Choosing the green green grass of home for our family after a decade of forging a life and California dreaming

Back in September, my family and I closed the door on our American dream, and moved home to Ireland after almost a decade in California. When we announced that we had decided to move home,  a lot of our friends and family thought we were crazy. We heard the same sentiment every time we went back to Ireland for a visit – “You must love it over there”. We did, and we still do love the US, but our lives and our priorities changed.

Building a life in booming San Fran

My husband and I immigrated to the United States in our early twenties. I was fresh out of college and seeking adventure. We were lucky to have family in the Bay Area, so we made San Francisco our home. We both easily got jobs at a time when the Celtic Tiger was drowning at home. We rented an apartment in the city and forged a life for ourselves. We made lifelong friends through the Irish community in San Francisco and through our work. We spent our weekends exploring the city, and taking road trips to Tahoe. We spent our vacations visiting other cities in the US. We embraced American life and we loved it.

Four years ago, we got married in South Lake Tahoe. We decided to move out of San Francisco shortly thereafter, and bought a house across the Bay in Berkeley. Our careers went from strength to strength and I started my dream job at a tech company in 2014. We got a dog, and we were set. When our thoughts turned to kids, however, the reality of raising a family in the San Francisco Bay Area sunk in and we began to realize something had to give.

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the US, in terms of cost of living and housing. Our small, two bedroom house was pretty small for a family, and the cost of childcare was mind blowing. My commute to work (1.5 hours each way on a good day), and the tricky school system, added to the equation. As costs continued to rise in the Bay Area, we began to see more and more of our friends leave San Francisco for more affordable cities. We began to list out other areas in the US and beyond that we would consider moving to, but quickly realized that there was only one place that fit the bill – Ireland.

Where to raise a family

It took us a very long time to actually commit to our decision to move to Ireland. We had a lot to consider – our careers, our home, our pets and our finances. When I became pregnant, we started to think seriously about the move. Logistically, it was going to be a nightmare. But the pros outweigh the cons tenfold, so we decided to go for it.

Our primary reason for moving home was to be closer to family. The majority of our families live in Ireland. Our son will grow up surrounded by his cousins, and will have the same wonderful childhood experiences that we had. My parents are nearby, as are grandparents and our siblings. We have a great group of friends who are all starting their own families, and knowing that our son will have lots of kids around makes me so sure that we have made the right decision.

Budding green Ireland

Economically, Ireland is back on track. Dublin continues to be a hub for tech companies, and multinationals in general. The Irish government also offer support to families that is non-existent in the US. Our son will have free healthcare until he is 6 years old, and two free years of preschool. The education system in Ireland is exceptional, and ranks among the best in the world. College is also affordable in comparison with the United States. All in all, raising our family at home makes sense to us and I think our family will thrive in the Emerald Isle. 

Now that we've been back in Ireland for a few months, and are starting to settle in, we feel sure that we made the right decision. We will miss California and the family and friends that we left behind. We know that we will be back to visit often, and someday we will show our little boy all our old haunts. The move itself was stressful – we shipped our pets and packed up our lives with an infant in tow. If you want to follow along with our new adventures in Ireland, visit our blog or follow uson Facebook.

(This original version of this article appeared on The Tully Tales)

Carraig-a-Rede, Co. AntrimClare Tully