Pros and Cons of Moving to Ireland

Ireland is a small country with an enormous amount to offer, not least of which are its rich culture, diverse artistic talent and lively people.

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 quickly followed has been the focus of debate and criticism from all over the world. While this has affected the job market, the economy and the way people do business, it has not affected the personality and vitality of the country and its people. Ultimately, Ireland has faced many struggles in its long and sometimes troubled past, and this is another one it is sure to overcome. 

While there may be problems with the economy and the property market, the Irish people have much more experience with adapting to such changes. So while there may be some ghost estates and an incredibly tough job market – the people, culture and lifestyle outweigh many of life’s difficulties. 

Accommodation in Ireland

+ PRO: Available for any budget

Ireland has a wide range of accommodation available to suit any budget. Conveniently, most places come furnished, including couches, tables, dressers and usually a new mattress.

- CON: Ghost estates, cheap rent far from transport

During the final years of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, new residential and commercial property began developing all over the country. As the recession came on, the cranes that once littered the skyline were coming down just as quickly as they went up. Now all these townhouses and properties are available, but no one can afford to buy them. Some of these properties have taken on the term 'ghost estates'. So if a price on a house seems a little too good to be true, there might be a reason, and it is important to do research on the area beforehand. 

If renting accommodation, expats should take a good look at the proximity of public transport as cheaper rentals tend to be farther from the city.

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 visit other cultures, this is a great place to start. 

- CON: The weather

Ireland’s size and location in the middle of the Atlantic cause frequent variation in weather conditions. It can be sunny, raining or a mixture of both at any point in the day. Although it rarely snows in Ireland, if expats are unprepared the 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.

- CON: Financial crisis

The EU has plunged into serious financial woes. Ireland is part of the EU, and therefore can’t escape these issues. Unemployment is high, redundancies are a common thing and the job market is highly competitive. If looking for work in Ireland, be prepared for stiff competition.

Cost of living in Ireland

- CON: Cost of living is high

Everything is priced in EUR, unemployment is high and the government seems to take more in taxes each year. Naturally, the further one travels 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 very 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.

Kevin Cooleen Our Expat Expert

Born in Washington DC and raised in Arlington Virginia. My mother was born in Dublin and emigrated to the US in the 1960s. My father was first generation American as his parents both emigrated to Georgetown, Washington DC, from Co Clare, Ireland in the 1930s. Like many Americans, I took a fascination in my grandparents' home. I moved here in 2008 to connect with family, explore my Irish roots. I live in Dublin and love it here. I welcome any questions you may have if you're curious about moving here as well.

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