Expat life in Dublin: what’s it like?

I lived in Dublin for 8 wonderful years. The city is small enough to walk around the centre on foot, yet large enough to provide different suburbs to keep you occupied. There are several sides to Dublin, too: some parts look like a modern European city and others have quaint cobbled streets and traditional markets. The city might seem expensive compared to other European cites, but the wages are higher and the quality of life is good, once you learn to love the soft pitter-patter of the rain and the crisp winds that blow in off the bay.

The people
People in Dublin tend to be warm, witty and well mannered. Although they’ve succumbed to the anonymity of urban life in recent years, you’ll still find smiles on the faces of shopkeepers, cheery bus drivers and friendly bar staff. Be prepared for the disparity between the south side and the north side Dublin accents – to newcomers, they sound like they should be from two different counties, rather than opposite sides of the river.

Ten to fifteen years ago Dublin was pretty monocultural – now, the city is colourful, cosmopolitan and buzzing with different nationalities. Large tech companies such as Facebook and Google draw in the cream of Europe’s multilinguals. Graduates from elsewhere in Ireland flock to the capital to find jobs. And, of course, in peak season, tourists weave through the streets.

The vibe
Dublin has a vibe that’s more laid back than other capital cities – the pace of life is slower than London, for example. However, Dubliners like their after work pints and when the weather is good, people overflow from its many pubs and stand out on the streets with a pint in one had and a fag in the other. There are lots of cultural things happening in Dublin, from theatre to music festivals, arty markets and popup restaurants. I don’t want to say that it’s on the cutting edge of hipsterism (which, you could argue, would spoil much of its charm), but it’s getting there. As with other European cities, many of the “old” Dublin communities are becoming gentrified by young professionals wanting to live close to the city for lower rents. Stoneybatter and Francis Street are two examples of this.

Living expenses
Dublin isn’t cheap, but it’s still cheaper than London. In terms of rent, you’ll pay the same in Euros as what you’d pay in pounds. Renting a room in a shared flat or apartment starts from about €500 upwards. Renting an apartment will set you back a lot more, unless you move out to the suburbs. Food shopping can vary vastly depending on where you go. Stick to shops like Lidl, Aldi and Tesco and you’ll be fine. Buy your veggies at the market too, to save yourself a few bob.

Finding a job
Those who can speak another language are at an advantage here and can work in one of the many call centres for the likes of Facebook, Google et al. If you have bar tending skills, you’re also in luck (provided you have a good standard of English). Dublin has hundreds of bars and pubs per square mile.

Going out
When heading out in Dublin, you must choose your establishment wisely. Quiet pint, cocktails or clubbing? Swish bar or a cosy pub with an open fire? Some places are student haunts, some are for an older crowd. Generally speaking though, there’s something for everyone. Here are some good pubs I like for a pint and a chat:

Grogans off South William Street – the walls here are dripping with art and the toasties are good too. The vibe is unpretentious, laid back and laden with banter. Just how it should be.

Keoghs off Grafton Street – this is a proper Irish pub with a history. Upstairs, there’s living room style set up and downstairs, it’s all nooks and crannies.

The Bernard Shaw, Richmond Street South – a hip crowd with a rough-around-the-edges feel and a huge beer garden where you’ll probably find a double decker bus that serves as a pizza kitchen. Worth the trek from Stephen’s Green.

The Cobblestone, Smithfield Square – a lovely spot where you’re guaranteed to find some traditional Irish music, an interesting crowd and prices that aren’t too extortionate. A more authentic alternative to Temple Bar!

Things to do
If you’re moving to Dublin and you like day trips to the country, you’re in luck. -Dublin has some amazing scenery on its doorstep. You don’t need a car either – most of these spots can be accessed by train (or the DART as it’s called in Dublin). Try these for starters:

-Walk the Bray promenade and climb Bray Head
-Check out Killiney Hill and see if you can spot where U2’s front man Bono lives
-Head to the Wicklow mountains where you can find lakes, waterfalls and country houses (lots of Hollywood films were shot there too)
-Go to the seaside village of Howth for views to die for and some fresh fish and chips
-Head to Sandymount village and walk the strand for some sea air
-Go to Phoenix Park and stare dreamily at the herds of deer that have grazed there for centuries

Within the city, there’s a steady stream of arts events, writing and theatre festivals, exhibitions and markets throughout the year. Just keep an eye on free magazines such as Totally Dublin, which you’ll find in shops around Temple Bar. If you’re on the hunt for a hobby or a club to join, check out Gumtree or Meetup.com for listings in your area. If you really find yourself running out of things to do, the good news is that most of Ireland’s other cities and towns are just a few hours bus or train ride away. I recommend Galway for starters, which is a €10 journey on the bus and takes about three hours.

Are you thinking of moving to Dublin, or just visiting for a weekend? 

Published http://thedigitalgypsy.com/2015/05/13/what-its-like-to-live-in-dublin/

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