The Republic of Ireland and particularly Dublin is notoriously expensive to live in. In this post we’ll look at the cheapest places to live in Ireland, both north and south of the border and feature some of the best cities away from the capital. Digital nomads and remote workers in Europe may find better value elsewhere, but if you’ve always dreamt of living or at least spending some time on the Emerald Isle, it is possible to do it without spending huge sums.
5 of the Best Cities to Live in Ireland & Work Remotely
Voted the European capital of culture in 2020, Galway ranks among the best places to live in Ireland. Located on the West Coast where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean, Galway is a harbour city with a unique relationship with the sea.
With the cost of rented accommodation between 50 and 80% cheaper than in Dublin, Galway is certainly a much more affordable option and unless you have a desire to live in a bigger city, it’s most likely a better one. Galway offers a more quintessentially Irish experience and is generally regarded as a friendlier place than the capital.
Its booming cultural scene is also drawing people to Galway. It hosts many festivals throughout the year and is particularly proud of its culinary reputation with everything from fresh food at the Galway farmer’s market to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Estimated Living Costs (explanation below) – 1200-1850 Euros/month
For those looking for a true ‘city’ experience but put off by the costs of Dublin, Cork is your next best bet. It is the Republic of Ireland’s second city with a population of around 200,000, over double that of the next largest.
Located in the southern province of Munster, Cork is often referred to as the Rebel County which tells you something about the local psyche. Renowned for their sense of humour and distinct accent, Cork certainly has a slightly different vibe to other parts of Ireland and it boasts a vibrant nightlife and live music scene making it a good destination for party and particularly music lovers.
Cork is also close to some of the most beautiful nature in the country. Highlights include Glengarriff Forest while County Cork also boasts some gorgeous bays and beaches.
Estimated Living Costs – 1250-1900 Euros/month
Next we head to Limerick, which is also part of the province of Munster but is actually closer to Galway than Cork in the midwest region of Ireland. Founded by vikings in the 9th century, Limerick is one of Ireland’s oldest cities and remains one of the largest to this day.
It’s a good option for anyone looking for a high standard of living in Ireland and the potential to save more money than you would in some of the other provincial towns. The cost of living is lower than many Irish cities, yet the income levels are higher in Limerick than everywhere outside of Dublin – making this a good place to find a job.
Remote workers and nomads would also be wise to consider Limerick. Its relatively central location and good transport links makes it a good base for anyone looking to get out and explore the whole island during days or weekends off.
Estimated Living Costs – 1100-1750 Euros/month
Ireland’s oldest surviving city is Waterford, located in the southeast of the island. It also happens to be one of the prettiest, especially once night sets in across the marina.
The city’s most famous export was traditionally glass or crystal but recent years have been hard on Waterford and it is one of the most deprived areas of Ireland today. The smallest of the five cities featured here with a population of around 50,000, Waterford is also the cheapest of the main cities in the Republic of Ireland, so it’s at least worth considering if you’re a budget-focused nomad or remote worker.
For a simple lifestyle and nice riverside views, Waterford is a good option although it doesn’t have quite the same range of nightlife or entertainment options you’ll find in Cork or even Galway for example.
Estimated Living Costs – 1050-1600 Euros/month
5. Belfast (UK – not in EU)
Finally we hop over the border into Northern Ireland where you’ll have to swap Euros for Pounds.
Overall the North is considerably cheaper than the South with even the capital and largest city Belfast offering cheaper living costs than you find in many small towns and villages south of the border. If you’re a city guy or girl, Belfast is the best place to live in Northern Ireland. Only Dublin is larger on the island of Ireland and Belfast ranks as the 12th largest city in the United Kingdom.
The troubles of this divided city are thankfully largely a thing of the past and it has reinvented itself as a cosmopolitan place with a thriving arts and music scene. With two airports, it also has the best flight connections in Ireland outside of Dublin, a major positive for anyone looking to travel around the UK and beyond.
Estimated Living Costs – 900-1500 Euros/month (approx £800-1300)
Estimated Living Costs Calculation:
The estimated living costs in Ireland featured in this post (above and below) aim to cover the total living costs. By that we mean, the cost of renting accommodation plus groceries and typical expenses on things like evenings or days out.
However clearly everyone’s lifestyle and spending habits are different. The lower figure quoted for each city might be enough for a frugal person renting a room in shared accommodation and being quite careful with their money without leading a totally boring lifestyle. The higher figures should in most cases cover the cost for a single person renting a studio or small apartment and spending a bit more on meals or nights out. Overall though, the figures are more designed to be as a reference for comparison rather than an exact science.
If you’re a digital nomad and are planning a shorter stay in Ireland of just a few months or less and are planning to use Airbnb for your accommodation, you may need to add slightly more (10-20%). Also consider that there are usually only limited Airbnb options in some of the smaller, less touristy towns.
We have used Irish living cost data from Numbeo as a guide when forming the estimations.
What are the Cheapest Cities to Live in Ireland?
The following table shows the estimated cost of living in 10 of the largest cities in Ireland:
|City||Estimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)|
The table above highlights quite clearly that the cheapest places to live in Ireland are all north of the border. The bottom three cities are all in Northern Ireland while the top seven are all in the Republic.
Bangor, for example, is one of the very cheapest places to rent in Ireland or Britain. If you’re a remote worker and your priority is to find the cheapest living costs, then Northern Ireland is certainly a great option. However for better paying jobs and more work opportunities, you may have more luck south of the border.
While Dublin is by some distance the most expensive city, if you’ve got a good job lined up, your increased earning potential should compensate for that although finding decent accommodation at a reasonable price can be a major headache for new arrivals.
It’s worth noting that none of these budgets for living in Ireland factor in the cost of any travel or health insurance packages which will depend on your age and circumstances.
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