A Guide on Moving to Ireland (Part 5 – Finding a Place to Live)
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To help you navigate this guide on Moving to Ireland it has been divided into six parts. Click on a link below to read that part of the guide on Moving to Ireland.
Part 1 – Important Disclaimer – Please Read This First If You’re New To This Guide
Part 2 – Should You Move to Ireland?
Part 3 – Before You Arrive
Part 4 – Getting Settled and Paperwork
Part 5 – Finding a Place to Live
Part 6 – Getting a Job
Important Information About Renting
The rental market in Dublin is very competitive. Be prepared for your search to take several weeks. If you’re coming in August (like I did) or September it could take longer. Why? You’ll be in a competition with students looking for a place to live. Rent in Dublin can be quite high, especially if you’re set on renting in the city centre (Dublin 1 or 2 postal code). You can save some money if you look to rent outside the city centre and if you rent with other tenants. Rent in other cities in Ireland will likely be a bit less than in Dublin as well. Rental scams are out there. Please check the Rental Scam topic for more information on that.
Free (Sort Of) Accommodation in Dublin
You can try looking for work at a hostel in exchange for accommodation. You could also sign up for Help X or WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). With these programs, you work in exchange for accommodation (and sometimes food). Each has a yearly membership fee. There is also Couchsurfing where you stay at someone’s home for free (often sleeping on a couch). With Couchsurfing, your only stay with a host for a few days at a time, so it’s not a long-term accommodation option. These can all be worth looking into, but be sure to read about safety issues for each of them. While you might be able to use some of these options temporarily, you’ll probably need to find a place to rent.
Dublin Postal Districts
Dublin is divided into postal districts going from 1 to 24. The lower the number usually means the closer to the city centre. Dublin 1 and Dublin 2 are right in the city centre (or in town as the locals would say). Most (not all) of the tourist attractions are in Dublin 1, 2, 7 and 8. Even-numbered districts are on the south side of the River Liffey, and odd-numbered ones are north of the Liffey. Here’s a map of Dublin Postal districts with neighbourhoods.
You will want to sign up for an account with Daft.ie as it’s the biggest rental website in Ireland. You may also want to sign up for an account on Rent.ie as well (although many listings here will be on Daft too). Make sure to have notifications for your phone and email turned on. You don’t want to miss it when someone is interested in meeting you about a rental. If you don’t respond right away, I guarantee someone else will, and by that time it will be gone. Once I got a voicemail from a lady about a room I was interested in renting from her. I didn’t get it until 10 minutes later, and by that time it was too late.
If you’re on Facebook, there are city/region-specific groups for finding a place to live. Search for something like Dublin/Cork/ else (etc.) flatmates. Or try Renting in Dublin/Limerick/Wherever Ireland, etc., and you’ll probably find a group or two.
You could check the classifieds in the newspapers like The Irish Times, but you’ll have an easier time looking online for a rental. By the time you respond to a print classified ad, it’s more than likely the apartment/room will have been rented out.
You won’t be able to rent anything in Ireland while you’re still in Canada. Still, I would sign up for an account with Daft.ie and Rent.ie ahead of time. This way you can start getting an idea of what rental prices are like before you arrive.
Outside of looking for a place to rent you can check the Rental Tenancies Board. You can find out if the property you’re looking to rent is registered with them. They also give out information about tenancy and landlord obligations. Beware if you are renting privately from someone or subletting the RTB is limited in the help they can provide.
Important! Never send money to someone online for a rental. ALWAYS go check out the apartment/flat/room in person before agreeing to rent it. If someone asks you to transfer/send money for a rental that you haven’t seen in person, then it’s definitely a scam.
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there. If something seems too good to be true, it is. Don’t trust the pictures you see online. While a place might look good in the rental ad, you’ll want to see it in person for yourself (more on that in a bit).
Another thing to be wary of is giving out your passport information. I had one guy want a copy of my passport for a viewing. I wasn’t comfortable with that and declined to view that place.
Your Rental Profile
When you sign up for an account on Daft.ie or Rent.ie you’ll want to fill out a profile. The more information you can include the better chance of someone responding to your application. Make sure to put an email and local phone number, so people will have a way of contacting you when you apply for a rental. In the interest of safety do not give out your social security details, credit card information, passport, etc. Contact information (phone and email) will be okay.
You may also want to save a write-up in an email or word document, etc. about yourself. Make sure to include information about yourself like if you smoke or if you like to party. Include your hobbies and interests so your new (fingers crossed) flatmates can get to know you. You can copy/paste this into each application (be sure to change things when needed). As an example, my profile was like this.
Hello, my name is Alouise, and I am looking for a single, private room to rent in Dublin. I am from Canada and in Ireland on a working holiday visa. I’d like to find a place to live for the full two years my visa is valid (until August 2018). I don’t smoke or do drugs. I enjoy the occasional pint or glass of wine, but I’m not much of a party person. I love to travel, enjoy theatre, music, writing, reading, and getting to know other people. I’m currently looking for a full-time job, but I also do some freelance writing work on the side. If you’re looking for a clean, respectful, and easy-going tenant, please contact me. I have references available.
If you smoke (including vaping)/do drugs/drink alcohol make sure to include it on your application. Don’t lie because your flatmates and landlord will find out and this can lead to a stressful time for all. Just be honest.
What is Available for Rent in Dublin
A private one-bedroom or studio to rent will be more than finding something shared with other people. There are flats to rent but also look at houses with rooms to rent as well. If you are looking to rent in the city centre, it will be more expensive. A one-bedroom will cost around €1200/month in the city centre (often more). Something shared with other tenants could range from €300-€800/month. This depends on how many people live there, where it is, and if you have a private bedroom or a shared bedroom.
One thing to be aware of is that there are properties with shared rooms to rent. In Dublin, this is because the rental market is so competitive. In some areas of the city, it can be almost impossible to find a single room to rent. When I first started looking for a place to live I didn’t care about shared rooms. My thought was “a shared room isn’t ideal, but something (even shared) is better than nothing.” After seeing a few places with a shared bedroom, I knew this wouldn’t be for me. I’m introverted, and I need my own bedroom (not a bedroom shared with four other people) to come to when I get home. Sharing a room in a hostel dorm for a few days when I travel is fine, but living like that all the time isn’t for me.
If you are looking for a private room to rent be sure to select a single room and private on online searches. You’ll still want to view the room in person. Sometimes online it will say it’s private, but it will actually be a shared room. That was always annoying to find out.
Why You Must Go to Viewings
While it’s great to check online listings, you must view a property in person before you see it. If someone wants to rent a place to you without meeting you or having you see it in person that’s a big red flag and probably a scam. Never rent a property without seeing it in person first.
Viewings in Dublin can vary depending on when you go and how competitive the market is. With some of the viewings, it was just meeting the landlord/other tenants. This setup was great because I could see the place and get to know who was living there. However, there were many viewings I went to where I wasn’t the only person there. It can be hard to make an impression and get someone to remember you when you’re one of the hundreds of people they have seen.
One reason to see a place in person is to make sure you’re getting what was promised. There was one place early on that I went to see that said it was a single and private room. I got there and found out the bedroom would be shared with another person. Not only that, but it wasn’t available yet, so if I wanted to rent from them I was told I could sleep on the couch until the room was ready. I decided to look elsewhere.
Things to Consider When Renting
- How much is the rent? Does it include any utilities? If not how much are they per month?
- Does the rental include Wi-Fi or cable and how much are these per month? In Ireland, you have to pay a yearly TV license if you have a TV, whether you use it or have cable. The place I live in does not have a TV, which is fine with me. I can watch Netflix (we have Wi-Fi) on my laptop.
- Is the property owner-occupied? Are you renting direct from a homeowner or landlord or are you subletting?
- How old is the building? Are there any maintenance problems? What is the heat like in the winter? Will your room have a heater?
- How many bathrooms are there? How many people will you be sharing a bathroom with? Does the shower/bath use an electric heater or a hot water tank/gas tank/immersion?
- Is there public transit, like a bus stop or Luas (tram) or DART (train) station nearby? If you have a job how long will it take you to get to work? How long with it take to get to the city centre? It is worth trying to find a place close to 2 different types of public transit. When I was looking for a place to rent the Dublin Buses were on strike. Finding a place close to a DART or Luas was necessary if I didn’t want to pay pricey cab fare every day. Bus strikes can happen, so it’s worth keeping this in mind
- If you have a vehicle find out what parking is like. Is there private parking available, and if so is there an extra cost? If you have a bicycle to get to work (many people bike to work) is there a secure place to lock up your bike?
- What types of services and amenities are close by (grocery stores, restaurants, banks, etc.)? If you can find a place close to an Aldi or Lidl, that’s a bonus, because they’re the cheap grocery stores here in Ireland.
- How many other people are living there? What are they like? Are they quiet or party people? Are they looking for someone to be social with? Is everyone pretty independent? Getting to meet your future flatmates ahead of time (if possible) will help you see how well you mesh together.
- How is security? Is there a security system for the building? Does your room have a lock and key? Are there any security issues in the neighbourhood? Before saying yes to any place, you may want to go back and check out the area at night as well. It’s worth paying attention to your instinct on this. I went to one place that seemed right on paper, and the unit looked good in person during the day, but the neighbourhood at night gave me a weird feeling. Always go with your gut instinct. I didn’t rent from that place.
- How does cleaning work? Is there a cleaning schedule people follow for the common areas? Is there a laundry schedule?
What to Look for at a Viewing
Take note of what the property includes. Is your room furnished? Already furnished bedrooms are usually the norm from what I found (unless you’re looking to move into a brand new building in the suburbs). Will you need to buy anything for your room (bedding, hangers, towels, etc.)? Does your room have a lock and key? If not can you get one installed? Will you have access to a kitchen/dining area, and living room? Will you need to buy anything for common areas (dishes, pots, pans, etc.)? Is there a washer or dryer? Most places (including the one I rent now) will have a washing machine (or access to one), but finding one with an electric dryer will be hard. You will likely have to hang or place your laundry on a drying rack or outside on a clothesline to dry. Self-serve laundromats in Dublin are rare, and dry cleaners are expensive.
I would make sure to find out when they are making the decision to rent. Some people will contact you whether or not you were successful, and others will only contact the successful applicant they decide to rent to. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While you may have viewed a particular place and liked it, there are no guarantees your application will be accepted. While you wait keep applying and looking for other places to live, just in case.
And remember to trust your gut instinct. Even if a potential rental seems perfect on paper if you get a bad vibe when you see it in person, or when you meet the tenants then just say no and look elsewhere.
Being Organized and Payment Information
Chances are you won’t have a bank account open yet (you need a permanent address, and you’re looking for a place to live), but I would suggest getting out the rent and enough money for a damage deposit (usually equal to another month’s rent). When you go for the viewing, it’s unlikely that they’ll tell you right then and there that you have the place. When you get a call back asking if you’re interested in taking the place you’ll want to be able to say yes, and that you can pay the first month’s rent and the damage deposit right away. About €1200 will probably be enough to cover a month’s rent and damage deposit, but it could be more depending on the area and the place you’re moving into.
I would suggest keeping a file or spreadsheet on your phone/computer with the apartments you’ve applied for online, and the ones you’ve viewed in person. You could be seeing a lot of places, and it can be hard to remember what one had the internet but not the washer and what one had the nice backyard, etc. if you don’t keep track of it.
My Initial Rental Experience
When I got my Working Holiday Visa for Ireland, I decided to move to Dublin because it’s the largest city in Ireland. Presumably, that would mean I’d have more rental and job opportunities. There were other reasons as well, but those were two of the practical ones for why I settled in Ireland’s capital.
I didn’t realize how competitive the rental market is here in Dublin. It took me about 3.5 weeks to find a place to rent. I applied for many different rentals and saw several in person. Some were on my own, but some I was there with other people. While I was tired of staying in a shared hostel dorm with 30 people I didn’t want to rush into things and take the first place available if it wasn’t right for me.
When I went to rental viewings, I would bring a copy of personal references, but I found most people weren’t too concerned about seeing those. I’d still bring them anyway just in case. If you haven’t rented before (like perhaps you’ve always lived with your family), try to get personal references from people that have worked or volunteered with you.
During viewings people wanted to know about me and why I was in Dublin. Many of these meetings (including the ones I accepted) were pretty casual in nature. I would recommend dressing nice. Don’t just put on a dirty shirt and ripped jeans, make a good first impression, (but you don’t need to wear business attire or anything formal). Tell the landlord/tenants about yourself. Be friendly and personable, but honest. If someone says they love to throw raging parties on a Wednesday night and your idea of a party is watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on Netflix with friends (literally what I did on my birthday last year) then this living arrangement might not be the best.
The Saga Continues
Renting in Dublin can be a very stressful experience. It can be tempting to get discouraged when the rental search takes longer than you’d like. Or to just take the first place you are offered because you don’t want to stay in a hostel/hotel anymore, but it’s important to find something that’s right for you. That said there is no perfect place, and you might need to alter your wish list if you’re not having much luck in your search. I wanted to stay in the city centre, in a private bedroom and not pay more than €400/month. I soon realized finding a place with those criteria would be impossible. Instead, I stuck with looking for a private room, but upped my budget to €500/month and looked outside the city centre as well (but close to transit).
Eventually, I found a place to live with everything included for €450/month. I was living with two flatmates, had my own room, and was close to the bus and train. In February my flatmate (who was on the lease) decided to move elsewhere in Ireland, and so I had to look for another place to live in March. Everything worked out pretty well though. I moved to a house, with four roommates (three adults and a small child) in a quiet neighbourhood only a few minutes from where I was before.
Then in June, the lady I rent from told me that the owners of the home were coming back to Ireland (they’d been living in Sweden) and we’d need to move out by the end of July. I spent a good part of July looking for a place to live. Luckily by this time I knew what to look for, and since I had a steady job, I knew what areas were best for transit for me to get to work. I ended up moving to Donabate, a town outside of Dublin (fun fact I moved in on my birthday…actually that wasn’t so fun). There’s direct transit to Dublin and to where I work. I have four roommates, but the condo itself is large and funny enough I hardly ever see my roommates. All of the bedrooms (except mine) have ensuite bathrooms, which means that I’m usually the only one using the main bathroom (except when guests are over). My rent is €460/month, which includes the internet (but not gas/electric). I’m hoping this is the last time I’ll have to move while I’m in Ireland. 3 moves (4 if you count the initial move from Canada) in 11 months is a bit much.
In the final part of this series I’ll go through getting a job, because you need to pay your rent somehow.
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Have you moved abroad? What was your experience looking for a place to live?