It’s official. I am a Dublin local. How, you ask? I am renting a flat, I have a job, I have a phone, I walk when the light is red, and I’ve ventured away from Temple Bar and Grafton Street.
Here’s how I settled into Dublin in five days:
Step 1: Mobile phone
Before you can do anything important, like apply for jobs or houses, you need a phone. I brought my phone from Australia and got a pay as you go plan. I thought my phone would be unlocked because it was prepaid, but it wasn’t so I had to do that before purchasing a SIM card. I went to Moore Street off of Henry Street and it cost 25 euros (less if your phone isn’t from Australia) and only took about an hour because it was a simple phone. Vodafone, Meteor, and O2 Ireland are the major networks here. I went with O2 because it is affordable, has good coverage, and I know people who use it so it’s free to communicate with them. Step one, complete!
Step 2: Housing
Welcome to the part of my blog where I rant about my hostel experience. I stayed at Isaac’s Hostel for five days, and I got out of there as quickly as possible. If you’re just staying for a night or two, it ticks off every important box: clean enough, good heating, decent location. For long term stay, it wasn’t the best choice. They advertised breakfast, but it just ended up being toast and cereal. Better than nothing, but there was supposed to be boiled eggs as well and out of the five days I was there I got one egg. The WiFi was not reliable, the reception was unaccommodating and answered every question with “go to the supermarket.” The “hot” water was more like “warm” water, and the showers would turn off automatically after one minute if you didn’t press the button again. The first shower I had was a vicious cycle of the water turning off and me frantically trying to turn it back on as I shivered away. I then realized the key was to keep pressing the button every 30 seconds so it would never turn off. All of those things are minor lack of luxuries, but then you get to the other guests in my room. I was in an eight person all girls room. Every night without fail my sleep would be disrupted for hours. I was on a top bunk, and the woman staying in the top bunk behind me made me miss sleep like never before. First of all, she snored. I can’t handle snoring in general, and she snored so loudly she might as well have just shaken my bed non stop. I would go to sleep with my ear buds in listening to lovely Bethel Live music and then would wake up every time it was over because of the snoring. The worst part was when she would stop snoring — I’d relax and become hopeful that the chainsaw was finally gone, only for it to start up again. The Bethel music was strategic, because as I was lying there I was just getting angrier and angrier and had to mediate on something good. One day she woke up at 6:00am, turned on the lights, stomped heavily back and forth, back and forth, and proceeded to spray her deodorant right in front of our bunk. Thanks a lot, lady. I understand we’re all paying for shared accommodation, but is it really necessary to spray your deodorant by my face at 6:00am?
Once that lady left, I was gifted with two Russian women who not only liked to converse to each other across the room in the middle of the night, but they conveniently snored as well. And they ate chips — in the middle. of. the. night. The best thing that happened in that room was when one Russian lady held the bunk bed in place while the other Russian lady got onto the top. Let’s just say there was falling (on the bed), rolling, awkward maneuvering, and lots of laughing on their part.
Ultimately though I really should thank these women because they lit a fire under me to get out of that hostel as soon as possible.
After gathering tips from locals, I discovered which areas are best to live in. As I was looking up apartments on daft.ie, I figured that the Dublin zones were in order of distance from the city centre. For example, Dublin 1 would be city centre, and Dublin 8 would be much further (after 1, 2, 3, 4, etc). I discovered that I was wrong, and what matters more is whether the number is odd or even. Odd numbers on on the North side of the Liffey River and even numbers are on the South. I was told to live on the South side of the city because the North has a rough reputation.
Finding accommodation that is in a good location for a good price is difficult because it’s a city and there’s a lot of competition for rooms. Often times I would phone to make an appointment to view a place and they would inform me that it had already been rented. If you want to rent instead of share it is even more difficult because they require references and a 12 month contract. I was lucky because it’s just me and finding a single room in a house share is relatively easy. I’ve lived with enough people and in enough apartments to know what’s good and what’s bad, so I knew at the first place I looked at that I should snatch it up. It’s a good location, I’m sharing with three other pleasant working girls, there’s no contract, and it’s only 340 euros/month + bills. Not having to set up electricity, wifi, etc, makes the moving (both in and out) process much easier.
In terms of setting up my room I got everything (bedding, organizational things, etc) at Penney’s and Dunnes.
Step 3: Get your GNIB card
Upon arrival in Ireland, Canadian’s need to register with the Immigration Bureau within 30 days. I went to the immigration office two days in a row around noon time and both days they were no longer giving out numbers (even though they service people until 10pm). I came back the following day at 7am and waiting in line until they opened at around 8:30. I was number 16 so I didn’t end up having to wait too long. By the time the office opened the Que was huge and I was grateful I’d woken up at 6:00am to line up (and no, I did not spray my deodorant or stomp around in the hostel room). You need your passport and visa to register and it’s a fee of 150 euros. They take your picture and fingerprints and then give you the card which I’ll need to bring with me anytime I leave the country and want to get back in. It’s important to have the card in order to get a job, PPS (social insurance) number, bank account, etc. I definitely recommend getting there first thing in the morning because I had a friend who ended up waiting a combined 10 hours whereas I was only there for about two hours.
The Irish working holiday visa is much more complicated than the Australian version. For my Aussie working holiday visa all I had to do was apply online and pay a small fee and then the visa number was paired with my passport number. I also didn’t need all of the extensive documentation that’s required here for a social insurance number and bank account.
Step 4: PPS number
Before you can get a PPS number you need proof of a permanent address. They make you jump through a lot of hurdles and I’m still the in the process of obtaining my number. It’s necessary to have a PPS in order to work in Ireland, so it’s important to get this step done as soon as possible.
Step 5: Get a job
I actually started handing out my CV while I was still living at the hostel. I treated applying for jobs as a full time job. I came at an excellent time of year for hiring because summer staff are all gone and businesses are hiring for the holidays. I got a couple of job offers within the week and I’ll share my employment story in my next post. It’s another one of those “everything happens for a reason” situations.
Finally, venture away from the tourist districts and look like you know where you’re going and it’ll at least appear like you’re a Dublin local.