Moving overseas can be daunting at the best of times. Upping sticks and transferring your whole life to a strange new environment requires time to acclimatise and get your bearings. Getting to grips with and feeling your way into your new life makes all the difference when you’re also trying to balance getting situated at a new job and finalising the process of moving into your new home.
That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide for your relocation to Ireland; all the information you need at your fingertips to help you settle in and embark upon your Irish adventure!
Ireland is a small country, with a population of just five million, one million of which are situated in its capital city, Dublin. Its next largest city is Cork with a population of just 124,000, its small size adding to Ireland’s famed sense of community and belonging. The Emerald Isle is known as the Land of Saints & Scholars for its rich cultural history as a hotbed of literary greatness and as a hub of learning and religion throughout its long history. Its distinctive Celtic flair is recognisable in art and music the world over.
As you get settled into your new home it helps to know the lay of the land. Ireland is traditionally divided into four provinces, or geographic regions, roughly corresponding to the points of the compass – Leinster, in the east; Munster, in the south; Connacht, in the west and Ulster in the north. The island of Ireland is home to two countries, the Republic of Ireland consisting of the majority of the island, and Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom) in the northeast. The Republic of Ireland is further divided into 26 individual counties; Northern Ireland is divided into six. The Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Union, and thus citizens enjoy the benefits of EU membership including effortless travel to any of the EU’s 27 member states. Additionally, Irish citizens can freely travel between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Finding a Place to Live
Daft.ie is your most indispensable tool for looking for property in Ireland, whether you’re hoping to buy or to rent. It covers a staggering range of properties across all 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland. It also provides a mortgage calculator to help you decide your budget when you’re trying to buy.
Detailed information about buying and renting in Ireland can be found here, including information about looking for a place to rent, the steps involved in buying a house, and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord in Ireland.
Getting Your PPS Number
A PPS (Personal Public Service) Number allows you to access public services, social welfare benefits, healthcare, information and more while living in Ireland. It’s an important step in getting settled in upon arriving in Ireland. In order to exchange a non-European driver’s license for an Irish driver’s license, for instance, you will require a PPS Number.
In order to obtain your PPS Number, you’ll need to provide evidence of your full name, your living address, and your reason for wanting a PPS Number. EU or EEA citizens can apply with either their passport or their European identity card; non-EU/EEA citizens may apply with their passport.
You can also apply for a PPS Number for a child, and do all this while still living abroad, in advance of you arriving in Ireland. You can find out more information about how to obtain a PPS Number at this link.
Setting Up Your Finances
To get your bank account set up in Ireland, you’ll need proof of address and a valid form of photo ID. If you’re setting up your bank account ahead of your move and have no Irish address, you will be able to use your home address from wherever you’re living now. You can check in with your bank of choice for their eligibility criteria when it comes to opening an account.
Banks in Ireland include AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB, among others.
As a member of the Eurozone group of EU countries, Ireland’s currency is the Euro (€). This means that if you decide to travel around the European Union, you will not have to exchange your currency when visiting other Eurozone countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany and others.
Many expats who send money home do so using Revolut, the banking app. Revolut charges a small fee for this service, but in doing so allows users to skirt around the complexity and pitfalls of international money transfers, ultimately saving money compared to using a traditional bank. Best of all it converts currency at real time exchange rates, ensuring your family back home is getting value for the money you’re sending.
Residents in Ireland can access healthcare through Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE). Any costs associated with treatment scale according to an individual’s means, with GP visits costing from €45 to €65. You have the right to choose your own GP, who will be your primary point of contact with the wider healthcare system, capable of referring you on for further treatment if necessary
On top of the HSE you also have the option of buying private health insurance through a provider of your choice. Many employers offer health insurance as part of their employee benefits packages. Major private healthcare providers in Ireland include VHI, Laya Healthcare and Irish Life.
Residents in Ireland may also avail of a European Health Insurance Card, that provides you with healthcare coverage at reduced cost when visiting other countries within the EU, European Economic Area, or Switzerland.
Finding a School
If you’re bringing a family with you to Ireland, you have a lot of options for how you educate your children. School in Ireland is mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 16, and families are automatically eligible for free education at a primary and secondary level. The public school system enjoys notably high standards, though you also have the option of sending your child to a fee-paying private school if you wish.
The Department of Education’s Find a School service allows you to easily find schools in your area, and can be filtered by age of the child, geographic region, and the school’s religious ethos. Most Irish schools are officially Roman Catholic, but a growing number are nondenominational “Educate Together”, or of no religion whatsoever. Schools of other religious persuasions, including Islam and Judaism among others, are rarer but are also available. It’s important to note that any child is eligible for enrolment in any school regardless of its religious ethos. Be aware, however, that some primary schools function as feeder schools for associated secondary schools, and so children advancing from primary to secondary at that school may be given priority during enrolment.
Where to shop
Once you know your way around, you’re going to want to find out where to get life’s essentials. Top supermarket brands in Ireland include SuperValu, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi. Most supermarket chains offer a range of store brands as well as all the regular name brands. The leading convenience stores in Ireland include Spar, Centra and Londis. More expensive stores include Marks & Spencer, Dunnes Stores and, in Dublin, Donnybrook Fair. Both Marks & Spencer and Dunnes Stores also stock clothing.
Otherwise, other popular Irish clothing stores include, Next, H&M, ASOS, JD Sports and Zara. An extremely popular and affordable local brand is Penneys (Primark outside of Ireland), which stocks clothing ranges for all occasions.
For hygiene products of all types, childcare, toiletries, family planning, beauty products and other bits and pieces, Boots stores are located all across Ireland and also serve as pharmacies for your convenience.
Ireland drives on the left hand side of the road, overtaking on the right. Any European Union driving license is considered valid in Ireland. Cars between four and 10 years old must undergo a roadworthiness test, the NCT, every two years. From then the NCT becomes annual.
For those coming to Ireland from outside the EU, foreign driver’s licenses are considered valid for up to one year upon entry. After that, a driver can apply to exchange their license with a recognised Irish driver’s license. You can find out more information about this process and the requirements here.
If you’re looking to traverse Ireland without a car of your own you can avail of a TFI Leap Card. The Leap Card is a prepaid travel card that lets you easily tag on and tag off public transport services across all of Ireland’s major towns and cities. In Dublin, journeys across multiple bus routes, multiple forms of public transport, etc., are price capped for 90 minutes, saving you money on your commute.
Things to See and Do
Ireland is bursting at the seams with rich cultural heritage and incredible sights. While there’s too many to list all in one place, the following few attractions should help to whet your appetite!
Guinness Storehouse – Located a stone’s throw from Dublin’s resplendent Phoenix Park, the Guinness Storehouse, sited at Guinness’ original production facility, offers a deep dive into the history and brewing process of Ireland’s most famous beverage. Learn the trick to pouring a pint of Guinness and enjoy panoramic views of Dublin City from the top floor bar and restaurant. Originally rented out on a 9,000-year lease in 1759, the brewery overlooks the River Liffey and is easily accessible from nearby Heuston Station.
Cliffs of Moher – These 14 kilometre cliffs stretch from the legendary Hag’s Head to O’Brien’s Tower, which provides an unrivalled view of southern Ireland’s Atlantic coast, with visibility on clear days as far north as the Aran Islands and Twelve Pins mountain range.
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow – The “Valley of the Two Lakes” is among Ireland’s most beautiful natural vistas. Situated in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough is resplendent with magnificent scenery, bounteous wildlife and incredibly archaeological history. Wicklow is known as the “Garden of Ireland” due to its dizzying variety of plant life. As well as the natural wonder on display Glendalough is also home to one of Ireland’s oldest monasteries, and still maintains active hermitages for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life.
Connemara, Co. Galway – North-west of Galway city lies one of Ireland’s most alluring wildernesses. The haunting beauty of the Connemara region stretches across County Galway: a landscape of slate-coloured lakes, bogland, sheep-dotted mountains, rugged coastline, hidden bays and small towns.
The Wild Atlantic Way – Running 2,600km along Ireland’s west coast, the Wild Atlantic Way is among the longest defined coastal routes in the world. It winds its way down the Atlantic from Inishowen, Co. Donegal in the north all the way to the picturesque town of Kinsale, Co. Cork in the south, passing through Galway City near its midway point.
The Book of Kells – Located in the heart of Dublin city centre, Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s most prestigious university, and is home to the Book of Kells, a fabulously decorated illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels dating to the 9th century. The exquisitely detailed artistry and penmanship highlights the Insular Christian style unique to early medieval Ireland.
Titanic Belfast – The Titanic museum of Belfast, Northern Ireland brings the RMS Titanic to life in all of its splendour, mystique and tragedy. Situated within the historic Harland & Wolff shipyard, the birthplace of the Titanic, the museum is packed with fascinating exhibits showcasing genuine artefacts from the wreckage of the Titanic as well as interactive exhibits.