By Julia Mahony
The day we decided to move to Ireland, my mind shot to the practicalities of shifting a young family overseas.
With our eldest daughter about to start secondary school, my husband had been offered a secondment to a government job in Dublin. It seemed like the ideal time, as our two girls would be old enough to remember the experience but young enough to willingly leave their friends and travel with us. However, their education was our foremost priority.
I’m a diligent researcher but we had just four days between landing in Dublin and the first day of the Irish school term. There would be no time to visit and choose schools myself. Searches online found `Relocation Services’ – people on the ground in Dublin with local knowledge, who assist people to set up a new life.
Lesley Light, of Local Line, answered my enquiries quickly and with a personal touch. I needed someone who listened carefully to my requirements – and my concerns. Coming from a tiny rural New Zealand town, we needed a small Dublin school where our girls would not feel `lost’. Lesley crafted a list of potential schools, with pros and cons for all. Through detailed emails and WhatsApp calls, we narrowed the list and Lesley secured several places for my daughters.
She didn’t rush me as I whittled the choices to a small school in Dublin 4, with junior and senior schools on a shared campus. With places confirmed, our final weeks in New Zealand spending precious time with family and friends, were smooth. The stress of what lay in store for our daughters was minimal. I also needed surgery before leaving New Zealand and recuperated knowing Lesley was doing our leg-work in Ireland.
Walking to school is important – our daughters have done so since they were little. My husband had just spent 12 years train commuting an hour each way to work in New Zealand and I wanted to eliminate that drag for him. Dublin 4 was ideal, with a 10-minute bus ride to Tim’s central city workplace, a quick walk to school for the girls and a safe suburb for them to ‘hang out’ with friends, or go to the shops on their own.
I found short-term Airbnb accommodation near the school and Lesley viewed the flat and sent a video to me, also offering sage advice on bank accounts and money transfers. After a few weeks in Dublin, we moved to a fully furnished apartment still close to the school, Lesley dealing with the letting agency and imparting her knowledge of tenancy agreements. Using a Relocation Service was a smart move, for the biggest move of our lives.
Shifting from a sleepy New Zealand village to Dublin has been a thrilling whirlwind of new experiences. With focus, patience and sharp research, all four of us have settled well and are eager to make the most of living on Europe’s doorstep.
Julia’s tips for moving to Dublin:
- Consider public transport and walking routes when choosing accommodation and schools. We chose to go car-free in Dublin. We live on a bus corridor (LEAP cards are essential) with just a 30-minute walk to the city centre. Setting yourself up close to bus routes, DART or LUAS lines is sensible.
- Sign up to online grocery shopping. Saves so much time and of course, if you don’t have a car straight away, the delivery deals are invaluable.
- A fully furnished apartment – right down to kitchen utensils and cushions on the sofas – meant no need to ship possessions from New Zealand, or massive shopping outlays on arrival.
- Use a Relocation Agent, or online forums, to research which areas are best for your family. Central city convenience, seaside villages, or quieter outer suburbs are all options.
- It can take time to organise bank accounts in Ireland. Consider online banks such as Revolut.
- Don’t disregard `cheesy’ tourist options like themed Dublin bus tours – they give a colourful overview of the city and sort out where you’d like to explore on your own. Perfect for kids who don’t like walking for hours!
Best Dublin attractions for families so far:
Little Museum of Dublin; Viking Splash Tour; Dublin city bus tours (children free with paying adults and some tickets last 24 hours); Powerscourt Townhouse (a secret mall oasis); a trip to Dun Laoghaire (for its famous whipped ice cream, shopping away from city crowds and a long pier); Phoenix Park; National Botanic Gardens (Victorian glasshouses); Bewley’s cafe in Grafton St (sticky buns and scones in a lavish setting good for families)
Julia’s Daughters Proudly Showcasing New Zealand Foods
at their Dublin School’s International Fayre.
* Julia Mahony is a journalist who offers writing and editing services for businesses, blogs and websites. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org