Moving to Ireland | Finding a Place to Live in Ireland

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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 fourth part is about finding a place to live. Most of the information in this post is about finding a place to rent in the Dublin area (since that’s where I live). However much of the general information in this post can be applied to other cities/towns in Ireland. Previous posts in this series include
Part 1 – Should you move to Ireland?
Part 2 – Before You Arrive
Part 3 – Getting Settled and Paperwork


Important Information About Renting

The rental market in Dublin is very competitive. Be prepared for your search to take several weeks. If you’re coming in August (like I did) or September this could take longer. Why? You’ll be in competition with students looking for a place to live. Rent in Dublin can be quite high, especially if your set on renting in the city centre (Dublin 1 or 2). You can save yourself some money if you look to rent outside the city centre and if you rent with other tenants. Rent in other cities will likely be a bit less than in Dublin as well. Rental scams are out there. Please check the Rental Scam topic for more information on that.

Free (Sort Of) Accommodation in Dublin

You can try looking for work at a hostel in exchange for accommodation. You could also sign up for Help X or WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). With these programs you work in exchange for accommodation (and sometimes food). Each has a yearly membership fee. There is also Couchsurfing where you stay at someone’s home for free (often sleeping on a couch). With Couchsurfing, your only stay with a host for a few days at a time, so it’s not a long-term accommodation option. These can all be worth looking into, but be sure to read about safety issues for each of them. While you might be able to use some of these options temporarily, you’ll probably need to find a place to rent.

Dublin Postal Districts

Dublin is divided into postal districts going from 1 to 24. The lower the number usually means the closer to the city centre. Dublin 1 and Dublin 2 are right in the city centre (or in town as the locals would say). Most (not all) of the tourist attractions are in Dublin 1, 2, 7 and 8. Even numbered districts are on the south side of the River Liffey, and odd numbered ones are north of the Liffey.

Rental Resources

You will want to sign up for an account with Daft.ie as it’s the biggest rental website in Ireland. You may also want to sign up for an account on Rent.ie as well (although many listings here will be on Daft too). Make sure to have notifications for your phone and email turned on. You don’t want to miss when someone is interested in meeting you about a rental. If you don’t respond right away, I guarantee someone else will, and by that time it will be gone. Once I got a voicemail from a lady about a room I was interested in renting from her. I didn’t get it until 10 minutes later, and by that time it was too late.

If you’re on Facebook, there are city/region specific groups for finding a place to live. Search for something like Dublin/Cork/ else (etc.) flatmates. Or try Renting in Dublin/Limerick/Wherever Ireland, etc., and you’ll probably find a group or two.

You could check the classifieds in the newspapers like The Irish Times, but you’ll have an easier time looking online for a rental. By the time you respond to a print classified ad, it’s more than likely the apartment/room will have been rented out.

You won’t be able to rent anything in Ireland while you’re still in Canada. Still I’d sign up for an account with Daft.ie and Rent.ie ahead of time. This way you can start getting an idea of what rental prices are like before you arrive.

Outside of looking for a place to rent you can check the Rental Tenancies Board. You can find out if the property you’re looking to rent is registered with them. They also give out information about tenancy and landlord obligations. Beware if you are renting privately from someone or subletting the RTB is limited in the help they can provide.

Scams

NEVER send money to someone online for a rental. ALWAYS go check out the apartment/flat/room in person before agreeing to rent it. If someone asks you to transfer/send money for a rental you haven’t seen in person, then it’s definitely a scam.

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there. If something seems too good to be true, it is. Don’t trust the pictures you see online. While a place might look good in the rental ad, you’ll want to see it in person for yourself (more on that in a bit).

Another thing to be wary of is giving out your passport information. I had one guy want a copy of my passport for a viewing. I wasn’t comfortable with that and declined to view that place.

Your Rental Profile

When you sign up for an account on Daft.ie or Rent.ie you’ll want to fill out a profile. The more information you can include the better chance of someone responding to your application. Make sure to put an email and local phone number, so people will have a way of contacting you when you apply for a rental. In the interest of safety do not give out your social security details, credit card information, passport, etc. Contact information (phone and email) will be okay.

You may also want to save a write-up in an email or word document, etc. about yourself. Make sure to include information about yourself like if you smoke or if you like to party. Include you hobbies and interests so your new (fingers crossed) flatmates can get to know you. You can copy/paste this into each application (be sure to change things when needed). As an example my profile was like this.

Hello, my name is Alouise Dittrick, and I am looking for a single, private room to rent in Dublin. I am from Canada and in Ireland on a working holiday visa. I’d like to find a place to live for the full two years my visa is valid (until August 2018). I don’t smoke or do drugs. I enjoy the occasional pint or glass of wine, but I’m not much of a party person. I love to travel, enjoy theatre, music, writing, reading, and getting to know other people. I’m currently looking for a full-time job, but I also do some freelance writing work on the side. If you’re looking for a clean, respectful, and easy going tenant, please contact me. I have references available as well.

If you smoke (including vaping), do drugs, drink make sure to include it on your application. Don’t lie because you flatmates and landlord will find out and this can lead to a stressful time for all. Just be honest. 

What is Available for Rent in Dublin

A private one bedroom or studio to rent will be more than finding something shared with other people. There are flats to rent but also look at houses with rooms to rent as well. If you are looking to rent in the city centre, it will be more expensive than outside the city centre. A one bedroom will cost around €1200/month in the city centre (often more). Something shared with other tenants could range from €300-€800/month. This depends on how many people live there, where it is, and if you have a private bedroom or a shared bedroom.

Shared Rooms

One thing to be aware of is that there are properties with shared rooms to rent. In Dublin, this is because the rental market is so competitive. In some areas of the city, it can be almost impossible to find a single room to rent. When I first started looking for a place to live I didn’t care about shared rooms. My thought was “a shared room isn’t’ ideal, but something (even shared) is better than nothing.” After seeing a few places with a shared bedroom, I knew this wouldn’t be right for me. I’m introverted, and I need my own bedroom (not a bedroom shared with four other people) to come to when I get home. Sharing a room in a hostel dorm for a few days when I travel is fine, but living like that all the time isn’t for me.

If you are looking for a private room to rent be sure to select a single room and private on online searches. You’ll still want to view the room in person. Sometimes online it will say it’s private, but it will actually be a shared room.

Why You Must Go to Viewings

While it’s great to check online listings, you must view a property in person before you see it. If someone wants to a rent a place to you without meeting you or having you see it in person that’s a big red flag and probably a scam. Never rent a property without seeing it in person first.

Viewings in Dublin can vary depending on when you go and how competitive the market is. With some of the viewings, it was just meeting the landlord/other tenants. This setup was great because I could see the place and get to know who was living there. However there were many viewings I went to where I wasn’t the only person there. It can be hard to make an impression and get someone to remember you when you’re one of hundred of people they have seen.

One reason to see a place in person is to make sure you’re getting what was promised. There was one place early on that I went to see that said it was a single and private room. I got there and found out the bedroom would be shared with another person. Not only that, but it wasn’t available yet, so if I wanted to rent from them I could sleep on the couch. I decided to look elsewhere.

Things to Consider When Renting

  • How much is rent? Does it include any utilities? If not how much are they per month?
  • Does the rental include Wifi or cable and how much are these per month? In Ireland, you have to pay a yearly TV licence if you have a TV, whether you use it or have cable. The place I live in does not have a TV, which is fine with me. I can watch Netflix (we have WiFi) on my laptop.
  • Is the property owner occupied? Are you renting direct from a homeowner or landlord or are you subletting?
  • How old is the building? Are there any maintenance problems. What is the heat like in the winter? Will your room have a heater?
  • How many bathrooms are there? How many people will you be sharing a bathroom with? Does the shower/bath use an electric heater or a hot water tank/gas tank/immersion?
  • Is there public transit, like a bus stop or Luas (tram) or DART (train) station nearby? If you have a job how long will it take you to get to work? How long with it take to get to the city centre? It is worth trying to find a place close to 2 different types of public transit. When I was looking for a place to rent the Dublin Buses were on strike. Finding a place close to a DART or Luas was necessary if I didn’t want to pay pricey cab fare every day. Bus strikes can happen, so it’s worth keeping this in mind
  • If you have a vehicle find out what parking is like. Is there private parking available, and if so is there an extra cost? If you have a bicycle to get to work (many people bike to work) is there a secure place to lock up your bike?
  • What types of services and amenities are close by (grocery stores, restaurants, banks, etc.)? If you can find a place close to an Aldi or Lidl, that’s a bonus, because they’re the cheap grocery stores here in Ireland.
  • How many other people are living there? What are they like? Are they quiet or party people? Are they looking for someone to be social with? Is everyone pretty independent? Getting to meet your future flatmates ahead of time (if possible) will help you see how well you mesh together.
  • How is security? Is there a security system for the building? Does your room have a lock and key? Are there any security issues in the neighbourhood? Before saying yes to any place, you may want to go back and check out the area at night as well. It’s worth paying attention to your instinct on this. I went to one place that seemed right on paper, and the unit looked good in person during the day, but the neighbourhood gave me a weird feeling. Always go with your gut instinct. I didn’t rent from that place.
  • How does cleaning work? Is there a cleaning schedule people follow for the common areas? Is there a laundry schedule?

What to Look for at a Viewing

Take note of what the property includes. Is your room furnished? Already furnished bedrooms are usually the norm from what I found (unless you’re looking to move into a brand new building in the suburbs). Will you need to buy anything for your room (bedding, hangers, towels, etc.)? Does your room have a lock and key? If not can you get one installed? Will you have access to a kitchen/dining area, and living room? Will you need to buy anything for common areas (dishes, pots, pans, etc.)? Is there a washer or dryer? Most places (including the one I rent now) will have a washing machine (or access to one), but finding one with an electric dryer will be hard. You will likely have to hang or place your laundry on a drying rack or outside on a clothesline to dry. Self-serve laundromats in Dublin are very rare, and dry cleaners are expensive.

I would make sure to find when they are making a decision. Find out if they will be contacting all the applicants directly. Some will contact you whether or not you were successful, and others will only contact the successful applicant. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While you may have viewed a particular place and liked it, there are no guarantees they will accept your application. In the meantime applying and looking for other places to live.

And remember to trust your gut instinct. Even if a potential rental seems perfect on paper if you get a bad vibe when you see it in person, or when you meet the tenants then just say no and look elsewhere.

Being Organized and Payment Information

Chances are you won’t have a bank account open yet (you need a permanent address, and you’re looking for a place to live), but I would suggest getting out the rent and enough money for a damage deposit (usually equal to another month’s rent). When you go for the viewing, it’s unlikely that they’ll tell you right then and there that you have the place. When you get a call back asking if you’re interested in taking the place you’ll want to be able to say yes, and that you can pay the first month’s rent and the damage deposit right away. About €1200 will probably be enough to cover your rent and damage deposit, but it could be more depending on where you live.

I would suggest keeping a file or spreadsheet on your phone/computer with the apartments you’ve applied for online, and the ones you’ve viewed in person. You could be seeing a lot of places, and it can be hard to remember what one had the internet but not the washer and what one had the nice backyard, etc. if you don’t keep track of it.

Georgian doors in Dublin.

Georgian doors in Dublin. I don’t live here, but it looks nice.

My Initial Rental Experience

When I got my Working Holiday Visa for Ireland, I decided to move to Dublin because it’s the largest city in Ireland. Presumably, that would mean I’d have more rental and job opportunities. There were other reasons as well, but those were two of the practical ones for why I settled in Ireland’s capital.

I didn’t realize how competitive the rental market is here in Dublin. It took me about 3.5 weeks to find a place to rent. I applied for many different rentals and saw several in person. Some were on my own, but some I was there with other people. While I was tired of staying in a shared hostel dorm with 30 people I didn’t want to rush into things and take the first place available, primarily if it wasn’t right for me.

When I went to rental viewings, I would bring a copy of personal references, but I found most people weren’t too concerned about seeing those. I’d still bring them anyway just in case. If you haven’t rented before (like perhaps you’ve always lived with your family), try to get personal references from people that have worked or volunteered with you.

During viewings people wanted to know about me and why I was in Dublin. Many of these meetings (including the ones I accepted) were pretty casual in nature. I would still recommend dressing nice (don’t just put on a dirty shirt and ripped jeans, make a good first impression). Tell the landlord/tenants about yourself. Be friendly and personable, but honest too. If someone says they love to throw raging parties on a Wednesday night and your idea of a party is watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on Netflix with friends (literally what I did on my birthday last year) then this living arrangement might not be the best.

The Saga Continues

Renting in Dublin can be a very stressful experience. It can be tempting to get discouraged when the rental search takes longer than you’d like. Or to just take the first place you are offered because you don’t want to stay in a hostel/hotel anymore, but it’s important to find something that’s right for you. That said there is no perfect place, and you might need to alter your wishlist if you’re not having much luck in your search. I wanted to stay in the city centre, in a private bedroom and not pay more than €400/month. I soon realized finding a place with that criteria would be impossible. Instead, I stuck with looking for a private room, but upped my budget to €500/month and looked outside the city centre as well (but close to transit).

Eventually, I found a place to live with everything included for €450/month. I was living with two flatmates, had my own room, and was close to the bus and train. In February my flatmate (who was on the lease) decided to move elsewhere in Ireland, and so I had to look for another place to live in March. Everything worked out pretty well though. I moved to a house, with four roommates (three adults and a small child) in a quiet neighbourhood only a few minutes from where I was before.

Then in June, the lady I rent from told me that the owners of the home were coming back to Ireland (they’d been living in Sweden) and we’d need to move out by the end of July. So I spent a good part of July looking for a place to live. Luckily by this time I knew what to look for, and since I had a steady job, I knew what areas were best for transit for me to get to work. I ended up moving to a Donabate, a town outside of Dublin (fun fact I moved in on my birthday…actually that wasn’t so fun). There’s direct transit to Dublin and to where I work. I have four roommates, but the condo itself is large and funny enough I hardly ever see my roommates. All of the bedrooms (except mine) have ensuite bathrooms, which means that I’m usually the only one using the main bathroom (except when guests are over). My rent is €460/month, which includes internet (but not gas/electric).  I’m hoping this is the last time I’ll have to move while I’m in Ireland. 3 moves (4 if you count the initial move from Canada) in 11 months is a bit much.

In the next and final part of this series, I’ll go through getting a job in Ireland, because you need to pay your rent somehow.


Have you moved abroad? What was your experience looking for a place to live? Leave your comments below.

10 comments on “Moving to Ireland | Finding a Place to Live in Ireland

  1. This post was a real eye-opener for me. I never would have guessed that the rental market would be so tight or that there would be so many things you need to consider. It sounds like they have a real housing shortage. This is amazingly fabulous and detailed information for anyone considering living in Ireland as an expat for a while. You really have painted quite a vivid picture of the situation that would be quite valuable to anyone thinking of following in your footsteps.

  2. This detailed and comprehensive guide is so helpful for those looking to move to Ireland. I love that you went into detail about the rates and the possible areas to choose from. For a big city like Dublin, you would of course expect the real estate to be pricey. Good on you for sharing your experience so that others who are also planning to move to Ireland to know what to expect.

  3. I can see many similarities between finding a place to live in Ireland and finding a place to live in England. I moved to the UK a few years ago and it was very hard to find a house on my own. Indeed, I had to leave my cats back home, in my mother’s care, as finding a home that accepts pets it’s almost impossible. I can imagine that there are scams out there as well and I agree with your advice, never send money until you have a contract and you have seen the flat you will be moving in.

  4. This is a really comprehensive post – so much so that it almost could be in a list form (or have a check list attached). Well done! Luckily I’m not looking for a rental property to move into – with all the competion you had to face. But I’ve learned a few new things. Like, I would have never thought to look on Facebook for special rental groups. Maybe we can find similar groups for short-term rentals in some places. So ‘thanks for the tip!’
    BTW: I really love you 60s movie poster style header image <3

  5. Both my close friends have moved to Dublin, Ireland a long time ago but they have also moved back now. It was always going to be a temp thing and they both loved their time there. I would have never thought about working in an hostel in exchange for accommodation, I suppose that is a great way to start out in a new country and also a good way to make friends. I would of never thought of looking on FB for a rental that is a good tip.

  6. Renting is always the biggest issue when moving to a new place. I like the idea of looking into Facebook groups because it’s definitely useful to do so. Considering “How old is the building” is really necessary because of the safety. I always check whether the room is furnished too. Really love your post with all these detailed tips.

  7. I love that you initially wanted to live in a building with a bright, vibrant door. I thought the same thing, ha! You have so much great information about the postal code areas/different neighbors of Dublin that a lot of other moving guides are missing. Very thorough and complete. Loved reading about your adventure!

  8. Wow this is such a good guide! I have never been in Ireland but it’s definitely very high on my bucket list. What a good suggestion to looks into FB groups when looking out for a place to live. Will definitely use this the next time I have to move.

  9. This is such amazing information! I don’t qualify for a working holiday in Ireland, but sometimes I wish I did… though not when I read about apartment hunting, lol. We’ve never signed a lease abroad, and it definitely sounds intimidating. Love that you were able to bring your pets with you!!

  10. I’m moving to Dublin this month from the US , transferring with my company, and this was beyond helpful! Thank you so much!!

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