Tell me about emigrating from the US to Ireland

Hello Again’s post in this GQ thread got me thinking about moving to Ireland. I’m in IT, and my particular specialty seems to be in pretty high demand in Dublin at the moment, thanks to Google. I liked what I saw in my admittedly short visit - the climate’s perfect for me, the people are friendly, and I like the idea of living in a country that I can drive across in a couple of hours.

True story: my family went on the typical two-week pilgrimage to the ancestral towns and such a few years ago, before any of us had cell phones. Three days into the trip, we called home from Roscrea to check in, and my aunt hysterically informed us that my grandmother had had a stroke two days earlier. We booked the first flight out we could find, which happened to be out of Shannon.

We stopped to buy gas just outside of Roscrea. The attendant, noticing that we were American, asked us “Are you the Rabbit family from Ohio?”

Apparently, my aunt had called some radio station a couple of days earlier when she couldn’t get hold of us, and they had been periodically broadcasting our situation, telling folks to be on the lookout for us.

High fives, Ireland.

Anyway, have any Dopers made the move? What’s your experience with the relative cost of living? What about health care, taxes, etc?

For what it’s worth, I’d probably be the primary breadwinner, starting in what appears to be the €60k range, with my wife staying home with the future little Rabbits.


I moved to Ireland in 1995, and left in 2004. This post should therefore be taken with a pinch of inaccurate memory in mind… As an EU citizen I could just turn up and work, so I didn’t have to screw with visas and so on.

In brief - the IT thing is not down to Google. Google is a recent arrival: IBM, Intel and others have been there since the government made it very attractive for inward investment in IT, and it kicked off the “Celtic Tiger” that has been running ever since.

Income tax is relatively low (for Europe) - you get a tax-free allowance of a few thousand euro, followed by a band charged at 20%, then another band at 40%. This used to be easy to work out, but is now expressed in terms of “tax credits” based on one’s status, which makes it harder to calculate.

There’s also Pay-Related Social Insurance (PRSI) which funds the dole (welfare system) if you’re made unemployed. This is a bastard to work out, but comes in about 7% of your total salary.

There is no local taxation at all, but there is a 21.5% sales tax on most items throughout the entire country.

€60K is a reasonable salary - I was close to being on that when I left, and though I was holding a bit of CC debt, it wasn’t terrible to live on. Having said that, there have been nearly three years of inflation since…

Now the bad news: IMO, the cost of living is extortionate compared to the US. Expect most everything to cost about twice or three times the US price. Register for online shopping here then browse the groceries, then work out the exchange rate to compare what you’d pay in Ohio.

House prices are through the roof and rents are high too. Gasoline is expensive, cars are expensive, car insurance is ridiculously high.

Medical - most companies give you medical insurance, but most policies don’t cover regular doctor visits. These cost between €40 and €50 per visit - even to get a repeat prescription. Hospital treatment is generally covered by private insurance, minus an excess payment per treatment. Emergency hospital care is provided free, and will be paid in full by your insurance if you have it, or a social fund if not. The very poor get a “Medical Card” that gives them free access to all medical services.

I didn’t enjoy how expensive everything was. And I didn’t enjoy the weather, or the infrastructure. But the west of Ireland is beautiful beyond belief, and the people I knew were fantastic - without them I’d have left long before. Away from the spectacular scenery, it’s just another small European country - but it’s made special by the people who live in it.

Wall Street Journal Article with some advice:

IT is a “fast-track” category for visas. I have seen Recruiters who advertise on the NYC subway for IT jobs in Ireland. A recruiter might be a good bet for your first placement. You can see a list here:

Here’s Irish government information on the topic:

My girlfriend wants to move to Ireland but she doesn’t seem to have the necessary skills for getting work permanently here so we’re going to have to sort something out.

That’s something you don’t hear everyday about Ireland.

45 in February? 66 in August? I’ll take those over 15 and 95 any day of the week.

The cost of living gives me some pause, but it appears to be cheaper than the US coasts and about equivalent with, say, Chicago. I was under the impression that the public health system was much like the rest of Western Europe. Since my wife has some medical issues, that’s a big concern.

Is transportation really that much of an issue? We get by fine with a single car right now in a city with absolutely terrible public transportation.

Maybe I’d better finish my Master’s before I start getting serious about it.

Well there are alot of traffic jams but I imagine in most cities where there is alot of economic activity there are also lots of traffic jams. You get stupid dealies like roadworks on major arteries at the wrong time of day and roadworks taking months to accomplish anything but if you live and work in County Dublin and own a car you’re probably all right. One thing though, because of the road network here, it usually takes longer to travel 50 or 100 miles here than it would in most parts of the United States.

I thought most of the tech companies were in Cork. No?

No. A lot of them are in Shannon, which is a “new town”, and the rest are in Dublin or thereabouts.

Regarding driving across the country in “a couple of hours”, well, my in-laws live in Galway, and I lived in Dublin, which is about the thinnest the country gets east-to-west. The distance door-to-door is 137 miles, and only once did I ever make it in less than four hours - three and a quarter. I’ve only ever once managed Dublin - Cork (161 miles) in less than 4 and a half. That said, the motorways are coming, albeit mile by mile, very slowly.

Tommy Tiernan did, however, overhear some D4 yuppies did Galway to Dublin “in eleven seconds”.

“I focking floored it, Fintan…” :smiley:

On the down side, a friend said that it had been raining there much more than usual this summer, so there has been a bit of flooding. My father had ROI citizenship and I think through some quirk in the law I could apply for it also. I’m not sure that they’d want me in any event, but it is what it is.

Medical care is as good as anywhere else in Europe, but you should be aware of some things.

  1. Major medical treatments (chemo/radiotherapy, some major surgeries) are only done in the big cities, i.e. Cork, Galway, Dublin. Live anywhere else and you’ll have to travel for treatment.

  2. You will have to wait to see a specialist (unless you pay for a private consultation), and you will have to wait for non emergency surgery (even as a private patient). The wait could be more than 6 months.

  3. The are only children’s hospitals in the big cities. You will have to travel if your kids get very sick.

  4. You cannot just phone your doctor, tell them what drugs you want and get a prescription, you’ll need to see them in person, and they will decide on your treatment.

  5. Unless you see a Consultant privately, an appointment at a hospital outpatient clinic for specialist advice is more likely to be with an SHO or Registrar. SHOs are roughly equivalent to 1st, 2nd and 3rd year residents and Registrars to 4th year residents and junior Attendings. Consultants are equivalents to very, very senior Attendings. Likewise surgery may be performed by a Registrar, or by a senior SHO supervised by a Registrar.

  6. You probably won’t be able to see a GP the same day unless it is a life or limb threatening emergency. You will be seen in A&E, but you may have to wait for several hours.

  7. Your own GP will probably not make house calls, nor will they see you in the evenings or at weekends. Most GPs now use agencies for out-of-hours work. Agency doctors are often from overseas.

  8. You will have to pay for medications.

  9. You do not have to pay for an inpatient hospital stay, no matter how long.

  10. If you cannot pay cash at an A&E, they will treat you anyway and give you a receipt. you will never be denied emergency treatment on the basis of inability to pay. The Irish health service does not employ scary people to break your legs if you don’t pay, so a significant percentage of people never do.
    I studied in Dublin for 6 years, and my husband worked there for 2. We didn’t have a car and managed just fine with buses, Luas, DART, taxis and trains. Now we live in Belfast and we couldn’t cope without our car.

This one has been screwing a relative of mine over the past couple of years. Chemo followed by a load of related heart problems has meant frequent flights from Donegal to Dublin, costing a fortune.

Hmmm. Never thought about that. I’m assuming we’d end up in Dublin or the vicinity, so that’s not too bad.

In other words, just like the United States, where we have the Best Medical System In The World ™.

Are there countries in the world that actually do this? "Yo, Doc, I’ve got a touch of the Needsomeoxycontinitis. How about a 'scrip?

Maybe I know too many junkies.

None of that sounds any worse than the US.

That sounds significantly BETTER than the US.

I’m currently dealing with a collection agency over some bloodwork that my wife’s GP incorrectly billed to the insurance company, and they’ve been complete assholes about it, so that’s a relief. I pay my bills, of course, but dealing with some prick who’s working on commission is a real drag.

Good to know. We had a car for the two days we spent in Dublin and Howth, but only because we were planning on driving around the rest of the country for the next two weeks.

Four hours? That’s, like, Cincinnati to Cleveland.

I once went to see a band from Norway that was playing at the Empty Bottle. We got there a about an hour before the show, and I talked to the rythm guitar player for a bit. He was absolutely floored that anybody would drive five hours specifically to see a band, then turn around and drive right back home, depending on the potential for DUI.

black rabbit, do you live in Ohio? Been there a few times meself, my better half lives near Cleveland.

Would your rel not get an address in Derry and use the NHS?

jjimm then it would be Donegal to the cancer centre in Belfast, essentially the difference beteen a four hour drive and a two hour drive. I’m just not sure why GorillaMan’s relative is flying to Dublin from Donegal, it’s not that far to drive (yes, it’s 5 hours if you go through the middle, it’s only 3 or 4 if you go through Derry and get on the M1/N1 toll road).

I forgot to say- transplant surgery is pretty limited, renal transplants are done only in one hospital in Dublin, which occasionally does lung, liver and heart transplants too. Most transplant surgeries are done in the UK (for free). black rabbit, without being too nosey about your wife’s health, if she needs to be near an expert in transplant medicine, or within quick and easy access of dialysis, Ireland is not your number 1 choice.

She’s unable to drive long distances due to her condition, and has nobody else to drive her regularly. And from Gweedore, so I’d have thought it was still a 5 hour drive? It’s certainly at least an hour from theirs to Derry. (Plus she’s near the airport!)

Jjimm - they could easily have done that (brother-in-law lives there), but I think it’s because there’s family members who know enough people in Dublin in the right positions that a few waiting lists have miraculously shortened, etc.

Certainly sounds like a non-ideal situation. Hope her health recovers.

Ah…the “special” treatment.
In the Irish health service, as in everything else, knowing the right people can do wonders. All I had to do was say “medical student” and I got seen in A&E within minutes, and my classmates who were in hospital somehow got private rooms…