There are many construction workers from Ireland, who, in recent years, have felt compelled to seek work in London. This is no surprise of course; before 2014, the Irish construction industry (and the wider economy) had experienced seven years of decline - a decline that was simply unprecedented. However, the Irish economy is on the up and rising fortunes within the construction industry in Ireland means that the need to travel to London for work should no longer be seen as the only option. Construction in Ireland has most certainly improved and, at long last, rates of pay are starting to increase.
Of course, those that currently fly back home weekly or monthly from London may have flights and accommodation paid for by the company they work for. So, while they are not financially out of pocket, they do potentially lose out on so much more. The real downside is being separated from family every week. Only seeing family and kids at the weekend means people in this position are effectively missing out on seeing their children growing up. That is something that you cannot put a price on. Being away from partners for a week or weeks at a time may also put a strain on relationships.
So, there is the intangible cost (being away from family) to factor in. Furthermore, there is the tangible cost to consider too. In the latest figures produced by Expatistan, who study the cost of living index in cities across the globe, Dublin was reported as being 24% cheaper to live in than London.
Carpenter needed to work in Limerick/ Cork/ Clare & Kerry Areas. (Limerick/ Cork/ Kerry & Clare) https://t.co/y1R8M9cbv3— Construction Jobs (@Construct_job) August 21, 2017
Dublin is comparable to London for the price of clothing and just 2% cheaper for food. However, there are there some marked differences overall. Dublin is 17% cheaper than London regarding entertainment and 18% lower for personal care. The most significant differences, however, are for transportation - which is 29% cheaper in Dublin. The biggest difference overall is for housing. Dublin Housing is a massive 39% cheaper than in London.
In fact, by whatever renowned measure you choose to look at, Dublin comes out on top. The Mercer Quality of Living Survey is an annual comparison of cities using a large set of criteria (39 separate factors) including education, healthcare, hygiene, environment, safety, recreation, public transport and political-economic stability. Dublin is significantly ahead of London in this survey. Dublin has many advantages: much cheaper fuel and housing alongside other important considerations such as lower population density, more hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants and lower inequalities in income overall.
The Irish government haven’t been standing still either. Two pieces of legislation have improved the construction industry in Ireland. The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 will tighten up control with increased monitoring and safety on building works to hopefully ensure that developments like Priory Hall never happen again. The Construction Contracts Act 2013, enacted in July 2013, will - in time - help to secure the industry and ensure continued stability and growth. It requires all contracts to include full mechanisms for payment. Buoyed by these two important legislative gains, stability in the market will further increase for 2016 and beyond.
It looks like the time is right for those construction workers currently engaged in the treadmill of working in London during the week and flying home to reconsider their options. Rates of pay, 'money in the back pocket', so to speak is obviously important - but taking a wider view and considering the cost of living and quality of life is even more important.