Everything You Need to Know About Living Abroad in Ireland

The Emerald Isle is green and lush, with big cities, charming small towns, and ancient castles dotting the landscape from coast to coast. Transportation to the US and mainland Europe is easy, the culture is diverse, and the people are welcoming and friendly.

Add to that its rich history, robust pub culture, and avid sports fans and it’s easy to see why Ireland attracts so many expats from around the world.

But before you pack a bag and board a plane to Dublin, it’s important to be aware of some of the challenges you may face.

From the cost of living to the wet weather, here’s what you need to know about living abroad in Ireland.

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Ireland is the 20th Most Expensive Country to Live In

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, only 19 other countries are more expensive than Ireland. If you’re moving from the US, Australia, or Canada, Ireland may be more affordable than what you’re used to. But if you’re moving from the UK, most other European nations, or South America, the cost of rent, goods, and services may be much higher than you’re accustomed to.

Visa Applications Usually Take About Two Months to Process

It generally takes between four and eight weeks to obtain a visa to move to Ireland, but sometimes it takes longer. Visa applications are reviewed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and processing times vary by several factors, including the type of visa you apply for.

Work Visas and Work Permits Are Two Different Things

Depending on where you’re moving from, you may need a work visa and a work permit if you intend to work in Ireland. Citizens from the UK, EU, Switzerland, and EEA countries do not need an employment permit to work in Ireland. Citizens from the US and most other countries do.

There Are Several Ways to Get Citizenship in Ireland

If you fall in love with the Emerald Isle and desire to become a citizen, there are two main pathways to citizenship: citizenship through naturalization and citizenship through ancestry. This article from International Citizens Group explores these in depth and explains the qualifications and eligibility requirements for each method.

You’ll Probably Need to Apply for a PPS Number

A PPS number in Ireland is similar to a social security number in the US. You’ll need one to handle many day-to-day affairs, including setting up a bank account, paying Irish taxes if you work for an Irish employer, and applying for an Irish driver’s license.

You Might Need to Pass a Driving Test

You can drive in Ireland for up to 12 months on a foreign license, but you’ll need an Irish driver’s license beyond that.

Citizens who have a license in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and a few other countries can easily exchange their current license for an Irish one. Citizens from the US and most other nations will need to pass a driving theory test, take a minimum of six driving lessons, and pass a road test.

The Universal Healthcare System Isn’t Always Free

Ireland has a universal healthcare system, and while many foreign-born citizens can access the system, it’s not completely free for most. In fact, nearly half of all Irish residents have private health insurance so they can access private physicians, hospitals, and medical centers rather than the public options.

If you plan to live abroad in Ireland, it’s best to protect yourself with private medical insurance so you can access the nation’s top doctors and healthcare facilities.

 Finding a House or Apartment Can be Difficult

The Irish housing market is quite competitive, and finding a home, an apartment, or even a room to rent is much more difficult than in many other countries. Available properties are in short supply, especially in the city of Dublin.

In recent years, both property prices and mortgage rates have increased, so more people are opting to rent rather than buy. When searching for a place to rent, it can be helpful to expand your search to include areas outside the specific city or town you hope to live in.

These Irish Cities Are Some of the Best for Expats

If you’d like to settle in an area where you’re not the only foreign-born citizen, these cities are great options:

    • Dublin
    • Limerick
    • Galway
    • Cork
    • Waterford

Dublin, the country’s biggest city with a population of about 1.3 million, attracts the most expats. Limerick and Cork are smaller in size, with approximately 215,000 residents each. Waterford and Galway are much smaller in size, with approximately 50,000 and 80,000 residents respectively.

Each city has a slightly different vibe, so consider finding a short-term rental in one location and exploring other parts of the country before deciding exactly where to settle down.

It Rains a Lot

Ireland is wet. If you don’t like rain, it might not be the ideal spot for you. Depending on where in the country you choose to live, you can expect anywhere from 150-225 days of rain per year. April through July are the driest, most pleasant months.

In Conclusion

Ireland has much to offer, and hundreds of thousands of foreigners from around the world call it home. Though it can be expensive and difficult to find housing, with proper planning and research, you can make your move abroad a fantastic experience. And when you get there, be sure to embrace the culture and celebrate with a pint at the local pub.

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