It might surprise you that the internationally famed capital of Ireland, Dublin, is actually quite small in size — at least the city proper is. Only about half a million people live within the city limits, while many locals and expats moving to Dublin prefer the city’s peripheral area with its numerous suburbs.
How much of the periphery can actually be viewed as connected to Dublin, thus forming the metropolitan area, is debatable. The two most common concepts include Dublin County plus the three counties surrounding it (South Dublin, Rathdown, Fingal), or even the three counties encompassing the capital (Meath, Kildare, Wicklow). However, after moving to Dublin, you will soon find everyone has a different opinion!
Dublin’s periphery was highly popular before the economic crisis of 2008/2009, with annual population growth rates in the double digits. Today, this development has obviously slowed down, but moving to Dublin and its metropolitan area is still a popular option. Whether you prefer moving to the city or its surroundings is a decision most of you will obviously base on your place of work and the daily commute. For information on transport in Dublin, please see our article on living in Dublin.
Traditionally, the city has been informally divided into two clear and distinct areas to the north and south of the River Liffey, respectively. Aptly, they were dubbed Northside and Southside.
This division has long been a social and economic one: the upper and middle classes tended to live in Dublin’s Southside, while the working class was located primarily in the north. The difference is less pronounced these days, although you will be confronted with various stereotypes about the “other side”. Of course, what the “other side” means depends on where your relocation to Dublin takes you.
Few things in Dublin tend to be strictly black or white, and this informal division is no exception. Many affluent citizens have made new homes in Dublin’s Northside, and not every part of the Southside is as posh and bourgeois as some “northerners” would like you to believe.
Don’t take the rivalry between the two sides of the city too seriously when contemplating where to live in Dublin. There are other factors that should be of far greater importance: proximity to amenities such as schools, public transportation, and healthcare facilities, for example.
Anyone interested in moving to Dublin but tired of urban life should look into moving to one of the many suburbs. The Greater Dublin area, referring to the larger version mentioned above, is home to about three times as many people as the city proper.
The number of people and businesses in Dublin’s periphery has always been rather large, despite the underinvestment and shoddily planned infrastructure in Dublin County in the years before the economic growth phase (i.e. prior to the early 1990s). Today, Greater Dublin accounts for a large percentage of the nation’s jobs. If you move to Dublin’s hinterland, you will find it less hectic than the big city, but with all the amenities of a modern metropolis.
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