Moving to America from Ireland

So you want to move to America, is it? It’s been your dream all your life, has it? You’re going to conquer the world, are ya?

Well listen up sonny Jim, it’s not quite as easy as back in the day when Irish infested the country like rats, no sir. American culture seems to have changed in the last 5 years. I have a lot of family here and have travelled here quite a bit for work over the last 3 years. But what has changed is that the almighty dollar is no longer king here. It’s all about credit!

So this is my scenario for all you potential immigrants to learn from. I moved here for a full time contract job. Not on a J1 visa or Temporary work visa. Because of this, not going for a J1. Everything has been left up to me to organize, I don’t get a mobile sim or any help from an agency. I took the risk of coming here and the agency did not give me any moving expenses.

So Before I came over the lady in the bank told me I should put a lot of money onto my credit card, as I could get cash from the card and use it over there without paying any sort of commision or charges. Sounded good to me, I put 1,500 dollars onto the card thinking that I shouldn’t put too much more on in case it got stolen and used. I would lose all that money. Now, I’ve travelled quite a bit for work as I said and when going for work I’d use my credit card because it was easier for claiming expenses, you got the exchange rate right on your statement and could use the statement for claiming the expenses. So I had learned from experience, you always tell your bank when you are going abroad. Otherwise they will lock your credit card after a large purchase abroad for security purposes. I told Bank of Ireland twice before I moved and they still locked the card. No sweat really, I had a week off before I started work, it was an inconvenience but not a show stopper.

So day 2, I needed to look for a place to live but to do this I would need an American phone as my own phone didn’t seem to work plus it would cost a lot of money for calls. So off to Verizon I went. I had researched phone companies from home and found that Vodafone (Who I was with at home) actually owned Verizon and so I thought perfect, I’ll roll up in there and get a sim card, only to be told, no deal our Sim cards won’t work in your phone sir. I said ok, I’ll be here for a year so I’ll gladly get a phone. I looked at the smart phones and picked one. Very cheap and good bill pay deals, only to be told…ohhhh you don’t have any credit history here so I can’t sell you any of those phones, here are the phones I can sell you. So I right now have an old Polyphonic ringtone WAP Pile of shit phone that cost $100. Now, here’s the kicker. A few days later my Irish phone picked up the AT&T network. I talked about this with my new work colleagues who are pretty tech savvy and ohhhh yeah, Verizon won’t work in your phone because it uses a different band that Europe doesn’t have, AT&T or T-Mobile should work.

Lesson 1.) for you Monkeys..if you bring an Irish phone, get set up for pre-paid on  AT&T or T-Mobile. Do not buy a phone.

So, I got my phone and now it was time to find a place to live. I used some websites before I got out here to research. Yelp, and Beware, the review website contains mostly all bad reviews, I wouldn’t pay much attention unless the reviews state something about bugs or break ins. A lot of people on the sites complained about management companies and noise etc. I looked at about 6 different places all over. I ended up going for a place that was 300 more than my budget but the cool thing about it is that there’s 2 pools and a gym in the apartment complex plus I got a garage parking space which I couldn’t find anywhere else. It seemed like you could haggle the rent, even when they wouldn’t haggle the rent itself they would do deals such as free Utilities for 3 months etc. It seemed every Saturday management companies would update their deals. So there’s a lot of choice for good deals.

Lesson 2.)  Ask locals about the different areas, There’s free rental books outside Denny’s restaraunts and other local eateries. has lots of listings and has the management companies own websites linked for comparing prices. If your city of choice has good public transport, it would be a good idea to get somewhat close to a station or stop. Deposits are less than at home but beware, they will say you might only have to pay 100 or 200 but that is the average, if you don’t have a credit history in the country you will pay more. I paid 500. Also I tried to get a furnished apartment but the extra cost for a shittier apartment was not worth it to me. I took unfurnished and would slowly get my own stuff. Also an unfurnished apartment still has washer, dryer, dishwasher, fridge, microwave. So you’ll need a bed, tv, couch.

So I got my place. Pretty cool, everything was coming good. I used my Debit card (Laser card for my deposit and first months rent) Everything was going good. I went and got some cash but the max I could get was 200 off my debit card. The rental company would not take any cash, just like the car rental company. They said you must use credit card because it keeps people more honest 🙂 Apparently with broadband and this digital age where a credit card can be authroized right away and cash is easily stolen by disgruntled employees, credit wins. So, I figured trip to Wal Mart, I needed to go get a blow up mattress and some basics. While there I saw a 50 inch tv for 550 dollars, I thought I’ll need a tv anyway and could do with something to occupy my time. While I’m here why not. Then it happened again, My credit card said it was locked. The Credit card services in Ireland was closed and so no shopping for me or a tv. I used the cash to get a blow up mattress and a bit of food and went home pissed off at Bank Of Ireland. BOI!? Are you serious Bro!?

Lesson 3.) Bank of Ireland are a bunch of cunts. Don’t trust them with your money because you won’t get it when you need it. I wish I had brought more cash and put it on a pre-paid credit card for my first few weeks. But I didn’t. I trusted the bank.

So, I got my credit card sorted out again and decided ok. My back is killed sleeping on a blow up mattress, I’ll make a trip to IKEA and get a bed. IKEA’s beds sucked and were too expensive for what you got so I looked around more and get a bed and mattress for 50 more than IKEA. Paid with my credit card and happy out. It would be delivered the next day. So with that done I decided I’d go back for that TV. Tried to use the card again and boom. Locked again!! At this point, I was running out of cash and you can only take out the max of 200 on a foreign debit card every 24 hours. I tried to use my debit card to buy some stuff but it was declined even though I was told before I left that Maestro is widely accepted. American Debit cards are Visa cards and so Maestro isn’t accepted as much as you’d think. So fast forward to right now, I’m currently living on the brink. I’m eating 1 meal a day, not able to get to my own cash. What’s left on my credit card I need to leave there for my rental car and I can’t spend any money because I’m limited to 200 out a day and need a reserve for emergencies and petrol money and food. I probably could spend some more but thanks to all the issues I’ve had, I will not risk it. Instead I am subjecting myself to barely eating and walking to pass the boredom. I only have internet access when I find a WiFi spot on my days off or try to use the shit WAP on my American phone and I’m feeling kind of isolated.

Lesson 4.) If this shit does happen to you don’t worry. The cost of living here is much cheaper, I have seen that from looking around. The taxes are crazy low and the wages for the most part seem a lot better in relation to cost and quality of living. There is so much choice here, so once I fix my cash issues by getting paid into my American account (Which you can setup once you have a fixed address) I will have a lot more freedom and normality restored.


The variety and choice over here is amazing. The people so far have all seemed very friendly, though being in shops or service places they seem very demanding as customers (you’ll see that on the apartment review sites..that’s why I’d take the reviews with a pinch of salt), so if you are coming to work in that industry come with a thick skin. On the flip side of that, because it’s so service based the quality of service here is unbelievable. I never drove here before now and it’s great, turning right on red kicks ass and the interstates and highways setup make the entire metropolitan area accessible within minutes of any location. I lived in Salthill and commuted to Ballybrit in Galway, it could take an hour or more to get home some days and about 25 minutes to get in, in the mornings. Where as here, I’m about 8 times further away from my workplace and I’m averaging 28 minutes to and from work every day. My only worry for now long term is that I might find that I actually do miss having the season as where I am has sun all year round and that the people being so outwardly nice and friendly will grind on me because I’m a miserable prick but anyways, the next year will be fun and we’ll see after that.

Money wise I would suggest bringing a bit on a credit card and bringing some cash. Beware with your laser card you will get charged about 3 dollars each time you use it and can only get 200 out a time. Try to get a bank account set up here and if you are worried about bringing too much cash and the prospect of hitting the issues I hit, maybe try bringing the cash and on your first day put it onto a pre-paid credit card. I have spoken!


About thecityfathers

We sit around all day stroking our beards, clucking our tongues and discussing what's to be done with this Homer Simpson
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29 Responses to Moving to America from Ireland

  1. Audrey Hempenstall says:

    Would love to move to the USA, living in Ireland all my life, was thinking about moving next year when I finish my postgraduate degree in Psychotherapy, so I was hoping to get a Job before getting there

    • What do you want to do for work? What is your therapeutic orientation?

      If you come here. Be prepared to have an awful work life balance.

    • Shane says:

      Audrey Ignore the negative should give it a try. You should look at san diego it’s Nicknamed americas finest city you’ll love it

      • It’s not negative for the sake of negativity. My other half works in that field. She’s worked in a few different places too.

        I can also tell you. In my first job in the US, our group was told (of course not in e-mail, no paper trail) that we were expected to work at least 5 hours overtime every week. In my second job, we weren’t told as a group but one of the guys on my team who had a second job (he worked in IT full time and retail part time to try and pay bills from pre-2008) was called out for not putting in enough hours. He did 40-45 hours a week but they expected more..the rest of us worked a lot more. You will be offered 10 days paid vacation a year…never accept it. They will increase it, if they think you’re worth it. If you work in academics, you’ll get pretty good benefits and a better work life balance.

        In my current job and one of my previous jobs. I had 6 days off for public holidays. New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving (1 day) and Christmas Day.

        I had 0 days of paternity leave. My other half got 6 weeks of maternity leave and only 2 of those weeks were paid.

        My advice. Come over to try it. Pick a safe place (Not Chicago, Not Phoenix, Not Los Angeles, Not Detroit, Not New Orleans etc.). Make some money and then leave.

  2. julie says:

    i really want to move to sandiago in january

  3. shane says:

    im from san diego california and i invite all irish to vist or move here to San diego. san diego is dubbed americas finest city because of its beautiful beaches and weather. san diego has the most sun or partly sunny days then any city in the usa.

  4. Ronan says:

    Uuuum did you just compare us to rats

  5. Denise says:

    What a great blog 🙂 I’ve convinced myself after 3years of awk will I wont I..I bloody want to make the move now! More of a San Francisco lover me though. What kind of visa would I need to go for to get out there including the baby haha!! Bit worried about money too, how much I’ll need, where to live etc. Aww the joys of wanting to get out of this god for saken country!

  6. psk says:

    Great stuff! So if you are already there please tell me how much money on start would I need if moving to Florida? 5000 euro?

    • I’m in Arizona, from what I understand Florida can be more expensive depending on what city you are moving to. I have spent a lot of time in the Tampa area. 5,000 might not actually be enough, Deposits are lower here for renting but you have to account for renters insurance, most places insist that you get it. I think it’s a law here. Renter insurance is very cheap here, it only cost about 120 dollars, in Florida with the Hurricanes that could be a lot more. I know my family there paid a lot in insurance and property tax (you won’t pay the property tax if renting)

      They had something called Cash for Clunkers which was similar to back home. They would give generous subsidies to those who traded in old cars. That wiped a lot of the cheap used cars off the market. Florida is like Arizona, you need to have a car. Your car will probably cost 3k+ I’m not sure how it is in Florida, but I couldn’t get insured for a car for more than 60 days without getting a states drivers license, the bitch then was that I couldn’t do my driving test in a rental car!! If you know somebody there, you should borrow their car for the test.

      Rental places are unfurnished. You will need to buy furniture, I lived with a blow up mattress and a fold out chair for a while. All of these are expensive. You will have to be frugal with your money

      • Tresca says:

        I live in Jacksonville, Florida right now the most cheapest (but decent) place you’ll find would be around 650.00 u.s. dollars and that’s for rent some places may include your utilities within your rent and some other places here will actually rent you furnished apartments/Duplexes That aren’t too shabby. The economy here has dropped matter of fact we are dealing with a government shutdown right now (which doesn’t look good for most state funded business and some small business oh and home loans or any loans haha wish I was kidding) I was actually looking into moving to Ireland in the next few years but after I read the blog and checked into other stats from other sites I don’t think it’s going to happen. Here if you lose a job you’re pretty much up shits creek without a paddle and best be praying that you can find another job before the hounds get sent on ya. (the great bill collectors) They will take everything they possibly can from you and leave you and you’re family in a two story cardboard box. Once again wish I was kidding but I’m not. Thecityfathers is completely right in this blog about credit and trust me it works most Americans nerves as well as far as credit history goes. Anyways back on subject of Florida and prices it just really depends on where you want to be located in Florida. The most expensive places to live would be Miami, Pensecola, Key west and Orlando. Thecityfathers is also correct about hurricane insurance and Florida. All I can say is to make sure you do you’re homework on Florida before actually deciding.

        • Gabbie says:

          5k will last you about 2-3 months depending on the area if ur in Miami maybe 2months. get out the city.

  7. seo advice says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking
    and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward
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    Talk soon!

  8. Niamh says:

    Thanks so much, this info is all great! I’m
    Planning on moving to Chicago on a years graduate visa and I’m from the north of Ireland. Great to hear what to do about finding a place to live and bank accounts etc. hope it’s still going well for you 🙂

    • Don’t forget about the phone situation too. That one ended up costing me a lot of money. Also. Something I learned..

      You can get a low limit secured credit card from your bank after about 4 or 5 months. After a few months you can probably get an Amazon store card. Then when you have a bit saved open up a savings account. All of these are a line of credit.

  9. Lauren McDonald says:

    Hey I would love to get in touch to find out more! All the other blogs and websites are full of sheep shit. I’m from Ireland too and really want to move to America with either a midwife degree or a nursing degree also I hear it is respected over there. Currently studying the monotony of A-levels going pretty good so far.

  10. Great Post, luckily my wife is American so it will be a lot easier for us when it comes to credit history when we move back over there.

  11. swagg says:

    this sucks

  12. Patrick Walsh says:

    I Would love to see an update to this, how things settled and how your getting on now?

  13. neal says:

    Alright bud! Good to here you are finding your feet! I know its tough. Had a couple of moves in the past 2 years and It can daunting even when your not leaving the country, not to mention having to find your feet in a new job. When I went on the jay 1 (with all my students friends over indulging on daddy’s money, you know how it is! I kid, I kid) I got set up on pre paid but it seem that only criminals use pre-pay in the states but I survived! But also, paying to receive a call? What’s all that noise!! I think the way of way of thinking is, if your paying cash you must be dealing drugs! Ireland has highest amount of paper money in circulation of any country in the EU and thats not going to change unless knackers start accepting cards for horses! Best of luck my friend!

    • Thanks Neal! I guess I didn’t see this problem over the last few years because the company pre-booked most of the stuff I’m being told I need credit for now. It’s ok though, thinks are going good! Stay Classy

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