The Ultimate Guide to Expat Living in Ireland: Rent, Jobs & Cost of Living

Our names are Julia and Samora. We’re an Austrian/Barbadian expat couple who moved to Dublin over three years ago and would like to share our experiences to help other expats. Moving to a new country or even continent can be stressful but it’s also an amazing adventure. With our YouTube videos, we want to help you spend less time stressing and more time enjoying life in this beautiful country.

There are three parts to this blog post, so feel free to jump ahead to wherever you currently are in this journey. If there’s something you’re interested in that we didn’t cover, reach out to use on Facebook or Instagram.

Ultimate Expat Guide to Living in Ireland

Part 1: Is Ireland Right For You?

1.1. Things You Should Know

1.2. Cost of Living (with Calculator)

1.3. Permits & Visas

Part 2: Moving to Ireland

2.1. How Much Does it Cost to Move to Ireland?  (with Calculator)

2.2. How to Find a Job in Ireland?

2.3. How to find a Flat in Ireland?

2.4. What Needs to Get Done in the First Few Weeks After Moving?

Part 3: How to Thrive Living in Ireland

3.1. Cultural Differences & Habits

3.2. Things We Love to Do In Dublin

3.3. How to Save Money Living in Ireland

 

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Part 1: Is Ireland Right For You?

 

1.1. Things You Should Know

The emerald island is a lovely place. But like with any country, there are some advantages and then there are also some disadvantages. As much as we love to ramble about how we love living in Dublin, we believe it’s only fair you also know about the downsides.

 

Challenges

The Housing Crisis

It’s no secret that Dublin is facing a severe housing crisis. There are not enough apartments and houses for the number of people looking to rent. This shortage, along with the appeal of making more money by letting places short-term, like through AirBnB, has caused rent to increase drastically. Dublin is now one of the most expensive cities to rent in Europe. The average rent in Dublin is €1391 per month.

If you want to research where to live in Dublin based on your budget, check out this free tool we built to find districts based on average rent.

average rent finder

Of course, prices vary from area to area. Some places, which are further out, will generally have lower rents as will the ones in areas, which are considered to be “well dodge.” If you’re on a budget, there are also many shared houses and flats. Rents however still do increase. For example, in rent pressured zones rent can only be increased by max. 4% each year. That means, taking the average Dublin rent of €1391 quoted above, after a year it is quite possible that this rent will jump up to €1447 and so on.

Therefore, we think it’s very important to check the rents in areas of Ireland you want to live in and also check what kind of salary you will need to look for in order to afford rent, even if there’s an increase the following year.

Transport

I’ve been told many times that the transport network in Dublin has improved magnificently in the last ten years. Nevertheless, being spoilt from living in Vienna, we want to give you realistic expectations to avoid disappointment later. Basically, if you look up a route on Google Maps, always calculate in more time. This is especially important when you’re looking for a flat and trying to understand what the commute would be like.

Generally, the LUAS tram and DART train are considered more reliable, which is why rent closer to stations is more expensive. Still make sure to leave the house early as you may need to wait on the second or third LUAS to get on. You’ll also have to deal with the fact that you’ll be squished into the tram like sardines during rush hour.

The buses are a lot more unreliable. There are often delays and then perhaps two buses arrive quickly after each other. On rainy days, you’ll have to leave the house a bit earlier because it’s likely you’ll have to wait for a few buses until there’s space to get onto one.

The Weather

It’s often said in Ireland you can experience four seasons in a day. The weather here can truly be very changeable. You’re better off carrying that rain jacket, regardless of if it’s sunny outside or not, just in case. But many days when it rains, it’s more of a drizzle (doesn’t mean you won’t get wet though). Dublin gets about 191 days of rain per year. That’s about half of the year. You do get used to it, however, and the good thing is that overall the temperatures are very mild and don’t fluctuate too much. Just make sure you get some waterproof shoes and a good rain jacket. We wouldn’t recommend umbrellas since they usually don’t last too long in the wind. For more detailed information about what the weather is like on a daily basis, watch our video.

 

Things to Love

The People

It’s a stereotype but Irish people are very friendly.  You’ll often find yourself striking up conversation with people in shops or at the pub. If you’re stuck on what to say, just talk about the weather. That’s everyone’s favourite small talk topic.

We’ve also fallen in love with the Irish sense of humour. If you want to get a taste for it, you can watch the cult classic comedy series Father Ted (technically a British show, I know) and Derry Girls (set in Northern Ireland). It’s also good practice for getting used to the accent.

The Job Market

It can be very competitive to get a job but there are also many multinational companies who have their headquarters here, as well as a plethora of start-ups. If you’re interested in working for innovative companies, especially in the tech sector, then you’ll be able to find many good opportunities in Dublin. You can learn more about that in How to Find a Job in Dublin.

Exploring the City & Country

Dublin is a city full of history and culture. There are many small independent comedy and theatre shows as well as bands you can go see. There are also several great museums, many of which are free to visit. Of course, there are also the pubs, some of which even have live music. If you love nature, there are many stunning walks you can take just outside of Dublin. Then there are also all the beautiful places outside the capital, which make for great weekend breaks. Ireland is a relatively small country, so it only takes a few hours by car to Galway, Cork or many other smaller cities.

 

1.2. Cost of Living

 

Accommodation

As you probably already deduced from 1.1. Challenges (linkö) rent is usually the biggest expense. Like we said, the average rent in Dublin is currently €1391. Sharing a house can bring down the cost. However, you’re most likely not going to find a room in a shared house under €500. There are houses where you can rent a bed in a shared bedroom, which would be cheaper at around €300+. But always be careful with how many people actually live in the house and share the bathroom as well as kitchen.

Transport

The second big expense for some people is transport. Monthly tickets are usually only valid for one mode of transport. If your commute requires you to combine bus and LUAS, for example, this type of ticket will be more expensive. Generally, buses are cheaper than the LUAS tram, which is cheaper than the DART trains.

Groceries

Groceries are a little more expensive compared to the rest of Europe but you can budget well by being picky about what you buy from which supermarket. Certain products, such as alcohol, are taxed more and thus much more expensive than in other countries.

Entertainment

Your cost of living can also very much depend on your lifestyle. Due to the tax on alcohol and the culture of buying rounds for each other, one night out at the pub can become expensive quite quickly. There are, however, also many free things to do and seasonal events to enjoy.

Free Calculator

To calculate your own livings costs based on your own lifestyle, check out our Free Cost of Living in Ireland Calculator. Just make a copy of the Google Sheet and you can edit the numbers as you wish. To get some averages on what things cost you can also check out Numbeo and Expatistan. For a more in-depth explanation of cost of living to expect in Dublin watch our video.

 

1.3. Permits & Visas

INIS is the government department dealing with visa applications and registrations of residency. They give you a timeline of what you need to do to apply for visas. There are different “stamps” you can apply for based on your eligibility. Some of these stamps, such as the Critical Skills visa, require your employer to make a payment. Others may require you to switch visa after a certain period of time. So, make sure you read carefully about which stamp you would like to apply for. In most cases, you’ll also need to register with INIS once you have arrived in Ireland.

 

Part 2: Moving to Ireland

 

2.1. How Much Does It Cost to Move to Ireland?

Of course, costs for you will vary greatly depending on from where you’re flying and whether you’ll be bringing big items like furniture with you. In our experience the biggest cost was short-term accommodation until we found a flat to move into. When you move into a flat, also expect to pay 1-2 months worth of rent in deposit and often one month of rent up front. Once you’re in a flat you may have to buy certain furniture or things for the kitchen. If you’re staying in a shared house at first, you can often avoid having to buy all these things, which you can share with your housemates. Depending on which country you’re from and during which season you arrive, you may also have to give your wardrobe a major update.

Free Calculator

To calculate what it might cost for you to move, check our Free Cost of Moving to Ireland Calculator. Just make a copy of the Google Sheet and you can edit the numbers as you wish.

Save Up Before to Keep Up the Cash Flow

One important thing to keep in mind for your cash flow is that it can take a while to receive your salary. You need a PPSN number (like a social security number) to open a bank account and you usually need an Irish bank account to receive a payment from an employer. This can delay you being able to access your first month’s salary. It’s also important to avoid emergency tax. That way you don’t have to wait for tax to be refunded to access your full net salary.

We also explain more about this in our YouTube video about How Much Does It Cost to Move to Ireland?

 

2.2. How to Find a Job in Ireland?

Dublin has a very competitive job market. There are many opportunities but there are also a lot of applicants. So, don’t get disheartened and make sure to check listings often to find roles which you’re interested in soon after they’re published. The job market moves fast and when companies are looking for a new employee they often want them to start as soon as possible. For example, in our case Julia got a job offer on a Tuesday and we moved to Ireland that Saturday, so she could start work the following Monday.

These are some good websites to look for jobs.

You can also watch our video where we go more into a detail on how to use those websites to find a job in Ireland and what kind of job you may find on which website.

 

2.3. How to find a Flat in Ireland?

Due to the above-mentioned renting crisis, it can be harder to find a flat than in other cities. Many landlords/ladies and real estate agents get hundreds of responses to listings, so don’t be disheartened if you never hear back from someone. If you do, however, get a viewing, make sure you’re ready to move fast and express your interest clearly if you want to move ahead with renting the place.

Here are also five more tips on how to look for a flat in Dublin.

If you don’t know Dublin yet and are wondering in which part of the city to look, here are some pointers. Dublin is separated by the river Liffey. Uneven postcodes (Dublin 1-17) can be found to the North and even postcodes (Dublin 2-24) to the South. The postcodes are numbered from the city centre (Dublin 1 and Dublin 2) outwards. So, you’ll immediately know the higher the number, the further out the listing you’re looking at is.

Still feeling lost? Good news for you. We’ve created a website where you can find areas to rent in based on your budget. Just select how much you want to pay maximum and we’ll show which districts are most likely to have flats at that price based on the average rent for the district. You can also search by district to get an overview of what it’s like to live there.

If you want to research where to live in Dublin based on your budget, check out this free tool we built to find districts based on average rent.

Dublin Districts Map

 

2.4. What Needs to Get Done in the First Few Weeks After Moving?

There are some official things you’ll need to do in the first few weeks after arriving. Depending on your visa, you’ll need to register with the GNIB office. Employers will ask for your work permit (basically your visa or just your passport if you’re an EU citizen) and your PPSN number. The PPSN number is like a social security number. You’ll need to apply for that in person at an Intreo Centre. Employers will usually give you time off work in the first few weeks to do this.

You should make an appointment for your PPSN number as soon as you can because it’s a pre-requisite for many other things. For example, you need to open an Irish bank account and to register with Revenue. If you’re employment is not registered with Revenue, you will be charged Emergency Tax which is 40% and increases each month. To avoid that happening, you edit the information online or call them. Just have the VAT number of your employer ready.

You can find more details, also on, for example, where to get clothes appropriate for the season, in our video.

 

Part 3: How to Thrive Living in Ireland

 

3.1. Cultural Differences & Habits

Coming from a very direct German-speaking culture, one of the most confusing things for Julia was telling people “Hi, how are you?” and walking away without expecting a full conversation. It’s just a polite form of greeting someone, even strangers. At the same don’t be surprised if someone strikes up a conversation with you, for example in a shop.

You’ll probably also soon find yourself saying typically Irish things like “What’s the craic?” or “What’s the story?” and “That’s grand. Thanks a million.” There are also some other cultural habits you might take on, like preferring vinegar on your chips.

In this video, we talked about You Know You’re a Dubliner When you’ve taken on these habits, even if they might seem strange at first.

 

3.2. Things We Love to Do In Dublin

One advantage of moving to a new city is that it’s easy to feel like a tourist. When you need a break, go out and explore an area you’ve never been to before and you’ll feel like you just came back from vacation. While Dublin can often feel like a small town, there’s a lot going on.

Nightlife

Most of the popular restaurants, bars and clubs can be found in a specific area in the city centre. If you’re looking for it on a map, it’s south of Dame Street, East of St Patrick’s Park, North of the Royal Canal and West of Merrion Square. Harcourt Street is famous for having several clubs.

Shopping

The most famous shopping street is Grafton Street. Along this street and side streets you’ll also find more high-end shops. Another big shopping area is Jervis Shopping centre, which is surrounded by shops on Henry Street. Suburbs usually have their own shopping centres, such such as Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and even suburbs closer to the city like Rathmines have their own smaller shopping centres.

Culture & Events

There are several national museums you can visit for free; perfect for a rainy day. There are also several literary festivals around the year, such as Dublin Book Festival, Dalkey Book Festival and Bloomsday Festival. For theatre fans, there’s the Dublin Theatre Festival, a Fringe festival and the Gay Theatre Festival. During Africa Week there are usually events as well and every September there’s a Culture Night, where you can visit many sights for free.

Sports

There are many gyms around Dublin. Several also offer subscriptions where you can access any of their branches and some are also open 24/7. If you want to try some local sports, you can join a local GAA team.

Nature

Of course, there’s Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in a European capital. It’s large enough to have herds of deer roaming around. To the South of Dublin there is the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Within the city you have paths to walk on along the several canals, such as the Royal Canal and the River Dodder. There are cliff walks in Howth and Bray. There are even some hidden spots you won’t find in any guide book, like a 5km long Beach in Dublin on North Bull Island.

Watch our playlist to see cool things to do in Dublin on weekends.

 

3.3. How to Save Money While Living in Ireland

As you know by now, Dublin is an expensive city to live in. But here are a few hacks which can help you save money.

Taxes

As someone new to the system, it’s important to understand if you’re paying the correct amount of tax. The good news is if you’ve been taxed too much you’ll get back the money but only if you notice and ask for it. If your income is under a certain limit during the first year, your tax may be lower. Once you’re working for a whole year or your salary is high enough, you’ll be taxed at different band rates. Here’s a calculator to double check if you’re being taxed correctly. If not, give Revenue a call.

Transport

You can reduce fares by getting a Leap Card. It’s a smart card, like the Oyster Card in Dublin. You can buy it at the airport or most convenience shops in the city centre and top it up there, at ticket machines or via the app. Another way to reduce the fare is possible when you’re only travelling a short distance on buses. Queue in front of the driver and say which stop you’re going to, e.g. “Amiens Street” and the driver will deduct the fare based on how many zones you travel through versus the flat fee if you just tap your leap card opposite the driver. If you’re using public transport for your commute, ask your employer if they have a tax saver scheme. That way you can get monthly tickets at a reduced rate.

Groceries

There are certain discounter supermarkets where you’ll often find cheaper groceries, such as Lidl and Aldi. You might not find everything there but getting the basics from there can help. Check out the different supermarkets in your area and compare prices. We’ve found the same branded products in different shops at quite different price points.

Entertainment

When you’re going out, avoid Temple Bar. You’ll mostly only find tourists there and the prices are often higher than in the above-mentioned area around Grafton Street. Cinema tickets can be pricey but you can often get cheaper tickets if you go Monday to Thursday.

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