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A Comprehensive Guide about Living in Dublin

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Life in Dublin

  • Dublin is the heart of the nation; but that also means a higher cost of living than in other Irish cities.
  • There is a good transport network in the city, dominated by buses.
  • The healthcare system is fairly easy to navigate.

If you have any hobbies outside of work (and we hope you do!), your new life in Dublin will rarely be dull, no matter where your interests lie. Ireland’s capital has long been a haven for both high-brow culture and subculture alike, making for a rich, multi-faceted experience. Taking a look into the city’s event calendars can boggle the mind. You will have to choose your cultural activities wisely so as not to exhaust yourself too much. After all, you are going to be an expat, not a tourist!

Vikings and Rebellions: A Diverse History

It has been previously mentioned in our moving to Ireland guide that the country enjoys a rich past, defined by continuity and rupture. Although one can see some of the greatest burial monuments the world has to offer throughout the country, nowhere is Ireland’s volatile history, from the ancient age to the modern, more evident than in the country’s capital, Dublin. The city proper was founded by the Vikings in 841 and it was the development of their communities that would eventually provide the layout of what Dublin was to become. However, a variety of communities enjoyed a life in Dublin before and after the Viking settlement, and excavation works across the city have revealed a wealthy assortment of artifacts collected in, among others, the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Stretching beyond the time of the Vikings, Dublin would remain a pivotal foothold, and the seat of power, of British colonialism in Ireland until its eventual surrender in 1922. Throughout the ages, those living in Dublin have seen some of the greatest examples of Ireland’s revolutionary spirit, from the rise of socialism and trade unionism to the 1916 Easter Rising. The latter was a rebellion by the Irish Republican Army, focused mainly in Dublin, which attempted to take advantage of Britain’s preoccupation with the First World War. Taking strategic buildings throughout the city, the rebellion was doomed to failure. However, the result would eventually lead to the guerilla style War of Independence (1919–1921) and the formation of the Republic. When living in Dublin, keep an eye out and you can see the bullet holes in the buildings occupied by the 1916 rebels. Dublin is now home to Áras an Uachtaráin (the residence of the President), as well as Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann (which together form the Irish parliament and legislature).

The Cultural Heart of the Nation

With such a history, it is no surprise that the city is the cultural epicenter of Irish life. When living in Dublin you will be able to explore a wide variety of museums as well as enjoy daily concerts featuring contemporary, traditional, and classical music alike. You’ll have the opportunity to see enough theater performances, exhibitions, and other cultural events to satisfy any aficionado of the fine arts. Bookworms will be delighted exploring the settings of all the great works detailing life in Dublin, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock.

If going out is more up your alley, you are in more than capable hands in the city’s thriving bar and club scene — the entertainment district Temple Bar is often synonymous with the party life in Dublin. In terms of nightlife and subculture, the city leaves little to be desired. One reason for this is probably due to the fact that Dublin’s population in general is fairly young. Moreover, you will find Trinity College at the heart of the city, with other universities in the vicinity, makes Dublin a prime destination for students.

Constantly Changing: The Cost of Living in Dublin

Dublin has long been somewhat infamous throughout Ireland and Europe for its high living expenses. The cost of living has fallen since the economic crisis though. Dublin used to be in the top ten of the Mercer Cost of Living Survey, but in 2016 it was ranked 47 out of 209 cities. This has gone up from recent years, perhaps signaling a slow return to the past higher costs, but it does still represent somewhat improved cost of living.

Given the rules regarding salaries for expats coming to Ireland from outside the EU, which you can read more about in our moving to Ireland guide, the cost of living may not be too much of a worry. But you will likely notice that the prices are high, especially if you come from within the EU. Groceries, for example, are more expensive than standard European prices. Apartments are also quite costly: a one bedroom apartment in the city center will likely cost you about 1,200 EUR per month, for instance.

Transportation in Dublin

Walking and Cycling Are Much More Common Than Driving

Dublin is actually quite a small city, which makes it perfect to explore by bicycle or on foot. Walking around town, you can reach most points in the city center within minutes. Bikes are hugely popular in Dublin, which gave many a resourceful businessperson the idea of opening bike rental shops. You should have no problem locating one fairly quickly. Moreover, there is also a public bike scheme in which you can rent bikes from a computerized kiosk and collect the bicycle from an adjacent hire-point. To return the bicycle, you just have to drop it off at any of the 100 stations littered throughout the small city.

Since it is not vital to own a car in Dublin (in fact, the chronically congested streets make it something of a bad idea), many expats and locals living in the center as well as in suburbia rely on public transportation to stay mobile in their daily life.

The Most Popular Means of Transport: Buses

The most important vehicle in Dublin’s public transportation network is the bus, which covers both the city and the surrounding suburbs. A fleet of more than 900 buses — all with free wifi — serves every part of Dublin and its metropolitan area. The so-called Nitelink Service keeps all parts of town accessible into the small hours of the morning with its 18 night lines. In 2015, 122 million passengers used Dublin Bus.

Somewhat unusual for a system this intricate and much to the dismay of anyone new to town, there is no all-encompassing network map available online, although there is at least a network map for the city center available. Even at a bus stop in Dublin, there is no map upon which stops are depicted, rather there is a list of lines, followed by a written list of where the bus stops. However, if you do not know which bus will take you where, then you can easily go to the Route Planner on the Dublin Bus website and type in either your current location, destination, or both, and find the necessary line.

Trams and Trains

Dublin does not have a subway system. What Dublin does have, however, are the Luas tram service and the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART). While these two are exclusive to Dublin, there is an additional suburban rail service of the Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) called Commuter, which is also available in similar form in other important cities.

The DART and Commuter railways serve dozens of stops in the Greater Dublin area on a total of seven lines. Services are most frequent during the morning and evening rush hours. Some of the more remote stops are serviced as infrequently as once an hour, so please plan ahead to avoid unnecessary waiting times.

The Luas is a light-rail tram system that was introduced in 2004, relaxing the crowded situation on the busy bus system. The two lines serve stops in the west/east direction (red line) and through most of the city’s Southside in the north/south direction (green line). A somewhat unusual detail is the fact that the two lines do not interconnect: there is a 15-minute walk between the closest stops. This is currently changing though, as construction is under way to extend the green line. By 2017, the two Luas lines should be interconnected.

Healthcare in Dublin

Prices Could Vary Greatly for GP Services

As in the rest of the country, primary healthcare in Dublin is usually administered by general practitioners, commonly called family doctors. These doctors often have their practices in Local Health Offices, building complexes which encompass several healthcare facilities, including medical specialists. These walk-in clinics should be your first point of call.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) partitions Dublin into seven administrative regions. Their websites includes a list of all Local Health Offices in every county of Ireland. Of course, general practitioners are not bound by law to have their practices in the Local Health Office and might be located anywhere in your neighborhood.

Generally speaking, expats can expect to pay for the services of a family doctor. There are no set fees for GPs, though. Every doctor can set his or her own fees. A reasonable charge in the Dublin area would be around 60 EUR for a consultation, 10 EUR for a repeat prescription, and 10 EUR for a medical certificate. This does not include additional costs that might come with obtaining prescription medication, getting injections, or other services.

Exemption from Fees

Although there are two plans that cover healthcare bills for people on low incomes (the Medical Card and the General Practitioner Visit Card), expats should not expect to qualify for either one. We have detailed the minimum level of income for expats coming from outside the EEA and Switzerland in our article on moving to Dublin. The figures in that article are well above the maximum limit for Medical or GP Visit Cards.

Citizens of the EEA and Switzerland are entitled to receive certain healthcare services free of charge, but they cannot expect to be fully exempt from medical fees. This usually applies to free emergency care for visitors with a European Health Insurance Card. If you plan on living in Dublin, there’s no way around paying regular doctor’s fees or getting private health insurance.

Out-of-Hours and Emergency Services

Every now and again, you might need a GP outside the usual office times, which are commonly from 9:00 to 18:00, possibly closed over lunch hour, Monday through Friday. If anything should happen outside of these hours or on weekends, you can contact the out-of-hours service. This service is only available to people who are already registered with a general practitioner.

The hotline for out-of-hours services depends on which part of Dublin you are located in. You can see a list of all hotline numbers on the pages of the HSE. Please keep in mind that these services may also have limited hours, however, most are open from 18:00 to 8:00 on weekdays and are also open on weekends and bank holidays. In truly urgent cases, just call 112 or 999 for an ambulance.


There are 16 HSE-administered public hospitals in Dublin, offering a wide range of diagnosis, treatment, and emergency services. Many of these institutions are national referral centers for special services. Beaumont Hospital, for example, is Ireland’s prime institution for neurosurgery.

Apart from that, you will be able to find any kind of specialist practitioner and institution within the Dublin area. As healthcare services in Ireland are generally of good quality, we’d be hard pressed to recommend any of the fine institutions in Dublin over another. If you are looking for a hospital in your area, you can easily find it using the city council’s excellent interactive map of services in Dublin.

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  • Benoit Julien

    Want a night out beyond the obligatory pint of guinness? Enjoy the Dublin Expat Get-Togethers hosted by InterNations, just as I did.

  • Katharina Berbner

    Got some great tips on business contacts in the IT sector from InterNations expats - thanks!

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