8 things Americans will find ridiculously expensive in Ireland
A few of us had some good chit-chat in the forums a couple of weeks ago about the cost of living in Ireland versus other cities/countries. My general feeling is that the cost of living in Ireland isn't so bad in comparison to where else I've lived in the world, namely southern California. Even after weighing up all the factors such as lower income in Ireland and high costs for imports, fuel, cars etc, I still find it more affordable.
However, there are many, many things in Ireland that American's (visitors and/or residents) will find excruciatingly expensive, when they compare it against what they were paying back in the States.
This list is just a start. I hope you'll add to it...
1. Gas/petrol: when the conversions have been taken care of (gallons to liters and dollars to euro), the cost of petrol exceeds that in the U.S by up to approx 200 - 250%. Taking that at face value it seems like you will be dreading every visit to the gas pump in Ireland, but you can relax a little knowing there is some reprieve due to the fact that most cars in Ireland do not guzzle as much fuel as those in the U.S. This is largely due to the generally smaller engine sizes that you will find in Ireland. Because of this I find that the out-of-pocket costs per mile driven, usually comes out pretty close.
Compare Pumps.ie vs Gasbuddy.com
2. Rental car insurance: for those of you coming over on a visit to check out your future home, you may want to rent a car to get around. You will find that rental car insurance is quite expensive in Ireland. Far more than you're used to in America. Besides the fact that insurance is more expensive, you'll also find that you do not qualify for any 'free' insurance through your credit card (with a couple of exceptions), unlike what is typically available back in the States. My friend Stephanie at InfiniteIreland.com can help us out with more details.
Compare Hertz.com vs Hertz.ie
3. Over-the-counter medicines: this one catches a lot of people off-guard, including yours truly. More than once I've gone to get some medicine for the kids, and have had to look twice at my receipt while on the way out the door of the pharmacy. OTC medicine is generally not as widely available in supermarkets like in the U.S. and it is pretty expensive from the local pharmacist. Pills, e.g ibuprofen, typically don't come in large bulk bottles. Instead they come in small packs of approx 12-24 pills. The box of 24 might cost a similar amount to the U.S. 100-pill bottle. Bring some of your basic medicinal needs along with you if possible, or have relatives bring some over for you when they visit. It's an easy savings opportunity.
Compare Target.com/pharmacy vs missing link
4. Eating out in Ireland: In short, it can be expensive! Check out these tips.
5. Dollar to Euro exchange: As much as this has greatly improved from an American perspective in 2014/2015, the fact remains that you are still "losing" approx 10% when you convert dollars to euros. (At time of publishing, the approx exchange rate is $1 = €.91)
This can hurt pretty hard when you are bringing your life savings over, or even enough money just to get you started in Ireland. To date I have used CurrencyFair.com 3 times to transfer money between the U.S. and Ireland. I choose them because they offer the best rate, and cut out unnecessary bank transaction fees. If you don't yet have an established Irish address, then TransferWise are another great alternative.
6. New cars: Cars are expensive in Ireland, especially if you go all fancy and buy something from the new stock selection. Ireland does not produce a car of its own, which if we did might help drive costs down, so anything you buy will be imported. Many people go to to the trouble of heading over to Great Britain, or will take a trip up to the North, to buy a car there. Generally they are cheaper there, but you will have some heavy taxes to pay upon your return. There's more information on that here.
Compare autotrader.com vs autotrader.ie
7. Electronics: Many people in Ireland make pre-Christmas trips to the States. A short holiday is one objective, but oftentimes another reason is to grab the latest and greatest in technology from a U.S. department store shelf. This is another category of item you might want American visitors to bring with them if they are visiting. Even with widespread online shopping deals, it can still be quite a bit cheaper to buy electronics in the States and bring them back to Ireland.
Tip! Watch out for products that may not work well in Ireland if buying abroad, e.g. Regionalized video games, lower voltage electronics etc.
Compare Amazon.com vs Amazon.co.uk
8. Clothes: This is another category of item high on the Christmas shopping list, especially for Ireland's youth. Brand named clothing can be particularly expensive in Ireland. Clothes, along with many other items on the list, are not brought in to the country in such large numbers as they are elsewhere, which means a higher sales rate. That coupled with the fact that there is a 23% rate of VAT in Ireland, makes items such as designer clothes quite pricey.
What have I missed? Whether you live in Ireland, and are fed up with Irish prices, or were shocked at the cost of something during a visit, let us know about it in the comments or by sending me a quick message.
image credit: Flickr/imeall