Dublin has become a very international and multi-cultural city in recent years and many expats call Ireland’s capital home.
In this Ask an Expat series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for anyone thinking about moving abroad and information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat lives in.
Expat life in Dublin, Ireland
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Name: Jennifer (aka Dr. J)
Home town: Buffalo, New York, USA
“For me, the travel bug bit later than it does for a lot of people. I didn’t travel outside of North America until my mid-20s. However, ever since I caught that bug, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time.
It was a goal of mine to live abroad for nearly a decade before I was able to make it happen for myself. I was working for Google in California when an opportunity came up for a limited number of people to do an expat assignment for one year at one of our international offices. I thought: “Now’s my chance!” So I applied for a role in Dublin and a role in London and landed the one in Dublin. I moved to Dublin with my husband site unseen; we had never set foot in Ireland before moving there. We figured that for a year, it was low risk to take the opportunity. The move definitely worked out well for us. We’re still living in Dublin 8 years later and loving every minute of it.”
“Moving to Dublin was about seizing the opportunity to work abroad. I didn’t really care exactly where I went, I just wanted the chance to experience living outside of the US. I didn’t know much about Dublin before moving there. In fact, when I applied for jobs in Europe, I really wanted to work in London. I had this impression that London was one of the great cities of the world and anything else would be second best.
But, getting the job in Dublin turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. The city is just so livable. You can walk from one end of the city to the other in 30 minutes. There is an amazing culture and music scene. There are tons of great restaurants and pubs and lots of craft coffee shops.”
What do you like about Dublin?
“I love how accessible Dublin is. We don’t have a car and get around mostly on foot. If we’re feeling lazy, we can take the bus, DART (train), Luas (lightrail), or even a taxi.”
What do you dislike about Dublin?
“Dealing with the unpredictable weather can be a challenge. Ireland has a reputation for constant rain but it’s really not like that. Most of the time, it rains for a while, then it’s sunny, then the wind starts to blow. They say if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes! You need to be prepared for anything though. Carrying a light jacket, umbrella, and sunglasses can definitely weight you down at times.”
What is your favorite thing to do in Dublin?
“I love that there are so many great coffee places in Dublin (the perfect activity to combine with a walk along the River Liffey or the Grand Canal). We love taking a leisurely walk to one of several locally-owned coffee places like 3FE, Art of Coffee, Lolly and Cooks, Bear Market, or TwoFifty Square.”
What is your favorite place to hang out (restaurant, bar, etc) in Dublin?
“I like Beggars Bush pub in Ballsbridge. Some might describe the place as an ‘old man’s pub’ but I just love the old school ambiance. They also pour an amazing Guinness at non-tourist prices. I’ve gotten a pint here for less than 5 EUR. In the famous Temple Bar, a Guinness can set you back more than 6 EUR.
If drinking isn’t your thing, consider heading to Kilkenny Shop in Dublin city centre on a Sunday afternoon. They have a lovely not-too-fussy self-service cafe upstairs with live jazz and bluegrass musicians to accompany your brunch.”
What is the expat community like in Dublin?
“Walking down the street in Dublin, you’ll hear a ton of different languages being spoken. Because many international companies have their European headquarters in Dublin, you’ll find many expats in Dublin, coming from all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Many people are here for a couple of years and are interested in taking advantage of all that the city has to offer. There is never a shortage of people interested in going out for a pint after work or on the weekend.”
Any tips for moving to / living in Dublin?
“If you move to Dublin, definitely check out the different interest groups on Meetup.com. New and Not So New in Dublin is a great place to start. There are more than 20 thousand members and the organizers host events for every taste. It’s a great way to meet expats in Dublin and get plugged into the local scene.”
Any resources you found useful during the process of moving to and/or building a new life in Dublin?
- Citizens Information has detailed information about getting a visa and working in Ireland.
- Daft.ie is the go-to resource for finding an apartment in Dublin.
- boards.ie is great for answering any random questions that crop up when moving to or living in Dublin.
- SubscribeDublin is a site that my husband created to help people find out what’s happening in Dublin. It’s frustrating sometimes that there are so many cool events happening in the city that aren’t well-publicized.
Is there something you just have to see or do when you are in Dublin?
“Check out the colorful Georgian doors around Merrion Square. They are so Instagrammable 🙂 If you visit Merrion Square on a Sunday afternoon, walk around the fence on the edge of the park and admire the open air art gallery.”
About Jennifer – expat in Dublin
Jennifer (aka Dr. J) is the voice and photographer behind the Sidewalk Safari travel blog. She is an American expat and part-time travel blogger living in Dublin, Ireland with a busy full time ‘day job’ as a project manager at Google. Married to husband Scott for over 20 years, she’s been writing about their travels since 2008. Jennifer’s goal is to inspire people who have a demanding job to realize that it is possible to achieve work-life balance and travel extensively, making use of every business trip and vacation day to explore the world.
Dublin is the capital of Ireland, located on the country’s east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey and bordered on the South by the Wicklow Mountains. Its vibrancy, nightlife and tourist attractions are renowned and it is the most popular entry point for international visitors to Ireland.
Dublin is disproportionately large for the size of Ireland with close to two million people in the Greater Dublin Region (there are less than 5 million people in the entire country!). The city center is, however, relatively small and can be navigated on foot, with most of the population living in suburbs.
Dublin was listed by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) as a global city, with a ranking of “Alpha-“, which places it amongst the top thirty cities in the world. It is a historical and contemporary center for education, the arts, administration, economy and industry.
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