Reuters

The country is awash in ghost towns.

We're living in a golden age of ghost towns.

China's overbuilding boom has left entire cities of unoccupied housing, retail and municipal infrastructure.

But the country is not alone. A tiny island nation at the far western edge of the Eurasian land mass also knows a thing or two about the risks of excess home-building. Ireland's real estate mania left the country's economy and government finances in tatters. It also left behind some 1,300 damp, rotting unfinished housing developments.

Irish Central Statistics Office

The state has just announced plans to demolish 40 such developments over the next 12 months. The developments slated for demolition are in the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Cavan and Offaly. The republic is making headway on the problem, the number of vacant housing estates is down from more than 1,700 last year.

But with one in every ten Irish homes vacant, the presence of disintegrating housing developments scattered around the country is a stark reminder of Ireland’s struggle to tackle its housing overhang. The banks are still laboring to manage a rising number of housing homeowners who aren’t paying their mortgages. Housing loans in arrears continue to climb, which puts serious pressure on the still wobbly banking system.

Ireland's recently reiterated plans to exit its bailout program in December. The state is ultimately responsible for Ireland’s banking system woes–and it was the state’s effort to shore up the banking system that eventually forced the republic itself to seek a €67.5 billion ($91 billion) bailout to avoid a messy default.

Ireland has said it will exit the bailout program next month without a precautionary credit line from Europe. That means it will have to convince the financial markets that it is financially strong enough to handle a clean-up of the housing mess that has really only just started.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Tech workers sit around a table on their laptops in San Francisco, California
    Life

    America’s Tech Hubs Still Dominate, But Some Smaller Cities Are Rising

    Despite established urban tech hubs, some smaller cities are attracting high-tech jobs with lower living costs, unique talent pools, and geographic diversity.

  2. A new map of neighborhood change in U.S. metros shows where displacement is the main problem, and where economic decline persists.
    Equity

    From Gentrification to Decline: How Neighborhoods Really Change

    A new report and accompanying map finds extreme gentrification in a few cities, but the dominant trend—particularly in the suburbs—is the concentration of low-income population.

  3. Transportation

    CityLab University: Induced Demand

    When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them. What gives? Here’s how “induced demand” works.

  4. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  5. Maps

    Mapping Where Traffic Pollution Hurts Children Most

    Research shows nearly one in five childhood asthma cases were caused by traffic-related air pollution.