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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. Freestanding 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.
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 months' 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
The basic steps to buying property in Ireland are similar to those in many other European countries. First, a formal offer is put in. Once this has been accepted, a surveyor should be brought in to assess the house. The offer may be amended if hidden problems, such as damp, are found.
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 generally negotiable.
►See Areas and Suburbs in Dublin for an overview of the city's neighbourhoods
►For a breakdown of living expenses, see Cost of Living in Ireland
"Housing is a known issue in Dublin, there’s no getting around it. Generally, I’d say people either go for a smaller flat or house-share closer to city centre, if they’re on the younger/single side, or for a family house in the northern or southern suburbs, if they have a family. My experience is that supply is rather limited for both, but with a bit of patience and perseverance, expats will find a suitable housing option!" For more, see Grace's expat interview.
"It’s important to secure short-term living arrangements before moving over. This will give you time to house hunt. It’s also important to ensure that you have all your personal details on hand, including where you work and where you’ve previously stayed (rental references). Having these ready will certainly increase your chances of securing accommodation quicker." Read more of Darren's expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Ireland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ireland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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