5 Things Americans should know about moving to Ireland
I’m a patriot.
Hold up! Not that kind. I don’t have a huge pickup truck or a flag bigger than a football field. I don’t think that guns are an essential accessory when grocery shopping. I know that 81 is more than 74 and who the president is.
I’m the kind of patriot who loves the idea of America — liberty, equality, justice.
I served in the Army, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, because I truly believed at that time that we were trying to help folks there. Yes, I was young, naive, and in need of the college tuition money.
So, what does this have to do with emigration?
Simple. For many, especially minorities, the American Dream is not achievable in the US. For some, especially those with certain skills and/or money, leaving the US is a better option.
My spouse (also a combat veteran) and I have seen how quickly societies can fall into theocracies and dictatorships. We watched in horror as things we’d once believed impossible in the US became daily occurrences.
All this is to say, Americans, I know that leaving is a hard decison. You’re not a coward for wanting the best for your children or for yourself.
My family considered several countries (Sorry, Canada, Denmark, and New Zealand, you missed out!) before settling on Ireland. If you’re an American thinking of moving to Ireland, here’s what I wish I had known:
- PPSN — this is like an SSN. When I first arrived, I was told that I didn’t need one, but I did. Everything from going to the doctor, to attending school, to buying a car requires a PPSN. Apply for one IMMEDIATELY. Get a local GP to write you a note saying you require one for medical care.
- Drive on the LEFT — Don’t try to import a car. It’s cheaper to get one here (although still not cheap) than to retrofit a drive-on-the-right car.
- Driver’s License — As a non-EU person, Americans can use their US driver’s license for only a year, but it takes almost that long to get an Irish driver’s license because you have to do everything as if you had never driven before. Study and take a written test, take behind-the-wheel lessons, wait 6 months (yes, six!) while you ‘learn’ to drive, then take the road test before you get your license.
- Proof of address — EVERYTHING in Ireland requires that you prove your residence. Getting a bank account, applying for a PPSN (see #1) going to school, getting a driver’s license, any and all government paperwork. Plus, often places won’t accept a lease; only a utility bill will do. But how to do this if you’re only renting or are staying in temporary lodging while getting settled? Many places rely on heating oil. You can have some delivered and get a bill for this even if you’re only staying there for a short time. Sorry, but this is a truly annoying feature of life in Ireland. Once you get a bill KEEP IT. You will need it again. Trust me.
- Don’t move to Dublin — Dublin is a beautiful, historic, wonderful place but most people can’t afford to live there. If you’re a city person, try Cork (Ireland’s second city), Limerick, or Galway. Belfast is in Northern Ireland, which is technically part of the UK, not part of the EU since Brexit, so be aware of that.
Questions? Comments? Please let me know what other resources I can help with.
NOTE: I am NOT an immigration lawyer or a lawyer of any kind. My advice is not the end-all, be-all. Every situation is different and what worked for me may not work for you.