Ireland is world-renowned for its rich and captivating culture, full of music, banter, good food, and, of course, a great pint of Guinness. Still, like many destinations around the world, there are certainly pros and cons of living in Ireland.
The Emerald Isle attracts visitors and migrants from all over the world for many reasons. For instance, the thriving island country offers its citizens an outstanding quality of life, but on the other hand, the costs of living and house prices are among the highest in Europe.
As someone born and bred in Ireland, I can offer up some honest impressions of what it is like to live in Ireland, including the good, the bad, and the ugly – because, let’s face it, nowhere is perfect.
So, sit back, take note, and let me fill you in on the pros & cons of living in Ireland.
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Ireland
Ireland may be a small island country, snuggly tucked away to the far west of Europe, but within the country, there are many counties, cities, small villages, and, of course, accents.
Yes, the distances may be short in comparison to other countries worldwide. Still, the differences from place to place within Ireland are more significant than you might think, from the accents to the weather patterns.
The island of Ireland comprises four provinces – Ulster, Munster, Connacht, and Leinster. Thirty-two counties exist across the island, with twenty-six being a part of The Republic of Ireland and six being part of Northern Ireland (UK).
Overview & Comparison
|Pros of Living in Ireland
|Cons of Living in Ireland
|Great Quality of Life
|High Cost of Living
The Pros of Living in Ireland
1. The People
One of the main reasons many people visit Ireland and even make the giant leap to move there is the people. Irish people are known worldwide as having the ‘gift of the gab’, meaning they are open, friendly and will talk your ears off – in a good way.
This welcoming vibe from the people makes visitors and migrants feel right at home, which is a significant plus for Ireland. Irish people are always on hand to help you and give support, which is an excellent trait for a nation.
2. The Pubs
We all know how popular Irish pubs are globally; even if they don’t resemble an authentic pub you will find in Ireland, they are always packed with customers. That is because Irish pubs are known as where socializing takes place; a visit to the pub is an integral part of living in Ireland, no matter the occasion.
Every village in Ireland has at least one pub, and the oldest pub in the world is located in Athlone, County Westmeath, which shows how far our pub culture dates back.
3. The Landscape
Think green rolling hills, wild, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches, and you’ve got an image of what Ireland looks like. On a sunny day, Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world, and the wild west coast is home to some of the best beaches that feature turquoise waters and white sand.
Ireland may not have huge mountains, but there are plenty of accessible mountain hikes for all levels across the island; plus, the country is home to a few fjords, which offer a little slice of Norway right on your doorstep.
4. The Activities
One of the best things about living in Ireland is the array of exciting activities, both indoor and outdoor. Ireland has everything from sea swimming and kayaking to hiking, mountain biking, and surfing.
Did you know that Ireland is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, attracting pro surfers and international events? Not only this, but Ireland is home to many dedicated long-distance cycleways and marked trails, which allow for longer and more challenging adventures for all ages.
5. The Wildlife
While many go on wildlife tours worldwide to spot out-of-the-ordinary animals, Ireland has a vast array of incredible wildlife everywhere you look. From basking sharks and seals populating the coastline to free-roaming deer right in the heart of Dublin’s famous Phoenix Park, there are ample opportunities to spot an animal you might never have had the chance to.
A list of pros for living in Ireland could not be complete without wildlife since this is one of the most remarkable aspects of the country.
6. The Standard of Living
Ireland ranks very high as having one of the best standards of living across Europe, high levels of safety, employment opportunities, and an incredibly stable economy which is essential for anyone planning a move here.
Ireland has a rich supply of natural resources and an abundance of locally sourced meat, fish, and vegetables. Regarding social protection, Ireland has an excellent social security system in place. People can rest assured they will be looked after in Ireland if they lose their job, become ill or pregnant, and must take time off.
7. The Music
There are not many people around the world who have never heard of traditional Irish music since it is played at many Irish pubs globally. In Ireland, music hits differently, and it is such an integral part of the culture, going back centuries, that a ‘session’ can break out at any moment, just about anywhere.
Busking is very common in Ireland, and many famous musicians have found fame when busking on Irish streets; plus, it is not a shock to walk into a pub and casually see someone like Dermot Kennedy or Ed Sheeran up on the table performing to a local audience. This is one aspect of Ireland that is fantastic!
Whether you are a sports fan or not, the camaraderie in Irish culture when it comes to sports is hard to overlook. Flags fly proudly outside houses across the country, and people join together to support their teams, whether community teams, county teams or international teams.
Attending rugby games, Gaelic matches, horse racing, and football matches is a part of the rich sporting culture of Ireland, and there is no better atmosphere in a pub than when a big match is in play on the big screen.
Growing up In Ireland, I can ‘safely’ say that Ireland is one of the safest places in Europe and perhaps the world. Ireland boasts very low crime rates, a high presence of gardai (Irish police), and a nation with a high level of contentment, which adds to the overall feeling of safety within the country.
Of course, like anywhere, some crimes occur occasionally, and safety measures should be taken seriously, but Ireland is not where you need to worry about jeopardizing your safety.
10. Multicultural Diversity
Regarding diversity, Ireland is home to people from all across the world, and many citizens in Ireland come from parts of Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America. Ireland is renowned for its equality and inclusivity, making it a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community since it was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.
Ireland is a country that welcomes everyone no matter their gender, profession, race or background, which is one of the biggest pros when it comes to living in Ireland, without a doubt.
The Cons of Living in Ireland
1. The High Costs
Yes, Ireland may have an excellent standard of living, but many people have been shocked by the prices in Ireland in recent years. While Ireland has been a relatively affordable country to live in, with wages matching the cost of living, it has now become very imbalanced, with many struggling to pay rent or buy a house.
Of course, the area you decide to live in and your job make a difference, but the average necessities cost is 46% higher than the European average, which is unbelievable.
2. The Weather
Did you ever wonder why Ireland’s landscape is so lush and green? That’s because it always rains, and the temperature remains mild throughout the year. That means that Irish people can enjoy milder winters than other parts of Europe, but sunny summer days are never guaranteed; it can rain all summer long and is very unpredictable.
Ireland is also susceptible to storms, flooding, and prevailing winds, which are not enjoyable when caught off guard without any means of protection. So, one thing is for sure; you need to be prepared for four seasons in one day all year long, living in Ireland.
3. The Gossip
The warm and welcoming atmosphere of Irish people is one of the best aspects of the country, but on the flip side, Irish people have a bad habit of gossiping and having a begrudging attitude. While larger cities experience this less, since not everyone knows each other, small towns and villages are notorious for idle gossip, and people will meet up specifically to chat about the latest news.
This can be annoying and draining for anyone living in Ireland, particularly if you don’t want to hear the latest gossip daily or, worse still, if you are at the receiving end of it.
4. The Transport System
The only way to get from A to B on a decent timetable is to have your car, which is expensive and means you will almost always be stuck in traffic. However, Ireland does have nationwide buses, trains, airports and the Dublin city tram, but if you live anywhere off these routes, you have no hope of getting anywhere.
While Dublin has a good transport system, many Dublin suburbs have terrible bus and train schedules, making it hard for locals to commute to work each day. This is something that should be considered when living in Ireland, and one of the popular choices these days is to cycle.
5. The Location
Ireland is an island country, and while it may be close to the US and Canada, with excellent flight connections, you cannot go anywhere without a flight or a boat. This makes traveling to Europe difficult if flights aren’t affordable or ferries are booked out since you cannot get in your car and drive wherever you want to, like in other countries on the European mainland.
Flights can be very cheap with Ryanair, but not all the time, which makes you dependent on promotions and off-peak times to travel anywhere affordably, not to mention the ever-increasing prices of the ferries to France, Spain, and the UK.
6. The Rivalry
One of the cons of living in Ireland is the ongoing rivalry between the North and the South. Ireland went through a state of civil war and was partitioned, leaving the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as separate countries.
While crime and safety concerns have diminished a lot since those days, the rivalry can still be felt throughout the country, and the topic remains a taboo subject, which can, at any moment, start a fight among passionate individuals. Ireland has a tricky set-up, and when it comes to pubs, people need to be careful about what they say in pubs that might be strongly Republican or strongly Unionist.
7. The Housing Crisis
So, Ireland has an excellent standard of living and a thriving economy, yet there is a housing crisis that never seems to subside. While many people find rent extremely unaffordable, others are finding it difficult even to find a place to live in the first place, not to mention those who want to buy their first home – a goal that is out of reach for many.
The housing situation in Ireland has become so dire that a few years ago, Dublin was ranked as the sixth most expensive capital city in the world to rent in.
8. The Cost of Alcohol
Ireland is a nation of drinkers, which has always been part of the culture. Irish people drink to mourn loved ones, to celebrate, socialize and relax, yet that enjoyment has been tarnished since the cost of alcohol skyrocketed in recent years. A minimum unit policy in 2022 set a floor price of 1 euro per 10g, meaning alcohol costs more than any other European country.
Did I mention that Ireland also has some of the highest taxes on alcohol in Europe? This is a real pity, given that Ireland has produced some great whiskeys, stouts, and craft beers over the years, yet locals cannot afford to drink them.
Yes, Irish citizens, residents, and visitors are lucky enough to have access to free healthcare, but unlike other European countries, the healthcare system is not all it’s cracked up to be. While private and public healthcare is available in Ireland, the public healthcare system is funded by general taxes and often experiences long delays and waiting lists, which frustrates the nation.
The system is often criticized for being overbooked, overcrowded, and understaffed, which takes its toll on suffering people who may need attention urgently. Private care is generally a better alternative for many who would rather reduce the stress of visiting a public clinic or hospital.
10. Drinking Culture
Let’s face it, Irish culture revolves around the pub, and while this can be a pro, it can also be a con. If you are not a pub person, you will not enjoy living in Ireland since many social events take place at pubs and involve having a drink or two to celebrate or socialize.
While many people love this side of Ireland, others who might prefer to socialize in other ways will find it hard to overcome the social pressure of venturing to the pub at the drop of a hat. In Ireland, you finish work and go to the pub for a drink, the sun comes out, and you go to the beer garden, someone dies, and you celebrate their life with a drink, and if the pub culture is not for you, then Ireland will be a tricky place to live.
How easy is it to integrate into Irish society?
It is effortless since Ireland is a very welcoming nation.
How is the weather?
It can be described as changeable and unpredictable, or four seasons in one day.
What is the school system like?
Ireland offers high-quality free primary education and many renowned universities.
What is the average salary?
As of 2023, the average salary is €44,202.
What is the best place to live?
Dublin, Galway and Cork are great places to live, with job opportunities and things to do in and around the areas.
What is the job market like in Ireland?
While the job market in cities like Dublin and Cork is thriving, other parts of the country and rural areas are more challenging to secure employment.
What are the disadvantages of living in Ireland?
Some disadvantages include idle gossip, lousy weather, high costs, and an inadequate transport system.
What are the advantages of living in Ireland?
Safety, friendly people, job opportunities, activities and a rich culture are some of the best things about living in Ireland.