Contemplating living in Ireland vs UK? Both the UK and Ireland present a whole load of opportunities and have incredible qualities, which makes it a tough choice.
But worry not, I’ve done the research and I’m sharing all the nitty-gritty details with you.
Why do I have this research you wonder? Well, before I decided to settle in Ireland I made a comparison of the other countries I’d want to live in and I keep very very good notes 🙂
You might not know this but I’m half-English and grew up in the UK. And now, I’m living in Ireland after marrying an Irishman.
So I do have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live in both places and can provide valuable insights from cost of living to job prospects to lifestyle and healthcare. Grab a cup of tea or a pint of Guinness 😉 and let’s do this!
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Living In Ireland Vs UK – Cost Of Living
First we look at the most important thing, the cost of living. Cos let’s be real, if the cost of living is not favorable to you, it’s not somewhere you can consider living in.
So here it is – living in Ireland is more expensive than in the UK. This study shows that living in Ireland was almost 14% pricier than in the UK!
Rental prices are a huge culprit here – being around 50% more expensive than rental prices in the UK. And then, everyday items like groceries and goods are more expensive too.
So if you want to live in Ireland, you must carefully assess your financial situation before moving here. It’s definitely worth it, but make sure you are financially secure.
VERDICT: The UK is definitely more affordable in terms of cost of living, from the big stuff like housing, all the way to everyday stuff like groceries!
Photo: Julius Dūdėnas
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Education
Ireland has some top universities for international students, which include the famous Trinity College, which was founded way back in 1592 and has produced some famous alumni, including Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and Bram Stoker.
You’ll be pleased to know that the admission rates in Irish universities are generally higher than in the UK, with some schools having rates as high as 63%!
Strong programs in Ireland include Data Analytics, Business Analytics, Data Science, Computer Science, and Cyber Security.
Currently, around 32,000 international students are pursuing their education in Ireland.
Speaking of the University of Oxford, did you know that it is the oldest English-speaking university in the world? It started way back in 1096! It’s no wonder the building was whimsical enough to be used as a set for the Harry Potter films!
The average acceptance rate for UK universities falls between 44% to 8%, and Computer Science is one of the hardest degrees to get into.
But there are degrees with many specializations, including Music, Finance, Fashion, Psychology, CS, IT, Literature, Law, Physics, Mathematics, Management, Aviation, and more.
Currently, there are about 679,970 international students in the UK.
VERDICT: The UK will present you with more opportunities in terms of education, so the UK is better for this. While Ireland does have a higher acceptance rate, there are more universities and specializations in the UK with more seats to fill.
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Healthcare
As someone who has lived in both countries, I’ve found that the healthcare systems in each place have their pros and cons. Here’s a breakdown of Ireland – United Kingdom healthcare.
In Ireland, there is government-funded and private healthcare. On the core level, healthcare is free or charged at a reduced cost.
Private insurance is more expensive than public healthcare, but you get the peace of mind of having quick access to the best level of care if you get sick or hurt.
But Ireland’s public healthcare is excellent and if you’ve been living in Ireland for at least a year or intend to live here for a year, you’re entitled to a range of public health services.
The UK also has a universal healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS). They are in charge of all aspects of healthcare in the UK, meaning they serve an average of 1 million people every 36 hours!
Due to the massive numbers, the NHS has been under criticism for long wait hours and for underperforming. To top it off, reduced funding for the NHS has resulted in less manpower which contributes to the issues they face.
VERDICT: Ireland wins at healthcare – while both countries have free healthcare systems, the NHS in the UK is too overcrowded and overwhelmed to provide good service at the moment.
Photo: Tim Gouw
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Job Opportunities
Both Ireland and the UK have pretty good job opportunities as a whole.
In Ireland, there are lots of job opportunities in tech, pharmaceuticals, finance, and more. Since I’m living here, I can say that the job market is not too shabby.
In the UK there are plenty of opportunities in finance, healthcare, and tech. And right now, there’s a high demand for skilled workers in the healthcare sector.
Of course, there are opportunities in other sectors as well. As you know, I’m not in any of those sectors. So find your dream job in Ireland or UK and start applying!
As a foreigner, though, you need to check on visa restrictions before you can start working. Please make sure you get the right visa – nothing worse than getting kicked out of a country you just settled in!
VERDICT: While both countries have good job opportunities, as mentioned earlier, The UK will present you with MORE job opportunities based on its size – about 3.5 times bigger than Ireland.
Photo: Kevin Curtis
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Lifestyle
You might already know this from how the Irish and UK people are portrayed in media – socializing in pubs is a big deal in both places. It’s a great way to unwind and make connections with others.
But don’t worry if you’re not into drinking; you won’t feel pressured. Non-alcoholic socializing is gaining popularity in both countries and there are people who are content to enjoy each other’s company without a buzz.
Non-alcoholic beer sales in Ireland have more than tripled between 2017 and 2021, from 1.79 million to 5.55 million liters. And in the UK, 1 in 5 people choose non-alcoholic drinks.
The love for sports is something else these countries have in common.
Soccer, rugby, and cricket are popular in the UK, while Gaelic football, hurling, and soccer are big in Ireland.
If you want to experience the local pride and meet new people, attending a game or match is a great way to do it!
If you’re a fan of music and wondering if music is big in Ireland, United Kingdom or neither, you’ll be happy to know both countries love music!
You can get in on the action at local pubs that play traditional Irish music or attend a ceilidh, a traditional dance event.
In the UK, there are always some big-name artists performing in the major cities so if you’re a fan of live concerts, you’ll love it there!
VERDICT: While both countries have quite a similar lifestyle, the UK is more rounded with fun concerts from international artistes, so it wins this round!
Photo: Omar Lopez
Living In Ireland Vs UK – People
Some of the friendliest people in the world are the Irish – so you’re in luck if you want to make friends in Ireland.
Irish people love having a conversation with just about anyone – they’re really chatty and love to talk.
You can get caught up in a conversation for hours on end with a stranger at the pub 🙂
The Irish have this thing they call ‘craic’ which translates to a good time with banter news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of that?
And while this is quite similar to the way Brits interact with close friends, the Brits are usually a lot more reserved with people they don’t quite just know yet.
You might think they are cold and distant but people in the United Kingdom just take some time to warm up to people.
VERDICT: Ireland in a heartbeat! (Sorry, Brits!) Of course, people vary, but generally, the Irish are super welcoming and friendly that you will be immediately drawn to them OR they will “adopt” you into their circle!
Photo: Alex Quezada
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Public Transport And Infrastructure
As with most countries, public transport is usually better the closer you live to a big city in both Ireland and the UK.
Altogether, the UK has a more extensive public transport system compared to Ireland. There’s the famous London Underground, along with a well-connected network of trains and buses.
While Ireland’s transportation is not as great, buses and trains still connect major cities and it’s not impossible to move around with public transport.
VERDICT: UK is better as it is the more connected place between the two. You can easily get around the UK purely on public transportation.
Photo: Andre Jackson
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Quality Of Life
Based on the Global Peace Index, Ireland is a safer, more peaceful place to live in – ranking 3rd while the UK ranks 34th.
Ireland has pretty low crime rates compared to many other countries, and both countries have a strong police presence and effective law enforcement systems.
If you want a long life, both countries have a high life expectancy but Ireland is higher than the UK at 82.3 years instead of 81.2 years in the UK.
Ireland also has a higher GNP per capita, with $79,925 compared to $42,330 in the UK.
Being nations that emphasize education, the UK and Ireland have high literacy rates, but the UK wins at 99% compared to Ireland’s 98%.
Both countries have strong currencies, the Pound Sterling and the Euro, which are easily exchanged for other countries like the USD and the Franc, for ease of traveling.
It appears that both countries have good quality of life indicators, so it would depend on your preference for other factors.
VERDICT: Based on the facts, Ireland is the better country as it’s ranked a safer place to live in. But the UK is not exactly a risky territory as a whole either. So if you want a more quiet life, Ireland is for you, and for a bit more excitement, head to the UK.
Photo: Todd Kent
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Renting Or Buying Property
Ireland’s property prices are infamous for being super expensive.
If we compare the rental per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the two main cities, Dublin’s will set you back around €1,943 ($2,120), which is higher than the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in London, at around £1,163 ($1,446).
If you want to purchase property, Ireland is still more expensive than the United Kingdom.
The average cost per square meter to buy an apartment in Dublin is around €7,312 ($7,977), which is significantly higher than the average cost per square meter to buy an apartment in London, at around £3,447 ($4,282).
Even out of the city center, Dublin fares higher at €4,885 ($5,329) per square meter to buy an apartment, compared to £2,596 ($3,225) in London.
VERDICT: So…definitely the UK is better *cries in Ireland property prices* Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, the UK will give you more affordable (at least between the two options) range to work with.
Photo: Nick Pampoukidis
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Salaries
Salaries in Ireland appear to be higher on average compared to the UK.
The average salary for full-time works in Ireland is about €45,000 ($49,099) per year. Over in UK, the average it’s about £33,000 ($41,015) per year.
While the average figures show quite a gap in earnings between the two countries, you need to bear in mind that these are average figures across the board.
VERDICT: On average, Ireland offers better annual salaries, but of course, actual salaries will vary depending on your job title, experience, and location.
Photo: Gregory DALLEAU
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Visas And Residence Permits
Ok, brace yourself for some serious business here.
Let’s talk about visas first.
To live and work in Ireland and the UK, you will need to apply for work visas. The visa options are as follows:
- The Critical Skills Employment Permit – for highly skilled workers in sectors like IT, healthcare, and engineering
- The General Employment Permit – for workers in occupations with a salary threshold of €30,000 ($32,747) or more
- The Intra-Company Transfer Permit – for employees of a multinational company who are being transferred to an Irish branch of the same company
- Tier 2 (General) visa – for skilled workers with a job offer from a UK employer
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa – for those starting a business in the UK
- Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa – for young people from certain countries
In Ireland, you’ll be eligible for a Permanent Residence Permit after living and working there for five years, and you’ll get a Stamp 4 on your passport, valid for five years and renewable.
After eight years of legal residence in Ireland, you can apply for a “Without Condition As To Time” endorsement, which doesn’t have a set validity.
To be eligible for permanent residence in the UK, you must have lived in the country for at least 5 years. You must be on your best behavior during all the years, too.
You can’t have any serious criminal convictions or owe the NHS money.
The great thing about UK permanent residence is that once you get it, you can live and work in the UK indefinitely and access the same public services as UK citizens.
VERDICT: The UK is a little better as it offers slightly more visa options – whether you’re a skilled worker, entrepreneur, or youth. And once you get your permanent residence in the UK, you have the same access to public services as UK citizens.
Photo: Sonika Agarwal
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Weather
The UK and Ireland are known for their not-so-great weather conditions.
The weather is as unpredictable as that box of chocolate Forrest Gump was talking about – you never know what you’re going to get! Sudden rains and windy conditions are common throughout the year, so bringing a poncho is always a good idea!
But it’s not all bad. There are occasional warm and sunny summers in both Ireland and the UK.
In the UK, the average temperature varies depending on the region. If we were to consider London, for example, winter gets around 6-8°C (43-46°F) on average, and summers are around 18-20°C (64-68°F).
VERDICT: This is a tough one as both countries have quite similar weather in terms of being very cold and rainy – even the summer is within the same temperatures with the warmest being at 20°C (68°F).
But we can compare the rain, though. And it rains a little more in Ireland – 151 days a year along the east and southeast coasts, while in the west, about 225 days a year. In the UK, you get around 148 rainy days a year. So I guess the UK wins this round? 🙂
Photo: Matheus Câmara da Silva
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Living In Ireland Vs UK – Best Places To Live In Ireland
If you’re already leaning toward living in Ireland, here are some of the best places for you to consider to live in, and why:
- Home to the famous Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery
- Offers the convenience of a big city
- Picturesque suburbs perfect for peaceful living
- Rich in cultural history, with sites such as Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Vibrant nightlife with a variety of options, including Temple Bar District
- Abundant opportunities for fishing, golfing, and yachting
- Fine art galleries, such as The Kinsale Gallery and The Boathouse Gallery
- Rich and colorful history
- Scenic fishing town atmosphere
- Beautiful beaches to enjoy like Malahide Beach and Portmarnock Beach
- East coast’s culinary capital with plenty of dining options
- Peaceful neighborhoods with a serene ambiance
- One of County Dublin’s more affluent communities
- Annual festivals such as the Skerries Midsummer Festival and Skerries Traditional Music Weekend that offer unique experiences
- Friendly locals that create a welcoming environment
- Picturesque seaside town with beautiful homes
- Architectural and cultural heritage showcased through Skibbereen Heritage Centre and West Cork Arts Centre
- Food and walking festivals such as A Taste of West Cork Food Festival and Skibbereen Walking Festival
- Natural beauty that is striking and unparalleled
- Picturesque beaches like Tragumna Beach and the nearby Lough Hyne
Photo: Chris Boland
Living In Ireland Vs UK – Best Places To Live In UK
If you’ve got your heart almost in the UK, here are the best places in UK and I’ve listed why:
- Offers a rich cultural and historical heritage
- Boasts of many job and business opportunities
- Features an excellent transportation system
- Has easy access to the beautiful English countryside, including the Cotswolds and Mendip Hills
- Rich arts and music scene with venues like the Bristol Old Vic and Briston Beacon
- Serves as one of the world’s primary financial, educational, and cultural centers
- Possesses a diverse community
- Showcases picturesque attractions such as Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament
- Has a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene
- Provides many excellent dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to diverse street food markets
- Offers many employment opportunities
- Boasts of high employment levels
- Has a relatively low cost of living
- Provides a lively nightlife and culinary scene
- Offers many educational options including the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University
- Access to quality education through the University of Reading
- Only 30 minutes from London via train
- Features a warm and friendly community
- Provides affordable housing options
- Offers many job opportunities, especially in the IT industry
- Has an active nightlife
- Provides budget-friendly accommodation options
- Home to two highly regarded universities, the University of Southampton and Solent University
- An emerging cultural center with venues like the Mayflower Theatre and the Southampton City Art Gallery
- Has active marine, retail, and hospitality industries
FAQs On Living In Ireland Vs UK
Is Ireland A Better Place To Live Than The UK?
Is Ireland a better place to live than the UK, you ask? Well, quality of life is judged to be higher in Ireland. In the United Nations 2022 annual ranking of 189 countries, Ireland ranked 8th while the UK ranked 18th.
Is It Cheaper To Live In Ireland Or UK?
Wondering “Is it cheaper to live in Ireland or UK”? The cost of living in Ireland can be slightly higher than that of the UK. This is mostly because rents, taxes, and good are more expensive in Ireland.
Are Salaries Higher In UK Or Ireland?
Are salaries higher in UK or Ireland? The Irish minimum wage is almost 20% higher than the UK minimum wage, with the £1 currently equating to €1.14 ($1.34). This may change following the UK Budget when the UK minimum wage is increased; however, that’s yet to be seen.
Is Ireland A Good Country To Live In?
Asking around, “Is Ireland a good country to live in?”. Actually, Ireland is among the best countries to live in worldwide. It provides a great quality of life to its residents and is a leader in developed free countries. Healthcare is also highly prized.
Living In Ireland Vs UK: Which Is For You?
As you can see, both Ireland and UK have their own perks.
I would say that the UK is for you if you are looking for a vibrant lifestyle with plenty of things to see and to keep you busy. The UK is perfect for you if you thrive in bustling energy, want diverse culture, and have tons of career opportunities.
If you want a more laid-back lifestyle, then Ireland will be great for you. With a close-knit environment and strong community ties, you will feel at home real quick in Ireland! Not to forget all the stunning nature for you to relax in.
I hope my comparison has made it easier for you to take a pick. If there’s anything else you want to know, just hit me up in the comments!