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Things I don’t miss about us after moving to Ireland + Photos

  • Since I moved to Ireland 3 years ago, there are things I haven’t missed from the United States.
  • Some differences are important, such as work-life balance and gun laws.
  • The United States will always be my home, but I have found my experience living abroad more enjoyable.

In 2019 I moved from the Midwestern United States to Dublin, Ireland to start a new journey.

I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to live in both countries and compare my experiences between them.

While there are pros and cons to living in the United States and Ireland, there are definitely things I don’t miss back home.

I don’t fancy the American healthcare system

Although the healthcare system in Ireland is far from perfect, I am always grateful to see how much more affordable it is.

Since moving, I have found myself prioritizing my health in ways that I could never have afforded in the United States.

I can consult a doctor, dentist, psychologist, massage therapist or chiropractor easily and inexpensively, even without private health insurance.

As a single woman in the United States, I paid about $300 a month out of pocket for below-average medical coverage when it was not covered by my employer. On top of that, to actually use my plan, there were enough copayments and deductibles to deter me from scheduling appointments.

I remember going years without seeing a doctor or dentist simply because my policy wasn’t comprehensive enough to cover the cost.

I do not miss the exorbitant cost of higher education

alexis in a cap and gown holding flowers at her graduation in ireland

The cost of my Irish degree has nothing to do with my undergraduate in the United States.

Alexis McSparren


I was fortunate to receive an excellent scholarship and grant that covered most of my undergraduate degree. But even though I received the maximum scholarship amount, I still had to take out the maximum number of student loans to pay for on-campus living expenses and additional fees.

Throughout college, I held three concurrent jobs and always struggled to pay the bills.

Under the terms of the Free Fees initiative, the costs of public undergraduate degrees for Irish and European Union citizens are covered by the Department of Further and Further Education.

Public colleges eligible for the Free Fees initiative only charge a compulsory student contribution of €3,000 (about $3,053) per year.

I recently completed an MA in Dublin and was shocked when the standard tuition and fees came in at €7,000 (about $7,110).

As a non-EU student, I ended up paying €15,000 (about $15,237) in total due to additional fees. But that’s still a far cry from the bloody costs in the United States.

Before scholarships and grants, undergraduate tuition at my school was $45,000 per year, and room and board was $12,000 per year.

America’s obsession with the rat race has never been clearer to me

Americans are pros at overtime and multitasking. We’re good at being perpetually busy – a tendency I noticed immediately among my fellow American expats.

I found the intense work culture in the United States overwhelming. I felt like I never did enough, even though I was working over 50 hours a week.

In contrast, the work here seems less focused. It’s not something that defines someone.

Many people in Ireland tend to take long holidays without shame or guilt, partly because there are four weeks of paid annual leave. This doesn’t even include Ireland’s many “holidays” (holidays) throughout the year or paid sick leave.

The slower pace of life here also means businesses close earlier and more frequently than in the United States, where the lifestyle in some areas revolves around 24/7 convenience.

The debate over gun culture in America is exhausting

Police officers huddled on a cobbled street in Dublin

Even not all law enforcement officers are allowed to carry guns.

Alexis McSparren


Crime is generally low in Ireland and I have never felt so safe.

In my experience, guns are not a big part of life here. Debates over gun rights are not a predominant political conversation during elections.

Most law enforcement officers in Ireland (called Gardaí) do not even carry firearms. They are routinely unarmed, with only 20-25% qualified to deploy a firearm.

I think the United States has a serious gun problem – the country has seen over 300 mass shootings so far in the first half of 2022 alone. Ireland has pretty strict gun laws. guns and rates of gun violence are low.

Gun violence was something I thought about regularly when I lived in the United States. Luckily, that’s not something that worries me so much in Ireland.

I don’t miss the glut of athleisure

After living in Ireland for three years, I can now proudly single out an American in a crowd before he has even spoken. It is usually the person who wears sportswear from head to toe.

Style refers to wearing clothes typically used for exercise – such as leggings and tank tops – as everyday wear.

I work in Dublin as a student program adviser and often have to inform visiting students that they cannot wear sportswear everywhere here. In some cases, they will be turned away from restaurants and bars at the door in this outfit.

I totally get the comfort and convenience of the athleisure aesthetic, but it’s refreshing to experience more diverse street fashion here.

I was so used to hidden taxes at home

When my partner and I bought a TV in Ireland I remember thinking it would cost a lot more than the ticket price after taxes were added.

But we paid exactly the price quoted – no hidden fees, no surprises at checkout.

I really admire the fact that taxes are included in the cost of items here. I don’t know why we don’t do this in America, but it’s one of the things I would ask if I was in charge.

What’s the point of a price tag if the number is different from what you end up paying?

I found it more difficult to move to the United States

Inside an empty darts train in Ireland

Walking and taking public transport seems easier here.

Alexis McSparren


After spending a lot of time in Europe, I realized that much of the United States is largely for vehicles and highways, not pedestrians.

I always thought that owning a car in the United States was absolutely necessary. Even when you lived in a big city, getting to the surrounding areas efficiently was nearly impossible without one.

Public transport in Ireland has changed lives. Even in small towns, there are often train stations and buses that make it easy to get around without a car.

Although the system is not as comprehensive as in other European countries, it is cheap and easy to take a bus or train anywhere around Dublin or into the heart of the countryside.

Also, not having a car saved me a lot of time and money, and it allowed me to be more flexible with housing options since I don’t need parking.

Mandatory tip no longer makes sense to me

In Ireland, employees do not depend on tips to supplement their income.

Tipping is generally accepted as a sign of appreciation for very good service, but is in no way expected as it tends to be in the United States.

Many restaurants automatically include the service charge in the final bill, which means you don’t have to do the math.

Tipping is also not expected when ordering drinks on a night out. No more struggling to do math with friends after a few drinks.

The cost of US phone plans seems exorbitant to me

view from an airplane flying over fields in ireland on a clear day

Whether you’re traveling or relocating, there are affordable phone options.

Alexis McSparren


In the US, I could never find a smartphone service plan for less than $50 per month. It was also difficult to find options that didn’t come with a one-year contract.

In Ireland, it’s much easier to choose from non-contract service packages, and “top-up credit” gives users the flexibility to cancel and add services from month to month.

I pay €20 (about $20) a month for unlimited data and texting, which is exactly what I need.

This also applies to travelers. I often tell students passing through Ireland to buy the $20 SIM card here rather than racking up international data and roaming charges.

I don’t miss the overload of medical TV commercials

The advertising culture in the United States, in general, is overwhelming. You’ll find corporate billboards along every stretch of road, and TV commercials pop up almost every 10 minutes.

I had never noticed the number of medical and prescription ads being shown in the US until I started watching TV in Ireland. Although there are advertisements for over-the-counter drugs here, drug companies cannot publicly promote prescription-only drugs.

I found the absence of these commercials much more pleasant to watch television.

John Smith

The author John Smith