As the lively Irish capital, Dublin is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Having visited twice now, I’ve seen a whole lot to help me decide whether or not I could live in Dublin. For a few reasons, that answer is mostly positive.
With a reputation for being the token alcoholics of the world, the Irish have made fun pub nights their bread and butter. It’s hard to escape the city’s drinking scene because it’s everywhere from the heart of Temple Bar to the outskirts of the town. Cute bars are almost as pervasive as street lamps, many offering live nightly music. I do love cities that are musical so Dublin’s drinking songs and jigs put the overall atmosphere in the positive column, particularly because it’s so unique that you really can’t find it anywhere else. Outside of that, the city has a lot of beautiful areas, cute shops and cafes, green spaces, and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, as long as it’s not raining. It’s the kind of city that has 300 distinct neighborhoods and they’re all adorable.
Irish food is some of my favorite in this area of Europe. I could have Guinness and potato pie all day every day. And there is no better place in the world to enjoy an actual cold and frothy Guinness than Dublin. No one pays respect to it quite like the people where it originated. Dublin is also full of great cafes and fairly international cuisine, though maybe not London-level of international. But it wouldn’t be difficult to get decent falafel or a burrito. There’s a good mix of excellent traditional Irish cuisine and some imports, which makes it appealing.
The Irish are friendly and kind but I can’t help but feel like the increasing tourism has dulled their interest in foreigners a bit. When your city is constantly overrun by drunken stag parties, I’m sure you get a little sick of it. Everyone is very nice and effortlessly charming like the Irish are, but the locals aren’t as outgoing as their neighbors to the north, for instance. I’m saying all this like it’s a bad thing, but I actually prefer reticent strangers so this also makes Dublin a good place to live. Maybe one of the biggest downsides is that so many people in the nice center of town are foreigners just passing by. A bit of the city’s real essence gets lost.
Ireland is on the euro, which automatically makes Dublin more affordable than any city that uses the pound. However, Dublin is not cheap. The average price of a good meal and a drink or two is more than you’d pay in a lot of cities in Europe. Based on the exorbitant cost of vacation apartment rentals, I assume the housing situation is not favorable to renters, especially if you want to stay anywhere central. This also explains why there are so many homeless people, who have probably been priced out of their own city. Dublin is massive though and all of it is pretty nice, so I would still happily sacrifice a central location to save on rent.
Dublin is a nice city to walk around in, but when the distances get longer, you have to rely on public transportation. There are some tram lines but buses seem to be the primary form of transportation. Many of the city’s main avenues are packed with people waiting for buses, which is not my favorite thing in the world as a pedestrian or a commuter. There’s a lot of traffic, so the idea of driving around seems even worse. But if I lived in Dublin, I would probably invest in a car to get out and enjoy the countryside.
Total livability score: 7/10
Despite some downsides, Dublin is a happy place with a uniquely musical atmosphere. I can see why the city churns out so many famous writers. Dublin is a city with many stories to tell.