We're on the home straight. In two days time, US citizens who have not already cast their ballot through early voting will head to their polling stations and decide who our next President will be.
The best piece of advice we can give at this point in the campaign is to be prepared, and no, we're not just talking about ensuring you know where exactly your polling station is, and planning how and when you're going to get there. With both current presidential candidates earning some of the lowest favorability ratings we've ever seen, as excited as you might be to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 8, the following morning is bound to leave millions of citizens with an election headache that nothing is going to abate.
If you're unhappy with the election result, come Wednesday, all hope is not lost, however. As previously featured on IrishCentral, Inishturk Island off the Irish coast extended an open invitation to those who dread the thought of President Trump to relocate to their sparsely populated island and an incredible amount of Americans have shown an interest in taking them up on the offer.
While beautiful, Inishturk may not be for everybody, however, and so, IrishCentral has put together a more general escape root for those hoping to make a speedy exit.
Why not make that yearly trip to Ireland a more permanent arrangement? Here it is, your guide to moving to Ireland before President Trump is sworn in.
1. Where exactly do you want to live?
You’ve decided to move to Ireland, but where exactly in Ireland should you make your home? If you don’t have any family members currently living in a particular part of the country, the world (or at least Ireland) is your oyster but there are some things you should keep in mind. While the idea of retiring to the remotest of remote places in the countryside may seem like a good idea at first, if you can’t drive then you’re in trouble.
Public transport in many rural areas can be hit and miss at best, with older people left to take long journeys by bus to hospital appointments and not a cab service in sight. You should also think about how far away you want to be from an airport, what job opportunities are in certain regions, what kind of schools you’d like your children to attend (many Irish schools are Catholic), and how far away from stores, banks etc. you’d like to be.
Cost is a huge factor within this. Accommodation in Co. Leitrim is not going to cost you as much as somewhere in Dublin. You may have to spend a lot more on gas if living in the country, however, as you'll have to drive a lot more. Weigh up which lifestyle would suit you best before making a final decision.
The decision to move to Northern Ireland will also create a difference in terms of where you’ll be applying for a visa and it will bring it’s own cultural differences that should be taken into account. As the six Northern Ireland counties are technically part of the UK, you'd be required to apply for a UK visa and not an Irish one. In the aftermath of Brexit and the current climate of confusion regarding the future of the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border and immigration to the UK, it will be a hard call to make.
While it’s a good idea to have visited the village, town, or city you wish to move to at least once before you move, to get a feel for the neighborhood and attempt to line up accommodation, temporary accommodation is an option. A downside would be, of course, how difficult this could be to co-ordinate if you plan on bringing most of your US possessions with you. (Do you want to move twice within a short space of time?)
To save yourself money on expensive hostels, hotels, short-term leases and to avoid the sense of floundering on arrival, we’d advise that you know where you’ll be living before you make the move. It doesn’t always happen but with websites such as Daft.ie and the Real Estate Alliance offering advice on buying property in Ireland, you can at least research well before taking the plunge.
It should be noted that many rented places can also come furnished in Ireland so that’s one less thing to worry about.
3. Acquiring a visa
As an American citizen, this is possibly the most difficult and uncertain part of the whole moving to Ireland process, but checking with your nearest Irish embassy is a good place to start.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) was established in 2005 in order to provide a ‘one stop shop’ in relation to asylum, immigration, citizenship and visas. You can explore the options personally available to you here.
And a few FAQ here.
US citizens can travel to Ireland without a visa for three months but any plan to stay longer than that and you have three main options: go to Ireland to work, to study, or to retire.
The D-visa is a single-entry long-term visa allowing you to travel to Ireland to pursue a course of study, to work or to settle permanently in Ireland with family members who are already residents. (More information can be found here.)
1. One option is to enroll in a course of study but if you plan on staying in Ireland long-term, unfortunately, years spent in the country as a student are not counted as years of residence when applying for citizenship.
2. To be completely honest, if looking for a work visa, it is difficult and there are many reasons why you may not be able to acquire a permit. You’ll need to have a job lined up before applying for the visa and convincing a company to hire you instead of an EU citizen may be hard. If you do manage to find a job, the chances of you getting a work visa are higher if you earn more. If you earn less than €30,000, for example, it becomes much more difficult.
3. The third option is retirement and this also demands a lot of cash.
Although one-third of Irish Americans would like to retire in Ireland, new rules implemented in 2015 make it increasing difficult.
The new rule requires that retirees have an annual income of no less than $55,138 (€50,000) per person,($110,276/€100,000 for a married couple) for the remainder of their lives in Ireland, regardless of their existing cash on hand or lack of debt. While INIS are currently finishing up a review of these rules that could see the required income levels drop, the numbers they've proposed are still quite high, and will be above the means of many.
Again, if you chose to move to a county within Northern Ireland, this process will be different as you will need to apply for a visa to the UK and submit your application to the UK home office. You can start your application for settling in the UK (Northern Ireland) indefinitely here.
There is also a range of work or study visas available on the Home Office website.
5. Apply for Irish citizenship
It never hurts to try and you may be surprised to learn you qualify. The US also allows dual citizenship with Ireland so no need to give up being an American in case you ever wish to return.
You can find more info here.
If applying for citizenship in the UK, dual citizenship is also allowed. You can find more information on UK citizenship here.
5. Renew your passport before you leave
If you're successful in acquiring a visa and plan to live in Ireland for a few years, save yourself the future hassle and check when it expires before you leave. Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your intended date of departure from Ireland and if you enter the state on a visa and then travel abroad, you will need another visa to re-enter the state. Plan ahead.
6. How much will it cost?
It will depend on each case and depend on whether you have a job lined up or not. You will need a large chunk of savings to keep you going without a job. We’d advise taking the cost of your accommodation into consideration and always planning for the worst.
Ireland is also quite an expensive place to live. When I first moved to New York, I was paying as much rent on my apartment here as I would in Dublin and in the capital city especially, things are only getting worse.
If you move all of your possessions from the US, you will have to pay to ship them, but if you leave them behind, you’ll need to judge how long you can last without them for in Ireland.
One other big cost to take into consideration is the possibility that you may also need to buy a car, depending on the area in which you chose to live.
7. What to bring with you?
It will again depend on where you’re living, and how long you think your savings are going to last/how long you can survive without something in Ireland.
For some recommendations, you can check out this interesting piece previously published on IrishCentral - Things we wish we’d brought when we moved to Ireland (and what we should’ve left behind).
8. Embrace the differences
When I moved to the US, I was taken aback by how much of a culture shock it was. I thought I knew all about American life but I was very wrong and I’m sure that the same can be said in reverse.
In moving to Ireland, you’ve avoided Trump, but you still might not agree completely with how we run things. Gun laws are strict, higher taxes pay for social welfare and health care, and we have a strong relationship with the European Union.
If you can’t deal with any of these things (here’s looking at you, Bill O’Reilly) you may want to rethink your move. It will be hard at the start to adjust to the new culture but eventually, even if you don’t agree with everything, you will learn to agree to disagree (as I have with many, many American ways of life I don't understand)! There are plenty of benefits to make up for it.
The weather might not be great and we have our own issues with our government - see the narrowly avoided strike planned by the country's police officers last week, the aforementioned housing crisis, and concerns about our tax plan with Apple - but what with the people, the food, the culture, the sport, the drink, and the craic, there’s plenty to enjoy about life in Ireland.
Whether you prefer the outdoor lifestyle or sitting in with the literary greats, Ireland has all you need.
10. And lastly … Request an absentee ballot!
So you can make sure to support whoever is running against Trump if it happens all over again in 2020!
Have you ever made the move to Ireland? Do you have any advice? Let us know in the comments section, below.
*Originally published in March 2016.