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Interview with FJ – an Austrian-American expat in Ireland

Updated 23 Mar 2011

Franziska moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 2009 with her diplomat husband and children. She is adapting well to life in the Emerald Isle and can verify that the key cliches about life in Ireland hold true: the locals are very friendly, and it rains a lot!

Read more in the Expat Arrivals Ireland country guide or read more expat experiences in Ireland.

About Franziska

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Austria, but American now by marriage since 1996

Q: Where are you living now?
A: Dublin (Ballsbridge), Ireland

Q: How long you have you lived in Ireland?

A: Since August 2009

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: My husband is a US diplomat

About Dublin

Q: What do you enjoy most about Dublin? How’s the quality of life?
A: No language barrier (for us as Americans), very friendly, easy to get around, not a lot of pollution and very child-friendly. The playgrounds here are fantastic! And on a sunny day, it’s hard to imagine anything more beautiful than the Irish countryside. The variety of dining options is wonderful too, with lots of ethnic restaurants.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: It does rain a lot, but not as much as I expected! And it’s very windy. If I miss anything, it’s climate-related; I miss having distinct seasons.

Q: Is Dublin safe?
A: Yes; there are, however, areas in the north to be avoided with gang and drug activity.

Q: How would you describe an ideal way to spend a weekend in Dublin?
A: We love nature, so for us, that would be getting out into the Wicklow area for some hiking or on a sunny day frolicking on Brittas Bay. Dublin is also a cultural hub, with great concerts, festivals, plays and now, in the new Grand Canal Theatre, even big-budget Broadway/West End productions. For sports fans, Croke Park and the new Aviva Stadium are big draws.

About living in Ireland

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Dublin as an expat?
A: Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount. We also have friends in Foxrock and Blackrock; however, that’s a bit further from the city centre.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Dublin?
A: We live in a newly built house with under-floor heating, so it’s good, but some of the older homes tend to be cold in the winter, albeit with lots of old-world charm.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Ireland compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Very expensive for everything really... The US Dept of State deems Ireland to be about 40% more expensive than the Washington DC area; however, I think it’s even more than that.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Locals are very friendly; however, for closer friendships, it’s easier to mix with expats since most locals have a network of life-long friends that’s hard to break into when you are only here for a few years.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes, especially through our kid’s school.

About working in Ireland

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: They have a lateral work agreement with the US for diplomats, so it is not an issue.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in Dublin? Is there plenty of work?
A: Certain sectors are okay, but the recession is definitely very noticeable.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Not as reliable, and good customer service is not as highly valued as in the US.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move to Dublin?
A: No, but the US Embassy has a sponsorship system in place, which is essentially the same thing.

Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: No, he found it to be one of the easiest transitions compared to all our previous moves.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: Yes, their teachers and classmates made them feel so welcome that they made friends very quickly and felt at home right away.

Q: What are the schools in Dublin like? Any particular suggestions?
A: We opted to send our boys to the International School of Dublin so they can continue in the international curriculum, and we are very pleased with our choice: very dedicated teachers, small class sizes and an open, international environment, also very centrally located near the city centre.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Ireland?
A: It’s okay; we pay for everything out of pocket and then file through our US health insurance, which enables us to seek out the doctors we’d like to see.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Bring your Wellies and enjoy the rainbows instead of getting flustered by a surprise rain shower. There is a reason this is the “Emerald Isle”!

~ Interviewed March 2011

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