Moving to Galway
County Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland. The city is well serviced by a motorway to Dublin. Travel time from Galway to Dublin is approximately 2.5 hours. Originally a walled city, Galway has become somewhat of a party capital, with a reputation for playing host to popular international festivals and events all year round.
Galway’s climate is mild but changeable like the rest of Ireland. Due to climatic factors Galway tends to see more rainfall than cities and towns in the midlands and on the east coast of Ireland. Average daily highs in the city are around 20°C in the Summer.
In 2012 Galway hosted the world’s most prestigious ocean race - the Volvo Ocean Race. This highlights Galway’s strong affiliation with the sea. Fishing has always been popular in the area going back to famine and penal times, when fish were one of the only sources of protein rich food available. Today Galway has a large and busy port. Galway oysters are popular in the area and are a staple in Irish seafood chowders. The Galway coast has interesting caves that can be easily explored by sea kayak. There is also a tightly knit wind-surfing community in the county.
Ireland like many other European countries has experienced a significant recession in recent years. Unemployment in Galway is an issue especially in rural areas of the county where there are limited opportunities and viable businesses. Economic activity in the city however is returning to sustainable levels once more and most businesses are reporting brisk trade. City unemployment rates have dropped to below 9% which is a reduction of almost 40% of what it was when unemployment was at an all-time high after the economic downturn.
Galway has a great tourism industry. Both Foreign and domestic tourists travel to Galway on a year round basis. There is always employment in the many visitor attractions, hotels and food service businesses which cater for people visiting the county. In recent years Ireland’s tourism board has made a significant investment in promoting Galway as a travel destination overseas. The G Hotel in Galway city is said to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the Island of Ireland.
There are also a broad range of international companies offering employment in the county. The pharmaceutical and technology sectors in Ireland are growing at an alarming rate and Galway has seen its fair share of pharmaceutical and tech giants establish their European headquarters in the county. These include Medtronic and Boston Scientific which are both based on the outskirts of the city. HP and SAP also have offices in the area and are considered major employers. Smaller businesses operate out of the many industrial estates in the county.
There are approximately 25,000 students studying in Galway. As a result pubs and clubs in the city are always busy, even on weekdays! The County is not very well serviced by shopping centres. There are some small shopping centres, but nothing that could compare to the shopping centres that can be found in Dublin, Cork or Limerick. Online shopping levels in Galway are amongst the highest in the country because of this.
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Ireland is a small country so grocery spend does not differ much across the country. Galway for example has the very same supermarkets and multiples that one would find in Dublin, Cork or other major cities. Examples of such stores are Lidl, Aldi and Tesco. Prices in these outlets are standardised across the country.
There are a number of trade outlets in Galway which are open to the public. These shops offer branded goods at discounted prices. The stock in these stores is usually out of season stock or stock that may have small defects. An example of such a store is the Dubarry trade outlet outside Galway city. The company manufacture Dubarry leather footwear for export around the world and offer second grade products from this outlet in Galway. It is worth finding more information about these local outlets and their locations upon moving to the county.
Galway has a reputation for great food. Each year the Galway food festival showcases local produce and culinary delights. In Galway it is always easy to find quality food that is of excellent value. Perhaps this is due to the vast number of restaurants that compete for business in the area. In general the cost of living due to factors like this is quite low when compared to larger cities like Dublin, Cork or Limerick. Salaries in Galway however are lower than salaries nearer the capital so this is something that also needs to be taken into consideration.
Transport is becoming more and more expensive in Ireland. Public Transport costs are constantly rising due to increasing fuel and operational costs. There are a number of dedicated bus routes servicing Galway city and it’s surrounds. Buses are quite infrequent however, with a 30-60 minute wait between pick-ups.
Several multinational corporations based in Galway offer a pick up and collect service which ensures that workers are picked up from their home and arrive at work in time for nine o’clock in the morning. This service also drops workers home in the evening. There are regular bus and train services that offer transport to Dublin on a daily basis. The train is often quicker than driving to Dublin in a car. In general most people in Galway have access to a car. It is an important asset given the remote nature of some villages and towns in the county.
Unlike Cork and Dublin, house prices in Galway are not recovering well. This is due the more limited job and employment opportunities in the west and surrounding areas. The prices of houses in Galway fell considerably after the financial meltdown. This has left many homeowners in a negative equity situation with limited options. Many couples who bought houses six or seven years ago at the height of the boom with a view to selling and buying a larger house at a later date now have small children, yet are still unable to move house due to the depressed sales market.
A one bedroom flat in the city centre will cost about €700 per month to rent. A similar dwelling located in the suburbs will cost about €200 less per month. A three bedroom house in the city will cost about €1100 per month while a similar dwelling in the suburbs will cost about €300 less per month. The cost of renting outside of the city in more rural and non-tourist oriented areas can be very cheap. The prices of houses in the Galway area may present an opportunity to some who are looking to move into the area. The market is a buyer’s market, and those with cash can get a well-built house for a good price.
Like most of rural Ireland, broadband coverage remains an issue in some areas of rural Galway. The government have committed to investing in a proper broadband infrastructure but this will take a number of years to roll out.
Neighbourhoods & Schools
Galway is not as established a city when compared with the likes of Dublin or Cork. Money flows slowly in the west and even during the boom there were not as many apartment blocks or large scale developments commissioned. As far as most are concerned this is a blessing as larger cities like Cork and Dublin are at times compared to concrete jungles. Galway has really retained its medieval character due to the slow pace of development in the area.
Galway is also home to Gealtacht areas where native Irish language is widely spoken. The locals are friendly and can also speak fluent English however. They do not expect new residents to speak or learn the language but an attempt is always appreciated! Some of the houses in these Gealtacht areas are simple and small, but beautiful with a whitewashed coat that glows richly against the greenery of the countryside.
The recently re-developed Eyre Square marks the centre of Galway City. This is an expansive space where city revellers can lounge and relax in good weather. The city is usually busy with on-street performers at most street corners. The city centre has a very young feeling to it but can be loud and noisy so is best suited to night owls and those who like to party through the week.
For those who enjoy some peace and quiet but still require quick and easy access to the city, the Calddagh area is a better choice. This is an ancient area where local fishing families lived during penal times. Located outside of the main walls of the city the area is industrial and near the sea. It’s old charm small dwellings and rustic appearance makes for a cosy place to live for small families.
The Salthill Area is also near the city centre, with a fresh sea breeze given its proximity to the water. In recent times this area has become a popular haunt with tourists during the summer. The houses in this area are large with even larger gardens that cater for big families. Salthill has in recent years become commercialised however with many amusement parks and attractions in the area.
Further from the city amidst farm and agricultural land is the growing commuter town of Loughrea. Loughrea is located at the foot of the Slieve Aughty mountains and has good access to the city via motorway. It’s people are active with an interest in football and sports.
The town has great sporting facilities and good schools such as Saint Raphaels College and St Brigids school. Both schools are very involved in promoting extracurricular activities and believe in providing a well-rounded education. The area of Tuam is a similar commuter town with a market feel which is well suited to all walks of life. A notable school in the area is the Presentation Convent Primary School. Most students proceed to second level education in Presentation College.
Most teenagers upon leaving secondary school complete further study in GMIT, or the National University of Galway. The National University is one of only four recognised national universities in Ireland.
A day in the Life
There is always something to do in Galway! The city has many accolades and awards to its name. The county has a great community spirit which means that locals get involved in events and occasions all year round instead of staying sheltered in their homes isolated from the real world. Many people living in Galway volunteer at events like the Galway film festival or the world famous Galway races. Volunteering is a great way to get to know people in the area, especially for those who have recently moved to the county.
The people of Galway are very active and are known for their sporting accomplishments. The county have in recent years opened a greenway cycle track which is without doubt the most impressive cycle track in Ireland. The track runs from Westport to Achill Island and takes in 42 km of impressive views, sleepy towns and villages. It is a safe distraction that is away from the busy cross country roads.
Nothing beats finishing off a day in Galway that a visit to the Roisin Dubh which is without a doubt the most famous sectioned pub in the city. The atmosphere is relaxed and familiar. The venue has a traditional musician playing Irish ballads and folk tunes every night.