New Mandurah resident says we don’t know how good we have it as Irish migrants flood to Australia

Rachel FennerMandurah Times
Joey Byrne says he finally has hope of owning his own home since moving to Australia.
Camera IconJoey Byrne says he finally has hope of owning his own home since moving to Australia. Credit: Rachel Fenner

West Aussies don’t know how good they have it, according to one of the tens of thousands of Irish migrants who flooded to Australia recently and who now calls Mandurah home.

Irish migration reached a 16-year high when more than 21,000 Irish people were granted working holiday visas in the year leading up to July 2023.

Joey Byrne migrated to Mandurah about six months ago with his partner Kirstie and says West Aussies don’t know how good they have it.

While the housing crisis and cost of living are top of mind for many, Mr Byrne, who is a manager at a hospitality venue, said his wage has almost doubled for doing the same work in Australia that he did in Ireland.

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But Mr Byrne admits that the cost of a pint and the price of a loaf of bread is a bit higher in Australia.

“I’ve worked it out and my rent now costs me less than 15 per cent of my weekly wage, whereas back home it was 30 per cent,” he said.

“When you talk about your cost of living — the food might have been a bit cheaper (in Ireland) but rent is so much more expensive and now I’m earning more money.

“I think Australians don’t realise how lucky they have it.”

Mairéad Farrell, higher education, innovation and science spokesperson for the Sinn Fein party in Ireland, recently raised concerns about the exodus to Australia.

“There’s clearly something that’s amiss,” she said.

“We keep hearing that the economy is doing well, but very clearly something’s going wrong for young people here.”

Mr Byrne said he planned to become an Australian citizen and hoped he would finally own his own home, which was a dream he’d given up on in Ireland.

“To be perfectly honest, like most the only real chance that I have of owning my own home is over here,” he said.

“Because back home, unless I moved back in with my parents and lived there for four or five years, I’m never going to get a deposit.

“The average cost of a house back home was about $450,000 Euro ($741,000AUD) and they want a 20 per cent deposit.”

Mr Byrne also said he felt safer living in Mandurah and often walked home at night.

“We’re living in a three-bedroom house and it’s cheaper than a two-bedroom apartment in a pretty shady area back home, and it was a bit rough. You wouldn’t want to walk around after 10 o’clock at night alone,” he said.

“Everyone I’ve met, even late at night, everyone’s lovely, you know; I haven’t seen any hassle and I walk everywhere.”

Mr Byrne also praised Australia’s industrial relations laws, saying he averaged 60 to 70-hour work weeks in Ireland.

“I really didn’t want to be doing those hours, it was relentless,” he said.

“In Australia employees have a lot more power than employers, where back home it was the opposite.

“There are no laws or structures in place to say how many hours you can do a week.”

Mr Byrne said moving to Australia was an easy choice for him.

“Obviously, over here planning things outside of work is super easy,” he said.

“The weather is always nice. Even for you guys when it’s not nice, it’s still nice for me.

“You’ve got beaches, you’ve got beautiful water. There are so many places in Australia I want to see.

“So yeah, it was an easy choice for me. It’s about the lifestyle and also the money is a big factor.”

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