ER in Rural Ireland?


Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Mar 11, 2004
Years ago I talked with Americans who ERed in rural Ireland and they couldn't say enough good things about the place, including that the cost of land and cost of living was reasonable.

Lately I have been hearing that rural Ireland is no longer inexpensive and may be downright expensive.

Anyone out there who can give us some reference points on cost of living vs the U.S.?

Also, I know in Ireland you'd have a smaller car, you wouldn't expect to necessarily have all the goodies you can get at WalMart here etc, so I am trying to compare a reasonable middle-of-the-road lifestyle by local standards in Ireland with a reasonable middle-of-the-road cost of living here, (for example, something like spending 30k a year for a couple in North Carolina, fully paid house, and not including health insurance, car depreciation or investment management fees.)

Any thoughts?
Not for me now, so much as developing a series of "Plan B" options for what to do if/when the property taxes /medical expesnses drive me outta here. I think anyone in ER should probably flesh in some sort of Plan B as part of long run contingency planning. Haven't been to Ireland, but have always loved Irish people, pubs etc. and the English speaking aspect of it is appealing. More of an idle Thursday afternoon thought as it is too windy out to put the third coat of varnish on the boat.
Cut-Throat said:
I recommend that you take a trip to North Western Ireland ASAP!
10 days at least! :)

Sounds like a fun homework assignment. Got to work it into the travel budget and timing (kids school and camp schedules means just a few times each year to go for more than a week), and this summer (BC/Vancouver Island) and nex summer (China/Japan) are filled. So it's either leave the kids at home (hmmm....) or wait until 2007.
I've been to Ireland twice, in 2000 and 2004. I spent some time in rural western Ireland (County Clare) and can assure you that it's not inexpensive. It's definitely cheaper than Dublin, but it's not cheap at all. Housing prices, especially in the cities, are ridiculously high. The cost of living seems very high in general. It's not just the weak dollar either, even assuming a one-to-one conversion rate things seem expensive (maybe the high VAT?) I hear their income taxes are lower than most of Europe however.

Out of curiosity, we stopped in from of a job placement agency in Dublin to see what the wages are like. They seem to be about the same as salaries in the California, at least for accounting/finance type jobs (in absolute terms, not including conversion to the Euro). Before they switched to the Euro, things seemed to be cheaper.

The people are AWESOME and so is the pub-life. However, couple the high costs with the miserable weather, I don't think I'll be moving there anytime soon.
WanderALot said:
The people are AWESOME and so is the pub-life.  However, couple the high costs with the miserable weather, I don't think I'll be moving there anytime soon.
There's probably a good reason that so many of our ancestors hied themselves hither as soon as they could afford the boat trip...
Spent 10 days driving around (southern) Ireland some years back. It is not a cheap place but there is a lot to like about it. I believe that Ireland like most European countries will cover your medical needs through their social medicine. Part of where the tax money goes. I liked the weather, it rained and was sunny part of every day.
But I think thee are several issues with moving there for retirement. One is that it is still a foreign country, you would need permission, you will not get to vote (except with your feet) and you will be an outsider. The outsider part is not bad, I have been invited to social activities when I was in Europe that I would not get invited to in the US, maybe we have a class system too?
Another issue is RURAL Ireland, I am a city boy and my ideal living arrangement would be a city or even a village where I could walt to things. It irritates me, in Southern California, that I have to get into my car to get anything, even an ice cream cone. As much as there is some charm to rural envirenments I really want my services (restaurants!!) nearby.
And one thing I remember about Ireland is that have a different way of doing business and it is a lot slower than in the US. (I learned to like that in the UK, but I saw other Americans that never adjusted). And there were strikes by the post office, the banks, gas stations and the like. Quite disruptive if you really want to get something done. Maybe not so important for the retired.
But go over and check it out. You may find a place that suits you. I could find a way to live there if I had to but part of my retirement dream is to live for at least a year on a canal boat in England. I have rented them twice and I just loved it.
Never been to Ireland. Understand it is lovely. I have a friend who visits about 5 times a year, 10 days to 2 weeks at a time. The only
consistent comment I recall him making was that the weather
was often bad.

MRGALT2U said:
I have a friend who visits about 5 times a year, 10 days to 2 weeks at a time. The only consistent comment I recall him making was that the weather was often bad.

Your friend must be a glutton for punishment :D

MJ ;)
Anywhere in the European Union is NOT cheap - unless you go to some of the new member states (yuk, eastern europe...). The Midwest will be much cheaper, and it still has Walmart/Macdonalds etc. if you can't live without that.

Europe is very strict on immigration. You can't just move there permanently without a visa. Signing up for highly subsidized healthcare is also not easy. As a EC citizen, I can move back any time and get coverage in my country. However, for the subsidized government health care, I will have to show proof of employment (under a certain max $$$) or proof of welfare/unemployment insurance/social security. My husband needs a visa when he goes to visit with me. One of the conditions for his visa is proof of insurance. Guess they have some bad experiences with medical 'tourism'.

Vic is accurate as to immigration in any one EU country. However, some countries have special programs to allow repatriation of American descendants from immigrated nationals, including Ireland and Italy. Some countries have programs where they will grant permanant residency so long as you are retired, do not take a job, and will keep a certain amount of funds in the country 'as an investment". Once you gain citizenship in any one country in the EU you gain the ability to live in most of them without undue immigration retrictions. If you are serious about it contact the respective country's American Embassy (most of the primary EU countries are located in DC along "Embassy Row") and ask.
ER in Ireland is viable, its a decent plan B anyway, particularly if you’re thinking 6 months on/off regarding the weather. Its a social country, the Government can't gouge you here without some resistance. Howver don’t expect things to work as well as in most US cities. If you're renting in Ireland only - (not working and not expecting social welfare) the Visa situation is moot, and blocking foreigners from access to public healthcare is unheard of.

Costs of living in Ireland is higher for socializing and housing and transport. But overall costs are easier and clearer to gauge than in the US. If you can afford rent at €1200/month you can even live in a decent 2BD Dublin apartment. But you won't eat out or go out here as often as you would or could in the US. Think cooking at home most nights, bicycle versus car, or else crappy car at best. Its a great place to ER to write a book, learn a hobby etc

Other Pros
Mostly friendly people, but mainly speaking of rural and older generations here.
Useful social security/welfare system, nice for artists (plus they pay Zero tax).
Cheap and yet excellent education, even free Government sponsored training.
Unlike UK and US there's no property tax, but stamp duty on transfer of property can be as high as 9% on top of sale price. Not a good time to buy in anyhow. (renters market)

Other Cons
Property nationwide hit the ceiling (~400% past 10 years). Rents haven't gone up as much but they're still high. In Rural Ireland services are non existent (including public transportation), mostly people rely on each other, so you need to be 'in' with local people! Eating out all over Ireland is pricey. The weather is roughest in the west, as visible by the fact it has the highest occurrence of suicide :) Forget cars, fuel etc If you're thinking bicycle and cabs when necessary you’ll do fine. Younger generations are more like global citizens - more time starved, less friendly, more self-serving. Warning: Rich/Poor gap is widening, social problems on the rise.

The Future?
Without a car one can live fine on €20k/year. Add €10k to cover a car+costs. (€30k ideal)
Being native Irish, I’m hedging my bets by keeping half net worth in Euro Zone and half in US for the next 5-10 years, and then see what happens. After all five years ago the Euro was sick, and the dollar strong. What's the next cycle going to be like?
Can't wait to visit, Irish and proud of it, don't know if I bleed green, but I definitely felt a little rush of blood to the head when someone showed up at work in all orange on St. Patty's day. Told him he's lucky I want to keep my job. ;)
dory3n said:
Are you on the right forum? ::)

Yeah really, huh? 14 years left, I hope I don't become institutionalized like the guys in Shawshank redemption.... :eek:

.....come to think of it, there are a lot of things I don't want to experience from that movie!
ER@40 said:
Other Cons
Property nationwide hit the ceiling (~400% past 10 years). Rents haven't gone up as much but they're still high.

thanks for the detailed and useful info.

Looks like I may need some more thinking on the old "Plan B' .... looks like the real estate bargains are gone.

So, aAnybody got any experience with New Zealand? It's a long way from anywhere, but has real esate there also gone up 5x in the last decade, or cost of living also far exceeded that of the rural U.S.?
I visited NZ in 1999 and even the cities were cheap. I like to use beer as an indicator of how cheap or expensive a place is. I remember that even Guinness for just over US $2 and Steinlager (local beer that's really good) was below that. I have heard that things have gotten more expensive there after Lord of Rings came out and really put NZ on the map.
I retired to New Zealand in 1996. Since then real estate prices have risen considerably, as they I see they are in the United States. One of the big selling points for me is the socialized medicine, which very much insures on against outrageous health care costs. My wife (45) and myself (51) pay about $75NZ a month for medical insurance that allow us to use a private hospital if we are not happy waiting for an operation at a public hospital. You can also feel more comfortable living frugally here as people are not such conspicous consumers as Americans are.
Do tell, Thumper? How does one move to New Zealand and what are the restrictions involved? You have to have a job at the time, a certain amount of money, etc.?

I was considering Ireland myself, and may still go that way, but what I see of New Zealand is every bit as beautiful...

Many thanks, and congrats on finding a place you love,
Rules regarding immigration change over time, so I don’t know what the criteria are today, but I imagine they are similar to when my wife and I immigrated. It was a points system, and you were awarded points based on education, work experience, having a certain amount of money (but not millions), and age. The older you were, the less points you would be awarded. Also had to submit police reports verifying that you had no serious criminal past and pass a health check. At the time we immigrated there was a cutoff at age 55, no one older than that would qualify. The amount of points needed to be accepted varied depending on what the New Zealand government wanted to achieve regarding the number of immigrants. I know in the past they have tightened up the English language requirements. My wife and I both had university degrees and work experience, we were not criminals and in reasonable health, although my wife does have a thyroid problem that requires medication. Health requirements could be an issue for some as NZ has subsidized medicines, and public hospitals are free.

There are other categories, some people come in on temporary visas when they have been offered work, and then apply for permanent residency status. We were granted permanent resident visas, and were not required to work. My wife did work a few temporary jobs at first, but then enjoyed an extended period of doing volunteer work. The past couple of years she has gone back to working 20 hours a week in a school library, only gets paid $11/hour and is doing it more for something to keep her amused. I still don’t think an offer of employment is necessary if you are desirable enough, but having a job offer got you extra points under the system when we immigrated.

Be warned that you will pay more in income taxes here than what you would owe in the U.S. As permanent residents we can vote. Another bonus is we will eventually become what I call double dippers. As U.S. citizens we will collect Social Security, but as NZ residents we will collect what is referred to as universal superannuation when we turn 65. A married couple in NZ who are both over 65 receive about NZ$25,000 before tax.
thank you kindly, Thumper1, for the comprehensive reply!

thanks- very interesting the way they cut off at age 55. In the U.S. I believe (but am not sure) that it is easier to get in if you are older, at least if you are family, since the INS feels comfortable that you won't take a job from an American. Sounds like in NZ they dont want you to come live as a retiree, but do want you to come help build the country. Do you feel there is any social stigma being an ER there? Or does the issue just not come up. Assume people would understand that you are not 'on the dole'. Or do you find the need to have small subterfuges 'I am researching the market for high end sailboats' or 'I am consulting to a U.S. brewery conglomerate on ways to improve the taste of American beer' or whatever?
In developed nations like Canada, Australia and New-Zealand you can apply in the 'skilled worker' category based on a points system. This is a better category than retirement visas as far as that still exists. It is based on your language skills, age, education and work experience. As long as you are not too old, healthy with a good education in a high demand field, you are in. Btw, it does not mean you will ever have to work. There may be some restrictions on how soon you can get on welfare after arrival, but otherwise there are no restrictions.

Canada, Australia and New-Zealand are all very very very easy compared to the USA. If you go, apply while you are still in your 40's otherwise you may have a tough time. Most of the countries have online self-assesment tests that give you and instant idea of your chances.

The US has a most outdated system that does not make sense. I spent 7 years in the INS nonsense mill. Canada was very easy - 2 hours to fill in the paperwork and within 6 weeks I got my permanent resident papers in the mail. DH was in Australia for a while and he got an Australian passport after two years (although don't know where that went).

In developing nations like Costa Rica, Mexico etc. most of the immigration visas for retirees are in Belize etc. and they don't want you to work.

Europe is virtually impossible. If I were to move back to Europe with DH, it will take me months to years to get him the legal paperwork to become a permanent resident - even though I am a citizen. Immigration has tightened a lot and especially for 'import' spouses from developing nations. The most ridiculous part is that he does qualify for EC citizenship based on our marriage. So if he were to do some language/culture test at the consulate now, he would become a citizen, no residency requirements needed.

vic said:
Canada, Australia and New-Zealand are all very very very easy compared to the USA.
Hi Vicky:
Pondering Canada as eventual ER destination. (plan to apply as a Skilled worker). Would you mind offering a view on the queries below? (Have asked CIC but no reply)

1. Can one still get Residency in a matter of weeks or was that a while back?
2. When granted permanent residency, is there an expiry date on the Visa, i.e. you must permanently move to Canada by a certain date or the Visa expires?
3. As with a Green card, must you reside in Canada a minimum numbers of days each year to continue to hold permanent residency status?
4. Did holding a Green card create additional burdens or complications with your application?
Thanks in advance

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