One of the questions I asked in a recent survey I ran on the blog was: "After you made a move to a new place what aspect of life did you find most difficult to adjust to?" Thank you to everyone who responded.

There were some very interesting issues shared in the answers, but probably the most common issue that popped up was how do people know where to go, or who to trust for medical or service needs. For example, people wanted to know where to find good doctors, dentists, repair people (plumbers & electricians were mentioned), restaurants, hairdressers etc.

I'm not sure how well this is handled in other countries, but in the US, there are a few very popular websites where almost every type of service and/or business is rated and reviewed. The two big ones that come to mind are Yelp and Angie's List. Due to the number of reviews these businesses receive in the US, it's very easy to get a good feel for them before you agree to use their services. In Ireland, the honest answer is, we don't really have a good go-to place for service reviews.

In Ireland, most services are reviewed and rated at the coffee shop, or at the pub, or on the phone to your cousin, or while chatting over the fence to your neighbour. Obviously not much of this is captured in the form of an online record. But, this informal approach is how most people find a trusty service to use. Essentially the common approach is to ask, rather than keyword search.

There are a few options for online reviews of services in Ireland (see below), but in all honesty, you will most likely need to start relying on local knowledge when you get to Ireland. One response I received to the survey was "Fellow outsiders will be best advisers - long term residents won't be as immediately helpful". There may be some element of truth to that, probably because if a person has recently gone through an experience, they will be more likely to want to talk about it with you. On the flip side to that though, Irish people love to chat, and asking them where they get their hair done, or who they call when they have a leaky tap, will probably land you in to a conversation longer than you had hoped for.

Where to find reviews for services in Ireland
Yelp - my experience with this site in Ireland is that is very sparsely used. For example, unlike in the US where you might have a couple of hundred reviews/ratings for a plumber, you might find barely a handful for one in Dublin. Due to this I personally wouldn't use it for much more than a directory listing. Although if you're looking for a directory, you should probably try goldenpages.ie

WhatClinic.ie - this one is a little better for feedback ratings (I saw one dentist with 79 reviews). It's possible that they might be asking the services that are listed to get their customers to rate them. WhatClinic.ie is an online review/rating site for medical treatments. It's pretty useful that the customer gets a chance to not only provide a review, but also share how much they paid for their treatment.

Bonkers.ie and Switcher.ie - these 2 websites help you compare the various utilities companies in Ireland that are providing services such as phone, electricity, internet, gas and TV. Neither help you determine which is the best in terms of service or quality, just how they compare for cost and what options they provide. It seems they make money when you sign up for a service via their links, but they do appear to offer impartial advice.

MenuPages.ie - The food industry in Ireland is quite well served by a review website in the form of menupages.ie. The website has a lot of reviews for restaurants around the country, and most seem fairly honest. You will find ratings, price guides, recipes and even deals for some restaurants.

Facebook - you can sometimes get a feel for the quality of a company/service by checking out their social media accounts. Facebook is the stomping ground for most local businesses using social media. The tricky part is finding them. Usually if I find a business/service I'm interested in using, I'll then look them up on Facebook. Customers post testimonials/reviews/photos/thank-you's on there, so you can get some insight into what kind of service you'll get.

Word of mouth - just to quickly revisit this.... Until people in Ireland start utilizing sites such as Yelp to review their local businesses, I'm afraid the best way to get good advice will be from people you talk to. That's all well and good if you're already in Ireland, but if you're trying to plan ahead I know it's not much use right now. You'll just have to adopt a very Irish approach to life for the time being, and just be happy to be patient 🙂

Thanks for reading. I'm sure someone, somewhere, knows of a great place to get online reviews for businesses in Ireland. If that's you, please add your comments below, or send me an email.

image credit: Flickr/irishjaunt

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