Moving to Galway
Galway is the only city on the West Coast of Ireland, located where the River Corrib flows into the North Atlantic. Sitting in a natural harbour on an otherwise wild and wind battered coastline, Galway was Ireland’s major trading port in the middle ages when it was ruled by fourteen merchant families - the ‘tribes’. Even today Galway is still known to many as the City of the Tribes.
The capital of the province of Connacht, Galway’s recent economic fortunes rose and fell with those of the Celtic Tiger phenomenon. The previously rapid growth has now slowed to a standstill though the city retains many hi-tech manufacturing facilities and the economy is buoyed by tourism. A compact city of around 75,000 inhabitants, Galway has seen significant immigration in recent years - 17% of the population are now non-Irish.
They come for the lifestyle. Perhaps the most Irish city in Ireland, Galway is a hotbed of both traditional and modern Irish culture. There is a vibrant live music scene which spills from the brightly painted pubs into the streets, a cafe culture which thrives on the odd dry day, a high percentage of Irish language speakers and An Taibhdhearc - the Irish National Language Theatre - is based there.
Moving to Galway from the UK
Even though Galway is right on the doorstep of the Gaeltacht (the Irish speaking region to the northwest ) the vast majority of conversations in the city take place in English so there’s no need for a person moving from the UK to learn Irish. That’s not to say though that learning Irish Gaelic wouldn’t be a pleasantly diverting pastime and one which would open up a wide range of new possibilities. Since the Gaelic revival efforts began in the early 2000s there have been a growing number of language learning facilities on offer - both online and off.
As across Ireland the job market is fairly inactive in Galway at present so those of working age would be advised to secure employment before making the move. As an EU citizen you only have the right to remain in Ireland for 3 months without economic activity (i.e. earning). Retirees will need to prove that they have sufficient means to support themselves.
House prices have reportedly been rising in Galway in 2013 - the first increases since the financial crash of 2007. A three bedroom semi-detached house near the city centre currently sells for around €200,000 (£169K). Stamp duty is levied at 1% of the purchase price (or 2% for properties costing more than €1m).
Thinking of moving to Galway?
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Comparing Galway vs London
Due to its position on the Atlantic coast Galway has a milder climate than that of London. While summer high temperatures struggle to get north of 20 °C (compared with 23 °C in London), winter lows don’t drop below 3 °C and so Galway’s December to February period is marginally warmer. Don’t move to Galway to escape the English rain though. Even Doctor Foster himself would find Galway’s 45.5 inches of annual rainfall (nearly double that of London) a little damp.
Lower rents and property prices lead to an overall reduction in the cost of living in Galway compared with London. Transport, utilities and entertainment is also cheaper though groceries tend to be more expensive in Galway.
On average Galwegians report themselves as having greater purchasing power, as spending less time commuting and as experiencing less pollution than Londoners. On the other hand they report feeling marginally less safe and as receiving poorer healthcare.
Galway, like London, hosts many cultural and arts events throughout the year. The biggest, the Galway Arts Festival, takes place each July and attracts musicians, artists, performers and visitors from all over the world, filling the city for two full weeks.