Just like anyone else, the pandemic lockdown caused us to reevaluate everything. Even before lockdown, we began to see some things as being important that had never seemed important before. Having the option of commuting to work by train now seemed highly desirable. Living somewhere that would require us to buy a second car would put unwelcome pressure on the budget. With lockdown, new priorities emerged. For example, we learned to depend on home deliveries. Was a prospective house within the home delivery range of the local supermarket? We now started to look for houses that had a room suitable for being set up as an office for Pauline.

The goal posts were very much on the move and so was the exchange rate. In the first three months of the relocation process 10% of the Sterling sale price of our Co Antrim home was wiped off its Euro purchasing power. We were now going to have to take out a mortgage.

We moved our search area closer to Dublin, though still outside the M50 ring road; Dublin house prices saw to that. We started off investigating Navan, as this was our starting point for our exploratory weekends, before Pauline had even been interviewed for the new job. In the coming months, the search area broadened as far South as Athy. The red pins on this map show the houses we gave serious consideration to.

Michael developed skills in interrogating estate agent details, Google Maps & StreetView and transferring it onto CAD software to check the dimensions and give a 3D visualisation of the properties. This was time consuming, but when the lockdown was eased to the point where we could actually view the houses, it made a time restricted viewing sufficient for making an informed choice. Our preferences were changing too, during this period. We found ourselves happy to accept a longer journey time back to visit Pauline’s mother in exchange for shorter commuting times to her work. At the extreme, we gave serious consideration to exchanging the 110km drive to visit the North from Kells for the 210km journey from Athy. We were no longer looking to move just across the border with Northern Ireland, we were planning to move to the heart of the Irish midlands. At this stage, the attraction was the good road links to Dublin along the M7 and the M9 and the good rail links that run along these two routes.

The summer was one of the best that we have had for many years, in terms of weather. As we could not go anywhere, we made the best of the opportunity to finish off all the jobs on the house that we had been meaning to do for the previous fifteen years. Take a look through these photos that we took back in February for the estate agents brochure to see some of the things we finished off, ready for the resumption of normal viewings.

They are not obvious from these photos, which is why we had learned to live with them. However, they could have put off any prospective buyer. So we carried out many tasks, including…

  • Preparing and varnishing all the internal doors
  • Decorating the second and third bedrooms
  • Painting the bare plaster to walls and ceiling in the garage, hot press and under stairs store. We also completed the floor to the garage loft.