Ireland offers the best of traditional country living. This Emerald Isle is steeped in history, heritage, legend, and lore. It’s also one of the safest places on Earth, its unspoiled environment one of the most protected. The entire country outside Dublin and Cork can feel like a small town, and certainly living or retired in any of Ireland’s many villages you’d be welcomed and made to feel well at home.
Retiree Residency No Longer Easy
In December 2011, Ireland introduced a new residency permit option known as Stamp 0. Previously, Ireland had offered a residency option for retirees that was similar to still current rules for “self-sufficiency” residency in other EU countries including Portugal and France. You qualify for these programs simply by showing you have enough income to support yourself in the country.
The new Stamp 0 requirements for qualifying for residency in Ireland are greater. You must show 50,000 euros per person in annual income plus a lump sum available for emergencies equal to the price of a house in Ireland. The size or type of house isn’t stipulated, so it’s not clear how much the lump sum must amount to, but you should figure at least 150,000 euros.
Stamp 0 residency doesn’t qualify for naturalization. It is not a path to Irish citizenship.
Qualification criteria for the country’s various residency visas are continually under review, so, if you’re considering applying for residency in Ireland, check the government’s immigration website regularly for up-to-date information.
An Irish Passport
Ireland has been known as the “gateway to Europe.” Historically it has been relatively easy to get a second passport here, either through residency or ancestry. Then, as an Irish national, you were free to roam the rest of Europe. Today citizenship-through-residency is much more difficult (because establishing residency is more difficult). However, you still can be eligible for Irish citizenship if one of your parents or grandparents were born on the Irish isle, either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland.
Don’t Become A Tax Resident
If you spend 183 days or more in Ireland in one year or 280 days over a period of two years, you are considered a resident for tax purposes. (In the latter case, you’ll be considered a taxable resident in the second year.) Ireland is not a low-tax jurisdiction for individuals, one reason part-time retirement can be a good choice.
Ireland taxes most income according to two tax bands—20% and 40%—and, rather than allowing deductions from income prior to calculating tax owed, it offers credits on the calculated tax.
Retired in this country, your retirement income would not be taxed in both the United States and Ireland. The tax treaty between the two stipulates that pension and Social Security income is taxed in the country where you are tax resident only.
No Place For Winter Living
Another reason Ireland is a top part-time retirement option is the weather. Unless you are a writer or painter looking for a secluded lifestyle to practice your art, you probably don’t want to be here in winter. Before committing to full-time living in Ireland, spend time in the country November through March, when the days are short, the sky is grey, and the damp inescapable.
Could You Rent Your Part-Time Home?
If you decide to live or retire in Ireland part-time, you might want to rent your home during the months you’re not living in it. This is not as realistic an option as it can be elsewhere. Assuming you’ll be in residence in Ireland during the spring and summer, you’ll likely struggle to find a renter for the winter months.
The Property Market
In response to the current global situation, the property market in Ireland is already showing signs of softening. Asking prices are no longer indicative of real values. This is good news for the would-be property buyer. The bad news is that the market is all over the place and nobody knows what anything is worth. While this can work to your advantage, it makes it difficult to know what you should expect to spend on what you want to buy.
Take Planning Permission Seriously
Planning laws in Ireland are strict, even for locals. A native of one county can find it difficult to buy a building lot, for example, in a neighboring county, and a foreigner looking to build a house definitely faces challenges getting the proper approvals. The more rural and undeveloped the location, the more difficult planning permission can be to obtain.
Planning permission is also required when renovating an historic property and when adding on to an existing house. If you intend to buy a home of your own, inquire as to any extensions or improvements to the property and ask to see the relevant planning permissions. If changes were made without them, you could face fines or be required to revert the property to its original state after you’ve become the owner.
Outside the main cities, access to emergency and medical services can be a challenge. Apart from local clinics and community hospitals with limited services, your closest general hospital can be hours away. For the past few years, there has been a hiring freeze and budgetary cuts within the Health Service Executive, resulting in understaffed wards and lengthy patient waiting lists. For day-to-day general complaints, you will be fine, but critical and emergency care can be lacking. As a result, Ireland is not a place to consider for retirement if you have serious health issues.
Infrastructure And Access
Outside the main cities, infrastructure and access can be limited. In much of Ireland, narrow and winding roads are the order of the day, and rural roads can be in poor condition, more similar to what you might expect in Central America than Europe. If you decide to own a car while living here, a four-wheel-drive is recommended.
Cell phone service is reliable across the island, but, outside the main cities, Internet access can be more or less reliable depending on who is servicing the area. If high-speed Internet service is important, check what are the available options before renting or buying a home.
While, in 2015, Ireland held a referendum and voted to allow same-sex marriage, the nation in general, given its strong Catholic background, isn’t entirely comfortable with homosexuality. There is no concerted or organized activism, neither pro nor con, however, and homosexuality has become more socially acceptable in the last decade. Outside Dublin and Cork, you’ll find little open community and no gay bars or clubs. Neither, though, will you face discrimination.
A Nation Of Tea Drinkers
The Irish believe that a cup of tea cures all ills. Whatever the complaint, the remedy is a cuppa’. Traditionally a nation of tea drinkers, real coffee crept in during the years of the Celtic Tiger. Where once you’d be served instant coffee or a tar-like brew, barista coffee is now more widely available and a staple among the younger generations.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter