Returning to Ireland: Cost of living

Prices have come down for some things since the boom but the cost of living is still high

 

This article forms part of the Returning to Ireland guide by The Irish Times, with information on jobs, housing, health and education, and advice from Irish emigrants who’ve already moved home.

Ireland may have been expensive during the Celtic Tiger years, but while prices have diminished since then, you may still be surprised at the cost of living in Ireland.

A survey from the European Commission in December 2015, for example, found that the cost of living in Ireland is the sixth-highest in Europe

The good news however, is that prices aren’t rising, with inflation running close to zero, according to the Central Statistics Office.

A key driver in this has been the fall in oil prices – something you probably have benefited from no matter where you have been living.

Competitive pressure on supermarkets has also seen grocery prices fall. The arrival of discount German supermarkets Aldi and Lidl has had a welcome downward pressure on food prices, and given their rapid growth, no matter where you move to in Ireland, it's likely that you'll find an outlet close by.

Energy prices remain high

Something you may not consider are bank charges. Since the financial crisis, banks have discovered their ability to charge again, and you can now expect to pay monthly or quarterly fees on most current accounts. Additional charges also apply. For example, AIB will charge you €3 (per page!) to print out a statement.

But whether or not you find Ireland expensive probably depends on where you move from. Liam O'Connell, who moved home from the US in 2014 and writes the The Ireland Move Club blog (irelandmoveclub.com/), says that in comparison with Californian prices, a lot of food items are much cheaper in Ireland.

“Basic needs such as milk, cheese, bread can be as much as 25-50 per cent less than what I was used to paying. This makes a substantial difference to weekly savings as they are things you would buy all the time,” he says, adding that the general cost of running a household is also cheaper.

“Understandably incomes are generally higher in California than in Ireland, but in my opinion not by enough to adjust for the cost of living difference.”

But if you're moving from the US, you may be dismayed at the cost of imported goods, such as electronics, cars and clothes all of which may have even gotten more expensive of late due to the strength of the dollar.

“Electronics, cars and even clothes are all far more expensive here than in America in general,” says O’Connell.

Water charges might also catch you out. Applied on a flat rate basis in 2015, the maximum charge for one adult, with or without children, is €160 a year, rising to €260 a year for a two-adult household.

However, if you have been used to paying for them overseas you might be pleasantly surprised. O’Connell for example pays €64.10 per quarter.

“In California, I would pay approximately $150 (€134) every two months,” he says.

This article forms part of a new Returning to Ireland guide by The Irish Times, with information on jobs, housing, health and education, and advice from Irish emigrants who’ve already moved home.

Details are correct at time of update on May 25th, 2016, but readers are advised to check official websites linked to in the guide for the most up-to-date information. 

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