Thinking of moving from OZ to Ireland - have heard it's hard to make friends
My husband and I are throwing around the idea of moving ourselves and our three young children to Ireland.
I have been doing loads of research on various things but one topic that keeps coming up is that people seem to have a hard time making friends in Ireland.
We are quite social and we currently live in a friendly little country village and have a lovely circle of friends. I love going out for the occasional girls night out with my friends (most of us are mums and it's great to escape the kids every now and then). We also regularly have friends over for bbq's and gatherings....although the Irish weather may not be too accommodating for that kind of thing.
So, I guess I am paranoid that we will move there and just be lonely???
We are both friendly people and willing to make an effort to get to know new people.
Has anyone else here experienced difficulty in making friends?
Welcome to the site. I hope we can be of some help to you.
You ask an interesting question, and I don't think there's a straightforward answer. I certainly know where you're coming from though. I think Irish people are generally perceived as being friendly and welcoming, but their may be a limit to that welcome. By that I mean, that most people have an inner circle of friends that they've basically grown up with, so it can be hard to break in to that group. However, I don't believe that is difficult to make friends, especially for someone like yourself, who says they are quite friendly.
If you live in a rural area, I'd imagine it to be a little trickier to develop close friendships due to what I described above, but in cities it's a lot easier. There is a lot more movement of people in and out, and a lot of foreign immigrants, so finding people in a similar situation is easier. Throw in the fact that you have kids and it makes that even easier.
My family and I just moved to Ireland this past week, Tuesday to be exact and are starting to get everything situated and hopefully settled. We are living about 45 min outside of Dublin in the town of Tullow. It is definitely on the rural side and a small town, but not as rural or small as others around. Some of the villages are very tiny and inclusive so as an outsider may be difficult to make close friends. However, it all comes down to becoming involved in the local community. If you are social and want to get involved you should have no problem making friends.
The house we are renting is a holiday home on a golf course, so there is a mix of permanent residents and hotel guests. The upside is that there is a playground on the grounds as well as tennis courts, swimming pools, and other rec facilities which our kids already love. The slight downside is that it is a holiday home so not necessarily equipped for long term renters, mainly the kitchen. It is within walking distance to town and the schools as well, which definitely helps.
We have found that the people in the town park/playground are more friendly and social than our own neighbours on the golf course. There are quite a few Polish families in our neighbourhood, so it could just be a language barrier.
I'll post more in the coming days once things have settled a bit.
Thank you both Liam and Kate for your responses 🙂
I can understand what you mean about it probably being more difficult to make close friends in the rural areas...which is probably exactly where we were thinking of moving, ha, ha.
We are totally willing to make loads of effort within the community as that is what we do where we are now....and yes, even here having kids is a great way to meet new people as you generally have some things in common.
What are the schools like with parental involvement? Our current school relies heavily on parent help and we are all very involved....because of this we get to know each other very well and I have made some very dear friends.
@katemreagan - what an exciting but probably overwhelming time for you right now. Wishing you all the best for getting settled in. Was it easy getting your children into the local school? Hopefully they are enjoying the adventure!!
Happy to weigh in! We are an American family of five, but we previously lived in Melbourne, Australia, for two years (my middle child was born in Australia), so I have a bit of experience in both countries. I'll be totally honest, culturally Ireland is not as social as Australia, and I find it even more isolating as a family (if you're a single person, you'd have the Irish pub culture and be just fine). I'm a stay-at-home parent (we are here on my husband's phd visa and I'm not even permitted a work visa), so it's been challenging. My neighbors, fortunately, have been fantastic and welcoming. And my daughter's attend a private German school (long story... verrry long story, national schools were our original intent) and because it's an expat community, that has worked to our benefit, as well (other parents also away from friends/family in their homeland, more willing to connect with newcomers). But, nine months in, I wouldn't say I have a very active social calendar. My children certainly do, and I do consider some of their friends' parents friends of mine, as well, but as we hosted a party just this last Friday, it became painfully obvious things are still a bit awkward and new, even still.
I think Irish friendships take time. There isn't that sort of instant connection we had with folks in Australia. In Australia I honestly felt as though we never had a free weekend, we somehow had instant family (and it was lovely). Here, the weather hasn't helped, and neither did our initial rough introduction to the country (Irish immigration was a special hassle for us). We also have the disadvantage of being non-church-goers (if you belong to a Parish, I believe it helps matters). I joined a local expat group, as well, but due to my children's school schedule, that wasn't entirely compatible either. Gosh, I really wish I had better advice, all I can really share is my personal experience, though. And to be perfectly honest, at times I wonder if some of *my* challenges here have less to do with the local culture and perhaps more to do with the limitations of being a stay-at-home parent. But overall, yes... making friends in Ireland, as a family, hasn't been as easy as it was in Australia.
But hey, if you land in Dublin, I'll have the Tim Tams and vegemite toast ready for tea, ha! 🙂
Hi @mcrose thank you so much for sharing your experience, it's really helpful.
If we make the move then our situation will be very similar to yours (family of 5, non church goers, school aged children etc). I am a stay at home mum but I'm also doing university studies and run an online business, so my days are pretty busy, lol.
I should be eligible for Irish citizenship so I'm hoping that might mean i could possibly get part-time work or even open up a little shop (this would be great for meeting people). I have no idea if my husband will even be able to work or not...we still have to look into all of that.
I think knowing that Ireland generally isn't a social as Australia is good because at least we know it isn't us as people as such but just the way the culture is (not personal, iykwim).
My biggest concern is for my children, I'm sure they will settle in nicely but I know it will take time. My boys are in primary school so they should be fine...it's my eldest, my daughter, who will be starting her first year of high school when/if we move that will have the biggest challenge I think.
Thank you again for your response....would love to definitely take you up on the offer of Tim Tams someday...but I'll pass on the Vegemite thanks, blergh!! 😛 😛
I think it really boils down to immediate peer groups, too. My husband's uni peers are all single, childless middle aged men (only phd student visas permit one to bring family along, so one wouldn't normally encounter any other uni level student with partner/family along anyway... we are a unique situation). Perfectly lovely people, but when in Australia where he earned his MBA, his peers were men and women with young families like our's, and therefore we spent more time together as a group. I could see his colleagues cringing around the kids when we hosted them last Friday haha! It's just different stages of life.
Another example to clarify - the expat group regularly hosts cocktail events and silent auctions and what not. And the uni group frequently invites us to pub crawls. There isn't a shortage of gatherings to attend... just a shortage of family-compatible events.
My children, on the other hand, have a VERY active social calendar! Every weekend is consumed with birthday parties and play dates. There hasn't been an issue there at all. (And maybe the Irish here can clear this up for me - the birthday parties are SUCH a huge deal! They seem to really go big here... is that the Irish norm? They attend a German school, so haven't been entirely sure.) They have adjusted beautifully for the most part, their peers have been very, very welcoming, as have their peers' parents.
All that being said, I'm sure if I dug a little deeper and involved my children in the local GAA sports or other extracurricular group events (presently they only attend piano lessons), we'd find ourselves amongst other families. And we do have a local community centre that offers play groups and classes for toddlers. I'm just not *there* yet, but moving in that direction soon. We shall see....
I do want to add a few things that may contradict what i said earlier.
This week has been my first week back at work here in Ireland and i spoke to my new coworkers about our living situation. We are are actually looking at moving to a smaller village as we are not fans of the town we are living in and our property manager is terrible. The 5 people on my team all agreed that we should move to a small village, especially since we have children, as it would be the best way to integrate into the cpmmunity. Since we really do not want to be seen as expats or immigrants for that matter, they thought a village setting would be best because you are almost forced to integrate.
Obviously, i cannot speak to any of this as we have not yet moved to a smaller village, but what they said definitely makes sense. We have already noticed that we are practically invisible in our current town.
@mcrose - glad to hear that your children have settled in nicely!!
Mine also currently have a VERY active social life, lots of great friends and lots of activities to keep them busy (and me an exhausted taxi driver). I would definitely looking at getting them involved in local sports, dance etc if we move.
I love the comment about parties being a big deal!! I'm actually an occasional fairy/children's party host, so that may be a business I could continue over there 😉
@katemreagan - we would look at probably looking to live in a smaller village too. That is what we have now and we love village life. Definitely want to integrate into the local community.
I'd love to keep up to date with your journey, would love to hear how you get on with moving to a smaller village. It all seems very exciting from my end, lol!
We are hopefully headed over there late next year for another holiday, so i will use that opportunity to check out a few possible places to live. At the moment we are considering Cork West or somewhere in Kerry.
@danni regarding the question you asked about parent participation in schools. I think you'll find it varies. My brother is a teacher in Cork, and their school really encourages it. From what I've seen elsewhere, it's like as if it's discouraged completely. If that's something that is important to you, you might want to ask ahead of time.
Also, Megan mentioned the GAA. I strongly encourage parents of young kids to get them involved in our Gaelic sports. They definitely lead to more community events, and local participation, and can result in getting to know many of the local parents quickly. GAA has more of a community feel to it (IMO) than other sports in Ireland.
@mcrose - I always thought the opposite regarding birthday parties. I think my CA buddies go nuts, spending like crazy on all sorts of parties. The Irish ones I've been to, include soccer parties, mega sugar rush parties, and a couple of parties held at someones house.
@katemreagan you said "we really do not want to be seen as expats or immigrants" : do you think that living in an even smaller community makes you even more easily identifiable as an expat? Would the expat label take longer to shake off I guess I'm asking.