Ireland: the 13th most expensive place in the world


So, you’ve bitten the bullet. Whatever the reason – school, better work opportunities or finding a better life – you’ve moved to Ireland. And, it’s likely that, until you get your bearings, money is tight. 

You’re not going to be pleased to hear this. On Monday, price comparison site, Numbeo, listed Ireland as the 13th most expensive place to live in the world. Worse, if you’ve immigrated to Ireland, it’s more than possible you’re earning as much as 42 per cent less than the average Irish wage.

How do you lower your costs, save money and keep on track with your goals? Fighting the cost of living isn’t easy, but fear not, we’re here to help. First, let’s go through the survey, then show you where you might be racking up expenses, and make some suggestions as to what you can do to bring them down.

Crunching the numbers

Numbeo’s figures are compiled from aggregates of data submitted by people living across the island. They show that, when taking into account the cost of everyday items alone, Ireland is significantly lower on the list, at position 25. When rent and mortgages are added, it moves Ireland up to the 10th most expensive country in the world. When rent is considered alone, Ireland jumps to 8th on the list. Moreover, even though Ireland is considered a high-wage country, consumers’ dollars do not appear to be stretching as far as wages in other countries. Out of 139 countries, Ireland appears at number 27 when considering purchasing power.


Why does it cost so much to live in Ireland?

Okay, first some bad news: there are some elements contributing to the high cost of living that you can’t avoid. For one thing, Ireland has relatively fewer subsidies than other countries in the EU and around the world. A subsidy is where the government absorbs a portion or all of the cost of a good or service. What this means is that people living here are paying full cost for many things, including gas, healthcare, and public transportation.

Taxes are also pretty high in Ireland. The country has one of the highest rates of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the world, and some items even have additional taxes applied to them along with VAT. Imported goods usually fall under this category. Because Ireland imports the majority of what it needs, and these goods have to be transported here, the cost is passed on to the consumer.

Rents are exorbitant and you may not have much of a choice in where you live because your job or school is located in an expensive area.

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There may not be much you can do about a lack of subsidies, high taxation, and rents, but there are some areas where personal decisions to act differently can make a difference.

Where can you save?

It’s almost a cliche to mention it, but it still needs to be said. You need to make a decision to consciously cut costs in order to save money. Too many of us enjoy telling people that we want to save, or we’re going to save, without actually doing any of the work. It helps to think about the specific goal you’re trying to achieve and how much longer it will take to get there if you don’t watch your budget. 


That said, many immigrants have family members who live in the country they’re going to. Based on the Numbeo figures, rent is one of those elements that will take a chunk out of your funds.  If you have family already in Ireland, perhaps you can consider moving in with them until you get on your feet. Of course, this may involve helping out with family expenses and sharing a bedroom or bathroom. But considering that the average rent in city centres like Dublin tops 1,500 euros per month, listening to your cousin snore may not be so much of an inconvenience.


Do you like premium bath products? You may want to consider getting cheaper versions of products you love or cut them out altogether when you go to the grocery. When buying food, stick to what you absolutely need and know you will consume. So for some time at least, your days of buying vegetables that you are going to leave to rot in the crisper are over. Eating out is also over, as Numbeo lists Ireland as the 12th most expensive country to dine out of home.

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If you’re a student, it may hurt your social life, but do you really need to go pub crawling on Saturday night? Similarly, if you’re working a 35-40 hour week, how much TV are you really going to watch? Do you really need that cable package featuring hundreds of channels? Take a good look at the spending decisions you are making. You may find there are areas that you can cut or resist the urge to purchase in the first place if you’ve just recently arrived.


Your service providers are another way you could save some money. Look for the best mobile rates before committing to a plan. The same with utilities, if you live on your own.


This one is not for the fainthearted, but carry cash with you when you’re going out to shop. Shopping with a card is asking for trouble. You don’t see the money leave the account and always end up spending more than you mean to. When you have cash, you can always look in your wallet for a gentle reminder of how much, or little, you have left.


Finally, and this one seems obvious when you really think about it, find ways that help you earn extra money. If you have a regular day job, an online side hustle might help. If you’re a student, do you have a hobby that you can monetise?


When you’ve moved to a new country, finding ways to reduce cost can be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you’re living in a high cost of living place like Ireland. We’ve presented some ways that might make it a little easier. 


We’re also interested in hearing from our readers, what are some of the ways you’re cutting costs to save more money?

Natalie Briggs
Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs comes to Ireland via Babylon, from the Caribbean. She's a journalist with a 20 year background in print and broadcast media.

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