Moving to Ireland | Should You Go?

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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.
This first part is all about why I decided to move to Ireland and if it would be the right move for you as well.

Why Did I Move to Ireland?

Many people ask me why I chose to move to Ireland. On the practical side, there were three big reasons.

  1. I found a cheap flight from Edmonton to London and then onto Dublin.
  2. English is the primary language so I wouldn’t have the stress of learning a new language. Gaelic is an official language in Ireland, but English will be sufficient unless maybe you move to a small Gaelic speaking town or want a job with the government.
  3. I meet the age requirements for this Working Holiday Visa. Many countries have their working holiday programs end at the age of 30, but Ireland can go until you’re 35. Since I’m 32 (31 when I applied), Ireland seemed like a good choice.

Plus there’s history, art, culture, theatre, literature, music, food, drink, friendly people, beautiful scenery and all sorts of other stuff I wanted to explore in Ireland. It’s small enough I can head to the other side of the country in a few hours. Not to mention cheap flights to the UK and western Europe if I want to go elsewhere.

Bray, Ireland.

Bray, Ireland. A beach town close enough to Dublin for a day trip.

The Working Holiday Visa for Canadians coming to Ireland

  • The Working Holiday Visa is good for Canadian citizens who are 18-35. Other countries may have different age restrictions with their Working Holiday Visa program in Ireland.
  • The visa is good for up to 2 consecutive years. You cannot extend/renew the visa when it expires. You also cannot apply for another working holiday visa.
  • For Canadians, there are no restrictions on where you can work, or how long you can work. You just can’t overstay your visa.
  • The visa itself is a stamp one visa. Employers may ask what type of visa you have. I made sure to tell employers my visa has no work restrictions, aside from it only being valid until August 2018.
  • The visa is only good for the Republic of Ireland. It is not valid for Northern Ireland (you’d need the UK working holiday visa for there).
  • You can choose to apply for the visa on your own (costs less, but you’re on your own). Alternately you can go through the SWAP program (pricier but you get support). More information on that in the next section.
  • When you send out your passport to the Irish Embassy in Canada, you won’t get the visa itself. What you get is a laminated letter from the embassy. It has the authorization to get your working holiday visa on arrival. When you land in Ireland, you should get a visa stamp from immigration. Then you will need to do some paperwork and stuff before you can start working. I cover this information in Part 3.
  • There are no guarantees your visa will be approved or that you’ll be allowed entry into Ireland. Immigration can deny your entry into Ireland even with your authorization letter.

If You're Coming to Dublin Book Your Hotel Here

SWAP or Not?

SWAP is the program in Canada where you can get your Working Holiday Visa in Ireland. You can apply for an individual visa through the Ireland website, but I went through SWAP. It’ll cost you around $560CAD (at least when I did it). That gets you the laminated letter from the Irish embassy to get the visa on your arrival in Ireland. It includes extras like two nights at a hostel, an orientation session, free use of computers/printers/internet in Dublin, an information booklet, and support while you’re in Ireland. They can provide resources, but they won’t give you a job or a place to live. You’ve got to do that part yourself. There are also regular events with other work abroad people, which is nice to have.

If you choose to do the visa on your own, you’ll want to visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. You’ll need to apply for the visa either at the Irish Embassy in Canada (in Ottawa) or by mailing the required documents to the embassy. It will only cost about $200CAD, but you’re on your own with the application and the rest of the process (including when you come to Ireland).

Since this was my first time moving to another country (hell moving outside the 30km radius of where I’d lived all my life), I went with SWAP. It costs more but having that support system here in Dublin has been worth it. I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth in the amount of CVs I’ve had to print out.

One More Thing to Consider

Money. Yes, I could tell you that you can see the world with no money, but moving abroad is different. If you’re planning to move to Ireland, you’ll need to show you have at least $2500 (about €1700) in your bank account. This cost does not include your visa, flights, accommodations, general travel expenses, travel insurance, and spending money.

I would suggest having €2500 or more in your bank account, just in case. If you can get a job right away, the rental market is very competitive, (at least in Dublin) and hostel rooms (even shared dorms) aren’t cheap. I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but Dublin can be expensive. Worst case scenario you’ll have to rely on your backup funds when things are tight. The best-case scenario is you’ll have some extra travel money (or money for pub nights).

In the next post in this series, I’ll talk about the things you need to do before coming to Ireland, including what to bring.

Check out some more posts about Living in Ireland

Do you want to move to Ireland? Let me know in the comments below.

22 comments on “Moving to Ireland | Should You Go?

  1. Living in another country is a big leap. I do love Ireland though. The people are so friendly and the country is so beautiful so I can understand why you would want to live there. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  2. There is so much to consider when emigrating, I did it once as a child with my parents and again with my husband more recently. Both times were with permanent visas not holiday ones – it’s a great experience but takes a bit of planning and a steep learning curve.

  3. Great tips for those considering a stay in the Emerald Isle. Fun place is Ireland, so much to see out in the beautiful countryside and of course so close to Europe.

  4. Moving to Ireland sounds like quite an adventure. Is it difficult to find a job though? I’ve heard that the Irish economy is struggling a bit and it’s not that easy to find work. It’s such a beautiful country though.

  5. These tips will be definitely helpful for someone planning to move to Dublin. Though I have traveled a lot my base is fixed for a long time now. I am keen to do a transfer like this and see the hardships if any.

  6. Its so exciting to move to a new country! I made similar plans when moving to South Korea. Having money in your bank account is so helpful when moving abroad! There are always unexpected things and jobs fall through. My first job stopped paying us so I had to find a new one ASAP!

  7. This article made me smile because it’s the opposite of an article I wrote about why I DIDN’T move to Barcelona. These are very useful tips, and part of why I didn’t end up moving to Spain is that I didn’t think through these important logistics, and they came as a shock!

  8. I think the idea of moving out and traveling the world is a great idea. Hope to see you in India sometime 🙂 however, I am not sure if there working vacation visa here.

  9. These are great tips for anyone considering a move to Ireland! I’m glad you found a country that gives out working visas up to age 35. Hope you enjoy the art, culture and nature of Ireland during your stay there!

  10. Congratulations on making the move to Ireland and for taking that leap. Gettings settled is never easy, but it seems like you are finding your way. These are great tips for folks interested in doing the same. Good luck and looking forward to reading more about your experience.

  11. I like the fact that cheap flight was one of the main reasons for choosing Ireland.
    I hope you’ll stay happy with your choice of moving to Ireland!

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