I moved to Dublin from London a little under two years ago. My Irish girlfriend accepted a job in theatre production, and invited me to come with her. Dublin, and Ireland in general, has a great and thriving theatre scene, but that’s a different article…
Here’s the lowdown.
THE GOOD: Everything feels extra achievable in Dublin. There are only 0.5 million people living in the city, and 5 million people in the whole country, compared to 8.5 million in London alone. This means it feels like getting people’s time is a lot easier, whether you want a job interview, a mentor, to pitch for work – whatever. It also means you might feel like there’s less competition – in certain fields – but, of course, it doesn’t mean you should take it easy. Dublin is full of homegrown creative types, and they will be working just as hard as you.
It also means that you bump into everyone you know, all the time, everywhere you go. Which can be a great, or terrible, if you’re doing embarrassing things and hoping no-one you know catches you.
What are the people like? They’re different to the English, which I’ve observed often comes as a surprise to the English. I’m not going to go off-topic by writing some patronising treatise on ‘what Irish people are like’ here. There are a ton of articles on the internet if you’re interested. Ignore any that mention potatoes, it’s not really a thing like you think it is.
Dublin is a modern, metropolitan city, so stow your notions of Aran jumpers, firesides, cob pipes and trad music. It’s not quite like London, where each of the areas has its own distinct flavour; Dublin is bisected by the river Liffey, and only sort-of different each side of it. Ireland, though, has its own unique flavour from county to county. Again, it’s not for me to run through each one’s ideosyncrasies with you (people from Cavan love a bargain) – just know that they are there, and they all bring them with them when they move ‘up to Dublin’.
People often say, when talking about the different in Irish and English work cultures, that the Irish attitude is more laid-back, less exacting. They use the example that (some) Irish professionals (can be) (more) flexible with timekeeping. I have not (always) found this to be the case. Be reliable, available, communicative, deliver on time – all the things that you know you should be doing for your client, boss or editor – and you’ll be grand.
Prepare yourself for the banter. Everyone is hilarious. There might be a bit of sports chat in the workplace. Here’s a primer. Football is ‘soccer’ here. ‘Football’ is the other thing, Gaelic football, which you can use your hands for. Go to a couple of football and hurling matches – they’re cheap enough – and you’ll be able to hold your own in these kinds of chats, if that’s your thing.
NCAD is the local art school, based in Dublin’s oldest area, The Liberties – a band of winding market streets outside the old city walls. It boasts an active and political student body, a fabulous basement café, and tons of interesting-
What’s that? You want to know what you’re going to do at the weekend? Well, we’re spoiled for choice here. There are dozens of gig venues and a thriving live music scene. Canalophonic, a weekend festival held in the canalside Portobello and Rathmines areas of the city, is on this weekend. If live music’s not your thing, don’t worry, there’s brunch: Dublin has a restaurant complement to rival that of any large UK city. There are also museums, galleries, writers’ centres, international theatre festivals, literature festivals… (there are a lot of festivals, in fact – if you’re a young creative interested in performance and events, Dublin is an excellent place to be). There’s great shopping to be had, with everything from department stores to unique boutiques. The coffee is plentiful and very good. Check out Kaph, Clement & Pekoe, 3fe, Love Supreme, Brother Hubbard, and those are only my personal faves in the city centre.
While we’re on the topic of coffee, I should say a few words on workspaces. There are loads. Dublin is trying to sell itself on its appeal as a tech city – it has its answer to Silicon Valley, the Silicon Docks, plus several start-up academies, digital incubators, big multi-national tech companies with global HQs here, etc. etc. – which means that people are looking for and touting new, inventive ways to work. This means plenty of cafes with wi-fi and power outlets, and plenty of hotdesks in the city centre. Some of them even have dogs. Thumbs way up!
The BAD: The biggest drawback to living and working here is that Dublin has a serious rent problem. There were just over half a million people living in the greater Dublin area at the time of the last census, and demand is outstripping supply among young people looking to rent. Private landlords have become notorious for royally taking the piss. Young people who left around the time of the crash (dubbed “Generation Emigration”) are moving back to Dublin from abroad, and this – among other factors – means things are likely to continue as they are for some time unless something drastic is done.
But if you’re not put off the the prospect of finding somewhere to live – and it is daunting, but it can be overcome – in Dublin you’ll find a lively city with great atmosphere, incredible scenery right on your doorstep, friendly workmates, constant craic and bants, tons of career opportunities and even, amazingly, some people that like your accent and think it’s cute.
But don’t even think about moving here if you can’t stand the rain.
Natalie Lewendon is a copywriter and journalist in Dublin, Ireland.