Moving to Ireland: tips & tricks

For anyone following in our footsteps and making the move to Dublin or anywhere else in Ireland, congratulations! Ireland will blow you away with its charming hospitality and gusts of wind. Here are some important tips for moving to Ireland, from experienced expats and locals.

Before you get started though, do you know how to find jobs in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland?

Learn Irish pronunciation and lingo

Irish-English is fascinating, to say the least. The accent varies by county and can be quite complex to the untrained ear. Take a look at this foreigner’s guide to Irish accents.

It’s also vital to learn the local lingo when moving to Ireland. “How’s the craic?” Sorry, what now? I had to ask for a few clarifications when I first arrived, that’s for sure. Check out this quick list of Irish slang.

Lastly, it’s also a good idea to learn to pronounce the most common names; they will surprise you. Any ideas as to how to pronounce Caoimhe? Good luck!

Book accommodation before moving to Ireland

You’ll need time to visit certain areas within your new town to understand the ideal places you’d like to live. Pre-book a 2-3 week initial stay in the city to give you easy access to every direction via train or bus. Dublin’s Parnell Street for example, north of the river Liffey, is an interesting spot for the short term.

Research rental properties quickly

The Irish rental property market – Dublin in particular – can be very difficult to navigate. It’s aggressive and you need to research thoroughly. With low supply and high demand on 1 bedroom apartments, you are likely to have difficulties finding a place you like at an affordable rate. Consider living outside the city along the main transport/shopping hubs like Blanchardstown or Swords. If you must live in the city, try looking for a 2 bedroom and consider sharing with someone else.

Research some property area guides and listings such as myhome and daft. Watch out for common rental property scams, such as property listings from landlords claiming to be foreigners, or offering ridiculously cheap rates.

Bring your paperwork, first month rent plus a rental deposit (same as your first month rent) as a bank cheque for property viewings you are seriously considering. Your paperwork must include a previous landlord reference – get one from your short term stay if available – ideally with your professional resume with contact details. A small friendly photo of yourself attached to your resume will help; you want to stand out amongst the other candidates. It almost sounds like a job interview, doesn’t it?

You’ll probably need to sign a contract with very short notice, thanks to the high competition. Again, be careful especially considering the money involved – take a friend to sanity check everything if you can. Safety and common sense first!

Relax or mingle at local pubs

Pub culture is a critical aspect of Irish life. There are regular sports, comedy and pub quiz events, while some even host ping pong tournaments or retro gaming nights. The key is to find events that suit your interests – meetup.com is a good start, or search for your local pub.

Situated in the heart of the city, Porterhouse Central is a lively example of great Irish food and drink. Try out their bacon burger with thick fries, or sausages and mash. Enjoy a pint of Orchard Thieves apple cider or a local craft beer while you’re there. Afterwards, head around the corner to Lemon for dessert – they’re proud of their waffles with generous servings of Nutella.

In general upon moving to Ireland, push yourself into the local social scene as much as you can. For Dublin, VisitDublin or LovinDublin are great resources.

Find a phone sim

Call and data sims are impressively cheap in Ireland. My personal recommendation is to locate a Three shop and pick up their €20 prepaid topup plan with unlimited internet. Perfect for navigating around, or for cold nights in. If your signal is good at home, there’s no need to purchase landline internet (I haven’t).

Investigate the local shops

Ireland has an excellent variety of supermarkets. Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Dunnes for groceries, plus Deals and EuroGiant for cheap random household items.

There are some interesting shopping districts around for everything else. In Dublin, St Stephen’s Green or Blanchardstown are good shopping hubs.

Enlist the help of some warmer clothes

Speaking of shopping, you definitely need some warmer clothes when moving to Ireland. It’s absolutely freezing! The temperature might be recorded as 5 degrees, but it will feel like -10. As Alfred Wainwright said, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. I’m not sure Alfred spent much time in Ireland, though. Ireland definitely has some bad weather, but fear not – it has plenty of perks to offer otherwise.

Penney’s is a great value place to shop for seasonal clothes of every type, while Dunnes has some great bedware to keep you warm at night. Water/windproof jackets and boots are highly recommended. Ditch the umbrella; it’s useless in the wind!

Obtain proof of address as a priority

In Ireland, it’s very difficult to deal with banks or some government departments without a proof of address. Purchase a service as soon as you move to Ireland, for example insurance or electricity, and have them post you a named letter to your current address. Alternatively, have your accommodation host write a letter stating your residency along with a copy of their utility bill. You can then use this to apply for other important documents.

Organise government appointments

It’s important for you to obtain at least two key documents: your GNIB residency card, and PPS number (social security/tax number). For both of these, you’ll need your work permit first.

In Ireland, a GNIB card indicates your employment and residency status beyond the standard 90 day tourist visa. You’ll need to find your nearest employment office and join the queue. It’s renowned for requiring a few hours to a full day, so line up early and make sure you have all your documents and fees ready to go.

A PPS number on the other hand requires an appointment, of which the next available may be a month away. Book in early to avoid disappointment!

When you start work, be sure to apply for a tax credit certificate as soon as possible. Without this, you’ll be charged the maximum tax possible, which I’m sure is not something you’re keen for.

Research and open a bank account

Dublin banks currently have strict policies on opening new accounts, as a result of common misuse (eg. laundering). As such, you’ll need both proof of employment via a letter from your employer, plus your proof of address. Each bank product has a number of maintenance and transaction fees – research to find out which product suits you best.

My personal preference is AIB – they have a credit card with 0.5% cashback on every purchase, and lower fees compared to the rest. Bonkers.ie is a great resource for financial and savings tips in Ireland in general.

Discover the bus and train network

There are plenty of scenic areas accessible by public transport. Howth and Malahide are brilliant areas to explore outside Dublin city for example, and are easy to travel to. Download the apps and get a travel card (called a leap card), which will save you time and money.

When you start work after moving to Ireland, consider buying your leap card pre-tax via the taxsaver scheme. This is especially useful when travelling to/from the airport, as it’s all included. I use this everyday and on the weekends, so I pay very little to travel around. As an alternative, you may also be able to buy a bicycle pre-tax – check with your employer.

Understand the Irish/European import laws

Don’t make the same mistake as everyone else and order a cheap electrical goods from China. In an effort to protect local goods and services, you’ll be slapped with high customs and VAT duties.

In general, don’t import any new purchases originating from outside the European Union if it costs more than €45 including shipping.

Find the local healthcare services

Emergencies and doctor visits happen. You should research where the local hospitals and health providers are, plus be informed of the public/private health system. Here’s a useful guide on healthcare in Ireland. Check with your employer about whether they will provide a private health insurance subsidy, meaning you’ll place less of a burden on the public system and likely avoid any waiting times.

Here’s more information about Irish services and systems, such as education and tax.

Plan a cheap trip to central Europe

All of my recent European travel adventures have been powered mostly by Ryanair, Europe’s brilliant low-cost airline. They frequently have €10-20 flight sales and make every part of Europe much more accessible. Book early to avoid disappointment!

Refresh (or learn) your manual driving skills

If you’re considering hiring a car in Ireland (and Europe in general), understand that hiring a manual car is much cheaper than an automatic – up to 70% cheaper. Furthermore, in peak summertime, a large number of foreigners will book the vast majority of automatic cars available in the car hire fleet.

Having a manual license is a significant advantage that will save you time and money, plus it gives you the ability to book a car adhoc. I regularly hire one for the weekend, with as little as 2 days notice, at the cost of about €10-15 per day on average. The ability to book last minute at a decent price is important since Irish weather is notoriously random!

Explore all over Ireland!

Ireland has some fascinating places to check out. It’s culturally rich with plenty of natural attractions too. Here are some recommendations for newcomers moving to Ireland:

  • Strolling along Dublin city center along the Liffey river
  • Hiking in the beautiful Wicklow mountains, for example Glendalough
  • Visit Johnnie Foxes, an iconic pub with a view and brilliant food
  • Check out seaside towns like Bray or Dun Laoghaire
  • An afternoon walk through the Phoenix or Tolka parks
  • Day/weekend trips to Northern Ireland, eg. Newcastle (including the impressive Slieve Donard)
  • Kildare shopping village – a quiant shopping village with excellent outlet prices
  • Dublin’s Dundrum shopping center – jam packed with modern amenities
  • Extended drive out west to Connemara, Dingle and Ring of Kerry

Have you recently moved to Ireland? Share your latest tips and tricks in the comments below.

  • Elena Clancy

    hello all, I lived in Dublin from 2002 until 2011..I can def share some info…I say while you are living in Dublin, try and make use of the public transport, it is the best system in Ireland (not Europe or the world). It gets a lot worse in other parts of the country…Also make use of all free sights and museums…and watch your money! It can go fast if you start a past time of visiting pubs.

    • Dom

      Thanks for your comment and advice Elena! You must have enjoyed your time in Dublin. Did you have a favorite place that you would head to via public transport? The cliffwalk at Howth is a one of mine.

    • Thanks for your comment and advice Elena! I’m sure you must’ve had a great time in Dublin. Was there a favourite place you would visit via public transport? The cliffwalk at Howth is one of mine, or even down to Bray/Greystones.

  • Elena Clancy

    I love Skerries and Donabate areas…lovely beaches and not as crowded as the rest of the beaches in Ireland. I have done Howth many times too, as I lived very close…Lusk village is favourite for local pubs

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