Rent crisis | 

Galway student (21) is living out of her car because she can’t get accommodation

After sending more than 150 emails to landlords and receiving just two replies, Jessica McGirr (21) is living out of her car

Student at NUI Galway, Jessica McGirr from Donegal, with her mattress, sleeping bag, suit case and make up, is living out of her car because she can’t get accommodation. Photo: Ray Ryan

Ciara O'

After sending more than 150 emails to landlords and receiving just two replies, a 21-year-old student is living out of her car in Galway city as her search to find accommodation has become dire.

University of Galway student Jessica McGirr said the Budget 2023 measures that have been announced for students are positive, but they don’t help to address the issue that there are very few rentals available in the country.

She welcomes that the student contribution fee has been reduced by €500, saying it will especially benefit students whose parents don’t qualify for the SUSI grant but they pay their own fees.

“This is alleviating a lot of financial stress that I was feeling, and I was considering taking out another student loan, which I probably won’t have to do now,” she said.

“The one-off payments are also a huge help right now with the sudden (inflation) increase that so many people are feeling.”

Ms McGirr began searching for a room in Galway city in March of this year, and has been documenting on her TikTok account ‘jess.mcgirr’ the struggles that she has faced.

The Donegal native still hasn’t come close to securing anything, so she is staying between her car and friends’ houses.

“This is my third year in Galway so I knew it was going to be rough because it was really rough last year but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” she told the Irish Independent.

“Anything that came up on Daft I would text them and 99pc of the time no one would even respond to me.

“There are only 15 houses [to rent] on Daft in Galway city and suburbs right now.”

Ms McGirr said she has no other option but to currently live in her car and stay with friends, as all of her lectures are in-person.

“I couldn’t stay at home because none of my lectures are online and I have to be on campus for them, and I don’t have the money to stay in a hotel every night so I just decided I would go up in the car and then I just text a friend every night and ask if I can stay in their room,” she said.

She has considered commuting from Donegal but said it would take her three hours each way and €80 in fuel for a round-trip.

Although she is happy with many of the measures announced in Budget 2023 aimed at students, she hopes in the future the Government invests more in building affordable student accommodation.

“The issue here is the lack of housing, more housing needs to be built, and more affordable housing,” Ms McGirr said.

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