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A Complete Guide to Being an American Expat in Ireland

Become an Expat in Ireland

Have you ever thought about what your world would be like if you lived in a real-life fairy tale filled with historic castles, stunning scenery, and ocean views? Well, even though fairy tales don’t exist, the breathtaking views throughout Ireland might make you feel as if you’re living in another time.

cork, ireland

Although many people from the United States are initially drawn to the country’s history and culture, there are many more reasons for living in Ireland as an American. This includes family ties, work opportunities, and proximity to the rest of Europe. 

 

As the closest European Union (EU) country to the United States, Ireland has a population that’s just under 5 million people. Even though 26 European countries are a part of the Schengen Area, Ireland is not. Since Ireland isn’t a member, the country has become a popular destination for digital nomads from America who need to leave their current location after they’ve used up their 90-day allotment within the 180-day period indicated on a tourist visa. 

 

There are many benefits for Americans wanting to move to Ireland. Some of these perks include living in an English-speaking country, affordable private health insurance, (compared to plans in the United States), and low crime. However, it’s important to consider the best places to live in Ireland that’ll meet your needs. This entails finding an affordable city or town where you can manage the harsh weather and make friends. 

 

As you read this piece, you’ll learn about long-term visa options, some of the best places to live in Ireland, and other relevant information that’ll help you make your move across the Atlantic. Continue reading to discover all you need to know about living in Ireland as an American.

giants-causeway - ireland

How to move to Ireland

There are many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit before hitting refresh in another country. You’ll find what to do prior to hopping on a plane in our piece on the 12 things you need to do before you move abroad

In addition to all the pre-trip prep, you’ll have to research which visa option is right for you. For Americans seeking to move to Ireland, some of these options are a general or company-sponsored work visa, student visa, and retirement visa. 

While you’ll need to apply for a visa at your local Irish Consulate or Embassy in the U.S., you should be able to get your residence permit once you’re in Ireland. After living in Ireland for five years, you might be eligible to apply for permanent residency too.

book cover of an american's ultimate visa guide to living in Europe

For a deeper dive into visa options available for Americans considering moving to Ireland, get your copy of I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

Cost of living in Ireland

Due to the high cost of living and low wages, many young people in Ireland live with their families until their 30s. There’s also a lack of housing that’s forced rent prices to skyrocket throughout the country.

 

She Hit Refresh members who’ve moved to Ireland will be the first to share that living in the country as an expat isn’t cheap. In fact, Dublin is one of the most expensive cities in Europe with the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment running close to $2000 per month. If you’re an animal lover, note that it’s also hard to find rentals that take dogs.

front doors in dublin

While housing is slightly cheaper if you move to a smaller city in Ireland, transportation throughout the country is one of the most expensive in Europe. For instance, you’ll spend an average of $80 for a 4-hour train ride from Dublin to Cork.

 

Prices for everyday items are a bit more than in many parts of the United States. Pending on where you are in Ireland, it’ll cost about $4.50 for a regular cup of coffee and approximately $25 for a nice lunch out.

cliff of moher

Jobs in Ireland for Americans

Thanks to tax incentives, Accenture, DocuSign, and Google are some of the big companies with offices in Dublin. Therefore, if you’re a skilled worker in tech, science, health, education, or other related industries, you might qualify for work visa sponsorship from an Irish employer.

Ireland’s work holiday program is a great opportunity for students of all ages to live and work in the country for a year. However, due to Covid-19, the working holiday program isn’t currently accepting applications. 

 

As mentioned earlier, Ireland is a hot spot for digital nomads that need to leave the Schengen Area before they can return. Since Dublin is so expensive, Cork and Galway have become popular destinations for remote workers too.

 

For more details about visas for U.S. citizens who want to live and/or work in Ireland, check out I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe. 

Retire in Ireland and information on Ireland rejecting American retirees

Americans eager to retire in some of the best places to live in Ireland need to meet strict annual revenue and emergency savings guidelines. Along with maintaining required income levels, Americans must apply for retirement visa renewals each year. If retirees no longer meet the government’s current visa criteria, there’s a chance they’ll be asked to leave the country. 

 

You’ll find more information about the retirement visa process in our visa guide to living in Europe.

abandoned castle ireland

Best places to live in Ireland

Due to housing shortages and the high cost of living, finding a home in the best places to live in Ireland can be stressful and daunting. Although looking for a new home within the country can be a challenge, the following cities have many benefits that attract expats from all over the world. 

Dublin

As a major tech hub in Europe, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet people in Ireland’s capital city. In addition to spending time at your neighborhood pub, join a social group like Meetup to connect with other expats and locals.

Cork

If you’d like to live in a city that’s more affordable than Dublin, consider making Cork your new home. Located in the southern part of the country, the cost of living in Cork is about 23% less than Dublin.

Galway

Many foreigners who live in Galway are drawn to its low crime, arts scene, and views of the Atlantic. Galway is one of the best places to live in Ireland if you’re looking for a smaller city and a quieter pace of life.

Regardless of where you’d like to live in Ireland, be prepared to manage the gloomy weather. Due to the dark winters, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADS) is a very real issue for both locals and expats.

Check out our piece on
how to understand and deal with expat depression for useful information on how you can adjust to the weather, make friends, and tackle other challenges that come along with settling into a new place and culture. 

Living in Ireland as an American

In the 1840s, the United States received an influx of Irish immigrants who fled their home due to the potato famine. Nowadays, over 20% of Boston’s population is Irish. Along with this large Irish community in the northeast, there are many other areas in the United States with strong ties to Ireland.

downtown dublin

These days, about 1 out of 10 Americans claim to have Irish ancestry. Therefore, you might be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by descent too.

Buying a house in Ireland

There are no rules against Americans buying property in Ireland.  However, purchasing a home in Ireland doesn’t necessarily mean you can live in the country. This is because visas, work permits, and other permissions are managed by government agencies independent of real estate sales.

 

Like in the United States, you can research buying property in Ireland by working with a realtor or an online company. For detailed information about purchasing a home in Ireland, visit here.

Is healthcare free in Ireland?

Ireland has a highly subsidized public healthcare program specifically for Irish Medical Card holders. Since it’s rare for Americans to qualify for an Irish Medical Card, you’ll need to purchase a private health insurance plan. Although health insurance for Americans in Ireland isn’t free, it’s a lot more affordable than paying for health care in the United States.

For more information about healthcare options available to American expats living in Ireland, grab your copy of I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

How to get citizenship in Ireland

As mentioned, Americans with Irish ancestry might qualify to get an Irish passport through citizenship by descent.

Foreigners may also apply for citizenship in Ireland through naturalization. Since citizenship qualifications are specific to individual situations, visit here to learn more about the application requirements and process.

Along with being a meaningful way to honor your family’s history, an Irish passport will give you freedom to travel and live in more countries within the EU and beyond! 

Meet an American living in Ireland

Currently, there are over 9,000 members in She Hit Refresh’s global community. While some Refreshers have moved to Ireland for work opportunities, others made the leap to be with their family, spouse, and retire.

 

Refreshers from the U.S. living in Ireland have shared that it can be difficult to make deep connections with locals because communities are very tight knit. So, while the Irish are known for their genuine friendliness, it may be challenging to break into their circles.

For an insider’s look at what life is like for an American living in Ireland, read below to learn about one Refresher’s experience. 

For the past four years, Ali, 34, has called Dublin her home. 

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Ali hit refresh in Ireland with a two-year critical skills work permit. When it expired, she received a visa that has allowed her to live and work in Ireland. This trajectory has also set Ali on the path to get Irish citizenship

Ali’s always had a love affair with Europe. Prior to Ireland, she lived in France and Spain. Aside from pursuing work as a data analyst, Ali landed on living in Dublin because of the city’s international scene and proximity to the rest of Europe.

Aside from the high cost of living, Ali’s struggled with the lack of diversity in Dublin. This has been especially challenging since many foreign tech workers have left Dublin during the current pandemic to work remotely in other parts of Europe.

Since Covid, Ali’s experienced xenophobia and witnessed racism. She’s been harassed a few times for being American. She’s also shared that there’s a rise of disruptive behavior from young Irish people against foreigners in the country.

Ali echoed sentiments expressed by other Refreshers about the weather in Ireland. However, Ali encourages those thinking about making a move to Ireland to try it on. After all, you can always leave and go somewhere else if you’re not happy.

Per Ali’s experience, Facebook groups like Expats in Dublin are great outlets for making friends. And since Dublin is a very transient city, there’s always opportunities to meet new people.

Next steps for moving to Ireland

Now that you know more about living in Ireland as an American, what do you think?

 

Interested in learning more about moving to other European countries? Check out our guides on how you can become an expat in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and Iceland

All information included in this piece is based on most recent information available at time of writing – August 2, 2021.

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4 thoughts on “A Complete Guide to Being an American Expat in Ireland”

    1. She Hit Refresh

      Hi Barbara! Feel free to join our Facebook community to connect with women who live in Ireland. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  1. Hi, looking for a help as I rely on power of internet.
    I was attending festival (bike rally) in Faro on July 15 2022 and met a nice woman from States (Arizona) who moved to Ireland 3 years ago and now lives in County Cork, Buttevant (if I’m correct) Her birthday is on 21st of June and she works as accountant, knows German. As I did not have my phone with me I forgot to exchange contact details. Unfortunately never seen her again.
    If there’s anyone who may know person I was describing, please forward my number 0866092617
    i’ll hope for the best.

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