Thousands of Irish people are still packing their bags and heading off for better opportunities overseas, but as the economy recovers, interest in returning home is growing among many Irish people living abroad. Moving back can be a rewarding experience, renewing the bond with family and friends, re-visiting old haunts, and feeling that you have “come home”.
The unemployment rate in April 2016 was just under 8 per cent, the lowest rate since the crash, down from a peak of over 15 per cent in 2012. With thousands of new jobs being created across the country every month, there are more employment opportunities for returning emigrants now than there have been for many years.
But the recovery hasn't been even across all sectors or regions, and it is important to do thorough research into your work prospects, and ideally have a job secured, before booking your ticket home.
Returnees often face certain trade-offs in exchange for being closer to friends and family here. Living costs, especially for rent, are very high, infrastructure is poor in many rural areas, and healthcare and childcare can be much more costly than the country they are moving back from. It can be difficult to readjust socially, too, as old friends may be leading different lives now, especially those with families.
This guide gives an overview of the main points to consider when planning a return to Ireland from abroad, with links to useful online resources where you can go for more detailed information, or to get in touch with other returned expats for advice. The practical information has been compiled by Irish Times journalists using the latest reports, statistics, and official government resources.
But the most useful information comes from the many first-person accounts and advice written by other Irish people who have already made the move back home from abroad. You can find more online at irishtimes.com/generationemigration.
We have endeavoured to ensure that all information in the guide is correct at time of publish in May 2016. We have included links to useful websites where relevant, and would advise anyone making the decision to return home to check these for the most up-to-date information.
We regularly add new first-person stories to the online version of this Returning to Ireland guide. Want to send us yours? Email email@example.com.
Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your decision!
Finding a job: What sectors of the economy are performing strongly, what resources can help you find a job, and what supports are available if you want to start a business
Adjusting socially and emotionally to being 'back home': Returning emigrants can find it difficult to settle in a strange place that used to be so familiar
Tax: How much of your earnings will go on income tax?
Social welfare and pensions: What you are entitled to, how to apply, and how to transfer your pension
Finding a place rent or buy: The types of accommodation available, and what you can expect to pay
Cost of living: Prices have come down for some things since the boom but the cost of living is still high
Healthcare: What the health service is like, and how much you can expect to pay for private healthcare and insurance
Childcare and education: The cost of childcare is very high, and competition for school places in many areas is fierce
Returning with non-Irish partners or children: Overview of the visa process for spouses, partners and children of Irish citizens
Driving licences and insurance: Returning emigrants may be asked to pay hefty premiums for car insurance, but there can be ways around it