With vibrant cities, stunning natural scenery and a warm welcome, Ireland has long been a popular destination for expats from the UK. Thanks to a shared language and the Common Travel Area¹ between the UK and Ireland, making the move to the Emerald Isle can be relatively straightforward.
Ready to pack your bags? This guide is for you whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Ireland for good. Read on to learn more about the cost of living in Ireland compared to the UK, and some smart ideas about how to save money on bank and currency conversion fees, with a free online multi-currency account from Wise.
The official money in Ireland is the euro - although it’s worth noting before we go any further, that this guide refers to the Republic of Ireland only. Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, uses pounds sterling.
If you’re headed to Ireland and need currency conversion, it helps to know what you’ll get for your money. Let’s take a look at the value of the euro compared to a few other major world currencies:
$1000 = EUR 844.58
£1000 = EUR 1,097.31
A$1000 = EUR 608.03
C$ = EUR 633.57
The value of currencies changes all the time, which can mean it’s tricky to know a good exchange rate when you see one. The simplest way to keep up is to get a reputable online currency converter, which shows you the mid-market exchange rate for your currency pair.
The mid-market exchange rate matters because it’s the rate banks use when they buy and sell currencies on the wholesale markets. However, this rate is not often passed on to regular customers. Instead, a markup or margin is added - an extra bit of profit for the bank, and an extra fee for the consumer.
Adding a markup isn’t unusual, but it does make it hard to see exactly what you’re paying for your currency conversion. Compare the rate you’re offered against the live mid-market rate to see if any markup has been added - or choose a specialist provider like Wise to access the mid-market rate every time.
There are always going to be costs when it comes to currency exchange. Some of these are obvious - like transfer or admin fees. But others, like exchange rate markups and SWIFT charges can be harder to spot. This can mean you pay more than you need to for international payments and foreign exchange.
A smart way around this is to get a multi-currency account from Wise. With Wise you will only ever pay an upfront transparent fee for currency conversion. There are no markups and no hidden fees - and you’ll see exactly how much you’ll receive before you confirm your transaction.
Use your free online multi-currency account to hold and manage dozens of currencies with no monthly fee and no minimum balance - just simple, fast payments and exchange, whenever you need it.
The amount you’ll pay for rent and day to day expenses in Ireland will vary widely according to the place you choose to live. In Mercer’s Cost of Living Rankings for 2020, Dublin comes in 46th in the world² - making it a pricery choice compared to some other cities, towns and rural spots in Ireland.
Let’s take a look at how some major costs in cities in Ireland compare against the UK.
|Comparing basic cost of living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)||Transportation (monthly pass)|
*Live data from Numbeo, correct at time of research 1 October 2020
Depending on your reasons for moving to Ireland, you might want to live in one of the larger cities like Dublin, Cork or Galway - or check out a smaller town for a totally different experience.
If you’re looking for the cheapest place in Ireland to live, you’ll likely want to head off the beaten path somewhat - while a good compromise would be a smaller city like Waterford - Ireland’s oldest - or a historical town like Dundalk.
Getting your finances in order is one of the first things you need to think about when relocating.
Here’s a look at the general living expenses you’ll want to budget for, by location.
|Total living expenses in Dublin⁶||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||EUR902.12|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||EUR3,209.76|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||EUR160.52|
|Total living expenses in Cork⁷||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||EUR846.08|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||EUR3,009.57|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||EUR150.61|
|Total living expenses in Galway⁸||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||EUR829.59|
|4 person family, per month (without rent)||EUR2,944.65|
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment||EUR151.32|
Ireland is a great place to further your career, with many major global businesses offering jobs across a range of sectors. The average salaries by role vary somewhat by location, showing what is in demand, where. Take some time to look at the typical salaries for your field before you decide where in Ireland you’ll live.
Here are a few common roles, and the median salaries you might expect in different cities.
|Salary averages for Dublin⁹||Average salary|
|Salary averages for Cork¹⁰||Average salary|
Housing is a major cost for everyone - and the price of a home can vary widely from city to city, and depending on the type of lifestyle you want to lead. To help you build a picture, we have taken some example costings for city centre apartments in major Irish cities:
|Rental cost in Dublin¹¹||Average monthly cost|
|Rental cost in Cork¹²||Average monthly cost|
|Rental cost in Galway¹³||Average monthly cost|
UK citizens who are resident in Ireland can get access to public healthcare there, thanks to reciprocal agreements between the UK and Ireland. There is no plan for this to change as a result of Brexit.
If you base yourself in a city in Ireland you’ll have no problem getting around on public transport. Cycling in cities can be a bit harder due to traffic. ¹⁴
If you’d rather drive, you’ll find the rules of the road very similar to the UK - although you’ll also have to check if your UK driving license is valid. Changes relating to Brexit - which are still subject to negotiation - might mean you have to switch your UK license for an Irish one to drive legally.¹
Ireland has a good network of buses and trains, but the fastest way to get around by far is using domestic flights. Bus tickets are usually cheaper than train rides - but thanks to low cost airlines you may also find good value flights are available to your destination. Some smaller towns only have irregular bus connections, so make sure you plan ahead.
According to the Shanghai ranking of world universities, Trinity College Dublin is the leading higher education institution in Ireland - however, you’ll have the choice of 18 universities and over 2,000 different programmes if you’re headed to Ireland to learn.¹⁵
Different institutions will set their own fees according to the course and your eligibility. There are programmes to reduce the costs of study for EU citizens, and others who fit specific criteria, while international students will typically pay higher fees¹⁶. Take a look at the details for your chosen institution to learn more.
Starting a new life overseas is exhilarating. It’s also exhausting. Give yourself one less thing to worry about, by getting a smart new multi-currency account from Wise to cut the costs of sending and spending money overseas.
You’ll be able to access mid-market rate currency conversion, hold dozens of currencies all in the same place, and get your own EUR bank details to get paid like a local in Ireland. See if you can save time, money and hassle, with Wise.
All sources checked on October 1, 2020
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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