Thinking of living in Dublin for a while? The capital of Ireland is famous for its writers, its Guinness, the craic, & the friendly Dubliners and their way with words and jokes. But sadly the good times don’t come cheaply! You may have thought that since Ireland had such a terrible recession (and is only coming out of it slowly,) that the cost of living would perhaps be moderate. Not really; here are some figures to help you get an idea of costs
I’ve converted the euro to dollars, and rounded up or down a bit. At time of writing, $1.00 = €1.14. This is actually not too bad in regards to losing money converting your dollar; it has been worse for several years.
I’m a US ex-pat, and I lived in Dublin for 5 years, and my husband was born and raised there. Though we now live in the Kilkenny countryside, his friends & family live in Dublin still. A few examples of the rent they currently pay (Nov 2014) are:
In example 1 in Southside Dublin, it costs $1,800 a month for an unfurnished two bedroom, 2 bath 1970’s era apartment at the edge of an upscale area just outside the city centre. It is a 15 minute bus ride into the city centre at Temple Bar, $3. A taxi will also take about 15 minutes, and cost you $15.
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For example 2, on Dublin’s Northside, you would pay $1,250 a month for a 1 bedroom, 1 bath furnished 5yr old apartment in an ‘up and coming’ area which has a mix of arty folk and less well-off Dublin families. The light rail Luas line into the city centre at O’Connell Street will take you around 7 minutes and cost $2.00.
Compare these to the rental of a 4 bedroom, 4 bath house on an acre of land which is a 30 minute (non-rush hour!) drive away from the south city centre –$1,370 a month. But there is a downside to this; if you are unfortunate enough to have to drive in to the city at rush hour (7.30am to 10am & 3.30pm to 7pm) it can take about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Temple Bar. A taxi in costs $63, and the bus $3.80, taking about an hour.
Many of the newer apartments have electric heating, which can work out quite expensive. In the examples following, the electrical costs are without electric heating. Our electricity bill for 2 people in a small 2 bedroom home averages $75 a month; this includes running a washing machine, dryer & dishwasher. The average cost for the 4 bedroom free standing rural Dublin is around $190 a month. Many homes and apartments are poorly insulated so it is perhaps wise to avoid electric heating in larger and older premises.
If you are heating and cooking with gas, you’ll likely pay around $56-63 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment, and about $125 a month in our example of the rural Dublin house. Terry & I heat our small house with a wood/solid fuel stove, which runs hot-water radiators to heat the house. When we buy bags of coal they run an average of $25 each, and we would use 1-2 a week, depending on how cold it is & if we light the stove during the day as well as at night. Generally, we heat the house starting from October into April; 7 months.
Other household expenses such as cable TV start at around $38 for the basic package; our Sky TV is $58 a month for a HD television with no extra movie or sports packages. We don’t have a land line phone, but network 3 have the best mobile deals if you use a lot of data; if you have a phone already you can do Pay as You Go for $25 and get a good amount of call, texts, and 15GB of data. A package like mine which includes the above plus a top end phone is Bill Pay $56 a month on a 2 year contract.
In many, but not all, places in Dublin City you can get high speed broad band, with or without a TV & landline package. With all 3 of those, it is going to start at over $63 a month. In rural areas & in many small towns well outside of Dublin, the fixed line broadband is poor or non-existent. We use a mi-fi with 30GB allowance a month, download speed can be anywhere from 3-15mg. It does drop in & out fairly often, though. It costs $38 a month from Vodafone.
Going out in Dublin City can be great fun. Avoid the touristy Temple Bar area, as you will definitely pay the higher end of the prices there. A pint of beer costs between $6-9, a glass of wine from $7.50, and cocktails over €$12.50. A coffee will easily cost you €3 many places. Meals out vary widely of course, depending on what type of restaurant you choose. A fast food type meal at Boojum Burrito bar consisting of a quite large burrito and a drink is $9, while an early bird special at a nice mid-price restaurant runs about $30-35 for 2 courses. Regularly priced dinners are around $50 for 2 courses. Many people go to the nicer restaurants for lunch, to save money, as you often get similar dishes to dinner but at a better rate.
Happily, many museums and galleries are free, and you can catch smaller theatre, dance, and music performances at places like Project Arts Centre for just $6. Dublin has a thriving arts, events and festivals scene, so you needn’t ever be bored!
Adult cinema tickets generally start at $15, but off peak times can be gotten for $9-11. There are 2 art house cinemas. The IFI in Temple Bar and The Lighthouse in Smithfield. Adult prices at the Lighthouse are $9 before 5pm, $11 after, and the IFI’s are similar.
Food-wise, a good weekly shop for 2 can run about $90-125 a week if you shop the low price grocery shops such as Aldi or Lidl—they have quite good selections, and many products are Irish made. Tesco and others can be a good bit pricier, and we have pretty much stopped shopping there.
If you want to live in Ireland, but find Dublin too expensive, I’d recommend checking out Kilkenny City. A small medieval city, Kilkenny is also quite arts oriented, with lots of festivals, the National Craft Gallery, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Castle and other attractions. If you need some big-city vibe, Kilkenny is only an hour 45 min’s drive to Dublin city centre (non-rush hours,) or 1hour 1.15minutes by train (apprx $38 round trip.) You can shave a few dollars off of the Dublin prices for going out (Kilkenny is a good place for foodies to enjoy,) but rental is where the big savings is. A 1 bed, 1 bath furnished, new apartment is $810 a month, 2 bedroom furnished apartments are going for $930 a month, and you can find older 3 bedroom, 1 bath, house in Kilkenny city for $930, too.
We moved from Dublin to Kilkenny 10 years ago, and we are very happy we did! If you have any questions about Ireland, do give me a shout and I’ll try to answer them.
This post is by Susan FitzGerald an enthusiastic ‘adopted Irishwoman’ with a grá for arts & culture, the outdoors, food, and travel. An ex-pat American, Susan has been living in Ireland for almost 20 years, and writes on her own site at Vibrant Ireland and Travel: You can follow her on twitter at @VibrantIreland and follow on Facebook at Vibrant Ireland and Travel.
PS: gra is the Irish for love.