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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? While fairy tales don’t actually 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 the Emerald Island’s history and culture, there are many more reasons to live in Ireland as an American. This includes family ties, work opportunities, and proximity to the rest of Europe. 


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, and low crime. If you’re interested moving to Ireland from the US we’ll go over everything you need to know to make your move across the Atlantic, from long-term visa options to the best places to live in Ireland, the cost of living and more!  

How to move to Ireland

There are many pieces of the puzzle that need to fit before moving to another country. If you don’t know where to start, check out our list of the 12 things to do before you move abroad. If you need even more guidance, download our free move abroad guide. Its the perfect resource if you’re just beginning your journey!

In addition to all the pre-trip prep, you’ll to verify if there is a visa that you qualify for that will allow you to live in Ireland. More on this in the next section. 

Another option to move to Ireland is to obtain Irish citizenship. Many Americans meet the requirements to obtain Irish citizenship by descent. If you’re eligible, you could acquire an Irish passport and all rights to live and work anywhere in the European Union without the need for a visa or 90-day limitations. 

Visas for Ireland

US citizens can only visit Ireland for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period as a tourist. So for Americans who want to live in Ireland long-term a student, working holiday visa, work visa or retirement visa will be your best option to moving to Ireland from the US. 

Student visa
: If you’re enrolled in a full-time program at a nationally recognized school or university—and have paid for your tuition—you can live in Ireland for the duration of your studies.


Working holiday visa: A working holiday visa is unique in that it usually allows “young people” up to the age of 30 or 35 to live and work abroad for one year. But Ireland’s work holiday visa has no age limit!

Work visa: As with most countries in Europe, getting a work visa is a challenge for a U.S. citizen, but if you are a skilled worker you may be able to tap into the Irish labor market. Be sure to check out our guide on finding a job in Ireland as an American

Retirement visa: This visa option allows non-jobseekers the opportunity to live in Ireland as long as they can provide proof of financial means.

For more information on all your viable visa options, their requirements and how to apply, get your copy of I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe. In this digital book you’ll find more information on the aforementioned visas as well as 50+ other visa options for the 17 easiest countries to move to in Europe!

Digital nomad visa for Ireland

Ireland currently does not offer a digital nomad visa. However, Ireland is not part of the Schengen Zone which means that the country has become a popular destination for digital nomads who want to stay in Europe but need to leave the Schengen Zone because they’ve used up their 90-day allotment within the 180-day period indicated on a tourist visa. 

Cost of living in Ireland

The cost of living in Ireland is not that different than the US. Don’t be surprised to see many young people living with their families until their 30s due to high prices and low wages. Like many cities are facing these days, there’s also a lack of housing that’s forced rent prices to skyrocket.

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 of 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.

While housing is slightly cheaper if you move to a smaller city in Ireland, 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.

front doors in dublin

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. Check out our guide to finding a job in Ireland as an American for more information. Ireland’s work holiday program is a great opportunity for students of all ages to live and work in the country for a year. 


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 quite expensive, Cork and Galway have become popular destinations for remote workers.

Retire in Ireland and information on Ireland rejecting American retirees

Americans eager to retire 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. 


Find more detailed information about Ireland’s retirement visa, its requirements, and how to apply in our visa guide to living in Europe.

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. 

cliff of moher


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.


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.


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. Learn how to understand and deal with expat depression. You’ll find tips on how to 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

Ireland is the closest European Union (EU) country to the United States. It boasts a population that’s just under 5 million people, and many of these people have relatives and ancestors who made a life in the United States. In the 1840s, the US received an influx of Irish immigrants who fled their home due to the potato famine. 

downtown dublin

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. About 1 out of 10 Americans claim to have Irish ancestry. Are you one of them? 

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.

It’s best to work with an agent to understand the local market. Some of the best places to find a recommend agent are expat Facebook groups in Ireland. 

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.

giants-causeway - ireland

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 if they meet specific requirements. 

Along with being a meaningful way to honor your family’s history, an Irish passport will give you freedom to live, travel, and work in any of the 27 EU member states! 

Meet an American living in Ireland

Currently, there are over 10,000 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 US 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, are you ready to make your move? Let us know in the comments section!

If you’re eager to move to Ireland, hop on over to She Hit Refresh’s Facebook Group to connect with over 10,000 like-minded women living in Ireland and other countries throughout the world.

Make I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe your source for all you need to know about visas for Ireland and 17 other European countries!

And if you’d like more personal assistance book a 1:1 consultation call where you can ask questions and discuss your ideas with a move abroad expert. 

If you’re interested in learning more about other European countries check out our guides on how you can move to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, GreeceEngland, and Iceland

All information included in this piece is based on most recent information available at time of writing – December 2022.

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7 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.

  2. We just moved to the West of Ireland and over all it’s ok but there are settling issues here that many of the articles I read before coming never told/tell you about. 1st buying a home. Hurry up and Wait is the game here. We were looking for 2 years for real estate and finally just rented an Air BnB came over had a plan and started looking. #1 Agents here don’t take you seriously if you are not in the country and being here doesn’t really help that much either. Agents do not quickly to show you a home. It took us 1 week before we saw a house and then it was gone. #2 unlike the states there are NO Time restrictions on the contracts, NONE. So you could put a contract on a house and not hear anything for months. Then find out you either didn’t get the house or you just bought it. Calling the agent doesn’t seem to work either and there are no buyers agents to help you. They only have sellers agents. So the buyers are on there own. The agents here only show you the houses the Lawyers are the one’s that write up the contract and take care of the house buying process. #3 The other thing you need to buy a house in Ireland is a PPS number. It’s a tax number much like the American Social Security Number and it can take months to get. With out it you can not buy a house or get a job or get your kids into school here. #4 The banks are another issue. You must have a job here and a bank account that shows you have steady income/money going into it or you will not get a loan. Also, in the states cash is king for getting a house within 30 days. Not here, no one cares if you have cash , it’s on there time line…..slow. #5 Then once you have the house you have another problem. Signing up for heating, electric, and basic utilities. You need a Credit Card! and you can’t get one without a PPS Number and a Bank Account, and a Job. AND they won’t take an American Credit Cards. It needs to be an/a European Credit Card. In which you need the following above.
    # 6 Lets see the next item kids and schools. You will Groan at this one! If you plan to move to Ireland with kids make sure you are here by the end of May or before September and find a house first and reach out to the schools in the area immediately, ( get a PPS Number for them too)(you need to register them every year to get a space for the following school year.) Then start them at the beginning of the school year. Otherwise, home school your kids until the next school year. If you can’t and come mid term you will have problems (especially right now 2022/23. Because of the Ukrainian refugees. The schools are overwhelmed with kids and there are no spaces left. We tried 10 schools before we found a space ). The Irish schools do not like it when you come mid term. You are bothering them and you will not get any help from them to get your child up to speed. You are on your own. You’ll need uniforms, books, etc.. and it’s expensive and this is for public school. If you bother them too much they just ignore you, think you are rude, and will not speak with you. They act like spoiled babies, it’s frustrating. #7 The teachers and principals here are placed on pedestals and they think they are equal to God. You
    They act like spoiled babies, it’s frustrating. #7 The teachers and principals here are placed on pedestals and they think they are equal to God. You will be ignored, talked down to and expected to know your place and do not question them. I’m Irish and Italian and not being pushy doesn’t work for me. I explained this to a teacher one day and I told her that Americans see teachers in this way. We pay taxes, we pay your salary, therefore I pay you to teach my child so do your job. The Irish teacher could not get her head around that concept. #8 The grade system here and the Certs. OK in the USA we have 1st grade through 12 th grade. In Ireland this is how the levels compare. Here’s an over view – 1st through 6 is primary school, 7th 10th is secondary school, 11th and 12th finishing years. Here’s more detailed view. Primary school is the same. American 7th grade = to 1st year secondary school, American 8th grade = 2 nd year secondary school and so on until American 11th grade = 5th year high lever with a practice leaving Cert in May. American 12th grade = 6th year high level with the finial leaving Cert in May. This leaving cert is the major test of the century and everyone freaks out about it. This one is testing everything you have learned and depending on your scores you will either go to college or you don’t. PERIOD. Now. let’s roll back a bit from 1st year to 4th year, you have what is called Junior Certs which is a test that determines your education level for years 5 and 6. You must past these. Also, Irish High school is 6 years. Nothing to get upset about. All they do is lump our middle school with high school. So Irish high school is 7th grade ( 1year) to 12th grade ( 6 year). To make matters worse they have a break between 10th and 11th grade ( or 4th year and 5th year – Irish)The Irish call it the Transition Year. Basically if you are failing this is the year you take to reconsider your options as an adult and figure out if you will become a White Collar worker or a Blue Collar worker. Or it’s wear they put you if you are coming from another country and don’t want to deal with you.
    Or it’s wear they put you if you are coming from another country and don’t want to deal with you. Another thing you will encounter are Grind Schools. It seems everyone here hates them. I have figured out that if you were or are a failing student you hate these schools. These schools prep you for the Leaving Cert which in turn gets you into college. Otherwise, you become a Blue Collar worker. Also, the opinion here is that if you fail and are lazy in school it’s your fault not there’s and you reap what you sow. You will not get help either. So if your kids are determined and straight A students you’ll do fine. If not stay in the States, they will fail. The Irish don’t believe in self improvement or bettering yourself to change positions in your job or get another job. There’s no self help here.
    You will not get help either. So if your kids are determined and straight A students you’ll do fine. If not stay in the States, they will fail. The Irish don’t believe in self improvement or bettering yourself to change positions in your job or get another job. There’s no self help here.
    #8 Ok, What is a Leaving Cert. Think of it this way. It’s a cross between the SAT’s, and College exams. That’s the Leaving Cert. Also, Your kids will need to learn a language here. The younger they are, they will have to learn Irish. It’s taught in all schools starting in 1st grade. Then the choices are French, and German. That’s it. And your kids will need to know Irish to get into most of the Irish Colleges and then 1 other, preferred 2 languages to get into college here. My child already knows Italian ( unfortunately, they don’t teach it here, but you can do a Leaving Cert on it if your are good enough).

    I haven’t experience an Heath Issue yet but it’s a Social Medicine. If you private pay you get better service. If you don’t you will wait months for service. I have a friend and her husband is Irish and she lived here for many years. Her son needed surgery and they scheduled him 4 years out for an issue that needed immediate removal. She gave up fighting with the Irish Doctors and called the her mom who made an appointment with her American doctor. They flew over had the procedure and then went back. Another person I met at a clothing store in Galway was taking medication and she was experiencing a side effect from the medication and loosing muscle tissue in her hand. The doctors told her to wait and see how it progresses. She now has lost all her function in her hand. I saw it before and after. If she was in the States the doctors would be sued.
    Buying a car here is easy but you need insurance and the taxes paid before you drive it off the lot. Normally the car dealership will handle the tax part but not always. Again you need a/an European Credit Card to pay the taxes and everything is done online here. Car insurance is very expensive. Our one car is 1500 a year. In the States we has 4 cars for $800 a year. And you will pay more because you are an American. Also, you will need to get an Irish Drivers License. Which you will need to re-take the driving school lessons and re-test and get a new Irish License. It takes about 6 to 12 months to do.
    I can go on but There’s so much that is not told to you until you get here and then it’s like pulling teeth from a tiger. People here are very nice but they can be very rude, have poor manners, and totally in your business. Ireland is a love hate relationship. It’s not efficient, it’s too laid back and it takes too long to get things done here. But it is safer than the States (especially right now) and the weather is raw, damp, and cold. (So are most places in the States, so I’m use to it but…) The winters are also wild and wet and cold. The sun rises at 9 am and sets at 4 pm in the winter. The summers are warmer – think Maine in the summer. The days are much longer as well.
    Like I said It’s a love hate relationship when living in Ireland. Good Luck!

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