Cost of Living for Students in Ireland
The cost of living for a student in Ireland can vary depending on what part of the country you live in, what type of accommodation you choose, your transport options for travelling to and from classes, as well as a range of other factors.
Here you will find information on the costs of living and tips on how to keep costs down.
Cost of Living Guides
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, laundry and medicine, as well as travel passes and social expenses, but exclude tuition fees.
Rents and prices for goods and services generally are often 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.
Here are some guides produced by a selection of Irish universities in different parts of Ireland:
- DIT (Dublin) Cost of Living Guide
- UCD (Dublin) Cost of Living Guide
- UCC (Cork) Cost of Living Guide
- NUI Galway Cost of Living Guide
- University of Limerick Cost of Living Guide
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.
For more information, visit our Accommodation Guide.
For food, including some meals bought on campus or in cheaper restaurants, you will probably spend between €70 and €100 each week.
Public transport can be expensive in Ireland compared to other European cities. For example, a 30-day bus ticket in Dublin can cost as much as €160. However, there are many options that are much cheaper, and costs vary depending on the mode of transport used. For more information, see Transport and Travel under How To Make Your Budget Go Further below.
See the Entertainment section below for information about things you can do, and some tips on how to save money when socialising.
How To Make Your Budget Go Further
Supermarkets offer the best value for most, but not all, ordinary groceries. Street markets, e.g. on Moore Street and Camden Street in Dublin, often offer the best value in fruit and vegetables if you choose carefully, while meat can be cheapest in butchers' shops.
Supermarkets have "own brand" food, which are cheaper than regular brands and are usually of good quality. Budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl often offer cheaper goods than the other supermarkets.
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 than 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.
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, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl (especially for household items like sheets, duvets etc.), although some local shops may also offer good value.
In order to keep warm, it is often cheaper (and 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. If you look carefully, you may find good value, especially for more expensive items like coats. For a list of charity shops in your area, see: http://www.icsa.ie/
The cost of an average journey on a local city bus service is about €2.70 and will depend on the service used and the distance travelled. For some services, e.g. Dublin Bus, when you pay in cash the exact fare in coins is needed - no change is given and no notes are accepted.
For this reason, it is advisable to purchase a Student Leap Card. Student Leap card offers reduced fares and other discounts for students registered at an Irish college or university.
USIT offers travel options specifically for student travellers, including low cost flexible fares, tailor-made insurance policies and budget accommodation.
Many students also cycle, and in many cities there are road lanes dedicated to bicycles only. Cycling in city centres can be quite dangerous, particularly at peak times, so if you do decide to cycle you should wear a bicycle helmet. For advice on road safety for cyclists, see: http://rsa.ie/en/RSA/Pedestrians-and-Cyclists/Cycling-safety/.
Most students use mobile phones to stay in touch with home or use services such as Skype (see information below). Mobile phone charges are generally more expensive than using landlines, especially for international calls, but there are many deals available. Pre-pay phones allow you to buy credit in advance and can be a way of controlling your costs more effectively. Irish mobile phone companies include:
For international phone calls, it is often cheaper to buy a phone card, which are available from newsagents. However, by far the cheapest way to stay in contact with your family and friends at home is by downloading an app like Whatsapp or Viber, or by using Skype. Skype is an internet telephone service which enables users to make free telephone or video calls via internet to other Skype users. The service also provides economical rates for calling mobiles and landlines.
You can find out more about cost for both mobile and landline telephone rates by consulting the national communications body's price comparison website: www.comreg.ie. Comparisons are also available at bonkers.ie and switcher.ie.
Most colleges/universities have free internet access on campus. If you live off campus and want internet access where you live, many mobile phone companies offer wireless broadband services. For more information, see the list of mobile phone companies under Phone Services above.
You can find out more about cost for home and mobile internet rates by consulting the national communications body's price comparison website: www.comreg.ie. Comparisons are also available at bonkers.ie and switcher.ie.
College Clubs and Societies
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.
Cinemas in Ireland are very popular, but can be very expensive, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. It is cheaper to go to the afternoon shows and during the week, and there is often a student discount available on production of a valid student identity card for certain shows. Some cinemas will also have special student days where, for example, all shows are half price for students on Tuesdays. You can find your local cinema at usheru.com.
Ireland is famous for its theatre and well-known playwrights. Visit irishtheatre.ie for information on what is on in theatres around Ireland. A student discount is usually available on production of a valid student identity card.
There are gigs and concerts every night of the week all around Ireland. Find listings at entertainment.ie. The local pub is also a great choice to listen to live music, and often only for the cost of a drink!
The pub is the social meeting place for many Irish people. They serve alcohol, soft drinks, tea and coffee. Many pubs serve meals during the day, with some serving food until 9-9.30pm. Pubs in Ireland are also great places to go if you like live music.
Pubs and bars are licensed to open from 10.30am to 11.30pm, Sunday through Thursday. From Friday to Saturday, the closing hours are extended to 12.30am. Many venues are licensed to stay open until 2.30am at weekends. All pubs in Ireland are closed on Christmas Day.
TOP TIP: Always ask if there is a student discount!
Some shops and restaurants will offer discounts upon production of your college student card, and it is always worth asking if there is a discount for students. 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 events with student discounts. 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.
Claim Tax Back
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 shopping is available at most department stores or from Global Blue.
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