Got A Question About Working Holiday Visas? Some things to keep in mind when you are information gathering!

It has come to my attention that there are quiet a number of blog posts and forum posts out there from WHV holders, including potential holders. I am also seeing threads created in general expat/immigration type of forums.

The issue with obtaining WHV information online (outside of what’s on the consulate), and that includes my blog, is that you don’t know if this info is relevant to you.

In addition, the main issue about creating threads looking for advice in forums is that frankly, many of the commentators out there are not at all familiar with the WHV.  You then run the risk of getting advice that’s just completely-out-there-wrong.

If you are looking for information about WHV, I highly recommend that you get information from current and past WHV holders.  WHV is a very specific and unique visa category and many people are not familiar with the nuances involved in this category.

As a current and past holder of working holiday visas for Canada, the UK, Ireland and Germany (as of May 2017!), I know that while I do look for advice, I’ve also found advice that I know is either inconvinient, or incorrect.

For example, I have written some blog posts preparing for my move to Germany (preparation, apartment) and doing these have made the process smooth for me.  There are posts out there that talk about not getting your visa until after arrival – which would make things unecessarily difficult for you since there is the added issue of finding housing and potential risk of getting your paperwork wrong.

I also recommend finding and securing an apartment online.  Now, someone replied back to me saying that there are scams online.  Yes, I am completely aware of these scams (I have even reported some myself), and at the same time, I also know of several people who were scammed even after viewing the apartment in real life.  Just have your common sense and wits about you when making these types of decisions.

Anyway, I just thought to write this post in case someone out there is looking for WHV info.

Working holiday visas does not necessarily mean unskilled work!

There is a common misconception that people on working holiday visas are undertaking unskilled work. There is also the common misconception that only unskilled work is available for those on working holiday visas.

In some cases, this may be the reality but it is completely dependent on your skills, aptitude, attitude, flexibility, CV-writing skills and interviewing skills.  Not only that, but it also helps to have good interpersonal skills when working with global teams and different types of people. You get an added bonus for being able to obtain skilled work if you’ve had previous industry experience in the field, if you’ve attained education (including certifications), your ability to prepare for the job market in the area and also the job market in that particular area.

Skilled work is also not in any specific domains.  Some people will say that technical roles will land you the most opportunities but I’ve found cases that span across other many industries – the arts, not-for-profit/charities, travel, entertainment, media, advertising and more.

About me

I’ve done highly skilled work on the two working holiday visas that I was on – one in marketing in the UK which led to an award for the work and a lot of industry/global experience.  Another in software SaaS for a US/Canada company while based in Toronto and after doing a career and industry change. Both opportunities also included additional educational opportunities – paid courses (including a paid course offered by University College London) and ability for me to easily attend meetups and industry events.  On my 3rd working holiday visa (Ireland) I was interviewing for skilled work opportunities before settling on my current role which is closely aligned with my professional interest and I am also currently pursuing certification in the field also.

In all the countries, I’ve had no issues getting interviews for the skilled work though some didn’t want to talk further once they find out that my visa was temporary. Ireland was challenging because Australians can only work for 6 months but I came across short term contracts in software companies. Germany may have the additional challenge of being able to speak German but so far I don’t see this as a dealmaking obstacle.

It’s all about preparations

There’s a few ways to start reaching out and do your job search before the move to give yourself a head start:

Tips and inspiration for those on short-term, temporary work/resident visas

In addition, make sure to also read up on my other entries on other ways that you can prepare – such as housing, banking and more.

Thoughts on the application process for the Irish Working Holiday Visa

I decided to move from Canada (where I was under the working holiday visa there) to Ireland under a working holiday visa programme.

  • You are required to show up in person at the Irish embassy in Australia but this was not possible.  I was able to get my passport sighted and signed by the Australian embassy (there was a fee involved) and from there use it as part of my application.
  • You needed to fill in a form with your plans during your stay in Ireland and submit as part of the application.
  • There will be other papers required.  I usually go to the bank and have it stamped by them just to verify the documents.  I didn’t want anyone coming back disputing any of my documentation.
  • The process to approve was really quick, though considering the fact that I’ve had to mail the package to the Irish embassy in Canberra.  What delayed this by many weeks was that they had to send my package to my address in Australia as they couldn’t send it to a non-Australian address.
  • The contact that I had (Ann) was very wonderful and patient with all the questions that I have! I’ve had a couple of instances where embassies don’t even bother answering emails… so a huge applause/bonus to the people at the Irish embassy for being responsive.
  • What made my application more delayed than usual was that the package was held up by customs in Vancouver when it was mailed from Australia to Ireland.  I ended up having to rebook my flights – though luckily, I was given a full refund of my booking when I explained them my situation.  Believe it or not, I ended up getting my package on the day after I rebooked my flights.
  • One thing to note with the fee is that the embassy site didn’t include the fee for your GNIB card which is required if you are planning to stay for more than a few months – which is the reason for the visa in the first place.  The border officer also stamped me to ‘stay’ in Ireland for a month to get my GNIB appointment even though the next available day was in 6-7 weeks – it ended up not being an issue but this was a big disconcerting at first.  I have a blog post dedicated to it here.

Overall, Ireland and living in Dublin has been really wonderful.  It has been a culture shock (!) moving from Toronto to Dublin.  From the roads, to the housing, to the shops, to the Irish culture (ballads in pubs while drinking Guinness pints and eating Guinness shepherd’s pie!) and all the history of Ireland.  I was already here for a few weeks four years before and much has changed since then.

Tips for decisions around international medical and travel insurance

Despite living in three countries since 2012, my total spend with travel insurance has been less than usual typical insurance that would cost about $1000 per year (well, based on the criteria that I have added). How was I able to keep my costs down? Below are some tips that I have to keep the costs down.  Please note that these tips may not apply to your situation since it’s completely dependent on factors like your situation or circumstance, your nationality, your employer, your current country of residence, and your travel plans.

Another thing to note is that the requirements of someone on a holiday or short-term travel is going to be different to my own requirements.

Research reciprocal health care agreements

On my first move (the UK), I didn’t purchase travel insurance knowing that as an Australian, I am under the reciprocal health care agreement.  I was living in the UK under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility, so I would be under this agreement throughout the duration of my visa.

Australians are covered under these reciprocal health care agreements for Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands).  More details are found here.

Now, the details in the reciprocal health care agreements will vary.  For example, in Belgium you are covered for medical treatment by GPs and specialists but you’ll need to pay between 25% to 40% of the cost.  However, in Ireland your visits to the GP are not covered.  Since I’ve been to visits to the GP here in Ireland, I am able to make a claim to my travel insurance for those visits.

Are you covered by your employer?

Employer benefits can include health, medical, dental and even travel insurance.  Make sure to read the fine print – for example, one of the benefits included travel insurance but it was only relevant to permanent residents and citizens.  Therefore when I travel outside of the country, I purchase travel insurance issuing my residence as my new country.

Are you considered a resident and eligible for health care covered by the province / state / county / country?

If you have a home base to travel from, this means that you usually stay in a particular province, state, county or country for a longer period of time.  You may be considered a resident and thus you are eligible for certain benefits.  For example, if you are a resident in a province or territory for x months, you are then eligible for certain health care benefits.

Be very careful of potential crossovers with your insurance due to these health care agreements (and any other reasons that an insurance provider will deny a claim!)

As I mentioned above, as an Australian I have the reciprocal health agreement.  I am able to make a claim for GP visits in Ireland, however if those visits to the GP were in Belgium my claim may be affected.

Take into consideration any change of circumstance and do research up front

For about three months, I had triple coverage – I was covered under my 1) employer’s medical/health benefits, 2) covered under travel insurance and by that time I had stayed in a province long enough to be a resident eligible for 3) provincial health cover.

Of course, I can’t have known this in advance – I’ve had a change in travel plans which opened up new opportunities.

When it was time to renew, I decided not to renew.

If you think your circumstance is going to be like the above, you are better off purchasing insurance in smaller lots

Since I am covered under various other agreements, when I travel to a country or region that is not covered, I only purchase travel insurance in the duration the duration of the trip.

With all the avenues that you have, should you even look into travel insurance?

The thing here is that I am probably biased.  I haven’t had major issues that have ended up with me touting the benefits of travel insurance.

In additional, travel insurance should not be confused with international medical or health care insurance.

Conduct price comparisons of insurance plans

There can easily be differences in the price you pay depending on where you’re travelling to, who you are (your nationality), what you’re planning to do and what else you need insured. In the end, there is no standard insurance that’s going to apply for everyone.  Don’t rely on someone’s recommendation of a provider or a plan – take the time to read and understand the plan before committing to the insurance package.

And last but not least, before doing a final purchase, check to see what the limitations are for the travel insurance provider.  

Now let’s look at other options of minimizing your budget in travel insurance…

Build liquid reserves

Start focusing on developing a liquid safety net.  A highly liquid (ie cash in savings) is a good net to focus on.  For example, even if I am covered under various reciprocal health care agreements, the coverage still involves paying for public hospital care (in Ireland), or purchasing in advance and being reimbursed later.  Even if your passport was stolen (and even then there are conditions to be met) you still need the cash to cover accommodation and travel disruptions.

Focus on prevention

It is better to be taking preventative steps and build better situational awareness.  Similar to health and wellness, being proactive in prevention is better than dealing with a health or medical fallout.  Wear your seat belts and don’t drink and drive/swim.  Eat better, exercise, go out in the sunshine.  Don’t walk into large demonstrations.  Don’t flash expensive stuff.  Whenever I change locations (ie hotel to taxi) I do The Check which is to check that I have my phone, wallet and passport on me.

Know that travel insurance providers only have the typical traveller in mind

If you are an expat, doing long-term (ie 10+) travel or anything like that then you are not the typical traveller they have in mind.

It is also dependent on travel preferences.  Someone going on a $8000 cruise will definitely want comprehensive travel insurance.

Ultimately…insurance also depends on you.

Right now, the way that I have set up has provided me ‘just enough’ piece of mind while maintaining my current budget.  However, my life circumstance and situation may completely change.  I’ll see how things go for the time being!


End of year finance check

Moving expenses from Toronto to Dublin

Moving countries usually rock the boat when it comes to personal finance. Dealing with all sorts of fees, making sure services like mobile contracts are all paid for and cancelled, buying new items, visa fees and other related costs, cost of flights and luggage, the list just go on and on.

I decided to sit down one night and keep track of all incomings and outgoings during the ‘approximate’ time of moving.

Continue reading End of year finance check

How to create a private limited company in Ireland

The first time I obtained an Australian Business Number (ABN for short) was when I was 16 when I first started freelancing. An ABN is required if you are working as an individual sole trader.

Now based in Ireland, I’ve found myself researching into similar bodies that I can form under.  In Ireland, registrations for these types of bodies are overseen by the CRO or the Companies Registration Office.  After some research, I’ve decided that the best body to form under my circumstance is via a private limited company limited by shares.

Registration is straight-forward to follow and you can also engage in services that can streamline the process.  These are not ‘umbrella companies’ or a personal limited company but rather yourself and at least one other Company Director create a company and follow through with the required documentation.


To set up, you can follow the directions at the CRO or you can work with accounting firms that can aid in streamlining the registration process.

You’ll be required to fill in the required paperwork with your details.

Being a Company Secretary and Company Director

If you are a non EEA-National, you will need to partner with an Irish national to be a Company Director.  Private limited companies require at least two directors, one of which must be an Irish national.

Further requirements for being a Company Secretary and Company Director are also laid out by the CRO and ODCE (Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement).

Tax Rates

One of Ireland’s biggest advantages is that for limited companies, they qualify for corporation tax at 12.5%.  This taxation rate (along with other advantages) is a reason why many companies are setting up their EMEA headquarters in Ireland and also helps aid in encouraging start-up companies.

Another item is that, when I compare the ability to form a limited company here in Ireland versus elsewhere in Europe, I find that Ireland wins in terms of ease of formation and other associated benefits.

Send the documentation

Documents must be sent to the CRO.

Once I’ve sent through my documentation, the confirmation from the CRO was quick and they supplied a digital copy of the A1 certificate and the Articles of Association and Memorandum.  Please note that they are now referred to as the Constitution.

Business Banking

Once that is supplied, you can also go ahead and create a business banking account. Banks have different requirements in terms of the documentation that they require for identification/KYC requirements and it is a good idea to arrange a phone call with the Business Advisor regarding the paperwork.  This is very important if you are a non Irish national.

And more to come…

This is just the very beginning of the private company formation stage in Ireland, there are a number of items to look into also such as taxation and accounting.

Recently moved to Ireland or planning to move? Tips and advice – Bank, Housing, Work and More

I am aiming to dedicate as much time as I can writing about my experience under the WHV (working holiday visa) programs.  Even if you are not planning to be in the program, you can still read on:

About me

I’m Australian and I am currently in Ireland on a working holiday visa. For Australians, the arrangements allows me to work for 6 months and live up to 12 months.  I’ve been working and living across a few different countries since 2012 and this is my third – the first being for the UK (2 year visa) and second being Canada (2 year visa).  The biggest difference is the timeframe and this difference has made things quiet a challenge!

My professional background is in tech and marketing.

My Irish Working Holiday Visa Process


I have been in contact with the Irish DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) since early this year enquiring about my visa application.  At that time, there was a stipulation that applicants must be in Australia.  Since I was residing in Canada at the time, this would be inconvenient.  However, I was able to send my application to the Irish embassy in Australia after having my passport sighted at the Australian consulate in Toronto.  I mailed my application mid August, and had a response that my application was successful within about three weeks which was early September.  Despite this, they still had to mail my documents which took another few weeks.

The application process was really straightforward.  The biggest irk I had been a recipient of was the lateness of receiving my documents.  My documents ended up arriving on the day of my flight to Dublin.

Job hunting before arriving in Dublin

After my work authorization was approved and before my documents arrived, I decided to have a look at the job ads.  Keep in mind that unlike many of the expats that move, they generally do things the other way around – they obtain the job offer and visa first and then relocate.  There were quiet a few for Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick.  This is pretty much the first time I have ever looked at the job market in Ireland.  My first impression – discomfort.  I compared the availability of work to what is available in Canada.  But the discomfort somehow subsided.  In terms of volume, it won’t be like the much bigger Canadian (and overall, North American) markets.  I took a few tentative steps at applying at received responses back.  So far, so good.  I slowly warmed up to the prospect of looking for work in Ireland. I was initially going to move early 2017 and after the Canadian winter but decided sooner rather than later is a good time.

House hunting before arriving in Dublin

I had a list of areas to narrow down the search.  The plan was to arrange viewings within 1-3 weeks of first contact.  I did get responses back, but the viewing dates that they offered was almost immediate – they only have a few days’ notice.  I decided to wait until I arrived.

Getting to Dublin


Flying to Dublin from Toronto was very straight-forward and I had a 13 hour stop-over in St John’s.  I actually wanted to have two stop overs – one in Halifax and another in St John’s as my last leg of Canadian travel. However things got really busy in the lead up to my flight and there was no way I could have enjoyed the trip.  I couldn’t wait to land in Dublin.

I did manage to grab one last box of Tim Horton’s donuts as a gift!

Arrived in Dublin! Now settling in…


You will need to register and obtain your GNIB card.  Underneath the new system, you can be caught waiting several weeks for an appointment.

Since registration is now allowed prior to arriving in Dublin, make sure to do this as soon as you arrive.  Here’s a writeup of my experience with the system.

You will also need to apply for your PPSN.

Bank account

One of the irks that I came across when opening a new bank account is proving that my new address is in this country.  I recommend calling or approaching the bank to see what types of documents that they accept.  I don’t recommend reaching out online or relying on unofficial information.

Once your bank account is sorted, it should be a lot more straightforward in setting up a paper trail to prove that you are now living in Ireland.  A few other entries out there (such as have other ideas to show proof of address.

Housing (including utilities, water, gas, etc)

Housing in Dublin is a very tricky thing to navigate.  If your main priority is maintaining a standard of living in newly built and modern houses and/or houses that you find in capital cities in Australia or in areas in Canada I highly recommend doing a lot of research into the housing in Dublin.  Having lived in London, I had an inkling of what to expect with housing in Dublin, but even then I was still surprised.

When I first arrived in London in 2012, someone said that it is easier to find a job in London than it is to find housing.  I can say definitely that it is far easier to find a job in Dublin than it is to find housing here.  The main difference is that in London, while there is a lot of competition for housing but there are varying gradients of housing that you have access to.  In Dublin, there is a lot of competition for housing and very few varieties.

Even if I threw a lot of money into the rent here, it’s still not going to be enough. The cost to rent here defies common sense – the price is just not because the quality is better, the location more convenient or anything like that.  It’s simply high because of the shortage of housing units in Dublin.

Fortunately, my housing is already sorted out before I arrived here, I don’t have much to offer in terms of further advice on housing in Dublin.  Since I am only here for up to 12 months (and can only work for up to 6 months) getting a place to stay would be a mammoth task should I be required to move.

Showing proof of address

If you are not sure that your proof of address document is going to be accepted, I highly recommend getting in touch with the business or organization first.

If it’s a government organization, they usually have their requirements stated on the website.


Dublin has a lot of choices in terms of shopping and outside of the city centre, there is also the Dundrum shopping centre near the Rathmines.  You will run into a lot more goods from Europe which is a detail that I am really enjoying when I compare to the choices available here versus what is available in Canada and Australia.

If you don’t have winter items at hand you can grab thermals, fleece blankets, and other winter wear at Penneys or Marks & Spencers.  You can bulk up on winter clothes at those places and also TK Maxx (kind of like Winners in Canada).  There are also a lot of other department stores and brands – House of Fraser (high-end), Brown Thomas (high-end), BT2 (high-end), Debenhams, Dunnes, Arnotts and a lot of other known brands.  I already brought with me my winter clothes from Canada.

For groceries, I like Aldi, Lidl, Marks and Spencer and Tesco.

If you shop online keep in mind that you also have to pay those additional customs and other duties and fees if you are shopping outside of the EU.  Here’s a writeup from here.


A majority of my plugs are North American and I have a lot of electronics and hardware with me.  In terms of voltage difference, not much of an issue so long as it can do dual voltage.

You can go to Maplin and get a power charger cable with the UK/Ireland plug and replace it with the power adaptor.  There is also a universal power strip available online but make sure the originator is from the EU.

Health and medical

I caught the cold/flu virus and was ill for a few weeks and it was straight forward to get an appointment.  Medication and other supplies are found in dedicated pharmacist stores.  Australia and Ireland have a reciprocal health agreement for certain services also.

My appointment with the doctor was about 48 euros.Social life, nights out, meetups etc

I haven’t really gotten stuck into meet ups and events in my first month since I was taken ill.  But I have signed up to events for the balance of November and throughout December.

Travel all around Ireland and elsewhere in the UK and Europe

I did a fair bit of travelling in 2012 and saw many of the key sites.  I don’t have any plans to do further travel in Ireland until the weather warms up.

As for the UK and Europe, I have a flight booked for London for a weekend.  I don’t have anything solid planned yet!

Working in Ireland

While my current role was not via recruiters, I have found that the recruiters here are professional in their roles and also transparent with the process and their feedback.

Overall, I have had some good responses from recruiters and hiring managers for positions in Dublin and elsewhere including Cork and Wexford.  This was a surprise since I do state that I am on the working holiday visa program.

In addition, I also do require being able to continue to work in my industry and in professional roles.  The 6 month visa timeframe pretty much limited my choices (and a big reason for my initial discomfort).  Be warned that even if a role was contract, you can still be discounted in case it’s an initial-contract or rolling contract type of role.

However, once you have a professional role locked in, it’s a possible step into obtaining the Critical Skills Employment Permit programme providing that you take the correct steps in the first place.  I think this is where an immigration lawyer is very useful or at least, read up as much as you can about immigration law and what is possible.

Additional Links:

INIS – Working Holidays in Ireland

Interested in working in Ireland? Or are you Irish and interested in working in Canada or Australia?

If you have any questions feel free to contact me here. 

Please note that I do not offer migration consultant services, and that I do not accept invitations to do private calls with anyone concerning their migration issue.

Also note that this post is not migration advice and that details can change.

On Vikings that Winter Elsewhere and Digital Nomads


In 840 AD, the Vikings had established settlements along the coast of Hibernia.  The settlements also gave them a home when they wish to spend the winter months there, rather than in their Nordic homelands.

They quickly realised that Irish winters were much milder than those of their northern homes.  Source.

I find it very fascinating that centuries and eras later, we would do something similar.  But rather than rely solely on plunder, looting and warfare we have a number of modern tools at our disposal.  We have AirBnB and a number of accomodation-related platforms (both established and new) to aid us in seeking shelter.  We make the use of Bitcoin, PayPal, electronic banking, and the currency exchange markets as innovations to the barter and coinage systems .  We have LinkedIn, Twitter, email, Slack, HipChat, Tinder, blogging, Facebook, Snapchat, and more for communications. Encryption, passports, customs and border control to safeguard movements (electronic and physical).   Our transport is aided by engineer (planes), customer relationship management (frequent flier miles) and technology (flight metasearch engines to scour the best deals).

But, it’s all the same really.  How are you going to spend the winter months?

Trips of note during my 1.5 year stay in Canada

This is another 2016 round-up entry but this entry is more focused on travel.  I also realized that I have been really quiet in keeping up to date with my travel blogging.  I don’t have a personal Facebook or Instagram account and I have steered clear (for the most part) sharing anything remotely personal on Twitter.  In this case, I’m just going to do a round-up post over the past 1.5 years.

Below is a notable list of trips since I moved to Canada (May 2015 to October 2016):

  • New York 1 – for the 2016 fashion week and to catch up with my sister
  • New York 2 – art fairs
  • New York 3 – even more art fairs
  • Boston, Mass – for a conference at MIT
  • Miami, Florida – checking out the art scene, bought a bit of the local art
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – for a conference
  • Seattle, Washington – for a conference
  • Somewhere in Washington state – for the 4th of July celebrations!
  • Waikiki, Hawaii – week-long holiday
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – lived here for a short while
  • Toronto, Ontario – lived here for just over a year
  • Kelowna and Okanagan Valley, British Columbia – checking out the wine region
  • Sun Peaks, British Columbia – holiday
  • Niagara, Ontario – the falls!
  • Wasaga Lake and Simcoe County, Ontario – first time I’ve encountered the great Ontario lakes! And yes there is a beach on this massive lake.
  • Stratford, Ontario – went for a Shakespeare festival and their high street/downtown core reminds me so much of the town that I grew up in!
  • St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – all day layover
  • Dublin, Ireland – helloooooo Europe!

I didn’t go to the other main Canadian cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City) since I have already visited in my first great Canadian trip of 2010-2011.

I was also going to visit Chicago for an art fair and even had my accommodation (not flights) booked, but decided against it.

In the end, it has been an interesting time.  I wish that I was able to experience more of the Canadian lake areas during the spring and summer.  Cottages are a pretty big deal in Canada!

Another activity that I didn’t do was anything to do with snow like skiing.  The last time was in Whistler several years ago and honestly, I haven’t looked back since then.


Anyone with a working holiday visa for Ireland – take note of the new GNIB system

I try my best to research as much information as I can online, but some details escape me.

Ireland has a new online ticketing system in place for the GNIB card. Everyone that enters Ireland (or even re-enters, depending on who you are) they must have a GNIB card with them.  Rather than waiting in line to queue up and get a ticket to go into another queue, they will need to go online and book an appointment.


So, I went ahead and booked my appointment on October 17 thinking that I’ll be able to get something in the same day.  One item to keep in mind is the availability of appointment dates. Even if the website says “You cannot book an appointment more than 6 weeks in advance” you may end up having to book more than the 6 weeks if there are no places left.  I actually decided to re-register online, and lo and behold, I was able to get an appointment at a slightly shorter timeframe.  But still, it was several weeks.

In addition when you enter Ireland you will be stamped and you will be given a date.  This is the timeframe that you are given in order to book and appointment and register with the Gardaí.  Your appointment may happen after this stamped date.  I have been trying to get answers for this situation and this is what I can find (as part of an automated reply):
If your query relates to a renewal of your existing  immigration permission
and you cannot secure an appointment to renew your immigration permission
before your current immigration permission expires, this office will treat
any gaps as a grace period and it will not have an adverse effect on your
immigration history.

For those that need to get their expenses in order – take note that not only will you be paying €300 for the Gardaí.

I have three checked luggage bags since I flew in from Canada. It’s a good thing that I currently don’t have major issues in terms of the (already competitive) rental market here but for anyone who has their rentals already sorted out pre-arrival, or already has plans in place that require the GNIB card, be prepared for this new system and that you will not receive your stamp for some time.

After sending an email, I received an automated reply stating that I should check back to see if any new appointments have been released into the system.  When I re-registered again, I was able to find earlier dates (in November 22), but still not much of an improvement in availability since it was still more than six weeks out:


Compared to organizing my final documents for UK and Canada, I was able to get things done within a day in Canada and a bit moreso for the UK to get my IN mailed out.  I was very surprised to see that it’s going to take weeks for me to continue on with obtaining the GNIB card and anything else that I need to set up in Dublin.

I am sharing this online since I haven’t come across any entries about what’s involved in getting the GNIB card underneath the new system.  Hope you find this useful and good luck!

On Tech Fuelling Growth in Ireland


While there was a slowdown in growth in some significant luxury markets throughout the world like New York and London, other markets (the “underdogs”) such as Dublin and Detroit performed extremely well. -Dan Conn, Christie’s International Real Estate

I believe that the professional class that is being employed by the tech industry is, and has been over the past few years, fuelling the continued growth in underdog luxury retail markets like Dublin, Ireland.  This is identified in the Christie’s International Real Estate “Luxury Defined” white paper for 2016:

Dublin is a hotbed for tech investment and is attracting top industry employees from around the world.

I started getting a gut feeling about Dublin for about a year now.  I still follow news in the EU, even after moving to Australia then Canada, so stories like Google’s multimillion dollar investment in a second data centre in Ireland has caught my eye.  In December 2015, I started making queries with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland about beginning my visa arrangements into Ireland because I am sensing this growth also.  In 2015, Christie’s also calculated an 11% growth in sales for Dublin and factored it two main indicators – economic growth and the tech sector.  There has been a slow and steady growth of population back into Dublin according to Reuters.  I am wondering if the growth is set on the arrivals for the tech sector? Most likely already experienced in overseas markets and also educated either in Ireland or overseas.

A stronger demographic trajectory also suggests scope for a potentially faster pace of economic growth in coming years. — KBC Bank Chief Economist Austin Hughes

My own personal experience confirms this.

The one, main thing that Dublin requires is addressing the current housing shortage, especially around the areas servicing the tech sector.

I imagine the following to happen within the next five years:

  • Plans for the growth of multi-use residential property (aka condominiums) to come into fruition.  Now, I am saying ‘multi-use’, which is not necessarily ‘high-rise’.
  • Debate surrounding aforementioned plans as it threatens the low-level charm of the city.  I totally get their concern.  I personally am not a fan of the condo high rises myself.
  • Possible innovation that can tackle the need of housing that can also meet the need for cultural and historical preservation with Dublin being seen as a low-rise city.
  • Noticeable increase in sales and pricing on residential property. If I was holding real estate, especially in cities with tech investment, I would take on a long position.

When I think of growth propelled by outside forces (ie tech sector workers moving into a new country, non-Irish tech investment), I think of volume and momentum.  In this case, I’m seeing growing volume and momentum towards overall growth in the Irish sector.


Home search in Ireland, some reflections on housing in Canada, Australia and the UK

Home around the corner near my old flat in Primrose Hill, London.

I am embarking on searching for rentals on my fourth country (Ireland).  I know what it’s like in London (UK), Australia (Brisbane, mainly and a short while was seeking in Sydney), and Canada (Vancouver and Toronto).  Going through this process can be exciting, tedious and stressful all at the same time.  It’s exciting because you are imagining what the end is going to be like and you relish the novelty of living in a new place.  It’s tedious because you have to figure out an entirely new locale, whether or not it meets your requirements and all the details that need to be considered.  It’s stressful because you are out to meet that basic Maslow hierarchy of needs requirement – physiological and safety – while dealing with other stresses and constraints such as time and budget.  I am getting all these feelings now searching for a place in Ireland!

On the way to Camden Town, I look over the bridge and see this...
On the way to Camden Town, I look over the bridge and see this…

Anyway, while waiting on a few responses and paperwork to arrive, I just thought to have a think about what the rental ‘scene’ is like in all the other countries that I’ve been in…



Brisbane and Sydney, Australia

I went to university in Australia and worked in the industry for two years after.  During university, I rented a house with friends – the first one was those typical Queenslander-style homes and the second one was built by the owner who was an architect.

After university, I rented in a condo (or apartment) which was right in the CBD (central business district) and overlooked the river.  I could even spy someone from my window working at his office desk!  It was a bit of a weird sight because since I was on the ground level, the outdoor pool was also on the ground level and if I sat upright from my chair, I could see people dive into the pool.

Now, if you were searching for properties around Sydney and look at Google Maps, you will see that Sydney has a very unique natural setting.  I haven’t lived in this city, my sister has and she lived in Bondi Beach where you can see a glimmer of the beach and ocean from the apartment.  When I walked outside during summer, I seriously felt like I was in some sort of resort city. When I look out of the window of the airplane and see the harbor, it is absolutely magnificent seeing the boats on the harbor and the Sydney Opera House.  Make sure to grab a seat by the window!

London, United Kingdom

London is hands down THE best city in the world.  And if you can lock in that rental property in the right part of London that suits your needs, you will guarantee that the rates pay themselves off.

When I first arrived, I was renting temporarily right in the heart of London – Barbican. You can see the brutalist style architecture in Barbican as well as the arts centre.  It’s quiet amusing that my place didn’t have a laundry so I had to go to the outside laundromat. On one hand I was living in the area well-known for the prestigious arts centre but at the same time I had to go outside to do the laundry.

If you wander the streets of London, you can easily run into so much history in the place all juxtaposed with new developments.  

Cute houses at one of the streets in Primrose Hill
Cute houses at one of the streets in Primrose Hill

After Barbican, I moved to Primrose Hill.  I was only there for about six months until the landlord decided that he didn’t want tenants to do renovations.  Primrose Hill is an absolute dream.  Just walking across the Primrose Hill Park (when you walk up the hill, you can see the CBD) from my work at Regent’s Park to my flat just put a smile on my face.  I chose this area because it was walking distance to and from work and because I wanted to live near a park.  I secured a viewing while I was travelling in Dublin and didn’t even realize how beautiful this area was until I arrived.

Cafe Rouge, St Johns Wood
Cafe Rouge, St Johns Wood

When it was time to move, I was at St John’s Wood and I lived in those historical red brick apartments. I chose this area since it was also near a park and within walking distance to and from work.  For the first week or two, I was mourning over the fact that I was no longer in Primrose Hill but eventually fell in love with St John’s Wood.  I loved the flowering trees that bloomed, the High Street, the houses and mansions and Regent’s Park.

St Johns Wood High Street

The three areas that I’ve lived in London was perfect for me.  But, there are so many other choices that it really didn’t matter too much because those choices were great anyway.  I had a flatmate that moved to Old Street, another at Brick Lane, co-workers in Brixton, a friend who semi-squatted in this artsy type of commune living space in Hackney.  At the same time, I have seen some pretty depressing places when compared to its asking price since the need for property in London is always high.

And, living in London is always so interesting and since the connections to travel to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is fantastic.

However there is one thing that bothered me while living in London.. and that was the lack of seeing blue skies because of the weather.

Vancouver and Toronto, Canada

I really only took one look at the rental market in Vancouver when I decided that it really was not for me. This is further supported by the real estate price bubble driven up by foreign property investment that the city is being addressed.  However, Vancouver has a beautiful backdrop with the mountain skyline always in your view, even if you are way out of the city.

Toronto had more choices, but the one main item that I couldn’t wrap my head around until I arrived was the concept of the GTA, or the Greater Toronto Area.  

My rental experience in Canada was not the same as before.  It was more a reflection of my thought process rather than a comment on the state of the rental market in Toronto.  I decided not to live nearer to the downtown area and opted for living in a house way out in the suburbs and it has been years since I last lived in the suburbs.  If I were to repeat this process, I would have done a bit more research into all the different areas in Toronto and I would have stuck with characteristics that makes a place turn into a ‘home’ to me.

In terms of culture, Toronto is a multi-cultural city and I was exposed to completely new cultural groups such as the Caribbean, Central and South American influences.   In contrast, you get the suburban Walmarts and the plaza malls.

In terms of Toronto and Vancouver proving its livability (as promoted by those Top Cities To Live In guides), there were some glimmers of it.  But, for the majority of the time, I didn’t really experience it in the same depth as something like London.  This was especially pertinent during the Toronto winters when, at some stage, the temperatures had gone down to -26C.

On the other hand, there are other absolutely beautiful areas outside the major cities.  For example, you have the absolutely beautiful Kelowna region in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.  If circumstances permit, I would opt to be in these regions.

Now on to Dublin and Ireland!

The last time I was in Dublin was in 2012 for a three week trip from late May to early June.  Something close to Primrose Hill or St John’s Wood would be the most ideal!