Markus Wahl, Cork

Who are you?

My name is Markus, I am a 39 years old professional, originated and grown up in Austria, living and working there till 2009, the last years in our House in lower Austria near the capital Vienna.

I´m married since 16 years and we have 2 kids, but in the meantime since 7 month separated to my wife. Our kids already grown up and live their own life, one of them also here in Ireland, where I´m living now since 2009.

Ever since I worked there in IT and Helpdesk Support roles mostly in a Supervisor or Team Leader Role and involved in many IT Projects.We also owned for 5 years a own Shop from the Printshop Franchise, doing digital printing, manufacturing small printed presents and gifts and as well textile printing but when we decided to go to Ireland we sold this business, because the market for that also becomes more and more worse.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

At the middle of the year 2009 we made our final decision to move to Ireland and getting settled there and the main reason for it, how could it be other then that, we falling in love with this country during our stays in our many holidays here in various areas from Ireland.

Although there is a huge difference between being on holiday somewhere and living and working there, my wife was so in love with the country and also her asthma was a lot better here so we decided to go here.

After reviewing possible job options and we don’t wanted to live in the capital in Dublin, we decided to go to Cork, where a lot of multinational company´s offer jobs for foreign language speakers mainly German, French, Spanish, Russian, so our Plan was to get easily a Job within one of this company´s.

We also decided to make it a bit safer so I was the first one going to Ireland and settle up the basic things like work, house or apartment and all the basic needs and my wife actually came 6 month later to Ireland.

Even it made us separated for some time, which we hoped also helped our not so good relationship anymore, it was the much safer approach, because at no time we could run out of job, money and all the other necessary things you need in your daily life.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Well the main challenge for me was clearly the lack of English knowledge. Of course I had English in School but that was a very long time ago and in my work life in Austria I barely needed English and so when I started to apply for similar positions as I had in Austria I realised very fast, that will not go well with your horrible lack of the native language there, even not for German jobs, because the company language is still English.

But as my wife has the big dream to come here and I hoped it will also fix our relationship (now I know I was wrong assuming that), I decided to step down and take the job I can get, which is most likely as foreigner in the customer support field in a multinational company.

I managed to get a job as normal Customer Support Agent in a multinational gaming company and even I stepped back to an entry level job, most of this jobs are better paid here as in most areas in Europe, although the living costs in Ireland of course also much higher.

Another huge challenge, maybe a lot not think about on moving here was taking our pets (we had 3 dogs) with us. As UK and Ireland having the Pet Travel Scheme and your pets need quite a lot tests and vaccination requirements, in fact, the normal vaccinations additionally rabies vaccination not younger then 6 month ago and also a blood test called “Titer” to verify the rabies vaccination is effective.

A good source for info´s about that you can find here for example: www.pettravel.com. Also bringing 3 pets via a flight for example in the country is ridiculous expensive (around 6-800 Euro per pet), so we searched for alternative which resulted in driving with the car through Austria, Germany, Belgium, France and going with the Ferry then to Ireland, a 36-48 hour journey, depends how fast you are.

How did you find somewhere to live?

Well in our case, more my case because first I was alone here in Ireland, it was very easy. The Company who hired me gave us a Agency beside which helps us to get the main things you need that you can work here in Ireland, like the formalities for the PPS Social Number on the Social Welfare Office, Bank Account and also helped us to find accommodation.

But honestly finding in Ireland a place to live is quite easy, lots of houses and apartments are waiting to be rented and if it is too expensive for you to rent a house/apartment alone, a lot of offers for sharing flats are outside there.

On sites like daft.ie or myhome.ie are a lot of offers, because Ireland has just 3,6 million people and lots of empty houses, apartments, flats and also business places for rent.

In towns like cork with a lot of multinational company´s and approx. 200.000 citizens you find easily a flat for 2-300 euros shared or a house for 600 euros, depends on your standards you set.

In my case I got after 3 weeks living in a B&B a nice house 10 minutes from work for 900 euro cold rent, nicely fitted with furniture and all appliances I need, with 3 bedrooms, living room, big kitchen and dining room and a small garden in front and back, so quite a good house.

In the meantime I live a bit more outside Cork going with my car to work on a 10 minutes drive and pay now 700 for a similar size but with a huge garden.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Where I currently live, there mostly Irish people around me, but of course due to the fact I work in a multinational company I have to do with around 500 expats day by day, all from nearly every country in Europe, but mainly Germany, France, Spain, Russia and a lot of UK guys as well.

We also share some events together from time to time such as sport activities or just going out for a pint in a pub and as we work in language teams, I honestly speak the most of my time in work German rather then English.

From my experience, most are very happy with the life here in Ireland, foremost young people because the salaries are much higher then for example in Germany and if you live shared and don’t spend too much money you can save a lot for the future what ever everyone will do at a later stage of his life.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Since the starting I came here to Ireland and my really worse knowledge of English, I always tried to get in touch with locals as much as possible.

Irish people are very friendly mostly and also forgive you huge lacks of knowledge of the English language and all my interactions from just sitting for example by Costa (a coffee chain in UK/Ireland) and talking with the staff and people there helped me a lot to get in touch with local people and improve my English to a usual business level in a fluent manner within my time here.

Also as mentioned where I live, my neighbours all Irish and as I like the altitude of the Irish folks, I always try to have a lot if interactions with them and in fact I have more BBQ´s or other activities with locals then with people speaking my language here from my company.

Till now I honestly never encountered someone of the locals here shouting at me or ranting, most of them quite relaxed and when you come from a country like Germany or Austria where all always runs so fast and in a stressful manner, you will very fast see how slow it is here in all areas of the daily life and how relaxed.

What do you like about life where you are?

What I most like about my life here, are clearly 2 things, the Irish folks and the weather. Even I like sometimes hot summers and laying on beach, the fact that you here have not such a cold winter or hot summer like in Austria I really love on this country.

Ireland is also, even you work here and have not so much time as usual in a vacation stay, a very, very beautiful country, all over green grass, fields and huge space, plenty of fresh air, even in the cities and foremost mostly very friendly people, they not shy to interact with you or help you.

I have a much more stress less life here as before in Austria and even I have not really the job I totally like, which I am working on, I enjoy my life here a lot I would say and for people they like the Irish weather and not afraid of lots of rain I can just recommend them this country.

When it comes to the weather here, of course, like also in UK it rains a lot throughout the year, but what I really like here is people are not getting angry when the weather is bad, it’s a part of their life and even it rains on some days every now and then, the people still not running around with sulked faces. People say here: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 10 minutes” and it´s true.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Well what I mostly don’t like on my expat life is clearly that I not working anymore in the job field I worked in Austria and it is sometimes hard to get me motivated, on the other side that is something I work on and you can work up here the ladder same as you can do that in your home country, it just takes maybe a bit longer on huge multinational companies, but this is clearly a thing I don’t like so much and a lot of people going abroad to live and work there facing such situations I guess.

Another part I will also mention is the enviousness of some Irish people, mostly young locals. Of course I can understand it because for Irish locals it´s sometimes very hard to find a job. The unemployment in Ireland is pretty high and they don’t understand that you don’t take their jobs away because most people here are hired because of their native language skills, which a Irish local in 99,9 percent anyways not can provide.

Beside that and maybe that some things are really expensive I don’t find anything what I really would dislike here, as I mentioned I am actually very pleased with my life here.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

My advice to everyone who will come here, learn English with that I mean learn really to speak fluently English so you can deal with all kind of situations here, especially Job Interviews.

The next thing is also to not go here just like that without planning or anything, it is not a country where you get a Job just like with landing on the airport and getting hired. If you not have customer support skills or other fields they are on demand here and don’t speak a foreign native language the company´s here looking for, it is really hard to get a job, because a lot of Irish locals waiting for them.

If you plan to live and work in Ireland I would really advise everyone to apply first for a job through the common job portals like jobs.ie where all the multinational and big company´s list their job vacancies and in most cases you can also get hired via Skype interview or maximum one flight here for a personal one.

What I did was at the time I came here to apply for several jobs and moved all personal interviews to a 2-3 day timeframe, flew here and stayed the days in a nice B&B and getting my Interviews done, from 5 Interviews 3 was successful and I could then decide between 3 Jobs and took that one I liked most of course.

Also very important if you will really enjoy your life here, communicate and mingle with the locals, nearly all very communicative and friendly people and even I don’t drink really alcohol, I can tell you hundreds of pages from stories I encountered in pubs or other places with locals.

I also would recommend to just go and live here if you really like the weather and the culture, Ireland is still a catholic country and many things running slower or in a other way then in your home country and if you hate rain for example it will annoy you throughout the day.

What are your plans for the future?

When I think about my plans for the future so in the last year a lot has changed about that, I got separated quite a while ago and waiting for my divorce, which is in Ireland by the way quite expensive and I also fall in love with a woman from the other side of the world, so my plans here have changed a lot.

And I would like to stay in Ireland and live with my new partner here, because I love the country and I am working since I am here my way up again in the company where I work, so of course I will try to stay here and I save money every month to buy soon a house here in Ireland, because a mortgage is not really more expensive then renting and after working a while here easy to get and foremost I like to have my own house here.

For me personally I don’t have the wish to go back to Austria and since my parents already passed away a long time ago not really much connections there anymore. I enjoy my life here a lot. But of course plans and things can change and as I am always open to new things who knows what will definitely happen, for my retirement I mainly plan to stay then half the time in Ireland and half the time in Philippines but there is still a long way to go.

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