that makes tech workers want to live and work somewhere is lack of density?


Given many tech workers can work remotely it seems bizarre that we even need to live in city centres.

But alas, businesses still want everyone in the office (often all the time as well).


I mean, a convenient commute is nice, but so is access to cinemas, museums, restaurants, bars, etc.


Still not as good as 100% collocated teams


Maybe the thing that makes tech workers want to live and work somewhere is lack of density?

The vast majority of non-dense areas have much less of a tech scene than New York and Chicao. I would expect that what draws tech workers is career opportunity more than high or low density and that density is more driven by how municipal government responds to the changing local job market.


79 hotels. Wish we could build like that in the bay area.




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