HOUSING is now the single biggest expense facing Irish households, according to new data from the Central Statistics Office. The CSO Statistical Yearbook of Ireland outlined household expenditure for 2015-2016 and the figures show a consistent rise in the cost of housing.
The cost of housing now stands at 19.6 percent of household expenditure. This is a rise of 1.1 percent on the 2009-10 figure. CSO numbers show a significant rise in housing costs over the last 20 years. In 1999-2000, housing accounted for just 9.6 percent of household expenditure.
The figures come as rents in Limerick continue to rise and more people find themselves unable to afford homes, with many forced into emergency accommodation. Average rent in Limerick now stands at €919 per month, a rise of 11 percent on last year. The average cost of a new house in Limerick was €233,655 in the last quarter of 2016, while a second hand house cost €195,324. This is lower than the national average but when average salaries and the cost of borrowing are taken into account, the lower prices do not make things much easier for Limerick residents.
Other major costs are food and transport. Households spend on average 14.7 percent of their expenditure on food and 14.9 percent on transport. The percentage spent on food has fallen significantly over the past 20 years. Households spent 20.4 percent on food in 1999-2000 and 27.7 percent in 1980. By contrast, transport costs have fallen at a slower rate from a peak of 16.4 percent of expenditure in 1999-2000.
Miscellaneous expenditures have also risen to 33.6 percent. These costs have risen slowly since 1999 but this spending now represents more expenditure than food and transport put together. Miscellaneous costs include medical costs, phones, entertainment such as TV, holidays, childcare and a wide variety of other costs. Medical expenditure are by far the largest single item, with urban households spending €40.78 a week on medical needs, this rises to €45.47 in rural areas.
Urban households spend €36.71 per week on pension contributions, almost as much as they spend on holidays (€36.34), while the average cost of childcare is €11.16. Rural households spent more on average on miscellaneous expenses and contributed more pension contributions on a daily basis than their urban neighbours. However, rural residents paid more for phones and reading materials, while they were also more charitable, giving €21.97 a week in donations compared to urban areas’ €19.12.
Despite the rising cost of housing, the CSO figures show that 100 percent of households now have electricity, a slight rise since 2010, while 97.4 percent have a mobile phone. While 80.8 percent of households have a home computer, only 72.9 percent have internet access.