Two days after we arrived, we signed a yearlong lease for our 1-bedroom apartment in Smithfield (Dublin 7). After all the horror stories I had read about Dublin’s rental crisis (lack of good, affordable apartments; viewings with queues out the door), we were so incredibly relieved to have found an apartment we liked so quickly. We beat out five other interested parties, and our landlord told us we really lucked out in finding a place so soon.
If you plan on moving to Dublin and are responsible for finding your own housing, I suggest starting researching ASAP. Having said that, don’t be hasty and agree to a lease or wire money to a complete stranger if you haven’t seen the place in-person first. There are a lot of scammers out there, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
I checked daft.ie every single day for about a month before we moved here. I created a free account, saved various properties I liked, and monitored how quickly they went off the market. It helped me better understand the rental landscape, the sought-after neighborhoods, and how much your money could get you in Dublin (not very much).*
I didn’t actually start contacting agents until the week before our arrival, though. The desirable rentals can move really quickly here (within a week of posting), and there was no point trying to schedule a viewing more than a week out.
*You may not get a lot of square footage (it’s Europe, after all), but one great thing for expats is that the majority of rentals here come furnished. In the States, furnished rentals are usually geared toward short-term business travelers, and the accommodation itself feels very corporate and hotel-like. However, our apartment is cozy and comes with a leather couch and chair, a small desk, a dining table with four chairs, a TV stand, a washer/dryer, a double bed, and two nightstands. Some small kitchen appliances, cups, plates, cutlery, and an iron are included, too.
Contact agents and landlords several days before your arrival and try to start viewing apartments as soon as possible. We looked at our first apartment eight hours after our plane landed, and we looked at three other apartments over the weekend before making our final decision.
For accommodations expected to get high interest, there will oftentimes be a group viewing scheduled. I learned that if an apartment is listed/managed by a real estate agent/company, viewings will likely only take place on weekdays—and usually during business hours—so you may have to duck out of work.
If you have friends, family, or coworkers who are very familiar with Dublin, ask them for their honest advice on neighborhoods. We were able to rule out one apartment quite easily, thanks to the horrified looks on Steve’s coworkers’ faces when we mentioned the neighborhood.
Sadly, with the way the market is, you don’t really have time to mull things over, especially if it’s a rental that is attracting heavy interest. In our case, the landlord had shown the apartment to six total interested parties over two days (we were the last to view it), and the decision to give us the unit was made less than 24 hours after our viewing. The listing itself was posted on daft.ie earlier that week.
Once you find the one that ticks all your boxes, confirm with the agent/landlord very soon after the viewing that you want to move forward in the process, gather all of your references (see below), and hope the landlord chooses you!
References and Money
Employer and landlord references are a critical part of the application process here. You’ll see it mentioned in nearly every listing and by every landlord/agent.
I’m assuming it’s because we’re not straight out of university, but landlords/agents seemed to be less anal with our references. We didn’t need to provide a landlord reference since we were able to show proof that we were homeowners in Boston. For the employer reference, we showed Steve’s employer’s letter and work permit, which outlined his dates of employment and salary. This was all we needed to provide, but of course, every landlord is different, so you may need to provide more or less documentation.
Make absolutely sure you have these references, passports (or another proof of ID), and the funds for first month’s rent + security deposit ready to go. Landlords and tenants move quickly here, so if it’s a hot property and you can’t produce all of these things immediately after a viewing, don’t expect the landlord to wait around for you. Some even request you bring references to the viewing, so be prepared! I’m pretty sure if we didn’t have all of these items, our landlord would have swiftly crossed us off the list and went to the next applicant!
Regarding funds, I had been worried that no landlord would take us seriously since we didn’t have an Irish bank account set up yet. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out to be a big issue. At the lease signing, we paid our landlord 300 euros in cash as a deposit. A few days later, we paid the remainder, also in cash. Since then, we’ve opened an Irish bank account so we can seamlessly transfer money to our landlord for future rent payments.
That being said, I suggest being honest and upfront with your potential landlord during the application process. Our landlord knew we had literally just arrived from the States, so he understood we didn’t have an Irish bank account yet and had no problems accepting initial cash payments.
In addition to daft.ie, myhome.ie is another popular site for listings.
Paying extra for electricity and Internet/cable is expected, as well as gas if it’s used for heating or cooking. Water is not a billed utility in Ireland (yet).
From what I’ve seen, most apartment buildings are not pet-friendly. Look into renting a house if bringing a furry friend.
Rentals with designated parking spaces are hard to come by the closer you get to the city center, but they’re not impossible to find. A number of people have told us how driving is a nightmare in the city, though, so it might be best to forgo the car and use public transit, walk, or bike. (It’ll widen your apartment search options, too!)
Spend time looking at Dublin’s different neighborhoods and its public transit system. Some areas have Luas (light rail) or DART (rapid transit train) stations, while others are only serviced by buses. Dublin’s a major city, but since it’s relatively small area-wise, our light rail and train maps look nowhere near as complex as those of London, Paris, or Berlin.
If you’re moving here in August or September, it may take longer to secure a place, especially if you’re looking for a room to rent (versus a whole apartment). There are numerous universities here and school is typically back in session late August/early September.
Especially for Americans moving here: as mentioned earlier, apartment sizes in general are a lot smaller, especially if you plan on living near the city center. Our place here is 527 sq. ft.—it’s definitely the smallest space we’ve lived in together. If you’re coming from a place like Manhattan, you’ll likely be used to the size, but those from more sprawled-out cities and towns might find they have to downsize greatly.