Moving to Ireland | Before You Arrive

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Disclaimer. If this is your first time reading the Moving to Ireland series, please read this first.
I moved to Dublin, Ireland in August 2016. I wanted to give you some information about moving to Ireland. This series is from my perspective (a Canadian on a two year Working Holiday Visa). If you’re from another country or you want to get a permanent visa/plan to attend school in Ireland, you’ll need to do further research. Here is an excellent place to start.
I am not an immigration lawyer or expert. I make no guarantees your experience moving to Ireland will be the same as mine. Failure to do the proper research and apply for the correct visa can result in serious legal trouble. You need to make sure are moving to Ireland (or any country) legally. Still, I hope this series will give you some information and inspiration for moving to Ireland.
Ireland refers to the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the UK and has different rules about visas. If you are looking to work/live in Northern Ireland, you will need to research visas for the UK.
The second part is about what you should and shouldn’t bring before you move to Ireland. The previous post in this series was
Part 1 – Should you move to Ireland?


Congratulations you’ve decided to move to Ireland. It’s a beautiful country, but the journey has just started. Let’s tackle some of the things you’ll need to do before you get to Ireland.

What to Do Before Coming to Ireland

  • Have a valid passport (with no damage) in your name. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after you are planning to come home.
  • Get a visa/authorization letter. Give yourself at least 6 weeks to apply for this before you go to  Ireland. Your visa won’t be valid until you arrive in Ireland
  • Get insurance. Whenever you travel you should always have insurance. If you’re looking to move abroad you’ll minimally need to get medical insurance. Looking at expat insurance will give you comprehensive coverage. Make sure your insurance policy will cover you the whole time you’re in Ireland.
  • Make copies of all your important documents (passport, authorization letter, flight/hotel itinerary, signed bank statement, and proof of insurance). Send one copy to yourself (email, secure cloud storage, etc.) and another copy to a family member or friend you trust. Also find out where your country’s nearest consulate or embassy is in Dublin.
  • Bring your prescription medication. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you take. In Ireland, you can see a doctor about getting a refill on any prescriptions you need.
  • A note about birth control: Unfortunately the majority of birth control options are left to women. If you’re a woman and you don’t to get pregnant while in Ireland and/or if you take birth control for other reasons be sure to research your birth control options beforehand. Candice of Free Candie wrote a great post about birth control options for long term travel. Condoms can be purchased at any pharmacy in Ireland.
  • Booking your flight. You’ll need to have a flight to Ireland. If you decide to fly somewhere else first (I went to London for a few days and then came to Dublin) have an itinerary that shows all your flights.
  • Money. You need proof (in the form of a signed letter from your bank manager) that you have at least $2500 in your bank account. I recommend having at least $3500. It gives you some breathing room if it takes a while to find a place to rent and/or a job. Ireland uses the Euro.
  • Contact your bank and credit card companies. Let them know you’ll be living in Ireland for two years so your accounts and cards won’t be cancelled or frozen when you use them. If you have any cards due to  expire while you are abroad contact your bank/credit card company about getting a new card that will expire when you come home.
  • Cancel any accounts you don’t need.Give your forwarding address to anyone who might need it (like former employers so they can send you tax information).  Get someone you trust to check your mail back at your old address and send it to you if it’s important.
  • Tell everyone you’re moving to Ireland. This was an excellent way to get out of things. Company X, “would you be interested in signing up for electricity with us?” Me, “No, I can’t. I’m moving to Ireland.”
  • Book accommodations. Finding a place to rent can take time. Book at least a few nights of accommodation while you get settled and find a place to live. Hotels can be expensive so you may want to consider hostels, or guesthouses/AirBnb’s. If you go through SWAP, you’ll get a voucher for 2 nights in a hostel. Consider accommodations have breakfast included and/or a kitchen to use. This will help to save money.

If You're Coming to Dublin Book Your Hotel Here

  • Check listings on Daft.ie and Jobs.ie.  Daft is the major rental website in Ireland and Jobs.ie is obviously for finding jobs. Don’t apply for any rentals or jobs yet. You’ll want to be in Ireland to see the rental properties in person and to attend job interviews. Checking these websites in advance will help you familiarize yourself with rentals costs and the job market.
  • If you’re going through SWAP, be sure to book your orientation session. It’ll be on a Tuesday or Friday morning. Give yourself at least a day after you arrive to recover from jet lag/general travel fatigue.
Boats ini Howth, Ireland.

Boats in Howth, Ireland.

Driving

If you plan to drive in Ireland you can drive with a driver’s license from your home country for up to 12 months. After that, you’ll need to apply for an Irish driver’s license. You will need to complete a driver’s test and eye exam to get your Learner Permit. Then you can take a Driver’s Test to get your full Irish driver’s license.

I chose not to drive in Ireland, but to rely on public transit instead. Purchasing a car would mean an extra costs, not just in buying the vehicle itself, but in registering it, insuring it, paying for gas, maintaining it, and parking.

Ireland drives  on the left side of the road. Automatic vehicles aren’t as common in Ireland as manual/standard and they cost more (to buy or to rent). Roads in rural areas can be quite narrow, and roundabouts (traffic circles) are common. In Ireland, they use the metric system so gas prices are per litre and speed limits are kilometres per hour.

What to Bring

You’ll need to have your passport and authorization letter. Have your flight itinerary from home, proof of insurance, and your bank support funds letter. When I went through Immigration they didn’t ask for the flight itinerary or bank letter, but they can.

Pack an adapter so you can use your electronics here. Ireland uses the same type of plug as the UK, which is at 230v 50hz. If your electronics or electrical devices have a higher voltage, you’ll need a power converter.

If you have an unlocked cell you can easily get a sim card and phone plan when you get to Ireland. If not you can purchase a phone here. I brought my unlocked phone from home and got a plan through Eir.

Bringing some kind of laptop might be a good idea, but it depends on your circumstance. I purchased a $175 Chromebook in Canada. It’s not fancy, but it does what I need it to do. Most hotels/hostels will have public computers to use. Same with public libraries and the USIT resource centre in Dublin will too (if you go through that program). Make sure to bring a USB drive with your resume and references. Don’t save anything to a public computer.

Pack at least one office outfit because people dress pretty formally for interviews (even for a casual job). Have a pair of nice looking shoes (not just runners or hiking boots) to wear for interviews.

Think of moving to Ireland like going on any trip. Pack some clothes and toiletries to get you through a few days, but don’t go crazy and bring everything. If you forgot something you can likely buy it in Ireland.

What not to Bring

  • An umbrella. Yes, it rains in Ireland, but that umbrella you got at the grocery store is going to be inside out within two days. Buy a good, golf umbrella when you get to Ireland, and not the cheap €5 ones.
  • Furniture and appliances. You don’t have to ship your bed or fridge or anything like that to Ireland. If you’re looking to rent a flat/apartment, or even just a room in someone’s house they almost always come furnished with the basics you need. My bedroom came with a single bed, wardrobe, and nightstand.
  • Household items. While I did have to buy a few things, like some hangers and a couple bath towels when I moved into my flat it wouldn’t have made sense to bring those from Canada. You can easily buy these items after you find a place to live.
  • All the clothes for all the seasons and possible occasions. As mentioned before you’ll want to have at least one professional outfit for job interviews. Whatever you might have forgotten you can always buy it in Ireland.
  • Books. I love books, but they’re heavy and take up space. An e-reader or tablet loaded with books is a great alternative to packing physical books.
  • Over the counter prescriptions. I brought some ibuprofen and decongestants for colds, but there are plenty of pharmacies in Ireland. Don’t feel obligated to stock up before you leave.
  • A vehicle. If you decide to drive it’ll be best to purchase a car in Ireland. Shipping a car from overseas is very expensive.

Summary

The most important things to remember are; your passport, your visa authorization letter, your signed bank letter, your proof of insurance, your flight/accommodation itinerary, money (including your credit cards and bank cards), and any prescription medications you need. Anything else you may need will be available to buy when you get to Ireland.

You’ll also want to bring a positive attitude and lots of patience. There is a lot to do when you arrive to start working and get paid. We’ll cover that in the next part of this series.

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Have you moved abroad? Did you bring anything you regretted? Did you leave something behind you wished you had brought? Leave a comment below.

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