Relocating from South Africa to Dublin - an interview with Reenen du Preez
In January 2018 Reenen du Preez relocated from Sandton in South Africa to Dublin. He had been working as a Tax & Transfer Pricing Supervisor with EY. He is now focussed purely on TP work within Deloitte's Dublin tax practice. In the interview below Dean Dugas, Head of International Tax at Pro Tax Recruitment, talks to Reenen about how he has found his first few weeks living and working in Ireland.
Salary vs Cost of living – how much do you get for your money?
The overall cost of living is a lot higher in Ireland when it comes to housing and going out. Housing is unbelievably expensive as Dublin is in the middle of a housing crisis, so the supply can’t meet the demand, and thus prices have skyrocketed.
Groceries are a similar price to South Africa and the quality is comparable. Public transportation is not expensive in relation to what people earn in Ireland and in a lot of cases there are caps on the amount you can spend on transportation in a week (after the cap, its free).
And the thing you waited for, alcohol. Going out over a weekend can get quite expensive with most bars asking 5-6 Euro for a Beer and even more if you drink Gin, Whisky etc.
How's the quality of life?
This is a very hard question to answer. Overall I think it stayed relatively the same or maybe decreased somewhat. In some instances, such as housing, it decreased, and in other increases such as buying power, it has increased.
One thing that makes a big difference, is that you don’t need a car in Dublin and thus it cuts out a huge expense that you can contribute to other areas of your life. Parking is an absolute nightmare and combined with the high costs of insurance, it doesn’t really make sense to buy a car if you are an expat.
How easy is it to make friends?
In the beginning, it can be quite hard. Fortunately I made friends quickly in the office and went to various expat events. There’s a lot of apps that can help people make new friends, but the one I suggest is MeetUp. It’s an app whereby people post various activities and anyone can just join in. This could include anything from a night out drinking to yoga classes to hiking in Wicklow.
Are the local amenities of a good quality?
The public transport is very good in Ireland. Most buses from town head to the airport and it’s usually very cheap. Most buses have free Wi-Fi on board. With regard to fitness, Ireland has adopted a healthy lifestyle and there are various tax incentives if you purchase a bicycle to travel to work. Furthermore, there are 24 hour gyms on most blocks for memberships starting at around 30 euro per month.
Whats the quality and cost of housing like?
This is a huge problem. For a decent studio apartment in the city, expect to pay no less than 1300-1500 euro’s a month without bills. For sharing accommodation, you can get away for around 900 for a decent double Room in a house sharing with 1 to 3 people (excluding bills which may be around 60-100 euro per person sharing).
How's the weather and overall climate?
The weather is very bad in comparison to South Africa. The average temperature in January was around 2 degrees with a lot of soft rain. With a good coat and umbrella, it’s bearable and one does get used to it after a while.
How easy is it fitting in regarding Culture / Value / Religion?
Everyone speaks English, which makes things a lot easier, although it took me a while to understand the accent ! It’s not hard to fit in, as Dublin is home to a huge number of expats who are either working in Ireland or studying at the various Universities. Everyone is friendly and approachable.
Are there any challenges in setting up a bank account, phone, renting a place etc?
Setting up a bank account was quite easy, although I needed a letter from my employer confirming my employment and residential addresses. But there are a couple of new “digital” banks (eg Number26) which are easy to open up a bank account with. The fees are cheaper than the traditional banks and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
A sim card is very easy to obtain. Just go to any of the big networks and they will provide you with a pay as you go sim card with very good deals (i.e. I’m paying 20 Euro for unlimited Irish calls, unlimited Facebook/WhatsApp/Youtube and 15 GB data on top of that per month).
Renting a place is not that difficult if you see past all the scammers.
Most difficult things to get used to coming from South Africa?
It’s a combination of a lot of things happening at the same time. The weather is probably the biggest factor.