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.

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!

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!