Moving to Ireland from the UK: A starter guide

Zorica Lončar

Thinking of a move across the Irish sea? You’re not alone in thinking of moving to Ireland from the UK, as around 100,000 British expats already live there¹. It’s a beautiful, well-connected country with fantastic cities, and many other attractions for newcomers.

If you’re considering a move to Ireland, read on. We’ve put together a full guide covering everything you need to know, including whether you need a visa, the cost of living in Ireland, how to access healthcare and information for retirees too.

We’ll even help you save when managing your money across borders. Open a multi-currency Wise account and you can send and receive payments between the UK and Ireland for tiny, transparent fees. And better still, you’ll always get the fairest exchange rate. This could make it much cheaper to cover your initial relocation costs, and receive income from the UK if you need to.

Learn more

But first, let’s focus on what life is like in Ireland, and what you can expect as an expat.

Moving to Ireland benefits - why is it such a good choice for UK expats?

Ireland has a lot to offer to new arrivals. It’s extremely well connected with flights and ferries to the UK, along with connections to Europe and the rest of the world. This makes it super convenient if you want to pop back to see friends and family, or have people over to visit.

Many people move to Ireland for the beautiful natural scenery, vibrant city centres and great quality of life. And of course, Ireland has a shared language and culture with the UK, so expats should find it easier to settle in.

Living in Ireland - what you need to know

Here are a handful of the basic facts it can be useful to know if you’re considering moving to Ireland from the UK.

  • Population - approx. 5 million²
  • Number of British expats: approx. 100,000¹
  • Currency - Euro (EUR)
  • Most popular destinations for expats - Dublin, Skibbereen, Kilkenny, Bray, Galway.

Cost of living in Ireland³


Now, how far will your money go in Ireland? Before moving to a new country, it’s crucial to work out whether you can actually afford to live there.

Ireland is a little more expensive than the UK, especially when it comes to rent prices - which are up to 37% higher depending where you live. However, salaries in Ireland are up to 10% higher than in the UK.

To give you a better idea of how much things cost in Ireland, here are a few examples:

Cost in IrelandCost in the UK
Three-course meal for two people£52£50
Loaf of bread£1.28£0.98
Draught beer (0.5l)£4.33£3.70
Monthly public transport pass£86£65
Monthly utilities bills£128£155
Monthly rent for one-bed apartment in a city centre£1,008£745

If you’re looking to buy a property rather than rent, you could find the cost per square metre (for an apartment, for example) between 15% and 20% cheaper than the UK - depending whether you buy in or outside of a city centre.

Healthcare system

Ireland’s healthcare system is highly regarded, being ranked 13th best in the world in a 2017 study⁴. In fact, it came many places above the UK, so you don’t need to worry about missing the NHS if you move to Ireland.

But how do you access healthcare in Ireland as a British expat, and does Brexit change anything?

The good news is that thanks to the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement, UK citizens can still access the Irish public healthcare system⁵. It isn’t free (unless you qualify for a medical card on income grounds) but you’ll pay fees for healthcare services on the same basis as an Irish citizen. And of course, you can also choose to arrange private health insurance cover if you want to.

Opening a bank account in Ireland

As you might expect, opening a bank account in Ireland is pretty much the same as in the UK. You’ll usually need your passport or some form of photo ID, along with proof of address.

You should also be able to open a non-resident bank account remotely from outside the country, which could be helpful if you’re making preparations to move there. However, it depends on the bank - so it’s a good idea to do your research and perhaps contact your chosen bank to find out the requirements.

Finding a job in Ireland

If you don’t already have a job offer lined up, you may want to begin looking for a job in Ireland in advance of your move. But where do you start?

First up, the legal stuff. UK citizens can work in Ireland without needing an employment permit, even after Brexit. This means there’s no extra paperwork to worry about, you can just start searching for a job and apply for suitable roles. However, just like in the UK, some employers may still need a UK criminal records check or vetting by the National Vetting Bureau of the Garda Síochána⁵.

It can also be worth checking to see if your UK professional qualifications will be recognised in Ireland, and if you need to do anything. More information on this can be found here.

Ready to start job hunting? Here are a few places to try:

Renting or buying property in Ireland


One of the most pressing tasks on your to-do list for your big move will be finding somewhere to live.

Renting is a popular option for new arrivals in Ireland, at least on a temporary basis. By renting rather than buying, you can take the time to get a feel for the place and its community, and decide if you want to live there permanently. Renting is also quicker, as it gives you a roof over your head right away.

To start your search for suitable rental properties in Ireland, try and You can also find short and long-term rental options on sites like Airbnb.

If you are looking to buy a home instead, it’s good to know that you won’t face any restrictions as a non-citizen. However, you may find it tricky to get a mortgage until you’ve been living in Ireland for at least 6 months - which is perhaps another argument for renting first. Most Irish lenders also prefer applicants to have been working in Ireland for at least a year⁶.

Once you’re ready to buy, check out the rental links above (many of which also list property for sale) along with, and

Do I need a visa for Ireland as a UK citizen?⁵

One of the reasons many Brits decide to move to Ireland is that you don’t need a visa as a UK citizen. This is the case even after Brexit, as the UK and Ireland have a Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement in place.

So, you can live, work, study or retire to Ireland without needing a visa, residence permit or employment permit.

You can also freely travel between the UK and Ireland without any hold-ups at the border, which is great if you want to go and see family in the UK or invite loved ones to visit you in Ireland. All you’ll need is a passport with at least 6 months’ validity remaining.

Retiring in Ireland

Ireland is a popular destination for UK retirees. This is partly due to visa-free access for UK citizens, along with the country’s great public healthcare system and of course, the stunning Irish scenery.

You don’t need to worry about getting a visa for Ireland, but there are a couple of other things for UK retirees to consider before moving there.

One of the main considerations is pensions. You can apply to the International Pensions Centre to have your UK state pension paid to you in Ireland.

And if you want all of your pension income in one place, you can also transfer over other personal pensions from the UK to Ireland.

If you plan to do this though, make sure you choose an Irish pension scheme that is on the HMRC’s Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) list. Otherwise, you could face a large tax bill. It could also be a good idea to seek expert pensions advice to help you find the most tax-efficient way of transferring your pension.

As a pensioner in Ireland, you may also be able to access free healthcare services with a medical card. This is means-tested, so your eligibility depends on your income. Take a look here for more information on the medical card for people over 70 years old.

Moving to Ireland from the UK - a checklist

There’s a lot to do when planning a move to another country, even one as close to the UK as Ireland. To help you with your preparations, here are some of the key tasks to focus on:

  1. Check that your UK passport has at least 6 months’ validity remaining. If not, get it renewed right away.

  2. Choose where you want to live in Ireland. It’s a good idea to make a few trips out there to get a feel for your chosen town or city, and to find properties to rent or buy.

  3. Get quotes for shipping your furniture and belongings over to Ireland.

  4. Tell HMRC that you’re leaving the UK. If you’re at retirement age, apply to receive your UK state pension over in Ireland.

  5. Convert your UK driving licence to an Irish driving licence. This is one of the things that has changed now that the UK has left the EU. You can find out how to convert your licence at the National Driver Licence Service website.

  6. Find out if you’re eligible for free healthcare in Ireland with a medical card. You can find guidance on this at the Citizens Information website.

Save on your relocation costs to Ireland with Wise

Moving abroad usually involves a great deal of preparation, which also means lots of payments and fees to cover in advance. For example, you may need to send rental deposits or estate agent’s fees over to Ireland from the UK.

These are classed as international payments, which could mean high fees and currency conversion charges if you use your bank. Plus, many banks add a mark-up to exchange rates, so each payment could become more expensive.

Luckily, there is an alternative that could be cheaper than using your bank. Open a Wise multi-currency account and you can whizz money between the UK, Ireland and all over the world for small fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate.

It also comes in handy for swerving poor exchange rates and conversion charges when receiving UK income, such as salary from UK employment or your UK state pension payments.

With Wise, you can spend in Euros from the moment you arrive in Ireland. There’s no need to hit the Bureau de Change or carry cash around - you can simply tap and spend using your international Wise debit card. This contactless card charges no foreign transaction fees, only a tiny fee to convert to EUR, which happens automatically at the fairest exchange rate whenever you spend.

Join Wise and start saving today

So, that’s pretty much it - everything you need to know about moving to Ireland from the UK. We’ve covered the cost of living, healthcare, employment, property, retirement and much more, so you should be all set to plan your big move no matter what your circumstances. The very best of luck!

Sources used for this article:

  1. CSO - non-Irish nationalities living in Ireland
  2. Worldometers - Ireland population (2021)
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in Ireland compared to the UK
  4. - global ranking of health systems
  5. - living in Ireland
  6. Money Guide Ireland - buying a house in Ireland

Sources checked on 10th May-2021.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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