Are you dreaming of a new life in the Emerald Isle but feeling overwhelmed by the process of moving abroad?
If the thought of navigating residency requirements, finding accommodation, and adjusting to a new culture is causing you stress, don’t worry. We’re here to help.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you exactly how to move to Ireland with ease, so you can start living your dream life in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
Reasons to Move to Ireland
The Emerald Isle is a popular destination for expats for various reasons. Before you start packing your bags, make sure to consider the most common reasons people choose to call Ireland their new home.
Natural beauty and scenery
One of the most famous aspects of Ireland is its stunning landscapes. From the rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way to the rolling green hills of the countryside, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore.
Ireland’s rugged geography lends itself to a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and fishing, which can make your weekends more enjoyable.
If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Ireland is the perfect place to be. You can take a stroll along the Cliffs of Moher, breathe in the fresh air of the Wicklow Mountains, or explore the breathtaking beauty of the Ring of Kerry.
Friendly and welcoming people
The Irish are known for their openness and friendliness. You can expect a warm welcome and a strong sense of community, even if you’re only visiting for a short while. The Irish have a deep-rooted fondness for culture and storytelling, so you’ll quickly find yourself at home in this charming environment.
The Irish people are renowned for their hospitality and warmth, and you’ll soon discover why. Whether you’re enjoying a pint of Guinness in a local pub or chatting with your neighbors, you’ll be struck by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Irish people. They’re always happy to share a story or two, and you’ll quickly feel like part of the community.
Rich cultural heritage
Ireland has a vast and varied cultural history. You’ll be walking in the footsteps of literary giants like James Joyce and W.B. Yeats, or learning about ancient Celtic treasures and historical ruins. The Irish love to celebrate their heritage with a wide range of festivals and events throughout the year, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Bloomsday.
If you’re a history buff, Ireland is the perfect place to be. You can explore the ancient ruins of Newgrange, visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College, or learn about the country’s rich musical heritage at the Irish Traditional Music Archive. With so much history and culture to discover, you’ll never be bored.
Growing economy and job opportunities
Ireland’s economy has been growing steadily, attracting foreign investment and fostering innovation, particularly in the technology and finance sectors.
As a result, there are plenty of job opportunities for skilled professionals, especially in cities like Dublin, Cork, and Galway. Ireland also benefits from having English as its primary language, making it an easy transition for many expats.
Whether you’re looking to further your career or start a new one, Ireland offers a wealth of opportunities. With a thriving tech industry and a growing financial sector, there are plenty of jobs available for skilled professionals.
Challenges of Moving to Ireland
Every country has its challenges, and Ireland is no exception. Key challenges include:
- Visa requirements: If you plan to work or study in Ireland, you’ll need the right residency visa. The process can be complex and time-consuming, and you’ll need to gather extensive documentation to support your application.
- Housing: The cost of housing in Ireland, especially in cities like Dublin and Cork, can be very high. You may need to spend a significant amount of time searching for a suitable apartment or house, and you may need to consider living further from city centers to find affordable options.
- Healthcare: The healthcare system in Ireland is public, so you may have to wait longer for non-emergency medical care than you’re used to in the US. You’ll need private health insurance to access certain services, such as dental care.
- Weather: Ireland has a mild, damp climate that can be quite different from the hot and dry weather in many parts of the US.
- Taxes: Ireland has a progressive tax system that can be more complex than what you’re used to back home. You should always seek advice from a tax professional to understand your obligations and optimize your tax planning.
- Driving: In Ireland, cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, which can be hard to get used to at first. You may need to take driving lessons or practice driving on quiet roads before you feel comfortable driving in traffic.
Cost of Living in Ireland
While the cost of living in Ireland can be higher than in some other countries, it’s essential to research and budget for your expenses.
Housing, groceries, transportation, and other everyday necessities can vary greatly depending on your location. Major cities like Dublin or Cork will have higher living costs, while smaller towns usually offer more affordable options.
Let’s take a look at some example cost of living data. We’ll use two broadly comparable cities: New York vs Dublin.
Although rent in Ireland is notoriously high, you’ll likely find it more affordable than large US cities such as San Francisco or New York. For example, according to crowd-sourced data from Numbeo, the average cost to rent a 3-bedroom city center apartment in New York City is over 7,000 USD. In contrast, renting the same size apartment in the center of Dublin comes in at just over 3,800 USD.
The cost of groceries in Ireland is generally lower than in the US, despite recent price increases due to inflation and the war in Ukraine. According to Numbeo, groceries prices in New York are 61.6% higher than in Dublin. You can also factor in the vast improvement in European food quality compared to the US (no high-fructose corn syrup!) – and it’s really a no-brainer.
Average restaurant prices in Dublin are 16.1 % lower than in New York, but you’ll likely find the variety on offer in the Irish capital to be fairly limited compared to the Big Apple (although Dublin does have six Michelin starred establishments).
Running a car
Car ownership is one area of life where costs in Ireland can exceed those of the US. Buying a new car is almost 30% more expensive in Ireland than in the US, while gasoline is around 41% more expensive in Ireland.
Buying Property in Ireland
Ireland has experienced a housing shortage, particularly in Dublin, causing property prices and rental rates to soar. The government has implemented various measures, such as relaxing planning regulations, to encourage new housing developments and alleviate the issue.
First things first, it’s essential to understand the legal framework. Good news: there are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Ireland. That’s right, whether you’re an EU citizen or not, the door is wide open.
If you’re legally resident in Ireland, the property buying process will be easier (as we’re getting a mortgage). Banks can be picky when issuing mortgages to non-residents, although it may still be possible. For starters, they will likely ask for a larger deposit. We recommend working with an experienced broker.
Now, let’s talk about the buying process. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps:
- Find your dream property: To make the search a breeze, engage a reliable estate agent with experience working with foreigners. Websites like Daft.ie and MyHome.ie are also fantastic resources to browse through listings.
- Make an offer: Once you’ve found the perfect place, it’s time to make an offer. Be prepared to negotiate and remember – in Ireland, verbal agreements aren’t legally binding.
- Hire a solicitor: To navigate the legal side of things, you’ll need a solicitor. They’ll help you with the contract, property checks, and land registry.
- Pay a deposit: After your offer is accepted, you’ll need to pay a deposit (usually 10% of the property price) to secure the deal.
- Secure a mortgage: If you need a mortgage, now’s the time to finalize it. Remember what we discussed earlier – it might be a bit tricky for non-residents.
- Finalize the sale: Your solicitor will complete the necessary checks, and once everything is good to go, you’ll sign the contracts, pay the remaining balance, and voilà – you’re the proud owner of an Irish property!
Getting residency as a US citizen
Planning how to move to Ireland starts with understanding which residency route you should follow.
Let’s take a look at the various different pathways to getting residency in Ireland, depending on your existing nationality.
Moving to Ireland as a US citizen has become more of a challenge, especially after Ireland recently abolished its Golden Visa investor residency program. Several residency pathways are still available, but most of them require you to get sponsorship from an Irish employer.
#1. General employment permit
This visa is for those who have a job offer from an Irish employer. The employer must obtain the necessary permits and paperwork for the employee. The visa is valid for two years and renewable.
#2. Critical skills employment permit
This visa is for those who have skills that are in high demand in Ireland. You must have a job offer in one of the eligible occupations and meet the salary threshold. The visa is valid for two years and renewable.
#3. Intra-company transfer permit
This visa is for those who are transferring to an Irish branch of a company they already work for outside of Ireland. The employer must obtain the necessary permits and paperwork for the employee. The visa is valid for two years and renewable.
#4. Study visa
This visa is for those who want to study in Ireland for more than 90 days. You must be enrolled in a course at a recognized institution and show proof of financial stability. The visa is valid for the duration of the course.
#5. Working holiday authorization visa
This visa is for those between 18 and 30 years old who want to work and travel in Ireland for up to one year. You must have sufficient funds and medical insurance. The visa is valid for up to one year.
Getting residency as a British citizen
Brexit has made it more challenging for UK citizens to move to EU countries, but Ireland is the one exception.
Because of Common Travel Area (CTA) rules (which predate the EU), UK and Irish citizens can live and work freely in each other’s countries, with no need for a visa or residency permit.
So if you’re a UK citizen looking for an easy pathway back to EU citizenship, Ireland might be exactly what you need. After five years of legal residency there, you can apply for Irish citizenship by naturalization, get an Irish passport – and regain all your EU rights.
Getting residency as an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen
If you’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, getting residency in Ireland is a straightforward process.
You can stay freely in-country for 90 days without any visa. After that, you’ll need to register your presence with the Irish Immigration Service, and provide evidence of your identity, such as a passport or national identity card.
You’ll also need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while living in Ireland.
Preparing For Your Move to Ireland
Moving to a new country can be an exciting and daunting experience. Before you make the move to Ireland, it’s important to do your research and prepare accordingly.
Here are some important steps to take in your preparation process.
Choosing the right city or town
Ireland has plenty of amazing cities and towns to choose from, each with their own unique charm and vibe.
Dublin is the capital city and the biggest city in Ireland, known for its bustling streets, pubs, and historical landmarks like Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse.
If you’re moving to Ireland on a work permit, you’ll probably end up living in or close to Dublin. The city has a lively tech scene, as it’s the European HQ for large US tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
Cork is a smaller city than Dublin, but it’s often called the “real capital” of Ireland due to its strong cultural heritage and lively arts scene.
Galway is a charming seaside city known for its colorful buildings, live music, and delicious seafood. Limerick is another historic city with a thriving food and arts scene, as well as being home to the stunning King John’s Castle.
If you’re looking for a smaller town vibe, consider places like Kilkenny, a medieval town with plenty of history, or Westport, a picturesque town on the west coast with stunning scenery and outdoor activities.
Familiarizing yourself with Irish culture and customs
Ireland has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s worth taking the time to learn about the history, customs, and etiquette practiced in the country. The Irish are well-known for their hospitality and friendliness, so don’t be surprised if you’re invited in for a cup of tea or a pint of Guinness.
Irish culture is also steeped in music and dance, with traditional Irish music being a popular pastime. You might want to consider taking up an instrument or joining a local Irish dance group to fully immerse yourself in the culture.
Planning your finances
Moving to a new country like Ireland is expensive, so it’s important to plan your finances accordingly.
Create a budget and consider the costs of things like shipping your belongings, securing housing, and paying for visa fees.
You may also want to consider opening a euro bank account and transferring your funds to avoid international transaction fees. Revolut and Wise are good options which you can easily open from your home country (in most cases). You should also have some savings set aside in case of unexpected expenses or emergencies.
If you’re planning to live full-time in Ireland, you’ll have tax implications to consider. Ireland taxes residents on their worldwide income, so you should absolutely seek advice from an experienced cross-border tax advisor as part of planning your move.
By taking these steps to prepare for your move to Ireland, you’ll have a smoother and less stressful transition.
Getting Permanent Residency in Ireland
If you’re keen on making Ireland your forever home, obtaining permanent residency is the way to go. Generally, non-EEA nationals need to have legally lived in Ireland for at least five years to be eligible. This includes holding a valid Stamp 4 or Stamp 5 immigration permission. Keep in mind that time spent on student visas or short-term permits won’t count towards this requirement.
Once you’ve completed the necessary residency period, you can apply for long-term residency through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). Submit the required application form, supporting documents, and a €500 processing fee. Remember that long-term residency doesn’t automatically grant you the right to work in Ireland, so you might need a separate work permit.
And, if you’re looking to truly cement your connection to the Emerald Isle, consider applying for Irish citizenship after completing the required residency time.
Becoming an Irish Citizen
Securing Irish citizenship is a fantastic way to fully embrace life on the Emerald Isle. If you’re not eligible through descent or marriage, naturalization is the path to follow. Just remember, some countries don’t allow dual citizenship, so you may need to check your home country’s rules before taking this exciting step.
You’ll need to have lived in Ireland for at least five years within the last nine years, including one year of continuous residence immediately before applying. Holders of Stamp 4 or Stamp 5 immigration permissions can count their time towards this requirement. To apply, complete the relevant application form, provide supporting documents (such as proof of residency, identity, and good character), and pay the application fee.
Once your application is approved, you’ll be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony where you’ll declare loyalty to Ireland and receive your Certificate of Naturalisation. Congratulations – you’re officially an Irish citizen!
FAQs: How to Move to Ireland
How difficult is it to move to Ireland?
The level of difficulty involved in moving to Ireland depends on your original nationality. If you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom, you can move to Ireland easily without needing a Visa. Other nationalities will need to apply for residency visa, either through employment, study, or working holiday.
Can I move to Ireland without a job?
Yes, but only if you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom. All other nationalities will need a residency visa to move to Ireland, which typically comes from employer sponsorship.
Can I move to Ireland without being a citizen?
Yes, you can move to Ireland without being a citizen. If you hold citizenship of an EU/EEA country, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom, then you won’t need a residency visa to move to Ireland. Other nationalities, including the United States, will need a residency visa to move to Ireland.
Before you go…
Moving to Ireland is a big step, but it could be transformational for your quality of life.
The good news is, moving to Ireland isn’t as challenging as you might think – with the right planning. In this guide, we’ve looked at all the major points to consider when organizing your move, so you can make it as smooth as possible.
Welcome to the beginning of your new life in one of Europe’s safest and friendliest destinations!