Are you considering living in Ireland as an expat?
If so, then you’ll love this post about Mary’s experience moving to Ireland from the USA.
Let’s dive right in to her experiences exploring the pros and cons of living in Ireland so you can decide if this European country is the right fit for you!
Background about Mary, an expat in Ireland
Hi, I’m Mary and with my partner Eric, we are expats in Ireland.
This means we both live and work in Ireland while we grew up in different countries before moving to Ireland.
We currently live in Dublin close to some of the best beaches near Dublin. I am excited to share our experience with you.
The road to becoming an expat for us was both bumpy and inevitable!
We would like to thank Nina for giving us the opportunity to share our expat experience(s) and we hope our story can inspire you to follow your dream of living abroad.
I feel like you probably need a bit of background before I jump into the details of living in Ireland.
I am French and grew up in the French countryside, although I would travel a lot with my parents both in France and internationally.
When I turned 18, I left France for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the USA.
I moved to the USA for a year as an exchange student. I lived with an American family and went to an American High School.
When I came back home, I was devastated and couldn’t wait to move abroad again!
However, I first had to finish my university studies before being able to live abroad again. During my Master’s, I met Eric in Paris (I know, how romantic!) and we have been together ever since.
Eric is both Portuguese and Canadian but he was living in Northern Ireland at the time. After a few months of long-distance dating, things aligned, and we were able to move to Dublin, Ireland.
Why we chose living in Ireland
There are several reasons why we chose to move to Ireland and why we chose to be living in Dublin in particular.
First, we were looking at English-speaking countries only and those located in the European Union.
Let me tell you that that shortens your list of options quite fast, especially now that Brexit has happened! It was always my dream to live in an English-speaking country and although I had lived in the USA, I still wanted to experience that again in some way.
Out of the European Countries, Ireland was, of course, on top of our list.
We both had visited Dublin at least once in the previous years and enjoyed the city very much.
I had also visited other places in the countryside of Ireland and had loved my experience a lot. I thought Ireland was really beautiful!
Of course, when moving abroad, you can’t only think as a tourist.
Being an expat means you will need to work in your new country and you will also want to meet new people.
Ireland is quite a small country and, although beautiful, the countryside can feel isolated as an expat since you don’t know anyone (at least yet).
When we were looking at Ireland, we realised that our best option would probably be to move to Dublin.
Dublin is probably the best city to live in Ireland as it is the biggest and most connected city in the country. Although we both knew the city quite well from spending a few days in Dublin, we still felt a little bit like tourists.
It felt to us like Dublin was a good compromise between a new place to live while still being familiar enough with it for it to feel like home at some point.
Other things we enjoyed about Dublin include artists performing in the streets, referred to as “busking” and “buskers”, and how friendly and welcoming Irish lads are.
Of course, we needed to think about our careers and what we would be doing in the capital city of Ireland.
It turns out that Dublin is a big hub for jobs in the European Union.
As we were both coming from a law background, we were able to find jobs relatively easily (it still required work and effort of course).
Pro tip: One big platform to find a job in Ireland is Indeed.
What we love most about living in Ireland
We have now been living in Ireland for several years and have a good idea about what we love most about living in Ireland.
First, we really like living in Dublin.
Dublin is a city full of history and fun things to do.
In particular, we love Phoenix Park.
Having grown up in the countryside, the city can sometimes feel overwhelming so spending hours in Phoenix Park is a great way to get a break from the bustling city.
Phoenix Park is also home to the Phoenix Park deer, a herd of hundreds of deer who roam free through the park.
We love visiting them.
It is quite a treat to be exposed to wild animals in the city in that way!
Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!
We also love that the city is surrounded by water.
Although it’s not the best from a global warming perspective, it’s really nice from an expat living perspective.
The closest beach is only a short thirty-minute walk from the city centre.
Dublin is also crossed by the Liffey River which features nice boardwalks that take you from one and of the city to the other.
It’s very enjoyable on a nice sunny day!
Costs of Living in Ireland
The main costs of living in Ireland are rent and health insurance.
Renting in Ireland
The main issue in Ireland is the housing crisis that has been going on for years now.
Rents are through the roof with decent one-bedrooms going for at least €1600 a month.
Some people try to live on the outskirt of the city to find lower rents. However, transportation in Ireland is also costly and, it sometimes just doesn’t make sense to live further away and pay for the commute!
When we first moved to Dublin, we visited a lot of apartments around €1000-€1500 a month and let me tell you how bad it was.
The apartments we saw were old, mouldy, smelly and in bad condition.
Some even had parts that were broken but the owners had no intention to fix them as “someone will rent it anyway”.
That’s how bad the market is here.
You’ll need to factor this into the cost of living to afford a decent house or apartment in Ireland.
Healthcare in Ireland
Eric and I both come from countries with great social security and almost 100% free everyday healthcare.
In France, I would not question whether I need to go to the doctor or whether I can afford to get my teeth fixed.
I never had to save for healthcare either.
In Ireland, things are a lot different.
The healthcare system here is not nearly as good as France’s and this is something Irish people have acknowledged to me too and would like to see change (of course, I can’t speak for everyone but this is what we have both heard from our close circles).
To give you an idea, a visit at the GP costs between €60 and €70 sometimes more.
A dentist visit is at least €90 but a cavity would costs about €100 to be fixed on top of the visit fee. Some dentists charge you more if you are a new customer.
For comparison, all of those costs would be free in France.
The Irish public health system is free. However, to get an appointment with a specialist, you will need to:
- visit your GP and pay the consultation
- wait sometimes months or years to get an appointment
It is not a problem to wait months for an appointment for something minor, but it becomes a problem if you might have something more life-threatening.
People who can afford it, therefore, turn to private insurance companies and take out health insurance from them.
For good coverage for both day-to-day appointments (GP, Dentists, Physio, etc..) and hospital stays, you’ll need to spend between €600 and €1100 per person per year.
You can find a lot of information on the Irish health system on Citizens Information.
Living in Ireland and dealing with the Weather
Before moving to Ireland, you need to be aware of the unbelievable weather we get here.
If I tell you we get the four seasons in a day, it’s not a metaphor: we literally do.
As I am writing this, it is sunny outside with blue skies and no clouds in sight. However, it was snowing thirty minutes ago! I expect the afternoon to be mild but it will probably rain at some point.
The weather in Ireland quickly changes which can sometimes be frustrating. Seasons are different from the seasons on the continent.
Here, we don’t really get a summer and winter is relatively mild.
I don’t mind a mild winter but I miss having a real summer!
I’m from the east of France and summer would usually run from June to September with temperatures going over 30°C sometimes.
In Ireland, we usually get a few random days at 25°C in the afternoon but it rarely goes over that.
Temperatures in Ireland are more or less average all year long, leaving you to question what to wear pretty much all the time.
I used to look out the window to see what other people were wearing but I’ll admit it doesn’t help when one lad is in shorts and the next lad is wearing a winter coat.
I feel like this describes the Irish weather quite well though!
One tip from me would be to bring lots of different layers of clothes when moving to Ireland. That should give you a range of outfits you can layer on to match the weather.
Hi, I’m Mary! With my partner Eric, we are the part-time travellers behind Be Right Back and @twolostexplorers.
We focus on helping you travel as you want without breaking the bank. From the Cyclades Islands in Greece to exploring Canada, we love discovering new places and cultures. There’s a twist though: we do it on a budget (but not for cheap)! Our budget travel tips have helped us travel to 16 countries and 14 islands. On Be Right Back, we share our destination travel guides and how we save money to enjoy those destinations to the fullest while staying on budget.
Wrap Up: Moving to Ireland as an Expat
Having lived in Scotland and England, I can attest to the odd weather phenomenons that you get in that part of Europe.
If you’re planning to move to Ireland, be sure to consider the pros and cons that Mary laid out above. The white cliffs of Dover and fun drinking songs shouldn’t be all you base your decision on!
To help you figure out if living in Ireland is right for your expat journey, I’ve summarized the pros and cons of the country.
Pros and Cons of Living in Ireland
- EU country, which makes it easy for EU citizens to work without a visa
- Free public healthcare
- Mild winters
- English speaking
- Large job market, especially in Dublin
- Beautiful countryside
- Lovely people
- Easy to travel from Ireland
- Northern Ireland is not a part of the EU, but is actually part of the UK
- But it takes a long time to be seen and has many costs
- Costs of health insurance or private care
- Mild summers
- Vast weather changes daily
- High rental costs for subpar accommodations
FAQs Expats in Ireland
Living in Ireland vs UK
There are many similarities and differences between living in Ireland and the UK. Some of the main differences include:
• The cost of living. Ireland is generally more expensive than the UK, particularly in Dublin.
• The weather. Ireland has a much milder climate than the UK, with less extreme weather conditions. The UK is larger, so there is more room for varied weather, especially in the northern areas.
• The healthcare system. In Ireland, everyone is required to have health insurance. In the UK, healthcare is free at the point of use for everyone, although there are some charges for prescription medication.
Living in Ireland vs Scotland
There is no right answer to this question, as it depends on each individual’s preference.
Some people may prefer the cooler climate of Scotland, while others may prefer the warmer weather of Ireland.
Additionally, both countries have their own unique culture and history which may be appealing to different people.
In the major cities, Edinburgh is more expensive than Ireland’s Dublin. But in the countryside, the costs of living are similar.
Ireland, as part of the EU, is known for having cheaper gas. And Scotland has access to free healthcare through the NHS.
Ultimately, it comes down to what each person prefers and what they are looking for in a place to live.
Living in Ireland vs USA
The cost of living in Ireland is significantly cheaper than in the United States, especially when it comes to housing costs.
However, the quality of life is not as good as in the United States, where there is a higher standard of living and more job opportunities across the country. However, many people find the slower pace of live in Ireland and the work-life balance to be preferable to living in the US.
In terms of climate, Ireland is more temperate than the US. The weather in the US can be extremely hot or cold, while Ireland is mild most of the year.
Ireland also has a more rural landscape, while the US is more urban. This can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage depending on each person’s preference.
Best cities to live in Ireland
1) Dublin, Ireland
2) Cork, Ireland
3) Galway, Ireland
4) Limerick, Ireland
Can a foreigner live in Ireland?
Yes, foreigners can live in Ireland as long as they have the appropriate visas.
There are a number of different types of visas available, depending on the person’s occupation and reason for wanting to move to Ireland.
If you are a citizen of an EU country, you do not need a visa to work in Ireland.
Is it worth it to live in Ireland?
There are certainly some benefits to living in Ireland, such as the strong economy and diverse landscape.
However, there are also some drawbacks, such as the high cost of living and ever-changing weather.
Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not it is worth it to live in Ireland. If you are comfortable with the pros and cons, then go for it!
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Ireland?
In order to live comfortably in Ireland, you will need at least €2,000 per month. This amount will cover your basic expenses, such as rent, food, and transportation.
If you want to add on some luxuries, such as cable TV or high-speed internet, you will need to budget an additional €100-€200 per month.
Keep in mind that these numbers may vary depending on the city or town that you live in. In Dublin, for example, the cost of living is higher than in other parts of the country.
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