How much does it cost to be a student in Ireland?
Every year estimates are published which give an indication of how much it costs to live as a student for one academic year (nine months) in Ireland.
Recent figures for Dublin have ranged between €10,000 and €15,000, largely depending on the type of accommodation chosen. These estimates include rent, electricity, food, books and laundry and medicine as well as travel passes and social expenses, but exclude tuition fees.
Rents and many prices are cheaper for those living outside of Dublin so lower overall costs can be expected.
When moving to Ireland for study, you should make sure to allocate a budget for one-off start-up costs - such as buying kitchen items, bedding, mobile phone, etc - and also for any international travel you plan during the year.
How much will I have to pay for accommodation?
Rent is likely to be your largest item of expenditure but prices can vary greatly depending on the type of accommodation chosen. The amount could be as little as €400 per month for a shared room through to €900 or more for a modest self-contained flat in Dublin. On campus accommodation is in heavy demand and is priced at the higher end of this range. More on accommodation options
How much will I have to spend on food?
For food, including some meals bought on campus or in cheaper restaurants, you will probably spend between €70 - €100 a week on these items.
How much on average will I have to spend on transport?
The cost of an average journey on a bus in Dublin is about €2.50 and will depend on the number of fare stages travelled. Exact money is needed - no change is given. Dublin Bus pre-paid tickets will save money for regular travel. They can be bought at a discounted price if you obtain a Student Leap Card.
Many students also cycle in Dublin and there are lanes dedicated to bicycles only on some roads. Cycling in the city centre can be quite intimidating, particularly at peak times. Many cyclists choose to wear a cycle helmet, although this is not a legal requirement.
Is socialising in Dublin expensive?
Cinema tickets cost between €7 to €12 depending on what time and where you see the film. Student discounts are usually available during the week on production of a student card, but most cinemas do not offer student rates at the weekend and there is no discount at the expensive soft-drink and snack counters!
Entrance fees to nightclubs generally vary between €7 and €15 depending on the venue,
On average, a pint of beer in Dublin costs about €5 and a glass of wine costs about €6. However, prices can vary quite significantly between bars.
If cigarettes are part of your lifestyle, you are likely to find them expensive in Ireland at around €10 for a packet of 20. There is a ban on smoking in any workplace, which means that it is prohibited to smoke in bars and restaurants.
How can I make my budget stretch further?
Food: Supermarkets offer the best value for most, but not all, ordinary groceries. Street markets, e.g. on Moore Street and Camden Street in Dublin offer the best value in fruit and vegetables if you choose carefully, while meat is usually cheapest in butchers' shops. Supermarkets have "own brand" food, e.g. St Bernard's in Dunnes. These are cheaper than regular brands and are usually of good quality. Shops such as Aldi and Lidl offer cheaper goods then the other supermarkets. They often have bulk buy bargains, which are handy if a group of people go shopping together and the cost can be split for items like rice, pasta etc. Convenience foods and ready-made foods are not as nutritious as fresh foods. So although they may appear cheaper and easier to cook, in the long run, they are not good value. When cooking for yourself, you could cook a little extra and have it for lunch the next day- much cheaper then eating out or buying a sandwich. It is a good idea to buy extra packets of basic foods that last, e.g. rice, pasta, beans and spices.
Clothes and Bedding: Shops vary greatly in price so it is best to shop around. Best value is likely to be found in Penney's (Primark), Dunnes Stores, Guiney's (especially for household items like sheets, duvets etc.), and the shops in the Henry Street/Mary Street/Talbot Street/North Earl Street/Parnell Street area. In order to keep warm, it is often more effective to wear a few layers of clothes, e.g. a few T-shirts rather than one heavy jumper. Thermal underwear is extremely effective against cold and is widely available in many of the shops mentioned above. It is advisable to avoid buying clothes labelled 'dry clean only' as these may be expensive to take care of. There are also a number of second-hand clothes shops located around the city, in Rathmines, on South Great George's Street, Wexford Street, Camden Street and in Temple Bar. If you look carefully, you may find good value, especially for more expensive items like coats. In addition there are a number of charity shops such as Oxfam, Enable Ireland, St. Vincent de Paul located throughout Dublin and Ireland.
Transport and travel: If you plan on travelling by public transport, it is advisable to purchase a Student TravelCard (see above). USIT offers travel options specifically for student travellers, including low cost flexible fares, tailor-made insurance policies and budget accommodation.
Telephone Calls: Public and college phones will be the most expensive place to make international calls. If you are considering a fixed phone line, there are several companies offering landline services in Ireland so you can shop around for the best international calling plans. Similarly, mobile phone companies will offer different international rates and all offer the chance to buy credit in advance (a way of controlling your costs more effectively). Another option is to buy a phone card - most newsagents will offer a selection - which can offer very good rates on international calls, especially if you are able to call from a landline (using cards with public telephones will be more expensive). Some internet cafes also have phone booths where you can make cheap long distance phone calls - normally you are given a rate per minute and you pay when you have completed your call. It may also be possible for you to make very low cost calls via a computer, using 'VOIP' services such as Skype. With all services, it is important to be sure you fully understand the pricing structure - for example, phone cards generally have both connection and per minute charges.
Entertainment: From time to time all students need to take a break from their studies, to relax and to meet other people. Social life can be expensive but there are many social activities that are both enjoyable and reasonably inexpensive.
On campus - Participation in college clubs and societies is a very effective and cheap way of getting involved in college social life. In all colleges, there is a range of clubs you can join at any time of the year. These include sports clubs, academic societies, dramatic societies, political societies and much more. For example, there may be a Film Society in your college which shows films at a reduced rate, so check the college notice boards for screening times etc. Some are more active then others, however they are cheap to join and a definite way to meet new people and have fun. The Student Handbook produced by the Students' Unions provides a guide to the various clubs and societies.
Off campus - Some shops and restaurants will offer discount on production of your college card and it is always worth asking. If you buy an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) it can be used more widely and you will receive a list of places which offer reductions for students, both in Ireland and abroad. Most discounts are offered for entertainment or student-oriented leisure, but also for some music stores and book shops. Clubs and bars often run student nights - usually midweek like most student discounted events. Cinema and theatre tickets are usually on sale to students at a reduced rate and further savings can be made by opting for preview performances, matinees and early screenings.
ISIC Student Card: The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is an internationally recognized proof of full-time student status available, available during enrolment at most colleges.
How can I claim tax back on items I purchased in Ireland?
Cashback/Tax-Free Shopping: Non-EU/Non-EEA visitors to Ireland may be entitled to tax-free shopping on some goods being taken home, especially those purchased through department stores, provided they have been purchased within the final two months of the stay. Refunds can be obtained via the Cashback system at the airport before leaving Ireland. The scheme requires that you get a form stamped by a participating merchant at the time of purchase. This should then be kept safe until the day of your departure.
Further information on tax-free shoping is available at most department stores or from Global Blue
Last updated: January 2016