You Decided You Want To Move To Europe, Here’s What’s Next
When I moved to Europe five years ago, my destination was clear: I was going to Paris. I had waited...Read more
Population: 6, 572, 728
International Dialing Code:+353
President:Michael D. Higgins
Throughout history, Ireland, often nicknamed the Emerald Isle or the Land of Saints and Scholars, has been romanticized in the world of literature. Hundreds of songs, books, and poems by creatives worldwide proclaim this country’s natural beauty. It’s not hard to understand why… Ireland is an oasis of dramatically beautiful nature with a thriving cultural heritage.
Ireland is located in Northwestern Europe, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west and the Irish Sea to its east, separating it from Great Britain. Ireland was under British rule for over 800 years before gaining independence in 1922. Today, Northern Ireland remains a part of Great Britain, while the Republic of Ireland is its own free state.
If you’re looking at Ireland as a potential retirement haven, it offers a lifestyle that encompasses the best of country living, surrounded by picturesque green fields, stone walls, grazing cows, and country cottages. If you’d prefer to live a busier, city life, Ireland has an array of flourishing towns and cities where you can discover modern Irish culture fused with the country’s fascinating heritage. Check out our article on the pros and cons of retiring in Ireland here.
Rarely anyone chooses Ireland as a destination, either vacation or longterm, for its weather. The “Sunny Southeast” of the country has the most favorable climate, while the further west you go, the more you’lll need your umbrella. Annual rainfall averages in the west range from 1,000 to 1,250 millimeters. Nevertheless, Ireland gets its share of sunshine. Temperatures in July, August, and early September can reach the mid-20s Celsius. On the plus side, winters are mild, and snow is mainly seen on high ground. If you can put up with unpredictable weather and high levels of rainfall, you’ll be rewarded with a kaleidoscope of color and breath-taking scenery when the sun shines down on the Emerald Isle.
Infrastructure in Ireland can be lacking in some areas, particularly in the west of the country. These regions are extremely isolated and remote, with windy, narrow roads the only way to get from place to place. This way of life is not for everyone. If you plan to move here from New York or Los Angeles, the lifestyle could be a shock… or just the change you’re looking for.
Throughout most of Ireland, English is the first language. Gaelic, or “Irish” to the natives, is compulsory at primary and secondary level education and lives on in the few “Gaeltacht” areas. Otherwise, you’ll have no difficulty communicating in English with the locals. The accent may take some getting used to—and there’s always the odd turn of phrase to confuse you—but a little patience goes a long way.
It’s no secret that Ireland is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. The cost of living in Ireland is one of the steepest in Europe. While supermarkets constantly compete against each other and advertise their falling prices, grocery items are more expensive than in the United States.
The prices for electricity and gas have been on the rise annually, as well as the cost of health care and insurance. Putting a further dent in Irish household budgets is the property tax. Since 2013, all homes in Ireland (with a few exceptions) are subject to this annual levy. How much you pay depends on the bracket your property value falls within.
While you can’t ignore these costs, like anywhere in the world, you are responsible for your own budget and can live as modestly or as extravagantly as you wish. It comes down to lifestyle choice, and Ireland can provide an enriching life on a minimum budget if need be.
At any medical clinic you visit in Ireland, doctors and specialists are trained to a high standard. These facilities have the best of modern technologies and provide world-class health care. Smaller clinics where you can go for consultations are found in most towns in Ireland, while for major surgery and management of more serious conditions, you’ll have to travel to the larger towns and cities.
As with most countries, there’s a noticeable difference between Ireland’s public and private health care systems. If you require specialist care within the public system, waiting lists can be very long.
For this reason, health insurance is highly recommended. Many expats find it more cost effective to purchase an international health care policy that will cover you anywhere in the world (especially worth considering if you split your time between countries).
Ireland has five international airports, with several smaller ones dotted around the country, serving a limited selection of flights to Europe’s bigger cities. If you are flying direct from the US to Ireland, you’ll more than likely fly into Dublin Airport.
Taxis in Ireland are expensive, so for those on a budget, it’s a better idea to stick to public transport. Unfortunately, Ireland’s rail service is pretty limited, so take advantage of the public bus system. Bus Eireann is your best bet to get from the airport to your final destination. They have several buses connecting Dublin Airport with both Dublin City and the rest of the country.
Tralee, the capital town of Kerry, is located on Ireland’s famously beautiful southwest coast. One of Tralee’s highlights is its rural location near the sea. Drive five minutes out of town, and you’re surrounded by rolling farmland and open sea views. If you’re looking for a slice of traditional Irish life, the villages on the outskirts of town offer tranquility surrounded by an alluringly wild landscape.
Tralee is a welcoming town that preserves its culture and history like no other.
The town has concentrated efforts to protect local flora and fauna, while on the cultural front, the national folk theatre, Siamsa Tire, has done a remarkable job of safeguarding traditional folk music, dance, and song.
Tralee is an ideal destination for a retiree looking to enjoy an active lifestyle by the sea, close to the buzz and amenities of town, with solid infrastructure and the services of a large hospital.
Located in Ireland’s “Sunny Southeast”, the Copper Coast is a 25km stretch of coastline in County Waterford. Now recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark, the Copper Coast gets its name from the 19th-century copper mines, which lie abandoned across the landscape. The Copper Coast is one of Ireland’s hidden gems, featuring dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and rocky headlands.
Life along the Copper Coast is peaceful. Quiet country roads connect the quintessential Irish villages dotting the coastline. Yet, Waterford City, Ireland’s oldest city, is only a half-hour drive away. Waterford City is a bustling hub of culture, with farmers’ markets, art galleries, and history museums to satisfy any culture enthusiast out there. The Copper Coast is relatively undiscovered on the international front, yet offers expats a real-life experience of the romantic vision of Ireland.
A bishop in full ceremonial dress—with the jaunty addition of an inflatable neon crucifix strapped to his back—riding a vintage motorcycle down main street, isn’t something you see every day.
But then, St Patrick’s Day in Ireland isn’t like every other day.
Things can get weird. And they usually do.
That particular year, I had finally nailed the St Patrick’s Day Parade experience.
My companion and I bagged a table by the window in a restaurant overlooking the action. From our second-story vantage point we could take in the parade without the jostling crowds or the damp creeping through our shoes, street side.
For my money, it’s the best way to enjoy the festivities.
As to the cultural significance of a man dressed as a bishop careering down the middle of the road… it’s anyone’s guess. Local parades tend to be madcap affairs where it seems anyone with access to a fancy-dress shop is an acceptable candidate for Grand Marshal.
On this day of all days in Ireland, sense isn’t something in grand supply. After all, St Patrick himself was a Welshman and the first parade took place in the United States so really, anything goes. Trying to figure out what’s going on can often be half the fun.
But, if you really want to experience Ireland in all its glory, then I recommend you forget the parades and commercialized city museums and instead go in search of greener pastures.
Here’s some of my top recommendations for your next trip to the Emerald Isle…
Let’s face facts: no one goes to Ireland for the climate. Indeed, Ireland has been described as “a grand little country… if only you could put a roof on it…” so, a day at the beach probably isn’t first on your list… but it should at least make the final cut.
The beaches here could well surprise you. Sure, there’s the Atlantic beaten grey pebbled shores along the west coast, but there’s also some soft-sand gems that you won’t want to miss.
One of my personal favorites is Galway’s Dog’s Bay beach…
Lying back-to-back and forming a tombolo with the equally pretty Gurteen Bay, Dog’s Bay’s horseshoe-shaped beach stretches for just under a mile (1.6 kilometers).
The beach is white-sand, the water turquoise, and on a sunny day it’s not too cold for a swim… but admittedly not so warm you’ll be in there for long.
Even in the height of summer the beach is rarely crowded, but the car park is small, so if you arrive late afternoon, you may just have to make like a local and abandon your car in a ditch.
The only visitors I had to share my patch of sand with were some cows who were taking a shortcut to the grassy hilltops surrounding the bay…
While it’s true sunshine isn’t a permanent fixture of life in Ireland, it does put in a reasonably regular appearance, from May through August mostly, so if you’re beach-bound, plan for that window.
But if the wind picks up and the rain starts to fall, all is not lost. From here, you’re just a couple miles from the charming village of Roundstone, where a cozy pub, warm fire, and friendly locals await.
While Ireland’s bigger cities—Dublin, Galway, Cork—undeniably have their appeal, they also have crowds… high prices… and tourist traps galore. So, if you’re looking for the attractions and buzz of a city, without the downsides, you’d be well advised to take a trip to Kilkenny.
Located in Ireland’s south-east, this medieval city has a lot to offer… You’ll find everything from trad sessions where you’ll be welcome to join in, to hydro-biking on the river that runs through the shadow of the Norman castle towering above…
This is also the place to be for festivals, everything from art, comedy, film, rhythm and roots music, and even economics (yes, really), gets its own multi-day event on the calendar here.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll be in your element with museums, round towers, monastic abbeys, and of course, that castle.
Dating back to 1195, Kilkenny Castle is today owned by the people of Ireland, having been sold to them in 1967 by the Lord that owned it for the nominal sum of 50 Irish pounds.
And, in the interests of historical research, be sure to add The Hole In The Wall to your Kilkenny itinerary. This inner house of a Tudor mansion, built in 1582, is now a quirky pub and music venue.
Ireland has a whole host of great road trip routes. The Wild Atlantic Way is probably the most famous of the lot. At 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) it’s one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world.
Starting in the north of the country, it runs from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal all the way south to the Cork town of Kinsale. Along the way you’ll take in spectacular scenery and some of the country’s most famous sites including the Cliffs of Moher, Fanad Lighthouse, and the Beara Peninsula.
The route takes a couple weeks to complete if you want to do it full justice. So, if you’re tight on time, you may be better served over on the opposite side of the country.
The Copper Coast runs for 100 miles (166 kilometers) along the south-east coast of Ireland from Wexford to Waterford (or vice versa). Like its west coast cousin it takes in beaches, villages, and ancient sites.
If you’re happy to take in the scenery from the comfort of your car, you can easily complete the route in a day. Wrap up the journey with dinner on the terrace of a sea-view restaurant… weather-permitting of course… you’re in Ireland after all…
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