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Living in Ireland

What You Should Know about Living Costs and More in Ireland

When relocating to Ireland, there are many facts expats should be aware of in order to make the process as easy as possible. These include the price for bus fares, what are the emergency numbers, and how long you can live in Ireland while using a foreign driver’s license (answer: one year).

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Do you want to know about the cost of living in Ireland? What about the practicalities of driving or using public transportation? This section of our relocation guide will help you learn everything about establishing a new life in Ireland. We cover such topics as the best places to live in the country, the costs involved, and even the most effective communication to use in greetings or departures in the country. For example, did you know the reputation for an Irish goodbye is rooted in a need to say farewell to everyone, rather than no one?

Excited to learn more? Read on to learn more about what it is like to make Ireland your new expat home.

Practical Information

International relocations can be filled with so many tasks and bureaucratic mandates to keep track of, that practical information such as emergency numbers or where is your embassy can get pushed to the side. This information never seems important until you suddenly find yourself in need of it.

We have compiled the useful, necessary information that all expats should keep handy when moving to a new country. Our advice is to bookmark this page on your computer or your cell phone, so that it is easily accessible whenever you need it.

Emergency Numbers

  • 112 or 999 – emergency medical assistance
  • 101 – non-emergency police

Public Holidays

Ireland has a total of nine public holidays. As the country is predominantly Catholic, nearly all religious holidays associated with Catholicism and Christianity are observed.

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Patrick’s Day (17 March)
  • Easter Monday (date varies)
  • First Monday in May
  • First Monday in June
  • First Monday in August
  • Last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • Stephen’s Day (26 December)

Main Embassies

No matter the country that you come from, there is a high chance that you will find its diplomatic mission in Ireland. While the majority of embassies and consulates are in Dublin, a number also have representatives in Galway and Limerick.

For a list of embassies in Ireland (and some that operate out of London, but service Ireland), please see the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website.

Main Airports

The largest airport in Ireland is the Dublin Airport, which services around 30 million travelers annually. By comparison, other airports throughout the country are quite small, but it is still possible to fly in and out of them regularly. Other airports in the country include:

  • Cork Airport;
  • Shannon Airport;
  • Ireland West Airport (County Mayo);
  • Kerry Airport;
  • Donegal Airport.

Galway also has two smaller airports with Connemara Airport and Inishmore, which services the Aran Islands.

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Cost of Living

The average cost of living in Ireland is not cheap, but it is also not as exorbitant as other European countries such as the UK or Sweden. Expats relocating to the country should not expect to save a lot of money, nor should they expect a luxurious way of life for little money. However, they can expect to live easily without breaking the bank each month. Read on the learn more.

Is it Expensive to Live in Ireland?

Is it expensive to live in Ireland? Yes and no. With the local salaries, it is possible to live a comfortable life without living paycheck to paycheck. Because Ireland is a small island nation, many goods need to be imported into the country. This ups the price of everyday necessities such as groceries and gas. This makes occasions such as going out for dinner or driving more expensive than in some mainland European countries.

Living Expenses in Ireland

Living expenses in Ireland will depend slightly on where you live. As with any country, living in one of Ireland’s cities such as Dublin, Limerick, or Galway will be more expensive. This is mostly due to the cost of housing you will find within cities. Expats can cut this cost significantly by living on the outskirts of a city. Even just living further away from a public transportation stop will go a decent way toward cutting costs in the Emerald Isle.

As stated, because Ireland is an island country, goods such as groceries, alcohol, and gas need to be imported and are therefore more expensive than what you may experience in mainland countries. This expense will not be too great, but it is worth noting so that you do not get caught off guard at the end of each month and wonder where did my money go?

Grocery Prices in Ireland

Below is a look at the standard food and alcohol prices in Ireland.

Grocery Item EUR USD
1 lb. chicken breast 4.80 5.20
1 dozen eggs 3.00 3.20
16 oz. cheese 5.15 5.60
2 lbs. potatoes 1.50 1.60
1 loaf of bread 1.50 1.60
1 qt. milk 1.15 1.25
16 oz. domestic beer 3.50 3.80
16 oz. imported beer 5.00 5.40
1 bottle of table wine 14.00 15.00

For expats who smoke, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs nearly 13 EUR (14 USD).

Eating Out and Restaurant Costs in Ireland

Do you eat out often? Or is going to a restaurant more of a special treat? In Ireland, whether you eat out every week or a few times a month will depend on several factors: your salary and the types of restaurants you choose to visit.

For one person, it is possible to find quick, cheap meals at restaurants or cafes for less than 10 EUR (11 USD). The cost of a single coffee is about 1.50 EUR (1.60 USD) and a cappuccino is 3 EUR (3.20 USD). For an inexpensive meal at a cheap restaurant with table service, the cost will be closer to 15 EUR (16 USD). A meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will be about 60 EUR (65 USD).

Cost of Living in Ireland’s Most Popular Cities for Expats

While all of Ireland provides a great quality of life, there are a few cities that are especially popular among expats. Some of them are popular simply because they are cities, making it easy to get around, travel in and out of the country, and provide a larger international community for fellow foreigners to integrate into. These cities are also popular for their vibrant cultural and arts scenes, giving expats a unique and immersive look into different aspects of Irish culture.

The most popular Irish cities for expats include:

  • Cork;
  • Dublin;
  • Galway;
  • Limerick;
  • Waterford.

Dublin and Cork are the most expensive, although Limerick is swiftly gaining on both. Galway, just above Limerick on Ireland’s west coast, provides a more affordable cost of living compared to the other three, but it will still cost more to live in the city rather than in the countryside or in a smaller town. Waterford, on Ireland’s eastern coast, is also becoming increasingly more popular among the expat community. As a perk, it is even more affordable than Galway.

The Monthly Cost of Living in Ireland’s Most Expensive Cities

For a Single Expat
City EUR USD
Galway 2,600 2,800
Cork 2,000 2,200
Limerick 1,600 1,700

 

For a Family of Four
City EUR USD
Dublin 6,000 6,500
Cork 4,700 5,000
Limerick 5,000 5,400

 

The Monthly Cost of Living in Ireland’s Most Affordable Cities

For a Single Expat
City EUR USD
Galway 1,800 2,000
Waterford 1,500 1,600

 

For a Family of Four 
City EUR USD
Galway 4,600 5,000
Waterford 3,800 4,100

 

Rent Prices in Ireland’s Most Popular Cities for Expats

Rent prices in Ireland’s most popular cities for expats will mirror the cost of living. Dublin, Cork, and Limerick have some of the higher rental prices, while Galway and Waterford are slightly less.

Keep in mind that the closer you live to public transportation, the more rent you can expect to pay. The outskirts of Dublin are also popular living places for expats, although the rental prices will only be slightly lower than accommodation found within the city proper.

Take note that although Galway has an overall lower cost of living than Limerick, rental prices are slightly higher.

Monthly Rental Prices for a One-Bedroom Apartment
City EUR USD
Dublin 1,700 1,800
Cork 1,100 1,200
Limerick 900 990
Galway 1,000 1,100
Waterford 750 800

 

Monthly Rental Prices for a Three-Bedroom Apartment
City EUR USD
Dublin 3,000 3,300
Cork 1,800 1,950
Limerick 1,400 1,500
Galway 1,700 1,800
Waterford 1,200 1,300

Utility Costs in Ireland: Electricity, Internet, Gas, and Water

While it is possible to rent accommodation in Ireland where the utilities are included in the price, it is still good to know what utilities cost to ensure you are not paying more than you should. In general, a combination of electric, heating, gas, and water will cost between 100—160 EUR (110—170 USD) depending on where you live in the country. For example, expats can expect to pay more for utilities in Dublin than they would for utilities in Galway.

Basic internet around the country should cost about 50 EUR (55 USD) per month.

For more on the cost of accommodation and utilities in Ireland, see our Housing section.

Cost of Education

Public education in Ireland is free and of very high quality. Parents will only need to pay for uniforms, lunches, and school materials. These costs will vary and depend on the school and what you prefer to spend.

Education at a private or international school will incur a tuition fee for both Irish locals and recently arrived expats. Annual tuition will depend on the school and your child’s age, but on average parents can expect to spend about 10,000 EUR (11,000 USD) per child. See our Education section for more details.

Healthcare Cost

Ireland’s healthcare is universal, although that does not mean it is free for everyone. Even when using the country’s public healthcare system, which is available to all residents and non-residents, you should expect to pay some sort of fee. Healthcare costs are only covered for Medical Card holders. You can read more about this in our Healthcare section.

On average, the standard fee for a visit to the hospital in Ireland will be about 100 EUR (110 USD). A single doctor’s visit will be about 50 EUR (55 USD). Expats who want to take out private insurance can expect to pay anywhere between 30—150 EUR (33—160 USD) per month dependent on the plan they choose.

Travel and Transportation Cost

Traveling around Ireland by bus or train is simple and affordable. Most of the public transport systems within each Irish city are accessible by the Leap system, which can be used as a physical card or through a mobile app on your phone. Single fare costs for a bus or train is typically around 2 EUR (2.20 USD).

For more, see our section on Public Transportation in Ireland below.

Culture and Social Etiquette

When relocating to a new country, it is important to understand the cultural norms and social etiquette expected in your new home. Being unaware of social taboos can either lead to an embarrassing situation for you or, at worst, lead to a disastrous consequence such as jail time or social ostracizing.

Luckily, in a country such as Ireland, committing a social faux pas will not lead to something as serious as jail or deportation. Still, it is best to be aware of the country’s social and cultural expectations so that you can more easily adapt and fit into your new Irish home.

Religion

Is it possible to think of Ireland without thinking of religion? It was not too long ago that Ireland experienced “The Troubles,” a thirty-year period spanning the 1960s and 90s. Although not officially defined as a religious conflict, this period of strife was primarily between Irish unionists/loyalists in the north and nationalists/republicans in the south. The northern half of Ireland was largely dominated by Protestants, and the south primarily Catholic. This led to decades of low-level fighting and terrorist attacks, and ultimately led to the separation of Northern Ireland (which is governed by the UK) from the rest of the country, which is officially termed the Republic of Ireland.

That being said, Catholicism plays a large role in everyday Irish society and politics. In fact, when compared to the rest of Europe, this is why Ireland took so long to pass laws legalizing abortions and marriage equality.

Expats should be sensitive when discussing issues dealing with the Catholic Church or issues deemed controversial within that religion. You should always keep in mind that, at its core, Ireland is a fairly conservative country. While this conservatism is gradually loosening with time, as a guest in the country, it is still best to be respectful of Irish views.

Family

Family is very important in Irish culture. Families are close-knit and holidays (and Sundays after church) are often spent together.

Humor

Humor plays a big role in everyday Irish conversation. There are even two words for this: craic, which means having a quick wit, and slagging, which refers to teasing. The Irish will constantly make quick witted remarks and jokes in casual conversation. Depending on the country you come from, this could be seen as rude, aggressive, or not taking something seriously. In Ireland, this is not the case. The Irish have a long, rich history of storytelling, and this will become evident with the engaging, humorous banter that is in nearly every conversation.

Greetings

The most customary greeting to give in Ireland is a strong handshake with direct eye contact. If a woman is greeting someone she knows well, she may give kisses on the cheek, but an expat man should not do this upon first meeting someone.

Buying Rounds

In a country known for whiskey (“whisky” without an ‘e’ is from Scotland) and Guinness, is it any wonder that alcohol is a part of the Irish social etiquette? In Ireland, it is customary for everyone to buy a round of drinks when in a group outing. The only way to not buy a round is by not taking part in the “rounds.” If you are in a large group of people, the group will typically split into smaller groups so that people are not having to buy ten or more drinks.

For Expat Women

Expat women should be aware that Ireland is a patriarchal society. While legally women have the same rights as men, many parts of Irish society can still feel like a “boys club.” Women should be prepared to be asked about their marital status and whether or not they have kids. If a woman does something that is deemed more masculine, such as ordering “a pint” rather than “a glass of beer,” she may receive comments or teasing from people nearby.

An Irish Bye, Bye, Bye

An “Irish goodbye” is world renowned as slipping away from a social event without a word to everyone. While this is sometimes referenced as a rude way to leave a social gathering, the roots of it come from overt Irish politeness and hospitality.

Irish hospitality is kind, giving, and intense. When you are welcomed into an Irish home, you will be greeted warmly. You will be expected to say hello and shake hands with everyone there, even children. In a small gathering, this will not seem like much. Unfortunately, this individual greeting is expected even in groups of ten or more.

A goodbye is similar. Irish people expect to say personal goodbyes to everyone at a gathering and with these goodbyes typically come polite offers of more food, drinks, and anything else that a person may need before finally departing. Irish people even joke that goodbyes can often take as long as the social gathering itself. Because of this, some Irish people simply slip away without anyone noticing. This is not meant to be rude; rather, it is a time saver.

As an expat, it is best to put up with the long hellos and goodbyes when you first arrive in Ireland. You can begin practicing your Irish goodbyes once you have lived in the country for a while and established solid friendships with people who know that your tendency to disappear is not rude; it is simply you acclimating to that culture.

Taboos to Avoid

As mentioned previously, expats should refrain from saying anything negative about the Catholic Church, or debating controversial topics associated with the religion. You should also not refer to Ireland as part of the UK as this is a common misconception. Making a V with your index and middle finger, while showing the back of your hand, is a rude gesture. As the country is largely conservative, it is recommended to avoid a lot of touching and public displays of affection.

Driving in Ireland

Driving in Ireland is a great way to see the country. Known for its expansive scenery and quaint small towns, having access to a car will help you experience your new Irish home on a more intimate level. And what is even better is that Ireland is known for some of the safest, most well-kept roads in Europe. Drivers in the countryside are also known for being safe and courteous.

Driving in Ireland with a Foreign License

Are you moving to Ireland with a driving license from the US, UK, or other European country? Depending on where your license is from, you may not need to do much to exchange it. For example, drivers from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, or the UK may drive on their home country’s license without any restrictions. If you plan on settling in Ireland for more than a year, you simply need to swap your license. Other countries that can trade their license for an Irish one include:

  • Australia;
  • Canada (most provinces);
  • Gibraltar;
  • Japan;
  • New Zealand;
  • South Africa;
  • South Korea;
  • Taiwan.

Expats from any countries other than the ones mentioned are allowed to drive on their license for 12 months. After that period, they must go through the entire application process to obtain an Irish driving license.

How to Get a Driving License in Ireland

If you are from a country that is part of the exchange program with Ireland, you will simply need to visit your nearest National Driver License Service (NDLS) office. You will need to bring the following documents with you:

  • your license;
  • PPS number;
  • proof of address;
  • medical form;
  • completed D401 driving license form.

At the office, you will have your photograph taken and be required to pay a 55 EUR (60 USD) fee. The NDLS will need to contact your home country in order to verify your license, so the whole process may take one to three months.

If your country is not part of the exchange program, you will have to apply for an Irish driving license as if you are a new driver. This means you will need to pass a theory test, apply for a learner’s permit, and complete an Essential Driver Training course. Because you must have your learner’s permit for six months before taking the driving test, this whole process can take over half a year or more. The pass rate for the driving test is also between 50—70%, so you should be prepared to have to take it more than once.

Driving Rules in Ireland

An important rule to remember is that driving in Ireland is on the left side of the road. Speed limit signs are posted clearly, and speed detection can often be captured by videos and cameras. The average speed in Ireland is as follows:

  • motorways: 120 km/h;
  • national routes: 100 km/h;
  • regional and local roads: 80 km/h;
  • built-ups areas (roads through towns): 50 km/h;
  • residential areas: 30 km/h.

Motorways and national routes will be designated by a large M or N next to a number.

Other Driving Rules in Ireland

  • The legal limit for alcohol is 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
  • The minimum age to drive in Ireland depends on the type of vehicle you drive. For example, you can drive certain types of motorcycles as young as 16 years old. For standard cars such as sedans, you must be 17.
  • On multi-lane roads, cars must stay in the left lane unless they are passing another car.

Renting a Car

If you intend to drive a rental car in Ireland, note that manual transmission is the most common type of car in Ireland. If you prefer an automatic, these will be more expensive and only subject to availability. Be sure to guarantee with your rental company that they have a rental car available for you.

To book a rental car, you should only need the following:

  • your driver’s license (either Irish or international);
  • your passport or Irish residency card.

You should also bring proof of insurance or be prepared to buy it from the rental company.

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Public Transportation in Ireland

If driving is not for you, public transportation in Ireland will get you wherever you need to go. Whether you need inner-city transport to commute to work or a long-haul across the country, Ireland’s public transportation is easy and convenient to use. All public transportation in Ireland is above ground, which makes it an ideal way not just to get around, but to see everything the country has to offer as well.

How is Public Transportation in Ireland?

All of Ireland’s main cities support an inner-city public bus system. Only Dublin has buses and an above-ground metro (also called a tram), but buses are still the most popular option in the city. Dublin’s tram network is called LUAS, but their transportation system as a whole is referred to as DART:  Dublin Area Rapid Transit.

The public bus system in other Irish cities such as Cork and Limerick are operated by Bus Éireann. These buses service each city proper as well as the surrounding areas.

The train network throughout Ireland is serviced by Irish Rail. You can use Irish Rail to travel from a city to its outskirts, or across the whole country.

Bike Shares

Bike sharing is another popular form of public transportation in Ireland. Dublin, Galway, Cork, and Limerick all participate in public bike sharing, where people can rent/borrow bikes for their regular commutes. Bikes are stationed all throughout the cities and can easily be unlocked and used. Annual membership to use the bikes is less than 30 EUR (32 USD).

Cost of Public Transport in Ireland: Buses, Trains, and Taxis

Most of the public transportation networks in Ireland operate through the Leap card, which acts as your ticket to access buses and metro lines. The card can be purchased once and recharged for continued use. It is also possible to use Leap as an app and use your phone to access buses and trams.

Leap fares will vary depending on each city and where you want to go within that city. For example, in Dublin, a single adult bus ticket will be either 1.55 EUR or 2.25 EUR (1.70 or 2.45 USD) depending in which zone of the city you will be traveling. Single fares for trains will be between the same amounts, also depending on the zone.

Because the other cities only have bus systems, single fare tickets will cost just below 2 EUR (2.15 USD). A one-day pass is just under 5 EUR (5.40 USD).

Taxis

Taxis can either be hailed from the street or by standing at a taxi stand (also called a “taxi rank”). Fares usually begin at a base rate of 3.60 EUR (3.90 USD) and then go up 1.10 EUR (1.20 USD) per km. In addition, there are taxi apps such as MyTaxi, which residents can use to book a cab.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: August 17, 2020
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