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Ireland is paying up to $92,000 to people who buy homes on remote islands. Here's how it works.

The Irish government has a plan to boost the population of more than two dozen remote islands in the Atlantic Ocean: Dangle grants of up to $92,000 to homebuyers who are willing to move there.

The islands include Inis Mór, where the Oscar-nominated 2022 film "The Banshees of Inisherin" was partly filmed and which is one of the Aran Islands that sit off the West coast of Ireland. These islands are often a tourist draw due to their rugged landscapes and history. 

About 30 islands off the coast of Ireland have permanent year-round residents who are cut off daily by the tide and who don't have a connection via bridge or causeway to the mainland, the Irish government said when it released the plan earlier this month. Some of the islands have as few as two year-round residents on them, it added.

Over the past two decades the population of these islands has dwindled, with fewer than 3,000 people now spread across them, according to the new Irish government revitalization plan. Even so, the islands are an important for tourism, with more than 300,000 annual visitors.

"An ongoing concern for island communities both nationally and internationally is to maintain the population levels of their islands," the plan noted. "Island communities generally have a higher than average age profile, as many young adults leave the islands to avail of further education or employment opportunities elsewhere."

Pathway in Inisheer surrounded by rocks and the sea under the sunlight in Ireland
A pathway in Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands, surrounded by rocks and the sea under the sunlight in Ireland Getty Images/iStockphoto

The plan is reminiscent of Italy's plan to sell homes in small towns for 1 euro as a way to lure new residents. However, there are plenty of stories from people who bought a 1 euro home about the difficulties and high costs of renovating them.

Here's what to know about the Irish grants. 

How much is Ireland offering? 

Ireland is offering up to almost $92,000 (€84,000) to people who renovate a "derelict building" on one of the islands. People who fix up a vacant property can get up to almost $67,000 (€60,000) for renovation, according to a government website

This is an expansion from an earlier program, the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, which offered about $55,000 for people who renovated vacant properties. 

The government is now providing more money for the islands as part of its 10-year plan to draw more people to relocate there. However, the more generous funding for people who renovate on the islands isn't yet available, according to the government website.

Where are the islands located?

They are located on the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic ocean. They include: 

  • The Aran Islands: Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr
  • Inishbofin
  • Inishturk
  • Clare Island
  • Coney Island
  • Dursey
  • Bere
  • Toraigh, described as the most remote of Ireland's inhabited islands

How do I qualify for funding?

There are specific criteria for getting the funding, according to the government. Among them are:

  • The property has to have been vacant for at least two years and built before 2008
  • You have to own the property or be in the process of buying it
  • You have to live in the home as your principal private residence when the work is complete, or rent it out
  • You can't be a registered company or developer
  • You also have to have paid your taxes and have your taxes in order

How do I apply for funding?

You have to fill out an application form and send it to your local city or county council for approval. 

You'll need to provide proof that you own the property, as well as that it was vacant for at least two years, among other information. 

What can I use the funding for?

The funding must be used for demolition work and renovation of a property, ranging from replacing roofs and structural work to more cosmetic issues like repainting.  

Can Americans buy properties in Ireland? 

Yes, because there are no residency requirements for purchasing properties in Ireland, according to the government. 

However, buying a property doesn't automatically give you the right to reside in Ireland, the government noted. That could complicate plans of Americans interested in applying for the $92,000 refurbishment grant for the Irish islands.

Americans can apply for work permits, while those who want to invest in Ireland or start a business there can also qualify for residency. 

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