Is Ireland the best place to immigrate to?
Lately I have been getting a few emails about people looking into moving overseas, in particular, immigration to Ireland. And whilst I have this blog and I have shared a lot about how we made the move – so many people expect me to do all the heavy lifting in terms of researching if they can in fact move over. Erm, no sorry, I am not an immigration Ireland consultant or expert – I use this blog to share our experiences, hopefully they help the next person. But I am not really in the best position to do all your research for you – nor should you fully trust information you receive off the internet from a stranger. Having said that, I thought I would jot down 8 questions you should answer before you make the decision to move over. The sad reality is for many people, immigrating to Ireland might not be possible… I know that is sometimes hard to hear, especially with so many people moving all over the world every day – not everyone is able to make this move as easily as it looks. Because the truth is, it is not always easy.
Here are 8 questions as well as further research and links to read up on to help decide if you can actually move over:
1. What passport are you travelling on?
This really helps guide you on two important things: 1) if you can enter the country with or without a visa; 2) if you need a work permit or not. An important thing to note is that you cannot come to Ireland on a holiday visa and then look to find a job and get a work permit in the country. If you need a work permit, then you need a job offer before you can apply for a work permit, and before you can move over.
2. Can you work in Ireland?
Here are some points to consider, if you need a work permit, and what kind of work permit you are eligible for:
- Some industries are listed in the ineligible to apply for a work permit – meaning if you need a work permit you will not be apply for these jobs.
- If you are coming over with a General Work Permit this has two important points to consider: 1)If you are married, your spouse/dependents will need to wait 12 months before they can join you here in Ireland; 2) It will also mean that your spouse/dependents will not be allowed to work in Ireland without applying for their own work permit. Furthermore, a General Work Permit requires a labour needs test to be done by the employer; it also costs €1000 to process this type of work permit application.
- If you are intending on applying for a Critical Skills Work Permit, then you need to make sure that you have the relevant skills, experience and qualifications. A spouse of a critical skills work permit holder is also entitled to enter Ireland and work (this is from effect 6 March 2019).
- If hold a UK or EU passport, then you won’t need to get a work permit; your spouse may be entitled to apply for EUfam, however I do not know the paperwork or terms/conditions for this. Also, this may all change after Brexit.
- Ineligible Categories of Employment List
- Critical Skills List
- Types of Work Employment Permits Available in Ireland
- Check Current Processing Times for Work Permit Applications
3. Are there job opportunities for you?
Along with the ineligible list, some industries are at capacity here – meaning that employers would be able to find these skills through Irish and EU people without having to wait for someone who needs a visa. As much as this is hard to hear, employers in Ireland do seem to favour Irish or EU experience, especially if it is in roles that are seen as a bit more generic (take my role in marketing as an example – a lot of people have the necessary qualifications to do this role. I truly just got lucky that my employer saw me as valuable and skills as unique, but also it helped that I only needed a spousal visa which is free and a bit less of a hassle).
I get asked alot of about if XYZ jobs are plentiful in Ireland, and while I really and not in recruitment so I have no idea!! My first suggestion is to google ‘your role + Ireland’ and see what kinds of jobs opportunities look like in your field. Please don’t email me and expect me to know this answer for you!. Secondly, apply for jobs and see what the response is like – but know that 1) this will take a while, don’t expect it to happen instantly. 2) if you need a work permit, you might not get many responses, as the wait time to process applications takes nearly 15 weeks – some employers just won’t have the time to wait to fill a position.
Another question I get asked a lot is what recruitment agencies to look at… and my honest opinion about recruiters is that unless you are in a specialised field, where you find specialised recruiters, and you are looking to apply for a critical skills work permit – then recruitment agencies might be a good option for you… but if you require a general work permit, then it is not really worth applying for roles with recruiters. Recruiters are looking to fill positions quickly, and won’t want to put forward candidates that could take over 3 months to actually start working – unless their skills are incredibly specialised and unique. To find recruiters, I suggest you google search for this – I never found much luck with them.
4. Is Ireland Pet friendly?
Jack is part of our family, so we always knew we would bring him with us. So this was a big question for us, and perhaps it could be a question for you too! I have written two really good posts (if I do say so myself) on how to bring your pet over to Ireland, but also how to find a pet friendly place to rent. The short answer is that Ireland is and isn’t really pet friendly. Yes there are loads of parks and pet friendly places to visit with your pooch, but finding a home to rent that is pet friendly is quite challenging.
5. How much should I be earning to live comfortably in Ireland?
I have covered this in a previous post, but it is probably good to reiterate here…the reality is that the rental market is limited and incredibly overpriced. Depending on where you plan to work, you could choose to live close to work (with high rental costs) or further away from home (with high transport costs). I wrote this post about working out a budget you would need to live in Dublin as a guide to figuring out costs of living in Ireland. The reality is no one really can tell you a magic number on what you should earn to be able to live comfortably in Ireland – this depends on so many personal factors (lifestyle choices, savings, cost of living, etc) – so please don’t ask me to tell you if your XYZ salary is good enough to live here… I know from personal experience, we have been able to live off one salary, but that was not without its sacrifices, and I don’t think we would have managed to be able to do that indefinitely – just because we like to travel, and well now that we have a baby on the way – two salaries are better than one.
6. What kind of life would you have if you did take the job in Ireland?
People often focus on the weather in Ireland – yes, it does rain here, but that hasn’t really stopped us from being outdoors. The weather is only a small part to living here, a lot of people say that the although the winters are mild, so are the summers and that is probably an accurate description. What I love about the Irish is that, a little rain or overcast day doesn’t really stop them from getting out and doing things – back home, people would cancel a trip to the beach if there was one cloud in the sky (slight exaggeration but you get my point) – don’t let the weather stop you. Yes it gets dark early in winter (around 4pm) but in summer the sun sets close to 10pm! We had one unusually warm summer (summer of 2018) but mostly, its a few warm days, a few days with rain, and a lot of days that are overcast, but not too cold – kind of lukewarm.
Enough about the weather, what about making friends in Ireland? Truthfully, this has taken us a while – we have found Irish to be really similar to South Africans – same sense of humour, enjoy sports, enjoy a few pints – but they are also very family oriented – and it can be tricky to get invited into their social circles. However, having said that, the few irish friends we have made have been amazing – the most caring and giving kinds of people – they have honestly welcomed us into their homes and hearts and we are forever grateful to have met these friends, who have become like our family away from home. I think making friends in a foreign country is always going to be hard, especially if you work and are a bit older. But strangely, that is where we have made most of our friends, through work and through our neighbourhood/community. Being an expat, requires you to push yourself out of your comfort zone – you have to go out there and look for friends, they won’t always come straight to you. You could also do what I did which was search social media groups for expats, or people we would have things in common with. One of our main goals was to not only stick with fellow South Africans (because trust me, there are load of them here!) – we didn’t move all the way over here to be friends with only people from back home and reminisce about the ‘good old days’. Also, in some ways we are different to a lot of the South Africans we have met here (we tend to avoid talking negatively about back home) so we are a bit more selective with the kinds of friends we do keep here. Here is a blog post I wrote about how to make friends abroad.
What is there to do in Ireland? We have found that there are loads of things to do that involve being outdoors – parks, forests, hikes, walks along the canal – you name it – all free to explore, and pet friendly which means we get to go out as a whole family! There are also loads of festivals and markets that you can wander around without having to pay anything for. When we first arrived we got really creative with things to do that wouldn’t cost us heaps of cash, and we were surprised to find that there is quite a lot you can do that is free! Check out the links below to some of our fave tried and tested things to see and do in Dublin that won’t cost the earth. Then if you are someone who likes to eat and drink out (this can start getting very expensive) – there are loads of places to do that too!
- Dublin walks to do
- Day trips out of Dublin
- 20 things to do in Dublin for free
- 9 free museums you can visit
7. Can you travel around easily?
Ireland does have a bit of a public transport network – better than South Africa, but not as great as London… Public transport here in Ireland is predominantly train, bus, tram – you will find it pretty good in major cities (Dublin, Galway, Cork etc) but the ways that connect to the smaller towns and villages tends to thin out pretty quickly. In most cases, there might be a bus that goes through to the smaller towns, and in some cases you might even get a train – but this is a bit of a hit and miss.
When we first moved over, we lived in the city and for the first 2,5 years we lived without a car – and solely used public transport or rental cars (for when we wanted to get out of town). I honestly think the public transport is pretty good – it gets you from A to B, and if you planning a weekend away, you can book in advance and the tickets are a bit cheaper. Speaking with friends from other countries though, they reckon Dublin public transport is pretty shit… again, I think its what you make of it. Yes, its probably not going to be super accurate, it might take a while, and in some cases, it might not be cheap – but it will get you there… eventually 🙂
We recently bought a car, and to be honest, if we weren’t having a kid – I am not sure we would have gotten a car. Yes it has made my commute to work very easy, and now when we want to get away for the day or the weekend – we just hop in the car and go.. But cars are expensive things, and actually don’t think renting a car is all that bad in Ireland (plus don’t get me started on car insurance here!!). Ireland is a lot smaller than back home, and I dont think there needs to be this heavy reliance on every adult in the household owns a car – yes, we own one car, but I doubt we will ever be a two car household… at least we will try avoid this for as long as possible.
Another thing about travel in Ireland, is flights out of the country. You can be in the UK in under an hour flight, on a cheap RyanAir flight for under €60. Likewise, you can pretty get to most places in Europe for pretty cheap. Yes, as South Africans you will need to get visas to visit UK or Europe – but just the flexibility of booking a weekend away to another country is pretty novel idea – since South Africa is so far away from Europe, we would never really look at going over for under 2 weeks.
- Renting a car in Ireland
- Transferring your SA drivers license to an Irish one
- Search for cheap flights
- For accommodation we use: Booking.com or Airbnb
8. Can your family visit you in Ireland?
The last thing we looked at when deciding about moving over, was how easy it would be for our families to come and visit us. The great thing about Ireland is that it is not too far away from home (around 14 hour flight if you lucky!). But also, South Africans can visit Ireland without getting a visa to enter in advance. Yes, you do need to show where you are staying, and what you plan to do here (usually an invitation letter from us), but then our families have been allowed into Ireland and can visit for up to 90 days a year.
- Check if your family needs a visa to visit you in Ireland (under 3 months to visit family/holiday)
I hope this post is helpful to anyone looking at Ireland as a place to move over to and live. The reality is, it is not always as easy as it looks – but with a bit of research, a bucket load of patience, along with a positive attitude – everything is possible.
DID I MISS ANYTHING? WHAT OTHER QUESTIONS TO YOU HAVE ABOUT MOVING TO IRELAND?
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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