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Finding reasonably priced accommodation in Dublin is no easy task. Rental costs continue to rise as the city's real estate market struggles with high demand and limited supply. As many big multinational businesses move their headquarters to Dublin the demand for, and cost of, rental properties are skyrocketing. Renting in the city centre, in particular, has become a rather costly affair.
Younger expats prefer to be near the action of the city centre, while those with families tend to look further afield towards the suburbs where space isn't at such a premium. It really comes down to the type of lifestyle that newcomers to the city would be interested in. Proximity to transport, schools, economic hubs, sport facilities, parks, and so on, should also be considered before buying or renting a property.
Types of accommodation in Dublin
The most common types of housing expats can expect in Dublin are apartments and semi-detached rowhouses.
Free-standing houses are more common towards the outskirts of the city. Older houses and apartments are usually more spacious, while rent is lower the further away from the city centre one goes. Many younger expats and students in Dublin choose to live in house shares, where they have their own bedroom but share the common living areas of an apartment or house.
Most apartments and houses in Dublin and other cities come fully furnished, including couches, tables, dressers and kitchen appliances.
The city is divided into areas referred to as zones, which are included in all addresses. Generally, the lower the number of a zone, the closer it is to the city centre. Higher numbers tend to be in suburbs on the city outskirts. So, the higher the zone number, usually the lower the rent. The city is further divided into north and south by the River Liffey. Zones to the north of the river are odd numbers, while even-numbered zones are to the south.
As in most cities, some areas in Dublin are more expensive than others. South Dublin is more expensive than the north, while the city centre mostly offers upmarket apartments and rowhouse options, which come at sometimes jaw-dropping prices.
Finding accommodation in Dublin
Real-estate agencies are the easiest way to find accommodation in Dublin but, unlike many other countries, the rental agencies in Dublin often bill the renter rather than the property owner. The equivalent of one month's rent is usually the accepted fee.
Expats who prefer the DIY route can try their luck with online property portals and listings in local newspapers, or by word of mouth.
Renting accommodation in Dublin
Making an application
Once new arrivals have found a potential new home to their taste, we recommend they submit an application as soon as possible, as there will likely be other interested parties in a city with such massive demand. Prospective renters, and expats especially, will have to prove – often with bank statements – that they can indeed afford the lease, and agents or landlords will in all probability perform background and credit checks.
A rental deposit of between one and three months' rent is usually expected by landlords in Dublin.
Deposits are refunded, but landlords are allowed to make deductions from the deposit or keep the whole amount for various reasons, including to cover unpaid rent, for damages in excess of normal wear and tear, other breaches of the lease agreement, unpaid utility bills, or – if pre-arranged with tenant – to cover the last month’s rent.
Expats in Dublin will find that they are able to choose between fixed-term and periodic tenancy in most apartments. This will be helpful to expats who are unable to commit to a full year's lease in the city.
A fixed-term tenancy, as the name suggests, covers rental for a set period of time as specified in the lease. There is no standardised period for this contract as far as the law goes, and the landlord and tenant are free to determine the length of the lease themselves. However, neither party may end the tenancy before the end of the fixed term unless both parties agree to do so or one of the parties has breached their obligations under the lease.
A periodic tenancy is more open-ended and does not specify a period of time. This gives both landlord and tenant the right to end the tenancy at any time as long as an appropriate notice of termination has been given.
The first thing expats should know about utilities in Ireland is that there’s no such thing. Gas, water, electricity and refuse services are referred to as “the bills”, and an expat will likely be met with blank stares if they make any mention of “utilities”.
The Electricity Supply Board remains the main electricity provider in Ireland. However, there is growing competition from other companies such as Bord Gáis Energy and Electric Ireland.
Standard voltage in Ireland is 230V AC, and the cost of electricity is relatively high. Costs are based on the number of units used, but the time of use can make a big difference to the final bill, with usage during off-peak hours costing less than usage during peak hours.
Gas is commonly used for cooking and heating in Ireland. Gas is provided via an underground pipe network, which is managed by Gas Networks Ireland. Despite the fact that only one company manages the network, consumers can choose their own gas provider. Most electricity providers can also provide gas.
Charges for waste removal vary greatly from area to area. Most houses or apartment buildings operate with a system of coloured bins for the purpose of separating recyclables from other rubbish. It is also possible to visit recycling depots and landfills to dispose of rubbish if one prefers not to pay for garbage disposal, but this can be a great inconvenience and is generally not worth it.
►For more on finding an apartment in Dublin and information about signing a lease, see Accommodation in Ireland
"Housing is a known issue in Dublin, there’s no getting around it. Generally, I’d say people either go for a smaller flat or house-share closer to city centre, if they’re on the younger/single side, or for a family house in the northern or southern suburbs, if they have a family. My experience is that supply is rather limited for both, but with a bit of patience and perseverance, expats will find a suitable housing option!" For more, see Grace's expat interview.
"It’s important to secure short-term living arrangements before moving over. This will give you time to house hunt. It’s also important to ensure that you have all your personal details on hand, including where you work and where you’ve previously stayed (rental references). Having these ready will certainly increase your chances of securing accommodation quicker." Read more of Darren's expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Dublin?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Dublin. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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