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Dublin: What To Know Before You Arrive

The largest city in Ireland, Dublin is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for both tourists and expats. Life in Dublin is high-spirited, fulfilling, and modern. However, life in the city can get a bit confusing if you are not used to the Irish way of life! As the capital of Ireland, Dublin has a rich heritage, and at the same time is a contemporary, fashionable location.This multi-faceted city will never let you have a dull day. Dublin is a haven for all kinds of cultural and underground events, and has a full calendar full all year round. If you are artistic and like to socialize, the locals of this city and its atmosphere will delight you. If you are planning to move to this rewarding city, here are a few things that you should know beforehand.

Cost Of Living

Dublin is the most expensive place in Ireland. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey this year, which looked at 209 cities around the world, Dublin was placed at 47. The most expensive thing about the city is the rent. It is hard to find affordable housing here, which is a big problem for expats living in Dublin. If you are a single expat, consider looking for roommates so you can share the cost of rent and utility bills. Similarly, living near transport links and cooking meals at home rather than eating out will also save you a great deal of money!

Leap Cards

A Leap Card is a prepaid card that is usable on trams, buses and local railway lines in Ireland. This is a convenient way to pay for transport in not only Dublin but also Galway, Cork, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford. Leap Card fares are normally 20% cheaper than cash, which is a great investment in an expensive city like Dublin.

The quickest and easiest way to buy a Leap Card is over the counter at one of over 650 outlets all over Ireland. You can also buy the card online or at selected DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit system) ticket machines in the city. Using a Leap Card is very simple. Just buy the card, top it up with travel credit, and you’re done! There are a few ways to top up your card – you can set up an automatic direct debit with the auto top up feature, or you can load your travel credit or tickets at Leap Card payzone outlets or at Luas, DART and Commuter Rail ticket machines. Leap Card users in Dublin also benefit from smart discount features such as fare capping and the Leap 90 discount.

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How to Get Around

Dublin’s streets are filled with traffic, so it can sometimes be a little difficult to get around. As an expat, it can take a while to figure out the different means of public transport and what works the best for you. Here are a few modes of transport available in Dublin.


Dublin has an extensive network of buses through the city centre, the inner suburbs and the outskirts, so it’s really easy to get around. Most buses in the city have free Wi-Fi, and also have electronic signs and announcements that make it easier for you to know what the next stops are. The fares in these buses depend on how far you are travelling, but an important thing to know is that you need to have the exact amount of change for the tickets, and that paper currency is not accepted. If you do not have the exact number of coins, the driver will issue a printed change-receipt which can be redeemed at the Dublin bus head office. To avoid all the complications and hassle, it’s best to have a Leap Card to pay for your travels. Also, buses in Dublin do not pull over at bus stops by default – this is a quirky Dublin thing! You have to wave at the driver for the bus to stop, and if you don’t, the buses will simply drive by. This can be confusing for those not in the know!

DART – Dublin Area Rapid Transit

Train networks in the city are not as extensive as the buses. However, the DART suburban train is a pleasant way to travel from the city centre to as far as Bray. If you want to take a tour of the city, the train is the best option – it’s relatively inexpensive and offers some of beautiful views of the Dublin Bay. An average one-way ticket on the DART costs €2.5. The number of trains depends on the time of the day, but in general, you will find one roughly every 10 to 20 minutes. Trains operate from around 6am to midnight from Monday to Saturday, and 9:30am to 11pm on Sunday.


The modern, light, wheelchair-friendly tram system called LUAS has two lines – red and green. The green line travels southeast from Stephens Green to Sandyford and Bride Glen’s; the red line goes from Connolly Railway Station to the southwestern suburbs of Tallaght and Saggart. You will find validation machines at every stop, as LUAS mostly accepts Leap Cards for payment. These trams are really fast and come frequently. LUAS is usually the popular option for expats in Dublin, because these trams travel to common job hubs such as IFSC and Sandyford. There are further extensions that are planned and under construction at the moment, which will connect north and south Dublin. There is currently a 15-minute walk from the green line city terminus to the red line.


Dublin is one of the top ten bicycle-friendly cities worldwide, and cycling around the city can save you time and hassle. You do not have to stick to irregular bus timings or have parking meter restrictions, plus once you buy the cycle, transportation is free – you will save yourself a fortune! Another option is to rent a bicycle from various bike stands in the Dublin city centre that are marked ‘Dublin Bikes’. These bikes are extremely inexpensive. They are free for the first 30 minutes, and only cost 50 cents for the next hour. Expats in Dublin often rent or buy bicycles to get around town because of their affordability, time-saving and ease. Bikes are also good for the roads and the environment!

The Southside

The Southside refers to the part of Dublin that lies on the south of the River Liffey. The southern districts of the city are more expensive than the northern side. Some of the most expensive areas in Dublin are in the Southside, such as Ballsbridge, Sandymount and Sandycove. Monthly rental prices for one-bedroom apartments here are around €1,000, and three-bedroom apartments can cost up to €2,500. However, the Southside of Dublin is breathtaking and is decorated with wonderful street art. Between the Bernard Shaw pub and Newmarket Square, you will find many flea markets to explore. Dublin’s most popular and celebrated nightclub, the Copper Face Jacks, is on the Southside. If you are looking for scenic locations, vibrant pubs and top-notch restaurants, the Southside is for you.

The Northside

The part of Dublin that lies on the north of the River Liffey is called the Northside. More expats prefer to settle in the Northside because rent is much more affordable here. A one-bedroom apartment that would cost €1000 in the Southside is around €700 in the Northside. Also, hotels on the Northside are 31 percent cheaper per night than those on the south. The Northside is bright, bustling and fascinating. If you are ever at Smithfield Square, chances are there’ll be a festival or function happening. You could spend time wandering the markets on Moore Street, have a lazy beach day on Bull Island, or take a tipsy, happy tour of the Old Jameson Distillery. The Northside has as many beautiful things to offer as the Southside, plus more affordable housing!


Unfortunately, public health care in Ireland is not free for expats who have just arrived in the country. Since health care here is not universal, the medical care you receive will depend on your income. If you can afford private health insurance, that might be the best option for you. Before moving to Ireland, look for international insurance companies in your country that have coverage in Ireland. If you are a European citizen, bring a European Health Insurance Card to receive proper medical assistance. If you are planning to work in Ireland, the company that hires you is likely to pay for your health insurance or at least for consultations.

Work Permits

If you are a non European Economic Area (EEA) national, you will need an employment permit to be able to work in Ireland. However, this might not be the case if you have permission to remain for various reasons, such as being a student or having an Irish/EEA spouse or parent. Once you have a work permit and have started to work, you will have the same employment rights as Irish citizens. Work permit applications are made online, and you can apply for one after receiving an official job offer. Work permit applications from recruitment agencies are not accepted, so it will be best to apply yourself. Some employers may cover the cost of your work permit.

Essential Apps

As an expat, arriving newly in Dublin can be confusing and scary, but a smartphone can be your personal companion and save you from a world of pain! Here are a few apps that you could download on your phone to make life much easier in this new city.


You can use this app to book and check listings for movies, stand-up shows, plays, and any other events that might be happening around you. This is a go-to in Ireland for all things entertaining!

Dublin Bus

The Dublin bus apps are essential. These apps include a fare calculator, bus timings, and a route planner to make everything easier for you. Dublin’s great bus network makes it a popular choice of transport to get around, so these are useful for any resident of the city.

Irish Rails Or Luas Apps

With the Irish Rails app, you can plan your journeys, check on updates, delays and timings, as well as efficiently preparing for your travel. This app also includes timings and information for the DART inner city trains. Similarly, the Luas apps will keep you up-to-date on the tram network.


Looking for a place to live in Dublin is much easier with Daft.ie. This app lets you browse through available apartment shares, studio rooms, rents and neighborhoods. This app is one of the most popular in Ireland for homes, as it is reliable and saves time.

Time Out: Discover your city

Dublin has a really upbeat, lively night scene, and is a place that never runs out of things to celebrate. The Time Out app lets you check on all that’s happening near you, whether it be a cultural event, a nightclub, a theater or a much talked-about restaurant. You can find everything in one place and explore it at your leisure!

The capital city of Ireland is one the most beautiful places that you can choose to live in. The best part about this city and its people is that in no time, an expat will be made to feel at home by the warm, exuberant friendliness of the locals. This is the city of beer and tea, of brunch and hangover food. This city never sleeps and offers you a wonderful quality of life. No wonder so many expats who visit Dublin end up settling here. We hope you have a great time!

Have you lived in Dublin? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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