Why I will never move back to Dublin

I recently had an interesting conversation with my friend Simone:

Me: I think I might be a weird expat.

Simone: How so? 

Me: Whenever someone asks me how often I go home, I look a bit confused and tell them “every evening, same as you” and then I realise what they meant. Do you still think of Germany as home?

Simone: Hmm, tricky question. I feel like parts of me are in different places.

Me: Ha, I feel like all of my parts are in Berlin! 

And that’s the truth of it. Of course there are some people that I miss in Ireland, but if I never set foot on Irish soil again, I wouldn’t be any the worse off for it. Maybe I’m being unfair on the Irish but it does seem to be a particularly Irish condition.

Most articles I read by Irish expats see them counting down the days until they’re next back on the Emerald Isle, drinking copious amounts of Barry’s Tea and cooing over some random relative’s new baby. In the meantime, they envelop themselves in a comforting Irish bubble in whatever country they happen to be in, bemoaning the fact that the locals aren’t more “Irish”.

I, meanwhile, am rolling my eyes and feeling faintly nauseous.

But back to the title of the post. I was recently back in Dublin and, while I had a nice couple of days, mostly I was amazed at my total disconnect with the place. So, some reasons I could never live there again:

1. Everything is so expensive

OK, it might seem a bit shallow but everything is such a total rip-off that it turns my stomach. The quality is the same as in Germany (if not worse), yet people are paying at least twice as much.

20161009_1626221
Thank you, my arse

No, your eyes do not deceive you; that’s €6.75 for a glass of Chardonnay. As far as I’m aware, it didn’t have gold flakes or diamonds in it and I can get a better glass in my local bar in Berlin for €2.80. The “Have your party with us” invitation would probably require remortgaging your house. I didn’t see a bottle in a supermarket for under €9, while here in Berlin, I’ve discovered litre cartons of wine for €0.99 in LIDL. I’m not saying it won’t kill you but it’s nice to have options. And you can always use it as paint stripper – if you survive.

Before you judge me, it’s not just booze. You might find it hard to believe that I’m not this naturally beautiful (ahem) but I do use hair dye. A quick glance in Boots confirmed the worst:

€10.49...
€10.49…

In Rossmann (the equivalent store here), it’s €4.95. I mean, really, what the …? Don’t even get me started on rental prices and childcare costs.

2. Public transport is dire

The weekend before I went back, Manfredas’ dad asked me if I would take the S- or U-Bahn from the airport to my house. He probably wasn’t expecting the guffaw he got in return. You see, in Dublin, we have two overground train options – neither of which go anywhere near each other, the airport, or where I’m from, and buses. Oh, the buses.

SIGH.
SIGH.

Gamely, I thought that I would take the bus from the airport and proceeded to look up my options. Half an hour later, ready to throw my laptop out the window, I decided I would take a taxi.

Hello, one ticket to stop 3702, please.
Hello, one ticket to stop 3702, please.

Ticket prices are based on “stages”, for example, 1-3 stops is one price, 4-13 is a higher price… really, life is too short. Drivers will accept exact change only; there’s no information on the majority of bus stops about where you are, when the next bus is coming or where’s it’s going to, and stop announcements on the bus are helpfully in English and Irish which most Irish people can’t even understand. Jesus, even Riga was streets ahead – there you go Latvians, your long-awaited compliment.

3. Irish people believe their own hype

Ah sure, there’s no place like Ireland for the craic, is there?

If “the craic” means standing around in over-priced bars, unable to hear yourself speak over the self-satisfied roaring of people standing right next to each other raving about how much “craic” everything is, then yes, you’re probably right.

Ah sure, you just can’t beat the Irish, can you?

I probably could. I’d just need a big stick.

Ah sure, there’s no better place in the world really, is there?

You see, everything in Ireland is just brilliant, according to the Irish. That is, when they’re not complaining about how shite everything is. Go figure.

4. The lifestyle

I’ll admit that “silent Sunday” in Germany was a bit of a shock when I first got here. However, after the first few weeks of waking up on a Sunday and realising that I had no food – yet again – I got used to it. I also got used to seeing families out biking, walking or playing in the park together.

Believe it or not, the last Sunday I was in Ireland, it was a glorious day. It was the second week in October and probably one of the last days that people would see blue skies for months. And what were the locals doing? They were walking around shopping centres, glassy-eyed, spending money on things they don’t need, paying for silly rides for their kids, and buying over-priced meals from food courts – probably while talking about how much “craic” they were having.

Oh, what craic we're all having.
Oh, what craic we’re all having.

There are plenty of green spaces around where I grew up, but they’re mainly used as short-cuts to get somewhere else. Unlike in Berlin, there are no barbeque areas, no dog-walking zones, no playgrounds… not even a bench to sit down and read a book on for a while. People rush from over-heated home to over-heated shopping centre. The first thing I did when I got back to Berlin was a bit of good, old-fashioned “lüften”. Ah, the relief.

5. Irish people never shut up

Fionnuala: Oh, blah blah, the weather, blah blah, so-and-so’s wedding, blah blah, state of the economy, blah blah, guess who died, blah blah, so-and-so’s hip replacement, blah blah…

Me: ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

Anyway, it seems I’m being a bit of a hypocrite on the last one as I’ve just gone over 1,000 words. Guess you can take the girl out of Ireland…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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90 thoughts on “Why I will never move back to Dublin”

  1. Unfortunately I agree with everything you wrote. I am an ex Dub living in Co. Meath but thankfully I was brought by two strong individual s who loved to volunteer so naturally I did likewise with my two children and for us it is a case of what you do for others and how you behave is more important than what you have

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Being Irish myself (with a severe case of Wanderlust) this was a very refreshing article! Of course it’s a great country but I’ve travelled around a bit and I’ve come to the conclusion that “having the craic” is a mentality rather than a thing. First post of yours I’ve read and I think I may be hooked!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hurrah! Another convert 🙂 And you’re right – the craic is what you make it, wherever you are! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! Are you still living in Ireland?

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  3. Prices…I feel you. Connecticut was absurdly expensive, Texas was pretty cheap, and Washington is somewhere in between (with a 20.5% liquor tax on drinks over 24% alcohol and excise tax of $3.77 per liter, so booze is a lot more expensive here). Even chain restaurants and grocery stores have different prices, so it’s like I took a little pay cut 😦

    Germany 5, Ireland 0. It’s like a soccer match 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Love the last one!!! My husband was totally taken aback last we were back in NZ and the person at the till talked to him (no need for that in Fin 😉 ). but have to give it to you, the prices are a good reason pro Germany…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So funny, but so true. ‘Same here Linda. I love my country n’ all that but live in England? Never again! ‘Nice to visit for a fortnight or two, and than back home to Germany love. ‘Live in Scotland? Now that’s something entirely different!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hehe. I enjoyed this. Expats complaining about their home countries is really a wonderful way to gain insight into those home countries. I too have no real desire to move back to my home country. Which is probably blasphemous to all the gazillion people who would die trying to get to America, but if you ask me, it’s overrated. (Although it is definitely better than the shithole of a territory I’m currently living in, but so are literally of the developed countries of the world.)

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    1. I’d visited once before and loved it so I came back for a trial run for a week the summer before I moved here, checked out a couple of other German cities, but I guess I knew it was always going to be Berlin 🙂

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  7. Since I’ve never lived outside the US, I can only comment on how every place has its pluses and minuses. I’ve lived in three very different places now: childhood home in northern New York state (farmland, more cows than people; very rural; lived there 21 years); the San Francisco Bay Area, CA (more people than humanity can bear; very urban; lived there 12 years); and (now) Tallahassee, Florida (suburbia, or the worst of both worlds; 26 years and counting).
    Oddly, the only sense of “home” I ever have is when we are in California and that’s the place I have the “least” experience. When I go to New York, I love the country … the air, the scenery, the seasons … but I always feel like an outsider looking in. People (relatives) know me but they really don’t know me and that can be unnerving. And yes you have to drive everywhere which isn’t too bad when your route is a two-lane road meandering by lakes and mountains, but more alternatives would be nice. That said, it is convenient to take the train here and there if you’re traveling on business or pleasure. And there’s a wonderful bike path that traverses almost the whole state. But you cannot live without a car. Period.
    The other extreme is SF where you can easily live without a car, where you can enjoy sweet anonymity, but where prices are so high only the extremely wealthy can survive. And yet our closest friends live there or near there so we keep going back and dreaming.
    Living where I do now … the less said about that the better. I’m making myself depressed ;(
    Actually, I’m recovering from a cold (going on two weeks now) and when I don’t feel well, I get surly 😉
    Anyway, I know people who can’t imagine living anywhere but where they grew up and that’s okay. Someone has to feel that way, I guess. I just know I can never “go home again” and I wouldn’t want to.
    Hope you feel better soon!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, same to you! Guess I get surly too and that’s where the rant came from – I hate being ill 😉
      I know people who would never leave either – or people who do leave but it’s only ever going to be for a short amount of time so they never really make the effort to make a real life there. I’ve lived a few different places as you know, but this is the first one that’s really felt like home – although I did consider Australia, the only downside being that it’s so far away if something happens to someone in Ireland. But I guess we all have to try to find our place in the world! Sounds like you’ve found A place anyway 😉 I really liked San Fran but was only there for a few days and I don’t really remember much about the prices. It’s different when you’re just a tourist! Hope you feel better soon too – although I quite like it when you’re surly as well 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, I think I’m surly by nature … a cold is just an excuse 😉 SF is terribly expensive. We don’t go to our favorite Mexican restaurant when we visit because a dinner for two will set us back about $100. But I still love SF. And I would be happy to live in the small town where we got married. My husband says we’re just Californians at heart :). I’m really glad you’ve found a home in Berlin. It does sound like a wonderful place.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, no problem … ask me all the questions you want. It makes me feel interesting (lol). Bridgeport is such a small town that there are rarely any houses for sale and the ones that we’ve seen tend to be vacation homes. Bridgeport is within driving distance of Yosemite and is settled among some really beautiful lakes and mountains so some of the homes can be rather expensive, at least for our future limited income. That said, an alternative would be Carson City on the Nevada-California border. Suburbia again but in an geographical area that we really like, and it’s only a couple hours drive from Bridgeport. We are keeping our options open as we head toward retirement. I do feel pulled to my childhood home, but mainly because my 2nd oldest sister lives there and she was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She’s doing well, but, you know, I’d hate to be too far away from her. Then again, I often feel like I’m holding my breath, just waiting to exhale. And, of course, with the current US election, living in a foreign country seems like a good idea, too 😉

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Oh God yes, keep your options open! I hear Canada is very nice… 😉 Sorry to hear about your sister. It’s good to be close enough to family when things go wrong – I’ve been there too. Berlin is far enough away but not too far away if you know what I mean 🙂 I hope you work it all out in the end and end up somewhere you’ll be happy!

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  8. When I travel from Süddeutschland to Schweiz, I get goose pimples and heart attacks by notice their monstrous costs. I know I can’t find paradisiacal prices like in Franconia, where a Seidla (pint) of excellent beer costs only €2,20. In Swiss it seems impossible to find a beer in a reputable size under 6CHF (€5,50).
    According to your description, Ireland (or Dublin only?) is expensive like Suisse but without the altitude of salaries and mountains?!
    P.S.: A glass of wine for only €2,80? Is it only a baby glass (1dl) or the delicious, great bottled wine like “Südtiroler Bauerntrunk”? 😯

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha, no, it’s a normal .2cl glass. Of course it depends on where you go, but this is my local bar. You would definitely pay more in Mitte or out west but even then, it’s possible to find cheaper local places down the side streets, unlike in Dublin. And the rest of Ireland is much the same as far as I know. And that is also the reason I haven’t been to Switzerland!!

      Liked by 1 person

          1. The Anglo-Saxons are so quirky. They weigh their beer and wine 😀
            Nowadays, Berlin is back in the same league with Paris, London and New York. But blessedly not in

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  9. I think there comes a time when you’ve lived a long time in another country and then you go back to your old hometown and no longer see things with your rose tinted spectacles on! I’ve had times like that where I couldn’t believe how expensive things are compared to Germany and how crap the public transport. I do miss the Irish people though. Their friendliness and yes also the craic!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! You and your craic habit 😉 I think my problem is that I’ve never had rose-tinted spectacles about Ireland/Dublin although I could possibly be accused of still having them about Germany 😉 I guess two years is still early days! But Jesus, the public transport there would make you weep 😉

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  10. Linda O’Grady, I never thought I’d see the day where I saw you knocking sitting around drinking tea!! What have those Germans done to you!! Next you’ll be telling us the Irish drink too much!
    I agree about the cost of everything and too much time spent in shopping centres tho although you should see Malahide Castle or Newbridge House at the weekends if you want to see Irish people using green spaces, bbqs and playgrounds

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I should but I’d need a car or (shit) public transport to get there 😉 But yes, there are probably a couple of sweeping generalisations in there – not like me at all, I know 😉

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  11. I loved Dublin, but wasn’t there long enough for the sticker shock to set in. To me, everything in Europe seems expensive, compared with where I live! But the quality is better. And what I wouldn’t give for a German silent Sunday–instead of my neighbors firing up their lawnmowers and leaf blowers at all hours of the day.
    After observing Irish actors for several years, including my beloved Mr. H., I can tell you that a great many of them would never move back to Ireland, and they don’t get too sentimental about it. But they do tend to seek out other Irish people (and Irish pubs). Mr. H. loves Barry’s tea and takes it with him wherever he goes. Maybe it’s more about preserving an Irish identity than actually living there?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, that could be it! Although to me, I’m Irish anyway – not much I can do about it. I don’t have to surround myself with Barry’s Tea-drinking, hurley-waving, flag-toting fellow countrymen to do it 😉 I try to avoid Irish pubs most of the time. That “Irish girl in an Irish pub” and the amused eyebrows it raises is too much for me!!
      In Germany, you could call the cops on your neighbours for that – I don’t even think you’re supposed to hoover! I’ve read about the police being called on crying babies – not sure how true it is but it wouldn’t surprise me a huge amount. Germans take this seriously 😉

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        1. German dogs are pretty well-behaved. Most of the time, they’re not even on a leash. I see them stopping at a red man and looking back to wait for their owner haha! Lot of sirens in Berlin but I guess I can’t report the police to the police 😉

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          1. Now that’s a difference. Most cities here have leash laws, except for spaces designated as dog runs. That’s a law I can approve, since I don’t want to trust that someone else has trained his dog properly.

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            1. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be on leashes here (probably as there’s a law for everything!) but nobody in Berlin seems to take any notice of it. The dogs are really well behaved though – and everywhere! Bars, public transport… I’ve even seen a dog in an English lesson! Not sure if he learned anything… 😉

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                1. It’s not just Berlin either! I think the dogs here are just happy 🙂 A lot of the time, they look far nicer than their owners haha! There was this little yappy one on my local pub last night. He yaps and dances around any time there’s a goal on TV 🙂

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                2. Same! Yeah, she’s pretty quiet most of the time. Little handbag dog – she’s almost as fussy-looking as her owner who does a stellar impression of an overdone Russian woman 😉

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                3. Ah, one of those really tiny dogs. I have to admit they are cute. But my fear if I got one would be that it might never shut up. Ah, the pleasures of living with felines 🙂 Mine speak only when absolutely necessary.

                  Liked by 1 person

  12. I read this article, ticking off all the things that I also experience when going to England.
    I knew, without any shadow of a doubt, that is never live there again after my first stint abroad. After this summer, I don’t even feel that comfortable about visiting! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I knew you’d definitely get it! I swear some people look at me like I’ve got two heads because I dared to leave Ireland and actually be happy somewhere else! I can see you being very happy in Portugal for a very long time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is why I hate the term expat – everyone seems to assume expats move abroad temporarily for some kind of experience then inevitably go home to rejoin “real life”. No, this IS my real life! I speak the language, I have a job (admittedly in Germany). I plan to start a family here. I wouldn’t necessarily rule out moving back to England, but only if we got an amazing offer there, which I can’t see happening (we moved to Switzerland because Jan was given a job offer that was exactly what he imagined doing and we both liked what we had seen of Basel). And I would certainly never move back to where my dad lives! It wasn’t a nice town when I was at high school there!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I feel your pain! This is my real life too – I’m not play-acting at working and living here with the view of going back to my “real home” some day. This is home for me. Although when I said to a German guy the other day that Berlin was my Heimat, he gave me a bit of a sceptical look – I guess you have to be in Germany for more than two years to earn the right to call it your Heimat!!

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  14. It is always interesting to go back home after a number of years living somewhere else. I think you will always feel a distance and have a more critical eyes than you had before. We certainly had to readjust to our life in Canada after being away for 2 1/2 years and it wasn’t easy…We never tried to find Canadians in Paris and never attended any special Canadian events. We didn’t live in Paris to meet other Canadians but to get to know French people.

    Berlin is very cheap for an European capital so you are lucky…Enjoy it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It sure is! It’s getting more expensive but still way cheaper than most capitals. If I lived here and hung around with Irish people all the time, I may as well have stayed in Ireland. Total waste of time – and an amazing experience – for me. I hope your readjustment was successful although I guess there will always be things you miss about Paris now that you called that home for a while too!

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  15. Aw… Really? Well, Berlinda – it must be something about being happier in a home of our own choosing rather than the place we were born into, because I – a German – love Dublin and would not want to live anywhere else… I bemoan the high prices as much as you do, but I find the Irish self-congratulating rather cute (let’s face it: I envy them. That kind of thing has been thoroughly beaten out of the Germans, and personally, I think it is healthy to identify with the place you come from…). Yeah, the whole public transport system is a bit fucked-up. But where I live, there are parks and benches and green spaces, and I see kids take their parents to the nearest playground at the weekend… Perspective, maybe? Anyway, I am glad you like Germany so much. Enjoy Berlin…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha, I will 🙂 And I’m glad you like Dublin so much – I guess it is all about perspective. I’m only back for a few days a year so I see what I see, which is probably pretty limited. Going “home” from Latvia was a different story. I guess we all find our place – if we’re lucky 🙂

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  16. Well if you thought the Ireland prices were expensive then please never, ever, ever go to New Zealand. I had the most epic vacation ever, but HOLY SHIT… expensive doesn’t even begin to describe it. I nearly took a picture of a sign in front of a small cafe in a town we passed through. “Today’s special: Bagel and a coffee $9.75”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jesus Christ! I lived there for a year but that was quite a while ago and I don’t remember it being quite that expensive! I wonder what the full price would be if that was the special!?

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        1. I can’t like that comment! I could eat out for a week in Berlin for under $95 – or let’s say € cos I’m not sure what the exchange rate is. I hear Oz has got much more expensive since I was there too. I was on pretty crap wages but still able to live and travel. Wow, times are a-changing! Glad you still managed to have a good time though – and get to visit Fiji 🙂

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            1. Ha ha! At least you tried 😉 Is there really NO Spanish equivalent? I’m sure there was a shop that I really liked in France too – can’t remember the name now though…

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                1. Just forwarded your article on baby perfume to a friend of mine – she was horrified when an ad for it popped up on FB. I was like ‘oh, it’s all the rage in Spain! Here you go!’ 😉

                  Liked by 1 person

            1. No problems with real beer here 🙂
              And I know what you mean about it no longer feeling like home! While I love seeing my parents, that’s the only reason I go.
              I can’t see myself ever leaving Germany but I could see you living it up in Greece alright!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I think Germany is too organised for my taste, although there are things in Germany I really enjoy.
                I think Greece would be like Italy, only a little more disorganised, if that is possible.

                I wonder if I could get by in Greece with my English and fragmented Italian language 😱

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