LADIES AND GENTS, WE MADE IT.
I was waiting to write this post until I had officially settled in and got my footing in the area. Mainly, I wanted to at least have a place to live before I wrote this, and I am happy to report that I do!!
So here you have it! These are my tips and tricks to moving to Dublin and surviving at least two weeks because that’s all I’ve done so far.
Get yourself a visa
If you’re from the U.S. like myself, you’ll need a visa to live and work in Ireland. Personally, I am on a Working Holiday Authorisation. This is the visa I’ve been using everywhere I decide to live.
If you are between the ages of 18-30 and are a student or are within 12 months of receiving your degree, you can qualify for this visa. A WHA will allow you to live in Ireland for 12 months while working to support your travels. Not a bad deal, right?
Ireland is a bit old school, so the process to obtain this visa can be a bit of a hassle. There are two stages for the application, all of which must be filled out in pen and paper and cannot be done online (Yeah… try getting used to that after coming off of being approved for an Australian working holiday in 15 minutes online.)
The first stage will require a filled out application form available on the Consulate’s website, proof of being enrolled in a university or proof of having graduated within the past 12 months (you need original documents such as original transcripts or your degree), a copy of your passport, proof of supporting funds (about 4000 euro I believe), 2 passport sized photos, a copy of your CV, and a processing fee of about $350 depending on where your Consulate is located.
Once you have shipped off all your documents in a neat little package to your designated consulate, you should receive an email in a few weeks time saying if you’ve been approved. Mine took about 3 weeks, but the website says up to 8 weeks so always leave room for delays.
If you’ve been approved, you’re ready to send off Stage 2. This is when you’ll send in your arrival and departure tickets (it doesn’t have to be to go back home- and considering you can’t book flights that far in advance, I wouldn’t. Personally, I bought a nice holiday to London in August as proof of my leaving.), proof of health insurance that covers you for your duration in Ireland, and your physical passport. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sending everything as far in advance as possible. Your girl received her passport the day before she flew out and I am truly just trying to save you a heart attack.
Once you’ve done all of that, the Consulate will mail back your passport to you and your WHA! Congrats, you’re ready to go!
Sort out your accommodation before you arrive.
Some of you may or may not know that Dublin is in the middle of a housing crisis, meaning its wildly difficult to find somewhere to live. But don’t you fret, I’ve got you covered!
Having already moved to a different country in the past, I had a better idea of timelines for finding a place to live in a city where housing is impossible. I gave myself two weeks of non-stop searching. This means that house-hunting has to become your full-time job, which also means you shouldn’t expect to work in this time (that’s why we save!). Book yourself an airbnb close to where you’ll be searching for apartments, or a hostel. I actually recommend the latter- I did it in Australia and met my absolute best friend who later became my roommate that way! I did an airbnb in Dublin and although it was much more comfortable, I did feel a bit isolated and like I would have had an easier time making friends at a hostel.
Once you’ve chosen where you’ll stay for the first two weeks, wait until you arrive (trust me, do not try and lock in an apartment without seeing it first) and begin the hunt. I used rent.ie and daft.ie. To be completely honest, if you’re doing this solo, I highly suggest looking into shared houses/rooms. It will be much more affordable and much easier to find somewhere to stay. Plus, you’re bound to start making friends. If that’s not your cup of tea but you’re on a budget, I would also recommend looking into different cities such as Cork for more affordable pricing. Unfortunately, the farther away you are from Dublin, the easier it will be to find an affordable place to live.
The reason I say his becomes a full-time job is because the only way you’ll be able to get a leg up from the thousands of other people trying to find housing is if you are available when they are not, a.k.a. when they’re at work. If someone emails you for a viewing, you’ll have a much easier time accommodating to their schedule if yours is completely free.
My biggest tip is this: do not settle. If something doesn’t feel right, or if you don’t like the location/people/room, don’t jump into it because you think its the only thing you can get! Just say “thank you very much, I have a few more places to look at but I’ll get back to you as soon as I have made a decision”. Many people will try to rush you by saying other people are looking at it, but that doesn’t matter. What is for you will not pass you. Go with your gut. After all, you’re trying to find a home very far away from yours, so make sure it feels like one.
Start attempting to book a GNIB appointment either before or as soon as you land.
Man oh man. This was a TOUGHY. Within 90 days of your entry to Ireland, you must register with the Guarda in your area, or you will be asked to leave the country. They will emphasize this at the airport when you go through customs. And if you’re like me and haven’t even begun trying to book an appointment, get ready for the death glare that the immigration officer will give you.
As I mentioned before, Ireland is old school. You can book your GNIB appointment online, but you will have to attend in person. Here’s where it gets tricky: the Guarda in Dublin is always booked up 3 months in advance. Meaning if you are in the situation I was in, the chances of you being able to get an appointment before your 90 days are up rely on the possibility of someone cancelling their appointment and you being on the website refreshing the page (again) the MILLISECOND that they do before it gets snatched up by a fellow procrastinator.
This sounds like a lost cause, right? Well lucky for us, even though the GNIB office is stuck in the dark ages, we have technology on our side. If you google “Google Chrome GNIB extension” you will come across your new best friend. You can thank me later.
Using that extension, I was able to book an appointment in 5 days. I mentioned this at a job interview and jaws literally hit the floor.
When you arrive for your appointment, you must present your passport, WHA, and $300 EUR. Gotta love those fees.
Make sure you buy a leap card and an Irish SIM on your first day.
There is not a single thing you can do without these (especially if you’re staying outside the city). The Leap card allows you to access all forms of transportation. Now, you can get around by taxi or pay for the bus in cash, but this will be so much more convenient as it also allows you to access the DART (train system), and the trams within the city. It’s the Irish equivalent to a MetroCard, Oyster Card, Myki, Opal, etc. You can find these at any SPAR or anywhere that has a Leap sign in front of it.
As for an Irish SIM, feel free to shop around with deals. The more popular ones would be Vodafone or 3, but I went ahead with Tesco Mobile and was very happy with my deal. A pay as you go plan would be my recommendation.
Find a job.
This is something else that you will come to find is a full-time situation. My best friend for my first few weeks was indeed.com.
This can be very tough so some tips I have for you would be first and foremost to have an Irish friend look over your CV. Every country’s employers vary on what format they prefer. You may find that your CV might need to be revamped before sending it out. I would also look at cover letter templates for your country, as these can vary as well.
If you’ve uprooted your life and moved to a different country with no job prospects previously in place, then you already should have prepared yourself to do literally anything that is available. This could mean waitressing, being a barista, administrative assistant, working at a call-centre, etc. Take whatever you can get, because at the end of the day its just meant to be funding what you’re really here for: travel.
Obtain a PPS number.
A PPS number is the one thing that stands between you and 40% of your check going to taxes, so ideally you would want to get this before you start getting paid. Here’s the catch: you can only register to get a PPS appointment once you are able to present evidence of a job offer and proof of address.
My advice is as soon as you’ve been hired, ask your employer for an official job offer letter and try to book an appointment straight away. If possible, also try and delay your start date by a few weeks to give yourself some time. That is, unless you don’t mind losing out on nearly half your check.
Open a bank account.
You cannot open a bank account without presenting your passport and proof of address. This means you won’t be able to open an account until you have found a place to live. If your bills are in your landlord’s name, then you can present your PPS number, or if your employer has an account with that bank, then they can write a letter on your behalf (see bank for more details on this).
The most popular banks in Dublin would be either AIB or Bank of Ireland. I couldn’t see much difference between the two, however I read about some people having issues with Bank of Ireland so I went for AIB.
You did it! You are officially settled into your Working Holiday. But remember: it’s a working HOLIDAY. This means make sure you set some time aside to explore this beautiful country as well as its neighboring countries (especially considering how affordable it is to do so!).
To get to know the city better and also make a few friends along the way, I would recommend being a complete tourist in those first few weeks before you begin working. Do a few free walking tours, visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells, visit the Kilmainham Goal museum, walk along Grafton Street and around Temple Bar, visit the Guinness and Jameson factories, maybe even splurge on a tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher! Do all of the “cringy” tourist things and get your selfies. You are here on holiday, after all.
I hope this helped you guys! As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all. I’m so excited to continue sharing my experience with you all as the year goes on.
Happy Holidays & Safe Travels!
Stay kind x