When Lief and I decided to relocate from the United States to Ireland nearly two decades ago, we were early...Read more
From the picturesque Irish landscape, with its rocky coastal areas, luscious green hills, tranquil lakelands, and vibrant urban areas, to its rich history filled with ancient myths, legends, invasions, and battles, Ireland has so much to offer. Conveniently located as one of the closest European countries to the United States and Canada, it’s also a quick jump across the channel to explore the rest of Europe.
The Irish love their traditions and are proud of their heritage, their food, and most importantly their drink. Brewing beer is one of Ireland’s major industries and meeting your friends at the pub is much more than imbibing. Local pubs are community centers where friends and family meet to share a hearty meal, play games, sing and dance to live music, and of course share a story or two over a fresh pint. Singing, dancing, and enjoying time with friends and family is an important part of the Irish lifestyle.
The people are jovial and enjoy a good joke or gag so expect to see a lot of good ribbing among friends. It can be challenging to leave a party or the pub since Irish tradition dictates you say goodbye to everyone present. To avoid lengthy farewells some folks will slip away without telling anyone. This has become known as an “Irish Goodbye” and no one is offended when someone simply disappears.
Some of Ireland’s many benefits include a low crime rate and good accessibility to healthcare. You’ll also find great public transportation in the larger cities, and in the countryside, buses and trains are available to reach many destinations while you enjoy the beautiful scenery passing by. If you prefer to drive, rental cars are cheap and the roads are good. Just remember to drive on the left.
Also, Ireland is one of a few countries where it is easy to set up a bank account, even for non-residents. You just need a valid photo ID and proof of your current address to get started. In some situations, you also may need to present a financial history from your home country. One catch though, you can’t open an account online, must be there in person.
No country is perfect, and Ireland does have a few downsides depending on your perspective. If you are interested in a super low cost of living, Ireland probably won’t appeal. Some reports estimate Ireland’s cost of living is 25% higher than most of the EU and basic necessary services such as housing, rent, transportation, and child care are high (For a lower cost of living look instead to Central America or Asia.)
Also, the weather can be grey, dreary, and cold. Much of the year can be damp, lacking sunshine, and with a chance of rain at any time. Being on the Atlantic means storms can whip up quickly and there is little protection from the elements.
Another challenge is buying property. It’s difficult to get a mortgage in Ireland, even for the nationals. For expats, who are seen as higher risk borrowers, loan terms are not as favorable, with higher interest rates, and extra hoops to jump through.
However, if you are seeking a superior quality of life, the Emerald Isle has many options. For those looking to escape to a relaxed lifestyle in a more natural setting, surrounded by lush countryside, it doesn’t get better than Ireland. In addition to its natural beauty, Ireland has a rich history and heritage; charming, traditional villages; a strong sense of community spirit; and plenty of activities to keep you busy.
So, if you crave tradition, culture, and exploring a country where past and present seem to merge seamlessly, then Ireland might be just right. It’s no wonder this is one of the greatest places to retire.
I began my own adventures overseas in Ireland. Early one autumn morning what today seems like a lifetime ago, I packed my 8-year-old daughter Kaitlin, my laptop, and eight very oversized suitcases into an SUV. Then Kaitlin, my husband of one month Lief Simon, and I boarded a plane bound for Dublin. From there, we three found our way south to Waterford, where we made our home for the next seven years. When I undertook this move from Baltimore to...Read more