A long long time ago, as a first year class rep, I remember hearing horrifying accommodation related stories in class rep meetings. Stories of homeless students having to stay in hostels with German backpackers and English Hens (Most likely looking for their last frankfurter before they took the plunge). It was during the height of the Celtic Tiger and as a result student accommodation was over-priced and under-maintained. Back home in Leitrim you could buy a tin of USA assorted biscuits for 10 pound auld money, whereas in Dublin the honour of living in a biscuit tin in Glasnevin would cost you €150, and they wouldn't even throw in the pink wafers.
So along comes the dreaded R-word, and suddenly students are better off than most (not including fees, stricter grant payments and the fact that our parents can't afford to help us that is). Deflation and lower rents mean that it is a lot cheaper to live in Dublin than just a few years ago. The sad thing is that while accommodation is not quite as over-priced it is most definitely as poorly maintained. If the late Frank McCourt had returned to education before his death he would certainly have been able to knock another Angela's Ashes out of his misery and dismay with the standards of student accommodation in our capital city.
For the first time in over a decade, students face unemployment, fees and a reduction of services in general. Many of these things are outside of our direct control, so the easiest way to combat the pressure is to save money where you can. And so the challenge begins... This article will prove that a student can kit out their Aportmint, Pad, Flah, or Crib for less than €100.
The day I set out to do my big supermarket sweep happened to be All Ireland Hurling Final Day, so I had the advantage of not feeling too out of place in the big Schmoke. This was not quite the case when walking up Talbot St. from Bus Áras, I was seen by many locals to exclaim "F*ck it anyhow its Sunday, Guiney's is closed!". With Frawley's of Thomas St. having closed some years ago, it became apparent that I would not be able to tour the usual Culchie Comfort Zones of Dublin's fair city. Instead globalisation and all things capitalist would receive an all round endorsement as I filled bag after bag with modern essentials.
Indeed we all have Adam Smith to thank for the fact that even as the shit is hitting the fan in the capitalist world we can still have a clean toilet (Tesco toilet brush €1.90). We can sleep safe and warm in our bed thanks to German efficiency (Aldi duvet, two pillows, mattress cover €17.99). We can dine in relative civility, thanks to a shop where civility is not generally a staff requirement (Argos 24 piece cutlery set €7.29). So the list goes on, between these three retailers I was able to keep within budget and buy; sweeping brush €4.99; mop €4.12; toaster €6.99; kettle €9.99; bed linen €8.83; knife block complete with knives €3.79; 4 white mugs €1.56; 4 bowls, side plates and dinner plates €6.49; 3 piece saucepan set €8.75; frying pan €1.95; dustpan and brush €0.85; tea-towel €2.49; all important spud peeler €0.47; knowing that the Celtic tiger didn't force you to bend over and take it - Priceless.
And so the total arrived at €88.47, leaving just enough for a housewarming bottle of wine, crackers, and condoms. There are plenty of arguments against buying the cheapest things possible, such as false economy, buying Irish, anti-globalisation, or bitter memories of being able to afford designer toilet brushes. Before I leave you, I want to settle each of these points. In terms of false economy it is true that the cheap toaster may break before a dear one, but its also true that one of your housemates may return drunk some night and decide to dry his Calvin Klein's in it. The cheap stuff will most likely last a year, and if your fellow hooligan inhabitants incorporate it into some sort of sexual perversion, its not the end of the world.
When it comes to buying Irish, or being anti globalisation, the argument really becomes childish. As with anything you buy wherever offers the better value. After all, many of our exports are so successful because they offer better value in foreign markets. It's a global economy, and we are all the better of it, so wake up and smell the stench of failed communist bullsh*t. As far as buying brands goes, if you are in a position to buy branded mops, you must surely have only read this article for its immense entertainment value. In that case, I hope you enjoyed the communist bashing, Ladas never were that stylish were they?
But surely there young Nevin, the €88.47 speaks for itself, why are you pushing the point? Well you are right, it does speak for itself, but it also says a lot more. For the first time in many years, this country is a buyers market. Our emerald isle is awash with value. It proves that when the markets are left to their own devices the consumer benefits. For years house prices and rent prices were artificially inflated through regulation and tax incentives. The market was not let find its own balance and so like Fianna Fail's poll performance, it crumbled. The drive for value is a drive for efficiency, the fittest will survive and rightly so. Now take a minute to consider this: One can kit out a flat for less than €100, buy a plane ticket for incredible value, buy clothes at up to 70% off, or buy a few cans for a night in for almost nothing. However, if one needs an education, healthcare, a train, or bus, prices are continuously on the up. Why?