According to the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking (2019), Ireland is ranked in the top 10 for higher education globally. Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world, drawing thousands of international students every year for graduate and postgraduate programs. If you are an international student enrolling at a top Irish university, you have taken the right step towards your academic journey. While you get excited dreaming of studying in Ireland, we come here with tips and tricks to help you plan and save money so you can focus on your education and not worry about managing your finances.
On an average, the cost of living in Ireland for an international student is €6,000 to €12,000 a year. The cost of living depends on the region you live in, your accommodation arrangements, lifestyle, the university you are studying in, etc.
In this blog, we will help you with a few tips on how to save money in Ireland if you are planning on taking a degree program at an Irish university.
Before you plan your studies in Ireland, do a bit of research and acquire knowledge about the currency rates of Ireland and compare it with the currency of your home country. If you plan to go for a credit card, look out for a card that charges a lesser transaction fee and offers all the required benefits. While considering exchanging your currency, check the local banks and post offices as they charge less transaction fees than others.
Arrange for your Accommodation
Make arrangements for your accommodation for the duration of your study program. Look for an accommodation that meets all the criteria – reasonable rent, location, facilities, safety, etc. You can save money on your rent payments if you plan your stay wisely.
Student resident halls are provided by the university and are very reasonably charged. They are shared apartments with a common kitchen, living room and washroom, but you can opt for a private bedroom. As student halls are located within the campus, you can save on your commuting expenses as well.
Student apartments are available in and around the university campus, within a reasonable distance. They are again shared apartments but with a bit more privacy compared to student halls. Shared apartments are affordable and a good option for international students.
Host Family Homes
Many families rent out their spare bedrooms for students and provide home-cooked meals. You can even get invited to their dinner table where you can enjoy conversations, feel at home, absorb their culture and lifestyle. It’s a great option if you prefer to live with a family, a home away from home, and will be easy on your pockets too.
If you prefer your privacy, there is also the option of renting out an apartment for yourself. You can live by yourself, cook your own meals, and enjoy your own bathroom and rest of the home all for yourself. However, this is the last option for students as it won’t come cheap.
Open a Bank Account
Check if your university provides the option to open a free bank account as the process will be hassle-free and will come with offers and benefits. If you have a debit card from a European Union bank, you do not have to pay any transaction fees when you travel within the European Union. You can use your debit card to pay your semester fees, as you can transfer the amount directly from your local bank. With a local bank account, you need not pay huge transaction fees, which are incurred if the transaction is made from an international account. A local account is also required for crediting salary when you start a part-time or full-time job.
Apply for a Student Card
Having a student card is like owning a trump card when you are living abroad. Whether you go grocery shopping, shop at a mall, attend an event or a show, catch a movie at a multiplex, or travel, a student card gets you huge discounts most of the time. At almost all the tourist attractions, the administration offers excellent discounts for a student card. If you have a valid student identity card, cafes and restaurants also offer discounts for meals and quick grabs.
Some of the Student Cards that you can benefit from:
Student Leap Card
The Student Leap Card (SLP) is a national student travel and discount card of Ireland. With this card, full-time students can get discounts on travel fares in public transport (DART, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Luas) and local private services within Ireland. SLP has several retail brand partners (shopping, restaurants, events, etc.) who offer discounts for Student Leap Card holders.
International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is regarded as a student passport that is accepted worldwide. The ISIC card has been made available for international students in Ireland since the 1970s. The card offers a wide range of benefits and discounts on shopping, entertainment, travel, local commute, leisure, sports and social events. ISIC cards are recognized at retail outlets, supermarkets, universities, public sectors, health centres, etc., in over 130 countries.
The Student Travelcard is the main national student identity card of Ireland. This discount card is your proof of student identity that gives you significant discounts on local transport like Irish Rail, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Luas. Student Travelcard also gets you discounts at 200+ retail stores helping you save up on day-to-day expenses.
Get a Part-Time Job
If you are from an EU country, you can study and work without any restrictions in Ireland. Non-EU students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the term semester and up to 40 hours per week during the term breaks and holidays. Many part-time jobs will be available within your university campus – in campus cafes, libraries, gyms, etc. To find a part-time job, watch out for postings on campus bulletin boards, online advertisements, or ask around at the university.
You can also find part-time jobs at retail stores, restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets outside the campus. Since main cities in Ireland are well connected through public transport, you need not worry about commuting inconvenience. You can fix a stipulated number of hours in a week for your part-time job without compromising on your studies. This way, you can ”earn while you learn” and save up too!
Cook at Home
When living abroad, it is sensible to prepare your food at home. Regularly eating out and getting takeaway or ready-to-eat meals is not economical for a student. While indulging in outside food once in a while is fine, eating out every day is not just expensive but also unhealthy.
Learn to cook easy and quick meals that are wholesome and nutritious. Make weekly meal plans and stock up your fridge and pantry with healthy food choices. You can have fruits and sugar-free cereals for breakfast as you would be pressed for time in the mornings. Make enough food at night that you can have for dinner and next day lunch. That way, you can pack the leftovers for lunch and not worry about cooking in the morning. You can easily manage three healthy meals in a day by cooking just once at night and eating fresh fruits or quick-fix meals like eggs or sandwiches in the morning for breakfast. The perks of eating at home are not just on your pocket but your health as well.
Save Money on Shopping (Groceries & Essentials)
To cook meals at home, you need to stock up on groceries and fresh produce (vegetables, fruits, dairy). You can save money on shopping essentials in various ways. Plan your weekly shopping by creating a list of required items. Collect discount coupons and vouchers (you can find shopping vouchers online or in newspapers) and use your student ID card during check-out. Farmer’s markets and local shops are good options for veggies and fruits. Avoid random shopping of unnecessary stuff at supermarkets. You can allocate a grocery budget right at the beginning of the month, and this will help you cover the essentials and splurge on your likes every once in a while.
Some popular supermarkets in Ireland that offer good deals:
Save on Study Material (Used Books/Library)
Study material is an essential cost whether you pursue a bachelor’s or master’s program in Ireland. However, the good news is that you can save money by buying used books passed on by your seniors or friends at the university. Used books come at far lesser prices or sometimes for free. Look out for postings on these and procure them as and when available. The university libraries stock academic material from where you can borrow, take print-outs and return the books. This again is cheaper than buying new books. You can save at least up to 50% of your book costs by borrowing or buying used books.
Studying abroad is a wonderful experience as it teaches you to live and survive on your own while you pave the way for a bright future. You learn valuable life lessons along the way, the important one being ”managing your money.” Developed countries are high on the cost of living, unlike a developing nation like India, where you can buy a wholesome meal for even 30 Rs., compared to Ireland where a decent meal costs 15 Euros (around 1300 Rs.). This blog talks about tips and techniques to save money on your day-to-day expenses as a student in Ireland.
The major cost of studying in Ireland is your tuition fee. The fee amount varies on the type of degree program and the university you have enrolled into. Tuition fee is an unavoidable expense; however, you can apply for scholarships that provide partial or complete funding for your studies. For more information, read our article -”Scholarship Options for International Students to Study in Ireland.”