8 Things To Know About Ireland Before You Move Over

With the ease of restrictions, and Ireland finally coming out of a lockdown, the usual questions about moving over to Ireland have been popping back into my inbox. I thought I would slowly start adding back some content around expat life in Ireland again. Hopefully this info will help people who are looking to make the move, as some things you you need to know before you make the big decision to immigrate to Ireland.

1. Secure a job before moving over

We might have an ease in restrictions but the pandemic and effects of it are still unfolding. Many, many people have been living on government subsidies after losing their jobs for over a year. I have been saying this one long before there was a global pandemic – but if you are looking to move over, please secure a job with a work permit before you come over. Now is not the time to come over and then look for a job.

This luxury of job hunting here is really only for those with UK/EU passports – South African passport holders need a work permit first. However with the pandemic and loss of jobs, there are a lot more people looking for employment here, more than ever before. Also its worth noting that there is currently a backlog of 90k people waiting on receiving their Irish passports. The bureaucracy and paper admin of being an expat has just lengthened and delayed, be prepared that these things may take longer than normal.

If you do need a work permit, then check that your job/skill is not on the recently updated ineligible for work permits list. This is unfortunately a said reality for some expats – some jobs are not eligible for work permits, meaning they are jobs only available to people who have Irish/EU/UK passports. Professions like hair dressing, fitness instructors, book-keepers are on this list.

2. The housing crisis is dire right now.

Pre-2020, rent was expensive and hard to find. Pet friendly rentals are like unicorns – incredibly hard to find. Now that construction was paused for a short while, means that there is a heavy delay on building new homes. This means the rental market is even tougher to navigate. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy a house here, due to the housing crisis, its a definite sellers market here – house prices are ramping up.

3. Consider your costs for transport.

Most people want to live closer to work, to save on the commute, however some opt to move out into the country where rental prices are a bit lower. The reality is yes, there is public transport here, but its not as great as other places. I find people who have experienced public transport in the UK are dismally disappointed but Irish Public Transport. Sure its set up OK in the city, and there are trains and busses available in neighbouring commuter towns – but its long, sparse and can turn out quick expensive. I guess the one benefit of working from home for over a year, there is a definite shift in perspective with companies leaning into creating work from home policies etc. So perhaps you find a job, get a work permit, and are able to move to the countryside and work from home. That would make things a lot easier for sure. Buying a car is generally OK, its doable, but car insurances as an expat is absolutely mental. I wrote a post all about our experience of buying a car. Most families either don’t own a car at all, or opt to one car in the household. Its not like in SA where everyone that can drive in the house owns a car.

4. Eating and drinking out is expensive

OK so pubs are still closed, outdoor eating is only opening up in a few weeks – but when eating out is something you are used to doing, you may find when you live here that this is a bit of luxury. I like to bring this up because I think its really important for you to try match the lifestyle you have, don’t sell yourself short by saying you are going to cut back and sacrifice to move over to Ireland, because changing your whole lifestyle to make it work is hard. If you are the kind of family that is used to travelling, taking holidays, eating out weekly, etc. – then you want to make sure that your new budget here is able to at least try maintain some of that here. I wrote a post about things to budget for, which gives you an idea on some of the costs to live here.

5. Health care is not free

A common misconception is that Ireland is the same as the UK, we do not have the NHS here. You will need to consider GP visits, dental costs, etc. Depending on the type of stamp you have when you arrive, you may be required to hold private health insurance, which is really pricey here.

6. Education might be ‘free’ but childcare is very expensive!

This is going into unchartered waters for us, as we haven’t had to consider education or schooling yet for Riley. We are however paying 1000 euro for creche fees, per month. A lot of South African families looking to move over, first look at private schooling. I guess there is a perception that private is better? Like I said, we haven’t thought that far ahead yet, but its likely that we will look into sending Riley to local, public school. I think depends on the area that you are, but some of the best schools in Dublin, are actually public schools – the schooling issue is a crisis too though – there are seriously crazy waitlists. I had to secure creche for Riley my first week of maternity leave, 10 months before it was needed! I know of one person who secured creche for her baby and she is not due till later this year! The school year starts in September and ends end of June – so that is another factor you will need to consider. Once we go through this issue ourselves, I will share more on this.

7. Litter is a serious problem.

Maybe its because Dublin is a city, and cities are generally quite messy, or perhaps because there are public gardens, public areas, walking pavements – but OMG, the litter here is UNREAL. Sure its green, and beautiful too, but if you look closely, there is ALWAYS way too much litter.

8. Bureaucracy – it takes ages

I know this is similar to point 1 – but its worth noting that things are confusing, setting up appointments, getting a job offer, applications for work permits, visa requirements, applying for Irish Residency Cards, setting up a PPS number, taxes, opening up a bank account, swopping your drivers license, heck even figuring out your groceries – then you throw in new challenges like mandatory quarantines, covid tests, restrictions, uncertainty, nevermind the feckin weather – its mentally a long game. And you need to be prepared that most of it is sorted out slowly, frustratingly slowly and almost all of it you are figuring out on your own. Being aware of this before you move, helps, but also prepare to unlock a whole new appreciation for patience – because you are going to need a bucket load of it.


With love from Ireland,



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