Hello, Ireland

Getting settled and back to work.

Hello, Ireland

DUBLIN, IRELAND (July 19, 2023) — Turns out you cannot just fly to Dublin, unpack your bags, and start living your best life in Ireland.

Not that I ever thought that, but establishing residence here rather than stopping in during holiday travel is a different ballgame (or fixture). My wife and I are still not at the end, but we are at the beginning of the end.

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Dublin is a large city of about 1 million (about 20% of the population of Ireland lives here) so it is big on the one hand but small enough to get around easily. It is a cosmopolitan city, like New York, with residents from all over the world. We immediately felt at home here. To that extent, the transition has been seamless.

Our first goal was to learn the public transit system, as we chose to do without a car (the government doesn’t seem to want people to have a car). They have an excellent light rail service (a tram called Luas), a good bus service (with Wi-Fi!) and trains. Mostly we walk if the distance is under 15 minutes.

We set aside today as a break so plan to just relax around our new, rather nice, apartment. Hence my writing now.

Just getting an apartment here is a struggle due to the housing crisis (exacerbated by COVID-19 and an influx of Ukrainian refugees). We found a place in the Liberties neighborhood, which is a notoriously rough-and-tumble neighborhood, but there is a cleverly designed urban park around the corner, ideal for Zeke.

The well-regarded Smithfield neighborhood (home of the Jameson distillery) is just opposite our apartment on the river. The Luas and Dublin Bus are nearby. Our building has a sort of eclectic, Tribeca vibe.

Registering with the government for a PPSN (like a social security number) takes weeks. Without a PPSN, a bank will not open an account.

UPDATE: We have been scheduled for an appointment at our local PPSN/PSC Centre to process both our PPS numbers and our PSC cards, which is a critical step in establishing residency for both of us and for my wife to obtain Irish citizenship (I have been an Irish citizen since I was in college).

There are 11 gas & electrical companies, each offering myriad options on meters, pricing, discounts, day/night billing; similar for phone service, internet, and TV.

We unlocked our phones, so we now have local phone, text, and internet service by paying €20 for a monthly SIM card. For those visiting, if you have a mobile phone that accepts two SIM cards, you can add an EU card to your existing American phone, then toggle back and forth, saving money and being able to make local calls.

Our bringing Zeke has created many complications, especially as he is an English Bull Terrier and so on a restricted breed list. Most landlords are not dog-friendly and of those that are most are unwilling to accept a dog on the restricted breed list. For every 25 inquiries, we got back one offer to view an apartment, and often those were gone fast. We made well over 100 inquiries.

We feel fortunate to have an apartment now, one with a deck and a beautiful view overlooking the River Liffey, not far from the City Center.

Everyone here is paranoid about energy costs, so I became paranoid and spent a full day studying the energy options and learning how to set the water heating and radiator heating to use energy at non-peak (nights and weekends) times. We quickly learned to run the dishwasher and laundry overnight!

Then there are the many shopping excursions to stock our apartment with household items and groceries (not furniture, as mostly apartments here come furnished). We came here with nothing but clothes, so we need everything. It is not always easy to figure out what store might sell what product. It is an island, so they do not always have everything. Grocery shopping is especially slow because, as we do not know most local brands, we have to read each label carefully to make sure we are buying what we actually want. Many of the stores here, like hardware, pet shops and groceries, are small mom-and-pop stores, but there are big department stores as well. We have become regulars at Dunnes, which has the best selection and prices, but the groceries at Marks & Spencer are easily the best (and priciest) food so far.

Even online shopping has a learning curve because of currency conversion, VAT, import duties and more. There is no Amazon.ie ("ie" for Ireland) although Amazon just opened a distribution center here. The two main options are Amazon.co.uk (England), which has less choice and is, because of Brexit, outside the EU, and Amazon.de (Germany). The German site, within the EU, has more products, but any electrical products will have the wrong plug for Ireland. I made my first order from Amazon.co.uk —a coffee grinder—and it arrived yesterday.

We have taken breaks: to see a movie, attend a concert, see a few tourists sites and relax listening to live music in a pub, but it has taken until now to not have to work so hard each day to get settled.

Dublin is an old City with a lot of history. The most important to understanding Ireland requires a visit to the Kilmainham Gaol where many Irish patriots were incarcerated, some executed.

I have about 6 weeks backlog on stories to write. I did continue to do limited reporting (the officer-involved shooting on July 3 occurred while I at JFK waiting to board my flight) but I am just now starting to turn my attention to digging in and getting caught up. You may see older stories popping up, but for continuity’s sake I am going to fill in the gaps since early June then move forward.

I got rid of my US phone number and now have an Irish phone number. You would rather not spend money on international calls to reach me.

To call or text, use WhatsApp. Look me up at Robert Cox +353 (89) 972 0669.

Email is still the same: robertcox@talkofthesound.com.

If you have comments or questions on articles, please comment on robertcox.substack.com

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