Retirement Around the World – Ireland

Published on July 25, 2013

Ah the Emerald Isle, home of leprechauns and rolling fields.  This island nation has been a place filled with wonder and beauty for thousands of years.  Known for its green fields, friendly people and proximity to mainland Europe, it’s a place that many people consider retiring to. We may have a picture in our minds of what we think it’s like, but what is it really like for an Irish person to retire?

Retirement for the Irish

In Ireland the retirement
age is between 65 and 66 years old, which is just about the same as in the U.S.  Just like in the U.S. this does not mean that all people retire at this age; some retire earlier and some later.  However, in Ireland, many employment contracts have a retirement age written in.  This retirement age clause varies from company to company, however, in some companies there is a statutory retirement age, which means you must retire when you reach that age.

Once a person retires in Ireland they become eligible to receive money from the National Social Insurance Fund into which all working people, aged 16 and older contribute to. On top of this pension there are many other programs available for retired Irishmen.  There are two state pension plans, Transition (which does not allow you to work at all) and Contributory (which does allow you to work).  In addition, there are a few other  programs, or “schemes” as they are called there, for which retired Irish citizens may be eligible for:

The health care in Ireland is considered some of the best in the world; national health insurance is provided through the government to all Irish citizens though many Irish opt to buy private insurance as well so that they have more options and less wait time. The Irish continue on this national health insurance plan after they retire, so they don’t need to get a new plan and find new doctors as many Americans do when they go on Medicare.

Americans in Ireland

If you are an American who wants to retire to Ireland there are some things you need to know.  First off, housing prices have fallen dramatically in the past couple of years meaning that finding a residence or property (to rent or purchase) will cost less than it would have a couple of years ago.  However, that does not mean it is cheap to live in Ireland.  With the American dollar being weak against the Euro ($1.00 = 0.76 Euros) things are going to be more expensive.  So while rent for a furnished unit may seem cheap at 800 Euros/ month remember that equals US $1,049.52/month.

If you want to be in Dublin you are going to be spending more money on housing then if you decided to live in another area of the country.  If you are planning on buying in the city center of Dublin, expect to pay about 3,120 Euros ($4,112.84) per square meter, outside of the city center expect to pay 2,910 Euros ($3,836.01) per square meter. By contrast, in county Kerry it is very possible to buy a charming home with land for less than $200,000 (151,623.95 Euros).

If you plan to stay for more than 90 days you are going to have to obtain a “Permission to Remain” which you obtain from the local police.  When you go to the local authorities you will have to present your passport as well as bank statements showing that you have enough money to support yourself for the duration of your stay in Ireland.

You will also have to get health insurance, which in Ireland is actually pretty affordable, especially when compared to U.S. premiums.  The average plan is around 1500 Euros a year ($1,978.10).

The climate in Ireland is often compared to Seattle, which means it rarely goes above 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and there is a lot of rain.  While you may not need your heavy winter coat all that often you will need rain gear. Remember to plan for the costs of clothing, which are more expensive than in the U.S.

While big expenses like housing and plane tickets are obvious it is the everyday things that make life enjoyable.  Make sure that you have enough money to go out to local restaurants and festivals as well as the movies and anything else you might be interested in.  If you do not plan to have a car, set aside money for public transportation.   Having a financial plan while living abroad is extremely important and cannot be something that is done last minute.

Now the fun stuff! 

Retiring in Ireland opens up all of Europe to you.  Flights to mainland Europe are very reasonable and you can always take the ferry to England.  But if going to Europe is not on your list of why you want to retire to Ireland have no fear, there are plenty of things to do and see in Ireland.  The country is about the size of West Virginia so it is easy to explore.

There are a lot of different things to see and do in Ireland; first of all, there are castles – lots of them.  Hop in a car or get on a train and you can be at a castle (ruins or repaired) in no time.  It will take you back in time; you will be able to feel the history of these places.  If castles aren’t your thing don’t fret – the coasts of Ireland are also something to see; some have beaches while others have breathtaking, slightly terrifying, cliffs.

The mystery and beauty of Ireland brings all different types of people.  In cities, especially Dublin, you will find a mix of nationalities.  Though Ireland has not always been known for its great food, with all of the different people coming to Ireland the food is becoming world class, especially the seafood (it’s an island after all!).  Being a mostly rural country means that there is an abundance of fresh produce and meats.  But food isn’t the only great thing; the people of Ireland are known for being friendly and talkative.  Irish are known worldwide for their story telling skills, so sit down in a pub and just listen to the people around you; you will most certainly hear some amazing stories!

The Emerald Isle is a mysterious yet inviting place; steeped with legends and history.  There is something for everyone in this country.   Though Ireland has all the modern conveniences the small town feel of the country helps to give the feel of a simpler way of life.  Before you retire to Ireland, do your homework on anticipated expenses so that you can adequately fund your IRA and enjoy many happy, active years there.


The resources below contain some helpful information.

Ireland Becomes a Low-Cost Place to Retire
Consulate General of Ireland
Health Care in Ireland
Real Estate in Ireland
Cost of Living in Dublin


Back to Blog