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Moving to Ireland

In recent years, Ireland has become one of Europe's unlikely success stories. A picturesque island west of the UK with lush landscapes and rugged, stormy coasts, Ireland is attracting more and more expats not only with its wonderful scenery but also thanks to its recent economic growth and excellent standards of living.

The Emerald Isle, as it is sometimes poetically called, is home to fewer than 5 million people – almost half the population of New York City. Although infamous for its perpetually inclement weather, Ireland's cloudy forecasts don’t detract from the attractions of a country that boasts an impressive natural aesthetic and values a relaxed way of life.

A host of multinational companies that arrived during the country's economic boom of recent years brought with them a sizeable expat population. Many American and British expats are flocking to the country for its abundance of business opportunities and available jobs.  

The huge influx of foreigners does mean that the demand for housing and amenities has spiked dramatically resulting in a sharp rise in the country's, and especially Dublin's, cost of living. In fact, prices in the capital are now even comparable to major cities such as New York and London.

Expats moving to Ireland can expect excellent healthcare services and a good education for their children. Public schools in Ireland are free to all residents, including foreign residents, and many expats choose to send their children to public schools rather than expensive private and international schools. 

Ultimately, the upsides of living here far outweigh the downsides. Not only is it a lovely country to call home, but its convenient location makes it an excellent base for exploring the rest of Europe.

Fast facts

Population: About 4.8 million

Capital city: Dublin 

Neighbouring countries: The Republic of Ireland is situated on an island to the west of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is on the north side of the island.

Geography: The coast of Ireland is rugged and mountainous, while the central area of the island consists of flat plains.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary republic

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: English and Irish

Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. ATMs and card services are readily available throughout the country.

Tipping: 10 to 15 percent in restaurants for good service, unless gratuity has already been added to the bill

Time: GMT +0 (GMT +1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Three-pronged plugs with flat blades are standard.

International dialling code: +353

Emergency contacts: 112 or 999

Internet domain: .ie

Transport and driving: Ireland has a comprehensive public transport system, with buses being the most popular form of public transport. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road.

Weather in Ireland

Expats living in Ireland will fast learn that Irish Mist is more than just a whiskey – it's a permanent state of being. Rain is pretty much a constant in Ireland and it can come as a thunderstorm, a soft shower or commonly as a fine mist. Although the constant moisture in the air can be bothersome, Ireland's lush, green landscapes are one definite benefit of the copious rainfall.

Temperatures on the small island remain quite moderate and extremes are a rarity thanks to the mediating effect of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Summer months settle between 60°F and 70°F (16°C to 21°C) and winter months move between 40°F and 50°F (4°C to 10°C).

Spring is, for the most part, the driest time of year, except in the eastern part of the country. Otherwise, precipitation is at its heaviest in winter and autumn. Snow is not a common occurrence, but some parts of the country may experience frost.

Weather in Ireland is certainly no drawcard, but the little rainbows that follow short spurts of rainfall and the resultant verdant glades and valleys mean that the climate does have its advantages.


Embassy Contacts for Ireland

Irish embassies

  • Irish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 462 3939

  • Irish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7235 2171

  • Irish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 233 6281

  • Irish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6214 0000

  • Irish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 452 1000

  • Consulate-General of Ireland, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 9 977 2252

Foreign embassies in Ireland

  • United States Embassy, Dublin: +353 1 668 8777

  • British Embassy, Dublin: +353 1 205 3700

  • Canadian Embassy, Dublin: +353 1 234 4000

  • Australian Embassy, Dublin: +353 1 664 5300

  • South African Embassy, Dublin: +353 1 661 5553

Public Holidays in Ireland




New Year’s Day

1 January

1 January

St Patrick’s Day

17 March

17 March

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

May Bank Holiday

3 May

2 May

June Bank Holiday

7 June

6 June

August Bank Holiday

2 August

1 August

October Bank Holiday 

25 October

31 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

St Stephen’s Day

26 December

26 December

Pros and Cons of Moving to Ireland

Ireland may be small but it has an enormous amount to offer, including an incredibly rich culture, diverse artistic talent, lively people and gorgeous, lush landscapes.

The 'Celtic Tiger', which saw the economy and property market in Ireland boom from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, took Ireland from one of the EU’s poorer countries to one of the wealthiest. The recession that followed affected Ireland as badly as any Western country, but the country bounced back and experienced an economic boom in the last few years, particularly in light of Brexit regulations that saw a slew of big corporations move their European headquarters to Dublin.

In fact, the Irish capital has become so popular with expats since the upturn in the city's economic prospects that the demand for housing has skyrocketed, which in turn drove prices up to an extent where many locals can't even afford to live in the city any longer. However, despite the pricey cost of living, the quality of life in Ireland remains excellent and the people, culture and lifestyle outweigh many of life’s difficulties.

Below are some of our pros and cons of expat life in Ireland.

Accommodation in Ireland

+ PRO: Available for any budget

Ireland has a wide range of accommodation available to suit any budget. Many metros, especially Dublin, are extremely expensive to live in, but more affordable accommodation is available towards the outskirts of these cities. Conveniently, most places come furnished, including couches, tables, dressers and usually a new mattress.

Many city dwellers are moving away from metros and into "commuter towns" in surrounding counties. While this often means travel times of up to two hours each way, the financial savings are considerable and, if expats are looking for somewhere rural, quiet, and with a good sense of community, bargains can be had in these areas.

Culture shock in Ireland

+ PRO: Proximity to Europe

Thanks to its excellent location, Ireland is a perfect launching pad for travelling. Barcelona is two hours away, Rome is three hours, and for a really short trip, the UK is barely 45 minutes away. If looking to experience other European cultures, Ireland is a great base to do that from.

- CON: The weather

Ireland’s size and location in the middle of the Atlantic cause frequent variation in weather conditions. It can be sunny, rainy or a mixture of both at any point in the day. Although it rarely snows in Ireland, if expats are unprepared the perpetual wet weather can definitely be a shock, so it's important to have warm jackets and umbrellas on hand regardless of the time of year.

Working and doing business in Ireland

+ PRO: Annual leave

By law, all those who work full-time in Ireland are entitled to 20 days of annual leave. It's not usually possible to get away with not taking leave and most employers will also award extra vacation days to long-term employees.

Cost of living in Ireland

- CON: Cost of living is high

Everything is priced in EUR, and the high demand for accommodation in cities such as Dublin is driving the cost of living through the roof. Naturally, the further one moves from Dublin, the lower the cost of living will be.

Safety in Ireland

+ PRO: Safe with few guns

Ireland is very safe. Guns are illegal unless one owns a farm. Naturally, some are smuggled in, and shootings do occur every now and then and are hyped up by the media. Compared to the USA, though, gun crime is near non-existent and the annual crime statistics released by the Central Statistic’s Office (CSO) backs this up. However, like anywhere, there are bad areas and caution should still be taken.

- CON: Less police

There is not a large visible police presence, and the response times when they are needed can be slow.

Healthcare in Ireland

+ PRO: Healthcare is accessible

Both private and public healthcare are available in Ireland. The public healthcare system is funded by general taxes. If needing immediate attention it's likely that a subsidised fee depending on age and income will have to be paid, but the cost should nevertheless be minor. Otherwise, if it is something that can wait, expats should expect to go on a waiting list. There are numerous private healthcare providers where one can pay for services such as private rooms and no waiting lists.

- CON: Waiting lists and A&E delays

The waiting lists for medical procedures can be as long as a few weeks. However, if going to emergency care for something non-life threatening, expect a delay. A standard wait before being treated is between 10 and 14 hours. This obviously deters a majority of those without serious conditions from going to the hospital and is an ongoing source of debate and frustration in Ireland.

Lifestyle in Ireland

+ PRO: Pubs, pubs and more pubs

Ireland doesn’t mess around when it comes to its pubs. Take a walk through any city here, and there’ll be more pubs per square foot than anything else. Whether in search of a small quiet pub with a handful of patrons, or a full-on standing room-only, shout-over-the-noise pub, Ireland has it.

- CON: Not much of a social scene without alcohol

The lifestyle in Ireland has incorporated alcohol into its very core. This is great for those who enjoy a drink, but if not, there’s not really much to accommodate. There are of course sights to see and things to do all over the country that don’t involve alcohol and Ireland is famous for its theatres, music, sites and people. But ultimately, the pub is the number one destination for many locals and expats alike. 

Transportation in Ireland

+ PRO: Cheap rental cars and plenty of public transportation

Ireland’s size makes travelling the country exceedingly easy. Rental cars are incredibly cheap and buses run between cities, as do trains. Public transportation in Ireland is heavily relied on. If moving to Ireland, expats should make sure to figure out local train and bus times, as both are readily available.

- CON: Delays and expensive fuel

Ireland is small, and so are its roads. Approximately a third of Ireland's population lives in Dublin. Expats can expect the usual traffic associated with any major city, and if taking the inner-city rail line, prepare for daily delays and stoppages in services during rush hour. Petrol in Ireland is generally expensive.

Working in Ireland

Skilled expat professionals are actively recruited to work in Ireland to address skills shortages in the local workforce. Dublin, in particular, has been a massive drawcard since Brexit regulations were announced and multinational companies have started opting to set up their European headquarters in the Irish capital.

European Union (EU) citizens are eligible to work without a work permit in Ireland and tend to have the least trouble finding employment opportunities. Non-EU citizens will usually need an Irish work permit.

Given some institutional difficulties associated with starting a business, almost all expats in Ireland work for an established employer, a start-up, or are transferred through one of the big corporations that are increasingly establishing offices in Ireland's major cities.

The job market in Ireland

It is seen as strategically useful for specific industries in Ireland to hire expats. Fortunately for foreign candidates looking to move to Ireland, these skills gaps cover various professions in numerous industries such as finance, IT, healthcare, construction management, medical research and, more recently, tech start-ups.

Dublin, specifically, has seen a recent surge of jobs and business opportunities for those with the desired qualifications and experience, though Covid-19 will likely affect hiring, particularly of expats, for a while. 

Some jobs in Ireland are not open to foreign workers without exceptional circumstances, such as administrative positions, domestic work, retail work, and various craft workers, including electricians, builders and mechanics. 

Finding a job in Ireland

All professions in Ireland belong to an association and, depending on the type of organisation it is, the association may, in turn, regulate the profession. These associations can be a good starting point for expats looking for a job in Ireland. Other avenues include online job portals, social networks – LinkedIn proving particularly useful, adverts in local news publications and employment agencies. It's also worth browsing company websites for vacancies in an expat's field.

Work culture in Ireland

Expats working in Ireland will find that, while the Irish value their free time, they also pride themselves on being hard workers. Work usually starts at 9am and finishes at 5.30pm with a one-hour lunch break. The average work week is 39 hours, from Monday to Friday.

Doing Business in Ireland

Expats planning on doing business in Ireland can look forward to a welcoming and friendly work environment.

An active member of the European Union, many foreign companies view Ireland as a gateway to the European market. Numerous multinational firms have offices in Ireland, and particularly in Dublin, the country’s commercial and economic centre. 

Most expats work in one of the major industries in Ireland, which include business services, finance, IT, pharmaceuticals and the food industry.

The attractive environment for businesses in Ireland is reflected in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country was ranked 24th out of 190 economies worldwide, scoring especially well when it comes to ease of paying taxes (4th), starting a business (23rd) and protecting minority investors (13th).

Fast facts

Business hours

The workweek in Ireland is Monday to Friday and office hours are generally from 9am to 5.30pm, with an hour-long lunch break. 

Business language



Business dress is modest and conservative, with executives usually wearing suits and ties. Dark, subdued colours are the norm and raincoats may be necessary throughout the year.


Gifts are not usually part of Irish business, but if invited to an Irish associate’s house, flowers, chocolates or a good bottle of wine or spirits is appropriate.


A firm handshake and direct eye contact is an appropriate greeting with Irish associates. 

Gender equality

While men still dominate the business arena in terms of senior positions, women are treated equally and many women hold high positions in Irish business and political circles.

Business culture in Ireland


Although the business culture in Ireland is generally conservative, the Irish are known for being modest and having a good sense of humour. Jokes and teasing are a part of general conversation, and this can extend to business meetings as a way to build rapport and avoid conflict. Expats may struggle to reconcile Irish humour with the professional environment but should take it in the good spirit in which it is intended.


Business structures in Ireland are hierarchical. Decisions are usually made at the top, but the division between managers and their subordinates can sometimes be blurred. Irish businesspeople are often less formal and more friendly than their European counterparts.


Business meetings can be unstructured and it’s not unusual to conduct business meetings outside of the office – in a coffee shop or even over a pint of Guinness at the pub. Many business interactions also take place on the golf course.

Networking and establishing good rapport is important in Irish business and expats should allow for small talk before negotiations officially begin. Polite conversation can centre on Irish culture and sport, but politics and religion should be avoided. Once negotiations start, the meeting should be focused on business and conversation should be direct and to the point.

Expats should avoid being loud or arrogant in their interactions, as this may be met with suspicion. Professional titles are not prevalent in Irish business culture and titles will not automatically command respect. It’s not unusual to move to first-name basis with Irish associates fairly soon, but expats should wait for their Irish colleagues to invite them to do so first.


The Irish have a reputation for being shrewd negotiators with a preference for systematic procedures and a relaxed sense of time, meaning that decision-making can be a slow process. While an expat’s hosts may be late for business or social engagements, they should always be punctual out of respect.

Family and religion

Family forms an integral part of Irish culture. Many businesses are family-owned and business in Ireland is often based on who a person knows, making relationships integral to success in the workplace. Religion also plays an important role in Irish culture. Most of the population is Catholic, which has deeply influenced cultural values and social norms in Ireland. 

Dos and don’ts of business in Ireland

  • Don’t refer to the Republic of Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, or Northern Ireland as part of the Republic of Ireland. These are two completely different political entities and this is a sensitive subject.

  • Don’t talk about religious matters

  • Do exchange business cards when meeting with Irish associates

  • Do maintain eye contact when speaking to Irish associates. This is seen as a sign of respect and avoiding eye contact may be viewed with suspicion.

Visas for Ireland

Whether going to Ireland on holiday or business, nationals of certain countries will need to acquire the relevant visa. To ensure a smooth transition, it's important that travellers take some time to familiarise themselves with the various visas for Ireland, and find out what is needed to enter the Republic legally. 

Tourist visas for Ireland

Although Ireland is part of the EU, it is not part of the Schengen Area, meaning that Schengen visas cannot be used to enter the country. Travellers who are nationals of certain countries, including those in the EU and the USA,  among others, do not need a visa to enter Ireland.

Citizens of some countries who hold a UK visa can enter the Republic of Ireland without an Irish visa as part of a Visa Waiver Programme. This includes a number of countries in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. There are specific requirements, however, and expats should confirm these with their respective Irish embassy or consulate.

Short-term holiday visas for Ireland are generally valid for up to 90 days, 

Business visas for Ireland

Expats travelling to Ireland to attend business meetings or conferences will also require a Short Stay Visa. The list of nationals that need a visa is the same as that for tourist visas.

In addition to the general documents needed for a tourist visa, business visa applications need to include an invitation from the Irish host company, a letter of confirmation from the applicant’s employer and proof of where the applicant will be staying in Ireland.

Residence visas for Ireland

Expats who are not from the European Economic Area or Switzerland and who want to stay in Ireland for longer than three months will need to get a Long Stay Visa. This applies to expats who intend to work, study or stay with family in Ireland.

In addition to the relevant visa and travel documents required, applicants may need to prove they have enough funds to support themselves for the duration of their proposed stay.

Once the Long Stay Visa is granted, applicants will have to apply for permission to stay and register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). In this case, it is also necessary to apply for a residency permit.

Expats looking to work in the country will need to first apply for an Irish employment permit with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI), then an entrance visa, if necessary, and finally register with the INIS.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details. 

Work Permits for Ireland

In order to be legally employed, many expats will need to obtain a work visa for Ireland. However, citizens of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland do not need a work permit for Ireland and can generally work freely without one.

Those who do require a work permit will usually need an employment offer before applying. As a result, many companies handle much of the visa process on behalf of their foreign employees. There are various types of employment permits available for Ireland, each of which has its own requirements and process of application. 

General Employment Permits

Work permits for Ireland are issued by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and can be applied for by the employer or the employee, based on an offer of employment.

An Irish employment permit is typically valid for two years with options for renewal. Work permits can only be obtained for jobs that pay more than 30,000 EUR per year. The candidate must also have the relevant qualifications, skills and experience for the job. 

Critical Skills Employment Permits

The Critical Skills Employment Permit is aimed at attracting skilled expats to Ireland.

To qualify for the permit, the candidate’s proposed salary would need to be more than 60,000 EUR a year, or 30,000 EUR a year if the position is listed in the Highly Skilled Occupations List. The list highlights local skills and personnel shortages in fields such as IT, healthcare, construction and finance.

The critical skills permit is valid for two years and does not need to be renewed; expats may be granted a stamp for permission to stay for another two years when the permit expires, provided they are still working in the same occupation for the same employer and for at least the same salary stated on the permit.

If spouses and children of holders of a Critical Skills Employment Permit want to work in Ireland, they can apply for the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. This allows them to take up a job in the country without having to meet the stringent requirements of other employment permits.

Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits

This permit is aimed at transferring employees within the same company. These employees need to either be senior management, attending training or otherwise have a good reason for transferring. If the expat leaves the company their work permit is also terminated.

Working Holiday Authorisations

Visitors from a number of countries may apply for a Working Holiday Authorisation. The WHA can only be used for casual work, and cannot be converted to an employment permit. Applicants must have proof of sufficient funds to support themselves for at least the first part of their stay or in the case of not finding work.

*Requirements for employment and work permits are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to consult with their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Ireland

Expats will find that the cost of living in Ireland is manageable but varies depending on the town or city, with Dublin being the most expensive place to live. The Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2020 confirms this, and ranked Dublin as the 46th most expensive city out of the 209 cities surveyed worldwide.

Expats in Ireland are typically supported by well-paying jobs that enable them to enjoy a high quality of life. Accommodation will usually be an expat's biggest expense, followed by groceries, healthcare and education. 

Cost of accommodation in Ireland

The cost of accommodation in Ireland continues to rise year on year, and the prices in Dublin are especially steep nowadays. This is largely due to high demand and low availability of housing. Expats should therefore leave plenty of room in their budget for accommodation costs. Competition for rental homes can be stiff, so if expats find something that suits them, they should be ready to act fast.

Cost of food and entertainment in Ireland

The price of groceries in Ireland varies widely, depending on which supermarket one frequents. Buying imported goods will also push up expenses, so it's best to stick to local seasonal produce.

Maintaining a social life and eating out in restaurants, especially in Dublin, can be expensive, so expats keen for a night out should make sure to keep an eye on their budget. 

Cost of education in Ireland

Public education in Ireland is free to all children residing in the country, including expats. Most expats choose to send their children to public schools due to the high standards of education offered. Parents may be expected to pay for school uniforms and books, as well as extra-curricular activities, but will not usually pay anything for tuition. 

On the other hand, private and international schools in Ireland are expensive and parents wishing to send their child to a private school should make sure they can afford to cover the costs involved. 

Cost of healthcare in Ireland

Although public healthcare in Ireland is free or subsidised for all residents, most expats still choose to use private health facilities. Patients in private hospitals are required to pay the full cost of treatment, which can be expensive. Most employers provide private health insurance, and this is something that expats should ensure that they have in place before moving to Ireland.

Cost of living in Ireland chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The prices listed are average prices for Dublin in January 2021.


One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,650

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,400

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 2,350


Milk (1 litre) 


Dozen eggs


Rice (1kg) 

EUR 1.56

Loaf of white bread 

EUR 1.46

Pack of chicken breasts (1kg) 

EUR 8.30

Coca-Cola (330ml) 

EUR 1.90

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) 

EUR 13.80

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8.90


EUR 3.30

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 5.50

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 60


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.32

Internet (average per month)

EUR 51

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 14

Utilities per month (gas, water, electricity)

EUR 153


Taxi (rate/km)

EUR 1.50

City-centre bus fare

EUR 3.00

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

EUR 1.40

Culture Shock in Ireland

Everyday life in Ireland is not that different from life in the UK or the United States, and for the most part, expats coming from a Western culture are unlikely to experience any serious culture shock.

Ireland’s cities are bustling cosmopolitan centres offering a mix of cuisines and cultures, and the country is well accustomed to foreigners, although it may take some time to form lasting friendships with locals.

No matter where an expat lives in Ireland, they are sure to receive céad míle fáilte – “one hundred thousand welcomes”.

Socialising in Ireland

As the home of Guinness, pub culture is popular in Ireland. The alcohol consumption age is 18 and alcohol forms a big part of the social and nightlife scene.

Expats should be sure to do their research when looking for a place to eat. There are plenty of fine-dining restaurants in Irish cities, but take note that not all places serve food and, after a certain time, almost every pub, bar or club will serve only drinks.

The dress code for a night out depends on the venue. For men, jeans are generally accepted. However, certain places will refuse a person entry if they are wearing “runners” or tennis shoes. A decent pair of work shoes and a button-up shirt is acceptable almost everywhere. The ladies in Ireland dress to impress and revealing clothing will be seen in all age groups, which could come as a slight shock for some. Teenagers tend to dress more provocatively, particularly on St Patrick’s Day, and this can be alarming for expats from conservative regions. 

Language barrier in Ireland

English is the primary language spoken in Ireland, but Irish or Gaeilge is present in everyday life and can be seen and heard across the country. Public transport stations, announcements and major road signs will have destinations written in both English and Irish.

Even though everyone speaks English there are still parts of the country considered Gaeltacht regions that speak Irish, mainly in the northwest and west of Ireland. Locals will also speak English as some of these places rely on tourism for revenue and not all Irish speak Gaeilge.

Accents in Ireland differ from county to county. This will take some getting used to, particularly for those going to Kerry, Cork, and some areas of Dublin. Irish people are used to tourists and generally don't mind repeating themselves if needed.

There will be numerous colloquial references that will also take some getting used to. A book of “Irish-isms” can help. 

Religion in Ireland

Ireland is a Catholic country although other religions are present and respected. However, like anywhere, there may be pockets of ignorance and misunderstanding. 

Expats visiting or moving to the north of the Republic of Ireland or to Northern Ireland should be aware that there is still tension across the borders. Rather than discuss the history of this, just be aware that it can sometimes present itself as "Protestants in the North" and "Catholics in the South".

Present-day Ireland is far removed from its troubled past, but expats should educate themselves on the area they are going to and be respectful of the beliefs of the local population. 

Manners and hospitality in Ireland

The Irish pride themselves on their generosity and hospitality. This is visible when being invited to someone’s home as biscuits and tea are usually provided and sometimes expected.

These manners are less present in shops, food markets and on public transportation. Cutting in line is rare, but gestures like opening doors for others or giving up a seat for a woman aren't usually seen in the younger generation. Nevertheless, such actions are still appreciated, even if they aren't entirely expected.

Accommodation in Ireland

One of the most beautiful countries in Europe, Ireland offers expats all manner of lovely accommodation options, and the type of housing largely depends on the city or county an expat settles in. Whether looking for a country home, a beachside cottage or a modern city apartment, expats have a range of accommodation types to choose from, the specifics of which will often come down to lifestyle and location of employment.

Most expats living in Ireland rent accommodation rather than buy. That said, it is worth considering buying a property for those who plan to live in Ireland for the long-term.

When looking for accommodation in Ireland, it is important to consider a property’s proximity to work, good schools and public transport, especially in the larger cities. Public schools in Ireland generally give priority to children in their catchment areas. Since places are often limited, parents should try to secure accommodation close to a particular school if they want to send their children there.

It is also worth noting that in Irish cities, as in most major cities around the world, the further away from public transport a property is, the cheaper it is. 

Types of accommodation in Ireland

With cost of housing continuing to rise in Ireland, particularly in Dublin, expats will have to contend with the low supply and high demand of accommodation in the country.

The most common types of accommodation in Irish cities such as Dublin and Cork are apartments and semi-detached row houses. Free-standing houses are more common in towns and villages. Older houses and apartments are usually more spacious, while rental prices are lower the further away from the city centre one searches.

Many younger expats and students choose to live in house shares, where they have their own bedroom but share the common living areas of an apartment or house.

Most apartments and houses in Dublin and other cities come fully furnished, including couches, tables, dressers and kitchen appliances. 

Finding accommodation in Ireland

There are plenty of websites that advertise housing in Ireland, and local newspapers are also a good source to search for rentals. Local supermarkets often have noticeboards where property rentals are advertised.

Real estate agents are another route when searching for a home in Ireland but, unlike in many other countries, rental agencies in Ireland often bill the renter rather than the property owner. The fee is usually the equivalent of one month's rent. 

Renting accommodation in Ireland

Making an application

Once new arrivals have found a potential new home in Ireland, we recommend they submit an application as soon as possible. Prospective renters, and expats especially, will have to prove – often with bank statements – that they can indeed afford the lease, and agents or landlords will in all probability perform background and credit checks.


A rental deposit of between one and three month's rent is usually expected in Ireland. Deposits are refunded, but landlords are allowed to make deductions from the deposit or keep the whole amount for various reasons, including to cover unpaid rent, for damages in excess of normal wear and tear, other breaches of the lease agreement, unpaid utility bills, or – if pre-arranged with tenant – to cover the last month’s rent.


Expats in Ireland are usually able to choose between fixed-term and periodic tenancy in most apartments. This will be helpful to expats who are unable to commit to a full year's lease in the Emerald Isle.

A fixed-term tenancy, as the name suggests, covers rental for a set period of time as specified in the lease. There is no standardised period for this contract as far as the law goes, and the landlord and tenant are free to determine the length of the lease themselves. However, neither party may end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term unless both parties agree to do so or one of the parties has breached their obligations under the lease.

A periodic tenancy is more open-ended and does not specify a period of time. This gives both landlord and tenant the right to end the tenancy at any time as long as an appropriate notice of termination has been given. 


The first thing expats should know about utilities in Ireland is that there’s no such thing. Gas, water, electricity and refuse services are referred to as “the bills”, and an expat will likely be met with blank stares if they make any mention of “utilities”.

The Electricity Supply Board remains the main electricity provider in Ireland. However, there is growing competition from other companies such as Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland.

Standard voltage in Ireland is 230V AC, and the cost of electricity is relatively high. Costs are based on the number of units used, but the time of use can make a big difference to the final bill, with usage during off-peak hours costing less than usage during peak hours. 

Gas is commonly used for cooking and heating in Ireland. Gas is provided via an underground pipe network, which is managed by Gas Networks Ireland. Despite the fact that only one company manages the network, consumers can choose their own gas provider. Most electricity providers can also provide gas.

Charges for waste removal vary greatly from area to area. Most houses or apartment buildings operate with a system of coloured bins for the purpose of separating recyclables from other rubbish. It is also possible to visit recycling depots and landfills to dispose of rubbish if one prefers not to pay for garbage disposal, but this can be a great inconvenience and is generally not worth it.

Buying property in Ireland

Buying property in Ireland is a viable alternative for expats who plan to stay in the country for an extended period. Prices can be astronomical, though, especially in the capital where property prices have skyrocketed recently, and continue to rise.

Expats will therefore have to think carefully before taking the plunge and, depending on the terms and duration of their contract, they may still prefer to rent property. 

Buying property in commuter towns

With the prices climbing to ridiculous heights in Dublin, many workers are moving away from the city and into towns in surrounding counties such as Navan, Maynooth, or as far as Leitrim. While this often means travel times of up to two hours each way, the financial savings are considerable.

If expats are looking for somewhere rural, quiet, and with a good sense of community, bargains can be had in these areas. Expats should be sure to check estates carefully, though, as some lack facilities and may be a little worse for wear. 

How to buy property in Ireland

The basic steps to buying property in Ireland are similar to those in many other European countries. Expats can start the search by browsing the listings of real estate agents, newspapers and online sources. Finding a good solicitor can be particularly helpful during this stage of the process.

The next step is to choose a property and arrange financing. Expats should be aware that despite making a verbal offer, there's still a chance of being outbid by another buyer. For this reason, it is important to draw up a clear official offer and make the offer as soon as possible – this initial offer is dependent on the contract and survey.

Once the surveyor has assessed the house, it is normal to amend the offer if hidden problems are found. Damp, for example, is a constant problem thanks to Ireland's climate. 

Finalising the mortgage with a lender involves quite a bit of paperwork which is where a solicitor comes in most helpful. At this stage buyers would usually pay the full deposit; usually about 10 percent of the final cost, but this is usually negotiable.

Ultimately, buying property in Ireland is completely dependent on personal choice and situation. Property prices have shot up in major cities, so for expats on a short contract leasing may still be a better option. Expats would be wise to do thorough research, weigh up their options and ultimately decide if they'll be staying long enough to make the investment of buying a house worthwhile.

Healthcare in Ireland

Healthcare in Ireland is modern, safe and among the best in the world. Expats living in Ireland usually qualify for free or subsidised public health services, which are funded by the government.

Ireland's two-tier system means that expats in Ireland can choose to use either the government-funded public healthcare system or the private system, for which fees must be paid in full. 

Public healthcare in Ireland

Public hospitals in Ireland are either owned and funded by the Health Service Executive (HSE) or are voluntary public hospitals that may be privately operated but are funded by the government.

The public system, although providing similar quality of care to private hospitals, is overbooked and waiting lists can be long, even for operations that demand some urgency.

Anyone who is classified as 'ordinarily resident' in Ireland has access to publicly funded healthcare. However, expats should note that public healthcare in Ireland is not completely free of charge. Some treatments require a subsidised fee for patients who do not have a Medical Card, which is allocated according to an individual’s income, age, illness and/or disability. 

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Private healthcare in Ireland

Private hospitals in Ireland operate independently of the state and require patients to pay the full cost of treatment. Expats should therefore either negotiate a healthcare subsidy with their employer, or ensure that their salary package is large enough to cover private healthcare insurance if it is their preference.

Private healthcare can also be provided in public hospitals through the designation of private beds. Patients who opt for private healthcare in public facilities are required to pay for all hospital services as well as doctors' fees. 

Health insurance in Ireland

If one doesn't qualify for a Medical Card, the Irish government provides other options for obtaining free or subsidised care, such as GP Visit Cards and the Long-Term Illness Scheme.

Despite subsidised treatment, many Irish citizens and most expats opt for private health insurance in Ireland. Private insurance allows patients to receive immediate treatment, but expats should check whether an overseas provider is accepted by private hospitals in Ireland before signing up. As mentioned, some employers may pay for private health insurance, and expats should try to negotiate this into their employment package. 

Medicines and pharmacies in Ireland

Pharmacies are widely available in Irish towns and cities. However, some areas may not have any 24-hour pharmacies, although some pharmacies do stay open late into the evening.

Prescription medications are provided free of charge to those with a Medical Card. If ordinarily resident in Ireland, expats can apply for the Drugs Payment Scheme. The scheme puts a cap on how much residents can pay for prescription drugs with any cost above the cap covered by the government. 

Emergency services in Ireland

Both public and private hospitals have Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments for serious emergencies. Expats can dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance in an emergency. Patients without a Medical Card or patients who have not been referred by a GP may be charged for A&E services.

Education and Schools in Ireland

The standard of schools and education in Ireland is high. Education is compulsory for children from ages six to 16, and expat children are usually eligible to attend local Irish schools. 

Education in Ireland consists of state-funded public or national schools and private schools. Irish schools include religious schools, non-denominational schools and schools which teach the national curriculum in Gaelic.

The main language of instruction at Irish schools is English. Gaelic classes are part of the local curriculum but foreign children are not required to learn the language. 

Public schools in Ireland

The quality of education at public schools in Ireland is high, and many expat parents are perfectly happy to enrol their children at public schools. Although public school education is provided free of charge, parents are usually expected to pay for uniforms, school books and extra-curricular activities. 

All public schools follow the Irish national curriculum. The Irish public schooling system is known for being exam focused, which some expat children struggle to adjust to. 

Private schools in Ireland

There are a number of private schools in Ireland, most of them located in Dublin. These schools are privately funded and are not subject to state control with regards to curriculum and the daily management of the school. 

Many private schools have religious affiliations and in most cases Catholic foundations, while some institutions teach in Gaelic. Irish private schools can be expensive with a tuition of thousands of euros per year. 

International schools in Ireland

A number of international schools in Ireland specifically cater to foreign nationals, including German, French and Japanese schools. There are also a few schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, although most of these are located in Dublin

International schools in Ireland are difficult to get into and often have long waiting lists, so parents should apply as soon as possible. Tuition fees can be steep, and expats who insist on having their children attend an international school should factor these costs into their employment contract negotiations before arriving in Ireland.

Tutoring in Ireland

Children arriving in a new country are often daunted by the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of new surroundings, and they stand to benefit a great deal from a dedicated tutor who could not only educate them academically, but also provide a helping hand in settling in and building some confidence. Those expat children who aren’t fluent in English will find particular value in an English language tutor in Ireland. 

The country has a huge array of tutors to choose from, specialising in a variety of subjects and age groups. Some of the top tutoring agencies include First Tutors Ireland, Home Tutoring Ireland and GradIreland.

Special need education in Ireland

All children in Ireland with disabilities and children with special needs have the constitutional right to free primary education up to the age of 18. The Irish policy is to provide special needs education in mainstream schools as far as possible, and to educate those children with special needs in an inclusive setting unless it’s not in the best interests of the child or the effective provision of education for other children in mainstream schools.

There are a number of special schools in Ireland, mostly in Dublin, catering for particular types of disability and special needs, among them schools for students who have a general learning disability at a mild or moderate level; schools for visually impaired and hearing impaired students; schools for students with physical disabilities; and schools for students with emotional disabilities.

Transport and Driving in Ireland

While the rest of Europe follows the standard of driving on the right-hand side of the road, one of the few remnants of British rule in the Republic of Ireland is driving on the left. This is the only major challenge self-driving expats are likely to face when it comes to transport and driving in Ireland. 

While major cities such as Dublin have modern and efficient transport networks, some of Ireland's infrastructure isn't necessarily of the same standard. That said, expats won't have much trouble getting around the Emerald Isle, as its public transport network is still more comprehensive and efficient than that of most countries.

Public transport in Ireland


Ireland has a punctual and comfortable rail network that connects most major towns and cities. It is an affordable option if commuters plan ahead.

Dublin is connected to surrounding counties by a commuter rail and DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport), which provide affordable options for those living outside Dublin but work in the city.


Ireland has a city and intercity bus network. Buses serving remote areas may not run on Sundays and may experience delays in winter.

Bus Éireann is the most prevalent intercity bus operator. Timetables, information desks and its website make it simple to work out routes. Other companies, such as Dublin Bus, also run intercity buses so there are usually several options for getting around. 

Taxis in Ireland

It’s quite easy to hail a taxi in Ireland: just look out for the distinctive yellow and blue signage. One can either hail these from the street, get one at a taxi rank, call for one or order one via an app. All taxis are metered and charges are more or less the same throughout the country. 

Ride-hailing services have been less successful in Ireland than in other major European countries, but they are available. These include Lynk, FREE NOW and, to a lesser extent, Uber (which only allows you to order regular taxis and limos through the app).

Driving in Ireland

Dublin’s roads are among Europe's safest and drivers outside the city are generally courteous. It is not necessary for expats living in cities such as Dublin, Cork and Galway to have a car, however. All have extensive public transport networks and are easy enough to navigate on foot.

However, a car may come in handy out in the countryside, where public transport may be scarce. 

Country driving can be intimidating. Roads are narrow, unmarked or unsealed in places, and the hedgerows are in thick bloom during summer, sometimes obscuring back-road bends. The best advice is to keep left and drive slowly.

Driver’s licences 

Expats can drive on a valid foreign driver's licence for up to 12 months in Ireland. After 12 months they must apply for an Irish driver’s licence. Ireland has an agreement with several countries, including EU nations, for licence conversion without testing. Other countries can convert their licences after completing testing. 

Cycling in Ireland

For the eco-conscious expat, cycling in Ireland is becoming increasingly popular. Dublin has an extensive network of cycle lanes, and it is entirely feasible to swap four wheels for two in most cities. Outside the capital, it is popular to take a Sunday pedal through the countryside. There are cycle routes, particularly in County Kerry, that are hugely popular – even in the rain.

Keeping in Touch in Ireland

Expats won’t have a problem keeping in touch with family and friends while they're in Ireland, as the standards and variety of internet, telephone, mobile and postal services are generally good.

As a majority English-speaking country, Ireland has plenty of English media, so new arrivals can easily keep abreast of news online and through local and international newspapers.

Internet in Ireland

Broadband is available throughout the main cities and towns of Ireland. Eircom is the main provider of internet and also offers a fibre broadband that’s relatively fast in and around cities and towns. Expats living in the more rural areas of Ireland will find it harder to get fast internet connections.

The four options for internet in Ireland are as follows:

  • ADSL that’s run through a regular phone line

  • Fibre broadband, which is more common in cities or towns and is generally unavailable in rural areas

  • Mobile broadband, which provides a dongle option

  • Satellite, which can provide internet access to rural or very remote areas

It is advised that expats check internet connectivity when moving to Ireland, especially if one's work or business is reliant on fast internet speeds. It’s also vital to check coverage in a specific area, as this could differ from place to place.

WiFi is becoming more and more popular, and many public areas, such as shopping malls, libraries, hotels and restaurants, offer free WiFi access.

Landline phones in Ireland

Landline telephones are not particularly expensive but for international calls, it can be cheaper to get a calling card or use Skype. If choosing the landline option, expats should compare alternative landline companies within Ireland that offer competitive long-distance rates in order to get the best deal.

Generally, most people choose mobile phones over landline services. However, internet phone access (as part of a broadband bundle) has become more popular as it offers a less expensive option for international phone calling. This is run through a normal landline phone which is dependent on the internet. 

Mobile phones in Ireland

The main providers of mobile phones in Ireland are Vodafone and Three, as well as Eircom and Tesco Mobile.

Expats have the option of getting mobile phones on a pay-as-you-go package or they can take out a contract. New arrivals who plan on opening a postpaid mobile phone contract will need to provide certain documents, including proof of identity and proof of address. 

English-language media

With English as an official language, all forms of media, including newspapers, magazines, TV stations and radio are available in Ireland. Irish, the other national language of Ireland, is spoken by a minority of the population, but it’s also used for signage.

There are five main national television stations, including RTE state-run channels and TG4, the Irish language network. Within these are HD channels, news channels and children’s programming in Irish and English. 

There are also numerous options for satellite or cable TV, many of which provide access to overseas channels.

Expats must have a TV licence to own a television, regardless of whether or not they're using the state-run service, a private satellite or cable provider. This licence can be paid monthly by direct debit or yearly through the post office. 

Postal services in Ireland

The postal services in Ireland are reliable. From Monday to Friday, deliveries are made to homes across the country. Mail can be sent via post boxes scattered around the towns and cities or from the nearest post office. Stamps can be purchased at some local convenience stores or at the post office.

Shipping and Removals in Ireland

Expats will find plenty of shipping and removal services to Ireland, particularly to Dublin. The large marketplace of competition can often help to lower prices, thus expats should take care to get more than one quote.

Expats from European Union countries can easily bring their cargo into Ireland with few restrictions. Although expats from countries outside the EU face some duty restrictions, foreigners seeking residence in Ireland can import most of their household goods duty-free. This allowance is limited to a time frame of six months before the move and 12 months after. Motor vehicles are included in duty-free imports for resident expats.

It is recommended to take out movers' insurance for any items of value being shipped to Ireland.

For expats moving with their animals, there are a number of specific requirements in place to relocate with pets to Ireland

Frequently Asked Questions about Ireland

Expats moving to Ireland will undoubtedly have questions about their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about life on the Emerald Isle. 

Is Ireland safe?

Yes, Ireland is very safe. Like in most major cities, there are certain areas in Dublin where one should be careful about walking at night. Otherwise, expats shouldn't be overly concerned with the presence of serious crime. Perhaps more of a worry is the level of intoxication accepted in most Irish social circumstances.

Many people mistake the Republic of Ireland for Northern Ireland, which has in the past made international headlines for terrorist bombings and shootings, but the Republic of Ireland is largely peaceful.

Is it always rainy in Ireland?

It is often rainy in Ireland, but not always. The weather is worst in January and December, but it rains throughout the year. Despite being at a high longitude, snow is not very common and Dublin is less rainy than much of Ireland. The good news is that all the rain keeps Ireland famously green.

Is it easy to travel to mainland Europe or to Britain from Ireland?

Yes, travel is easy. Expats can use a low-cost airline to travel from Ireland to just about everywhere in Europe. Several ferry lines also connect Britain and Ireland.

Will I need a car in Ireland?

Not necessarily, especially in the larger cities, many of which have excellent public transport networks. However, expats living in rural areas might find themselves more isolated and in need of a car to get around.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Ireland

With an established financial sector, expats will find that banking and taxes in Ireland are similar to that of the UK and the USA. Regardless, no matter where you are, taxes can quickly become complicated, and even more so in unfamiliar surroundings. We therefore recommended that expats hire a tax expert.

The biggest banks in Ireland are traditionally Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank. There are also many multinational banks that have branches in Ireland – this can be useful for serial expats or those who already have an account with the same bank back home. 

Currency in Ireland

As part of the European Union, the official currency of Ireland is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR 

  • Coins: 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents, and 1 EUR and 2 EUR 

Banking in Ireland

The major banks in Ireland offer a range of services as well as internet banking options, which are popular and easy to use.

Opening a bank account

It is easier to open a bank account in Ireland in person than trying to open one before arriving. To open an account, expats will need at least their passport and proof of address, but each bank will have their own requirements. The account can take several weeks to activate, so expats in Ireland should plan to keep money elsewhere while this processes. 

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs are widely available in Irish towns and cities, and it is possible to use a foreign card at most ATMs. Credit cards are widely accepted across the country, although card facilities and ATMs may be limited in more remote areas. 

Taxes in Ireland

Tax status in Ireland depends on an expat's residency status. Expats qualify for tax residency if they are in the country for 183 days or more in a tax year, or 280 days over two consecutive tax years.

Irish residents have to pay tax on income derived from both inside and outside Ireland, while non-residents pay tax only on their income within the country.

Everyone in Ireland has to pay a standard rate of 20 percent on their taxable income up to a certain amount, which depends on whether the person is single, married or a single parent. Everything earned above the cut-off point is taxed at 40 percent.

Ireland has tax treaties with most countries, but there are many legal loopholes and idiosyncrasies involved in this that are best worked out by a professional.

Expat Experiences in Ireland

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Ireland and would like to share your story.

Originally from South Africa, Darren and his wife Johanna have been living on the Emerald Isle for two years, and loved every minute. Darren chats to Expat Arrivals about life in Dublin, why he feels he made the right move and what he likes most about his adopted country. Check out our interview with Darren about expat life in Ireland.

Darren, Dublin

Alejandra is a Spanish teacher and translator living in Dublin. Originally from Santiago, Chile, Alejandra now lives and works in Ireland and, despite the weather, loves the kind people and describes the city as "enchanting". Read our expat interview with Alejandra.


Grace Taylor is a Canadian expat living in Ireland. Having transferred to work at the Dublin branch of her company, she operates as a consultant in the tax and accounting industry. A lover of travel, her main priority when moving to a new country is proximity to a major airport and yoga studio. Learn more about her life as an expat in Ireland.

Terri Lee is an American expat who moved to Ireland with her husband and their two children about seven years ago. She says that there were challenges in the beginning, including getting to know and understand the local health and education systems, but a few years down the line, they're happily settled into their new lives in Cork. Read more about her experiences as an expat in Ireland.

Kevin is an American expat who has been living and working in Dublin for a number of years. Although he misses his family back in the States, the Irish locals, culture and scenery are what keep him happy in the Emerald Isle. Read about his expat life in Ireland.

Joanna moved from Poland to Dublin to pursue a career and love life. The move was an easy one for her as she has been visiting Dublin since she was 19 years old and fell in love with it. Read more about Joanna's expat experience in Dublin.


Jehan is from Australia but moved to Dublin with her Irish husband where she works as a course developer for a private college. She loves the scenery in Dublin, the friendliness of the locals and Dublin's social scene. Read more about Jehan's expat experience in Dublin.

FJ is an American expat of Austrian extraction now living in Dublin with her husband, a US diplomat, and children. She loves the friendly people, beautiful countryside and is trying to adapt to the constant rain and high cost of living. Get her take on expat life in Ireland.