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Cost of Living

Ireland is unarguably an expensive country to live in, however generations of wily Irish students have managed to live comfortably on a small budget and there is no reason an international student cannot do the same. In addition, the current global economic downturn will inevitably lead to a fall in prices here. Student discounts are available in a wide range of services, ranging from banks and cinemas to hairdressers and buses.

A lot of the costs are dependent upon factors such as your geographical location (Dublin City is generally seen as a lot more expensive than other regions), your lifestyle and choice of accommodation.

The following is a rough estimate of the monthly cost of living for students in Ireland:
Rent in shared house/flat €350
Light/heat/power €35
Food €150
Travel (monthly bus/rail ticket) €40
Books and other academic costs €20
Clothes, laundry, medical, etc. €10
Social life €50
Total €655

How to live on a budget

There are plenty of costs involved in going to college, but there are also a good few ways to get in some money to pay these expenses. It is generally a good idea for students to work out some sort of system to balance their incomes with their outgoings. Then they can concentrate on their studies, and enjoy themselves without worrying too much about money.

Most students work to a budget. They might not write everything down in a carefully ruled notebook, but they have a fair idea of how much they can afford to spend each week or month. It is a good idea to hold onto bank and credit card statements, so you can sit down occasionally and look at exactly how much you are receiving and spending. Then you will know whether you are doing OK, or if you need to keep a tighter grip on your pursestrings.

It can be useful to divide your outgoings between necessities and non-necessities. Things like rent, food, medical, and commuting expenses really have to be paid for in full, while your expenditure on socialising, clothes, mp3 players etc is easier to adjust up and down depending on the money available for that particular month. This way you can retain some kind of control over your financial situation. Living on tight finances doesn’t mean that you have to sit in every night darning your classmates’ socks for lunch money. Part of the fun of being a student is that you can take advantage of all the money off; opportunities available. Do some research into the discounts that students are entitled to and use them well. Other handy schemes include the option of buying food and household supplies in bulk from large chain stores such as Tescos/Dunnes/Aldi/Lidl, instead of daily from the Spar or Centra on the corner. To save money you can also leave your credit or ATM card at home on nights out and get hold of second hand textbooks. It’s all common sense, really!

If you find it difficult to finance yourself through college, then don’t despair. There are ways to get additional help. Your student's union can provide you with practical advice on how to cope, and most colleges operate a hardship fund that will allow you to borrow some extra funds if you are in need. If you are careful, then you will be able to get through college without offering yourself up to the loan sharks. And you will do what you came to do - finish that course!

Part time work

Part-time employment is a good way to lessen the financial burden of studying abroad, improve your English in real life work situations, and build upon your academic experience if the work is related to your course subject. Student visa holders however, must ensure that they are legally entitled to hold down a casual job.

Students from the EEA (European Economic Area) are free to take up employment in Ireland.

Non-EEA students who are enrolled in a one-year (minimum) and full time course that is recognised by the Dept of Education can work for 20 hours’ a week, or 40 during holiday periods. To avail of part time work, non-EEA students need to have their passports stamped when registering with the GNIB - Garda National Immigration Bureau. Casual work must not interfere with your course attendance, and entitlement to work will cease as soon as your course is completed.

All employees in Ireland are required to have a PPS (Personal Public Service) number. You must be living in Ireland before applying for your PPS number and applications should be made to the nearest Social Welfare office with the following documentation. Applicants should bring a photo id (e.g. passport, national identity card, or immigration card) and evidence of your Irish address, such as a household bill (ESB, telephone, gas, etc).

Setting up a Bank Account

It is strongly recommended that you open a bank account upon arriving in Ireland. This service allows you to receive payment, save money, make transactions and is much safer than hiding your money under the bed!

Banks in Ireland provide a very modern and convenient service, with ATM machines readily available in big cities and small towns. It may prove beneficial however, especially if you intend to study outside Dublin, to investigate which banks have a branch in your new hometown. Banking costs vary, but many, if not all, banks have special offers for student customers.

*NB As international students often rely on transferred monies for their initial expenses, it is important to remember that it can take up to two weeks for the international transfer of money through the banking system.
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