Living Costs in Ireland
Before coming to Ireland as an international student, it’s a really good idea to plan ahead and budget for your living costs. The information here is designed to help you with working out a budget. Some current students have also put together financial diaries below to help with giving you an idea of the day to day living costs as a UCD student.
UCD is also pleased to offer a number of scholarships to international students. Find out more about both full and partial scholarships.
Accommodation expenses will vary depending on where you live. In the table below the cost of living in UCD campus accommodation is included. If you are living on campus in a catered residence, you'll need less money for food, while if you're renting an apartment you'll need to put money aside for bills like electricity and internet.
|Expense||Approx. monthly cost|
|Electricity / gas / bins||€30|
|Food (incl. lunches)||€250|
|Travel (student Leap card)||€80|
|Books & materials||€70|
|Clothes / medical||€45|
|Mobile phone (excl. handset)||€20|
|Social life / miscellaneous||€130|
Another good resource to help you with figuring out living costs is www.numbeo.com. The comprehensive guide on this website will also assist you with figuring out living costs like rent outside of campus accommodation, utility bills, travel and other basics expenses.
You should also budget for any initial costs you will likely incur (e.g. you might need to budget for short term accommodation upon arrival in Dublin, or make a deposit for accommodation which might be the equivalent of four weeks rent).
It’s also important to keep in mind that international students, who are not citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, must register in person with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) after arrival and after completion of registration at UCD. INIS will issue you with an Irish Residence Permit (IRP), and the fee for this card, as of October 2020, is €300.
In order to register with INIS, as a first-time applicant and to renew your residency permit each year, students are required to purchase health insurance. This can cost between €160 - €600 per year depending on the duration of your course. Further information about health insurance is available on our Visas and Immigration page.
Check out the student financial diaries below for more information on living costs.
*UCD accommodation rate based on 2019/2020 Merville & Belgrove residences located on the main Belfield campus. At UCD, your electricity, gas and bins are included in your rental price.
My Weekly Spend
UCD graduate student Megan Norman from the USA takes us through a typical financial week. Megan is 27 years old, and lives in Dublin City Centre.
MONTHLY EXPENSES (EX-RENT)
HOUSEHOLD BILLS: Electricity for my 1-bedroom apartment is €67; bins, TV, and WiFi are included in my rent.
TRANSPORT: €80 automatic top up on my student Leap Card; this is plenty to get me to campus and back during the week, plus the odd DART or bus trips to go outside of city centre.
PHONE BILL: €20 for unlimited data and texting, plus unlimited calls within my network.
HEALTH INSURANCE: As an international student, I had a one-time payment of €120 at the start of the school year.
GROCERIES: I average €120 for myself and 2 cats.
SUBSCRIPTIONS: Spotify is €5 with a student discount, Netflix is another €9.99.
7 am - My alarm goes off and I snooze it a couple more times until 7:45 am. I have to be at UCD at 9am for my seminar so I rush through my morning routine and grab a latte at a cafe next to my apartment building. (€3)
11 am - Even though I worked a full-time ‘9 to 5’ job for the past 5 years between finishing my undergraduate degree and starting my graduate program, it is absolutely exhausting to have a 9 am seminar. I head to Accents on my way back to my apartment to meet with my friend, Z., for a caffeine-fueled study session. I treat myself to a sausage roll since I have a free coffee, thanks to my Accents loyalty card. (€3)
6 pm - After studying for a couple of hours, I start to walk home, but then I remember that my fridge is quite empty. I make a quick stop at the local grocery store to buy my a few of my weekly staples: chicken breasts, eggs, milk, bread, canned tomatoes, and a heap of vegetables and fruits. Oh, and food for my two cats! (€32)
7 pm - Once I am home, I start cooking my dinner, plus lunches to last me throughout the week. I’m by no means a talented cook, but I can easily throw together batches of roasted chicken and vegetables with brown rice that was already in my pantry. After eating, cleaning, and showering I’m in bed by 10 pm with a cup of chamomile tea and a comedy special on Netflix. (€0)
Total spent = €38
9 am - My seminar doesn’t start until 11am today, so I have time to make a coffee and a filling breakfast of scrambled eggs with peppers and salsa. I grew up in California and love Mexican food and add salsa to everything...well, almost everything. (€0)
1 pm - After my seminar, I heat up my lunch in my department’s kitchen and find a place to study on campus. I settle on the Poolside Cafe nestled between the gym and the student union. It’s my favourite place to study - the coffee is strong, the people-watching is fantastic, and there’s plenty of seating. My U-Card has some remaining funds and I don’t have to pay for my coffee with cash. (€0)
7 pm - On my way back to city centre I get a text from my friend, S. We want to get dinner at Riot Bar, near my apartment, because they offer a pint and a small pizza for €13. I am absolutely in because if there’s one thing I like more than Mexican food, it’s pizza. We spend some time chatting over our pints before turning in around 11 pm. (€13)
Total spent = €13
9 am - I am happy to have another leisurely morning; I don’t have to be on the bus to UCD until 11:30 am, since my seminars are at 12 pm and 3 pm. More scrambled eggs, peppers, and salsa for breakfast! Between my seminars I have a little over an hour to kill, so I stop by one of my professor’s office hours to check in about an assignment and scarf down my packed lunch. (€0)
5 pm - Traffic coming back into city centre is mad and nearly doubles my commuting time on the bus. By the time I get home, I am brain dead and hungry. After 4 hours of seminar I don’t have the energy to study but I do have the energy to throw together comfort food that was a favorite of mine growing up: kielbasa, garlic, and onions all cooked together in a chunky tomato sauce and then served over brown rice. (€0)
8 pm - I spend the next couple of hours tidying up my apartment while listening to some Spotify-curated playlists. Making the shift from employee to student has been quite the transition, as I am used to having more disposable income, but I am so proud of myself that I didn’t spend any money today! Before getting into bed I treat myself to a glass of wine and a face mask that my mom recently sent to me in a care package. (€0)
Total spent = €0
9 am - I may not have modules on Thursday, but I still have plenty of reading to get through. I hunker down with coffee and a banana and study at my apartment through the morning into the early afternoon. By this time, I am starving and make (you guessed it) scrambled eggs with salsa, peppers, and other veggies. (€0)
2 pm - My friend, C., texts me and asks if I need a coffee break and I decide that I can spare a couple of coins and could use some fresh air. I walk along the Liffey down to the Docklands and it feels so refreshing to stretch my legs and to take advantage of the last of the daylight hours. C. and I catch up over our coffees, a latte for me and a mocha for him. I cover C.’s drink as thanks for recently watching my cats while I was in Connemara National Park the past weekend. (€6)
6 pm - I have dinner plans with my friend, M. He suggests that we try Kumpir Cafe or Bunsen Burger. I am so tempted, I love exploring Dublin’s food and drink scene but it’s not always the responsible financial choice on a student budget. We decide to cook at my apartment and split the costs of groceries instead of dining out or getting takeaway. We feast on spinach and ricotta tortellinis in a creamy garlic sauce while binge-watching “Black Mirror” on Netflix and drinking wine that was on sale at SuperValu. I go to bed with a full stomach and a sleepy brain. (€10)
Total spent = €16
10 am - I wake up a little later than planned today and switch up my breakfast routine to toast with a fried egg. I don’t have any modules today and spend the morning finishing up my readings to prepare for next week’s seminars. When I need a break from studying I tend to some chores around my apartment to double my productivity. (€0)
4 pm - Once I am happy with my progress, I close my laptop and walk around city centre for an hour, or so. I love exploring the hidden alleyways and street art of Dublin, while looking out for new restaurants, pubs, and cafes, of course. On my way back to my apartment, I stop by my local yarn shop, This is Knit, to pick up a beautiful spool of deep blue yarn for S. I promised her I would knit her an infinity scarf for her birthday. (€10)
8 pm - Shortly after finishing my dinner of leftover chicken and vegetables, my friends arrive at my place for pre-drinks before heading out to meet other UCD students at a nearby pub. Everyone brings over a couple of cans and L, bless him, brings his famous guacamole. The five of us have a great time laughing and chatting with each other until it’s time to head out. Luckily, my place is nearby and I don’t have to take a cab back home after a couple of rounds. It’s nearing 2 am now and I am more than ready to go to sleep. (€35)
Total spent = €45
10 am - At some point last night, my friends and I decided to spend today in Howth. I get up, slowly, eat my usual scrambled eggs, and meet the group at Pearse Dart Station with my Leap card, a sandwich, and reusable water bottle. We end up walking the gorgeous Cliff Path Loop trail that takes us around the headlands and up to the summit of Howth. I almost achieve another day without spending money, but on our way back to the Howth DART station, we stop at Leo Burdocks for an early dinner of fish ‘n chips. There’s no better way, in my opinion, to counteract a late night out than fresh air and fried food with friends. (€9)
7 pm - After being outside all day, it’s feels great to cozy up in my apartment with “Brooklyn Nine Nine” on Netflix and a steaming mug of tea. (€0)
Total spent = €9
10:30 am - I stayed up too late last night watching Netflix and slept in much later than planned. I quickly get dressed make myself a coffee and I hop back on the DART, this time to the farmer’s market at People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire. M. meets me there and we grab lunch at my favorite Korean food booth at the market. I can’t resist and pick up some cheddar cheese, basil hummus, and a slice of rhubarb pie, as well. Afterwards, we take a long walk along the Dun Laoghaire pier. I wish it wasn’t too cold, I will have to wait for warmer days to have a Teddy’s 99. (€16)
6 pm - I’m back at home and snack on my farmer’s market finds for dinner. I start S.’s scarf and FaceTime my family back in California. It’s been a busy week and I spend some time on budgeting for the rest of the month. My goal is to continue to bring my spending down and to be mindful of how much I spend throughout the day - Dublin has so many tempting places to spend money and it all adds up by the end of the week! In keeping with my goals, I’m happy to have a quiet night in with my cats, more tea, and Netflix. (€0)
Total spent = €16
Total spent this week = €137