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.

Several agencies report on regional house prices and housing market trends, such as the Real Estate Alliance (REA), the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and, but figures vary across different surveys and aren’t focused on what it really means for homebuyers.

The latest house price survey from Real Estate Alliance (REA) suggests the average 3-bedroom, semi-detached house price now stands at €293,343, with first-time buyers accounting for 81% of buyers in Dublin and 60% elsewhere in the country.

The most recent report shows that Irish house prices fell by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2023, with the highest average asking prices in and around Dublin City and the lowest in Leitrim.

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.

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.
  • Access to help to buy schemes: Affordability for many also depends on help to buy schemes and grants. Towns and cities often attract the most new housing developments, which means rural homebuyers could be disadvantaged.

What is’s Affordability Index?

To make sense of what house price data means for you, our 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 have calculated how long it could take to save for a deposit based on income to property ratios in each local authority and created an Index so you can see where your area ranks - or where you may want to move.

What's included in the Affordability Index?

Our research took several factors into consideration alongside house prices, such as average incomes and help-to-buy scheme availability in each area.

We analysed sole and joint transactions separately and indexed:

  • Median house price by local authority
  • Median income by local authority
  • Deposit required based on Loan to Income (LTI) limit or 10%
  • Salary/house price ratio
  • Years to save up for mortgage deposit

See the methodology section for further information.

Buying a home alone

The average median income for sole buyers was €45,900, and the average purchase price was €225,000. It could take a person buying alone, on average, 4.7 years to save for a deposit.

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.

Based on the CSO’s average savings data, a sole buyer could secure a step on the housing ladder in under 18 months in some locations.

Top 5 affordable places for sole buyers

More sparsely populated, rural counties like Longford and those to the northwest of Ireland, like Donegal, tend to be the most affordable and would take the least time to save for the minimum 10% deposit.

Although pricier than many of its stablemates, Sligo ranked higher in our Affordability Index due to larger median sole incomes across the area.

Rank Local authority Years to save deposit Income to house price Index score   
1 Leitrim 1.5 34.0% 0.254  
2 Longford 2.0 26.5% 0.382  
3 Donegal 1.9 27.7% 0.442  
4 Roscommon 2.0 26.6% 0.539  
5 Sligo 1.6 32.6% 0.566  

Least affordable places for sole buyers

Unsurprisingly areas in and around Dublin City were the most out of reach for sole buyers - where the coastal areas of Dún Laoghaire and Wicklow are popular with the wealthier and suburban towns like Swords attract young professionals.

It could take an eye-watering 20 years to save for a home in Dún Laoghaire if you’re buying alone - and 8 years if you fancy a pad in the City. This is because, based on LTI limits, you’ll likely need way more than the minimum deposit.

Rank Local authority Years to save deposit Income to house price Index score   
1 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown 19.5 12.9% 4.948  
2 Dublin City 8.1 18.1% 3.157  
3 Wicklow 13.8 15.1% 3.143  
4 Fingal 9.9 17.0% 2.859  
5 South Dublin 7.9 18.2% 2.816  

Spotlight on Leitrim

  • Leitrim topped our rankings as the most affordable place for both sole and joint buyers. The county in the northwest of Ireland, has a population of 35,000 and is home to Carrick-on Shannon - the marina capital of Ireland.
  • With some of the cheapest house prices in Ireland, it will only take you 18 months to save the minimum 10% deposit - even as a sole buyer.
  • The average Leitrim housebuyer is older than the norm - at around 46 and the median income is around €40,000.
  • Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to qualify for one of the help to buy schemes that require you to purchase a new build, only 71 were built in 2022.

picture of eitrim

Buying a home together

Lenders allow first time buyers to borrow up to four times their income, and joint buyers can combine incomes. This makes housebuying more affordable if you’re buying with a partner or friend.

The loan-to-income (LTI) ratio is also better, meaning you can borrow more and save for a deposit more quickly.

The average median income for joint buyers was €87,500, and the average purchase price was €318,000. It could take a couple, on average, 1.9 years to save for a deposit to buy a property.

Top 5 affordable places for joint buyers

As expected, similar areas have shown up in the top 5 most affordable - with Leitrim again taking the top spot, followed by Donegal and Longford.

The lively county of Mayo, like Sligo on the west coast, finds itself in the top 5 due to reasonable house prices and above-average joint incomes. The median age of Mayo joint buyers tends to be higher too.

Rank Local authority Years to save deposit Income to house price Index score   
1 Leitrim 1.1 46.8% 0.137  
2 Donegal 1.2 42.4% 0.326  
3 Longford 1.4 38.5% 0.425  
4 Mayo 1.2 42.1% 0.507  
5 Roscommon 1.3 39.9% 0.555  

Least affordable for joint buyers

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 like Dublin and Wicklow aren’t so out of reach.

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

Rank Local authority Years to save deposit Income to house price Index score   
1 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown 3.9 21.1% 5.000  
2 Dublin City 2.1 24.9% 2.790  
3 Wicklow 2.3 22.6% 2.589  
4 South Dublin 2.2 24.0% 2.495  
5 Fingal 2.2 24.4% 2.490  

Spotlight on Dublin

  • The Capital is the least affordable place for sole and joint buyers - with Dún Laoghaire the most out-of-reach area for first-time buyers.

  • Despite the eye-watering house prices, Dublin City attracts the most housing newcomers, with 81% of all purchases made by first-time buyers.

  • The average Dublin City housebuyer is around 36 with a salary of €64,273, double that of a Longford resident.

  • Although home to the highest earners in Ireland, property in and around the City are beyond most peoples’ loan to income limit, so first-time buyers need hefty deposits to secure their dream home.

  • First-time buyers could have a better chance of qualifying for help to buy scheme in and around Dublin with 35% of all new houses built in Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire, Fingal and South Dublin during 2022.

dublin city

Joint buyers: How long will it take to save a deposit?

Mortgage lenders in Ireland require first-time buyers to put down a minimum 10% deposit on a property and only will lend up to four times a buyer’s gross annual income, so if the price tag is high, it’ll take longer to save for the deposit or make up the borrowing shortfall.

Buyers in Leitrim fared best with smaller deposits required due to lower median house prices and relatively good median salaries. In contrast, despite the earning power of Dublin residents, high house prices mean buyers need to save for longer.

mortgages affordability chart

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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.

Where are most houses being built in Ireland?

Many help-to-buy grants and schemes 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 builds and houseprice

Our analysis shows a correlation between areas with the most new builds in 2022 and highest house prices. 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 2022.

Full Mortgage Affordability Index

Mortgage Affordability Index


To create the First Time Buyers Affordability Index several factors were ranked and indexed. We analysed sole and joint purchasers separately and ranked:

  • Median house price by local authority
  • Median income by local authority
  • Average deposit required based on loan to income (LTI) limit or 10% minimum
  • Median income as a percentage of house price by local authority
  • Years to save up for a deposit by local authority

The Affordability Index score was derived by ‘normalising’ the data categories using the min-max method from 0 to 1. Local authorities that were most affordable scored closest to 0. The Affordability Index was created for sole and joint buyers separately, and normalisation scores for sole and joint buyers were then summed and ranked to create an overall ranking.

Years to save by local authority was calculated by dividing the average ‘deposit required’ by the derived average annual household saving amount per local authority.

The ‘deposit required’ was based on house price minus 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 were derived by using the savings rate of 19% (CSO, 2022) against the median income per local authority.

The data was collected and analysed in March 2023.


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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 23/11/2023