Ireland’s most affordable places for first time buyers

Saving for a deposit and choosing where to live are often the first steps to home ownership.’s First Time Buyer Affordability Index considers various factors to reveal the most affordable locations to buy a house in Ireland.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that the median price of a home bought in the 12 months to March 2024 was €333,000 with prices rising 7.3% year on year.

The latest house price survey from Real Estate Alliance (REA) suggests that the average selling price of a 3-bedroom, semi-detached house as of January 2024 was €304,259. First-time buyers account for 59% of buyers nationally and 80% in commuter counties.

Why we’ve created the Affordability Index

Irish house hunters may have a fair idea of the cheapest and most expensive places to buy a home in Ireland, but the figures don’t always match reality because few first-time buyers fit an “average” buyer profile.

Several agencies report on regional house prices and housing market trends, but figures vary across different surveys and don’t take into account buyer status or type of property.

First home affordability depends on many different factors aside from property price, for example:

  • Income and savings: How much you earn impacts how much you can borrow and save. A first time buyer may get a mortgage alone or with someone else, which makes a difference to mortgage affordability.
  • Location: Location often dictates property prices. A housebuyer may buy a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin City or a four-bedroom family house in Longford but pay a similar amount.

What is’s First Time Buyers Affordability Index?

To understand what house price data means for you, the First Time Buyer Affordability Index looks at counties across Ireland to find the most and least affordable places to buy your first home.

We’ve recognised that sole and joint buyers have different starting points, so we have calculated how long it could take to save for a deposit based on type of buyer, type of property and income in each area.

What's included in the Affordability Index?

Our research considered several factors alongside house prices, such as average incomes and household savings.

We analysed and ranked:

  • Median first-time buyer property price by RPPI region
  • Median income 2022 by county
  • Deposit required based on Loan to Income (LTI) limit or 10% minimum
  • Years to save up for mortgage deposit based on Household Savings Rate (HSR)

See the methodology section for further information.

Borrowing limits and deposit requirements

Mortgage lenders in Ireland require first-time buyers to put down a minimum 10% deposit on a property. Often, buyers need to pay more than 10% upfront because banks limit how much they will lend.

To work out a mortgage offer, lenders use the Loan to Income (LTI) ratio limit. In most cases, lenders will only lend up to four times a buyer’s gross annual income, so if the house price is high, it’ll take longer to save for the deposit or make up the borrowing shortfall.

Buying a home together

Joint buyers can combine incomes, so the more favourable loan-to-income (LTI) ratio means you can borrow more and save for a deposit more quickly. Homeownership is more affordable if you’re buying with a partner or friend and often the only way to get on the housing ladder.

The average median income for joint buyers was €83,646, with the average household savings ratio at 9.58% (Q3, 2023).

Looking at all first-time buyer properties, rather than just apartments; it would take an average of 2.5 years for a couple to save for a house deposit in Leitrim but 9.9 years to save for a deposit on an average house in Dublin.

  • Average house price: €337,612
  • Average time to save for a deposit: 4.6 years

Top 5 affordable places for joint buyers

Rank RPPI Region Property price Median joint income Income to house price Years to save
1 Leitrim €184,000 €75,408 2/5 2.5
2 Longford € 179,500 €72,356 2/5 2.6
3 Roscommon €201,500 €78,096 2/5 2.7
4 Sligo €210,000 €78,886 3/8 2.8
5 Mayo €210,500 €75,496 3/8 2.9

Similar areas have shown up in the top 5 most affordable, with Leitrim taking the top spot, followed by Longford and Roscommon.

Least affordable for joint buyers

Rank RPPI Region Apartment price Median income Income to house price Years to save
1 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown €560,000 € 92,272 1/6 27.9
2 Wicklow €415,000 € 86,280 1/5 13.5
3 Dublin €415,000 € 92,272 2/9 9.9
4 Kildare €395,000 € 90,346 2/9 8.4
5 South Dublin €403,000 € 92,272 2/9 8.4

The top 5 least affordable places for joint house hunters mirror that for sole buyers; however, due to higher incomes and LTI limits for joint purchasers, places in and around Dublin aren’t so out of reach.

For those considering a house in more affluent areas, buying with someone else can improve lending limits and significantly reduce the time it takes to save for a deposit.

See how much you can borrow

Spotlight on Dublin

  • Areas in and around Dublin are the least affordable places for sole and joint buyers - with Dún Laoghaire the most out-of-reach area for first-time buyers.
  • With some of the most expensive house prices in Ireland, it could take up to 27.9 years to save for a property in Dún Laoghaire and 8.4 years in South Dublin on an average wage.
  • The average Dublin housebuyer is around 37 years old with a salary of €46,136 which is 10% higher than the median salary across Ireland.
  • 38% of all newly completed houses in Ireland were built in Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire, Fingal and South Dublin during 2023.
  • Although home to the highest earners in Ireland, property in and around Dublin is beyond most peoples’ LTI limit, so first-time buyers will need a hefty deposit to secure their dream home.

dublin city

Buying an apartment alone

Our Index shows the most affordable places to buy a home were not necessarily in the areas with the lowest house prices. Although cheaper property prices help, having a comparably higher income makes your mortgage more affordable, and deposits take less time to save.

The average median apartment price was €325,000, and the average income for sole buyers was €41,823.

It would take an average of 2.5 years for a buyer in Roscommon to save their deposit, but 59.4 years to save for a deposit in Dublin.

Top 5 affordable places to buy an apartment

Rank RPPI Region Apartment price Median income Income to house price Years to save
1 Roscommon €92,500 €39,048 3/7 2.5
2 Longford €91,500 €36,178 2/5 2.6
3 Leitrim €102,500 €37,704 3/8 2.8
4 Limerick €115,000 €40,719 1/3 2.9
5 Sligo €129,500 €39,443 2/7 3.4

Counties away from the larger cities or coastal areas, like Roscommon and Longford tend to be the most affordable and would take the least time to save for the minimum 10% deposit.

Some places ranked higher in our Affordability Index due to comparatively higher median sole incomes.

Least affordable places to buy an apartment

Rank RPPI Region Apartment price Median income Income to house price Years to save
1 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown €523,288 €46,136 1/9 88.5
2 Dublin €406,500 €46,136 1/9 59.4
3 Wicklow €355,000 €43,140 1/8 52.7
4 Galway €301,250 €40,973 1/7 42.7
5 Kildare €323,475 €45,173 1/7 40.5

Desirable coastal areas of Dún Laoghaire, Wicklow and Galway are most out of reach for sole first-time buyers, with commuter areas around Dublin attracting well-paid professionals.

Based on the median sole income for Dublin, it could take an eye-watering 88 years to save for an apartment in Dún Laoghaire if you’re buying alone. This is because, based on LTI limits, you’ll need to stump up way more than the minimum deposit to cover the shortfall.

Spotlight on Roscommon

  • Roscommon topped our rankings as the most affordable place for sole buyers to buy an apartment. The county is home to the towns of Roscommon, Boyle and Castlerea.
  • With some of the cheapest property prices in Ireland, it would only take 2.5 years to save the minimum 10% deposit on an average apartment.
  • The average age of sole housebuyers in Roscommon was 42, and the median income was €39,048 in 2022, below the norm of €41,823.
  • There were only 198 new dwelling completions last year, just 0.6% of all new completions in Ireland during 2023

mortgages roscommon

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What help is available for first time buyers?

First Home Scheme (FHS)

A new government-backed scheme to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. The First Home Scheme aims to make house purchase more affordable by supporting homebuyers with the cost of up to 30% of a newly built home.

Help to Buy Scheme

Help for first-time buyers to buy newly built homes and self builds. Borrowers can claim a tax rebate of up to €30,000 or 10% of the value of the property. If you qualify, you can claim a refund of income tax and deposit interest retention tax (DIRT).

Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme

The LA takes a percentage share in your home to cover the reduction in price. New, affordable homes in the scheme are in areas with the greatest housing need. To qualify, gross income must be below 85.5% of the property market value.

Mortgage Allowance Scheme

A scheme to assist tenants or tenant purchasers of local authority houses to become owner-occupiers. An allowance of up to €11,450 is paid to the lender over a 5-year period and repayments are reduced accordingly for the first five years of the mortgage.

Local Authority Home Loan

A Government-backed mortgage for first time buyers or other eligible applicants through local authorities. All types of homes qualify and you can borrow up to 90% of the market value of the property.

Help to buy schemes and new builds in Ireland

Many first time buyers are reliant on help to buy schemes and grants, and these schemes often require first time buyers to purchase a new build.

We looked at new build availability in each local authority to gauge how many houses may be eligible for one of the help-to-buy schemes.

New dwelling completions by LA

New builds and house prices chart

Our analysis shows a correlation between areas with highest house prices and the number of new builds in 2023.

This means the type of housing that qualifies FTBs for many help-to-buy schemes has been built in the most expensive areas, with Dún Laoghaire, Dublin and Kildare attracting the lion’s share of new builds in 2023 and places like Longford and Leitrim only seeing a fraction of Ireland’s new house builds.

Towns and cities often attract the most new housing developments, which means rural homebuyers could be disadvantaged.

Full Mortgage Affordability Index

Mortgage Affordability Index


To create the First Time Buyers Affordability Index several factors were analysed:

  • Median house price by RPPI region (apartments only and all properties)
  • Median earnings by county (individual and joint)
  • Loan to income (LTI) limits
  • Household Savings Rate (HSR)
  • Minimum deposit required

Years to Save was calculated by dividing the average ‘deposit required’ by the derived average annual household saving amount for each county.

The ‘deposit required’ was based on the house price minus LTI (median income multiplied by 4). If the average LTI limit was more than 90% LTV, 10% of the property price was used. If LTI was less, the property shortfall figure (e.g. >10%) was used.

Household savings for each county were calculated using a HSR of 9.58% (CSO: Q3, 2023) against the average median income for each county.

The data was collected and analysed in February 2023.


Compare mortgage rates & deals

Find a range of first time buyer and home mover mortgage deals in Ireland using our comparison.

Warning: If you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home. Warning: The cost of your monthly repayments may increase. Warning: You may have to pay charges if you pay off a fixed rate loan early. Warning: If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future. Warning: The entire amount that you have borrowed will still be outstanding at the end of the interest-only period. The payment rates on this housing loan may be adjusted by the lender from time to time. (applies to variable rate loans only) Information provided and Interest rates quoted valid at 19/07/2024