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Tech Career Insights: Guide to Working and Living in Dublin for Software Developers
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Guide to Working and Living in Dublin for Software Developers

04 July 2022, by Simone Markham

When it comes to the most prominent European startup capitals, London and Berlin are usually the first to be brought up within tech circles. Others like Dublin tend to fly significantly more under the radar, in spite of also offering promising opportunities for developers to take the next step in their careers.

Software developer city guide living working Dublin

The Irish capital is an ideal choice if you’re looking to relocate for work in the near future. Dublin offers a wide range of lifestyle benefits, a relaxed work culture and access to an array of key businesses in the tech space. This guide details what living and working there might look like, as well as what you should know if you’re hoping to find work and make Ireland your home for a while.

Living in Dublin

There are plenty of advantages of relocating to Ireland, most notably that it is the 3rd safest country to live in in the world according to the 2022 Global Peace Index. This makes it an attractive prospect for foreigners looking to live and work abroad, with Dublin in particular being renowned for its sizable, growing expat community.

The city is also the ideal size: small enough to get by on bicycle, yet large enough to offer access to a vast countryside whenever a breakaway from metropolitan life beckons. There is a lot to do when you’re not working. From a variety of year-round music festivals, markets and sports events to choose from, all the way to a lively nightlife and pub culture, the opportunities to meet new people are plentiful. English is widely spoken across the country, so unlike in some other European capitals, you won’t have to worry about contending with a language barrier.

Working in Dublin

Most companies in Dublin tend to adopt a more relaxed work culture, with less of an emphasis on authority and bureaucracy. That said, the Irish do take their work very seriously, placing a lot of value on punctuality and good manners, the latter of which is best displayed in an office setting with a handshake before and after a meeting.

Meetings often take place in social settings, where you should expect a bit of small talk to open the discussion, as well as a fair amount of self-deprecating Irish humour. Dubliners appreciate a good work-life balance, with more employers offering flexibility and prioritising the mental health of their teams, especially since the start of the pandemic.

Tech companies in Dublin

After Brexit, an influx of multinational companies decided to make Dublin their new European headquarters, in a bid to guarantee continued easy access to the rest of the EU. As a result, there has been an influx of new job opportunities in the city for developers, as the tech sector continues to grow at an exponential rate.

The Dockland area is affectionately referred to as “Silicon Docks” (after Silicon Valley) as a result of the vast amount of established international companies having offices in the area. These include the likes of Linkedin, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Pinterest, Hubspot, Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

There are also more than 100 prominent startups in Dublin, including Keywords Studios, Kaseya, Profitero, Debenhams, Kitman Labs, Perrigo, Glofox and 3D4Medical. The wide mix of startups, SMEs and corporations means developers have freedom of choice when it comes to finding a job in the ideal type of company, rather than just based on what it does.

Dublin work visa

Ireland-based companies are required to have at least 50% EU employees first before being able to sponsor and employ a foreign national. In order to relocate there for work, the first step is to find and secure employment with an organisation that meets this criteria right off the bat.

Once both parties are happy and a work agreement has been signed, your employer can start the process of applying for permission for you to live and work in the country through a long-stay “D” visa. This is done directly to the DBEI (Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation).

This application is a requirement for anybody who isn’t a citizen of an EU country, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland or the UK. If you have a family member from one of these countries, you may be able to skip this step and go straight to the next phase, namely applying for the right work permit.

As per the current approved occupation list, developers are eligible for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. These are valid for two years and any work agreement should reflect exactly the same period. It’s worth noting that you can’t change employers within Ireland for up to twelve months once the permit has been issued to you. Once in hand, you’re good to go to start the new role.

Working hours, leave considerations and public holidays

The Irish government caps the maximum amount that an employee can work to no more than 48 hours a week. There aren’t any laws dictating that overtime has to be compensated for, but many employers do so on their own, stipulating the specific conditions in their work contracts.

Dublin-based employees are guaranteed 20 days of annual leave, provided that they’ve worked at least 1365 hours (roughly 56 days) across a twelve month period. Workers who don’t take leave for eight months are entitled to a vacation of two consecutive weeks. Leave is granted over and above ten paid public holidays in Ireland as of 2022, up one from 2021.

The Irish tax system

Ireland’s taxation system works somewhat differently to others that ask for a percentage of total income as dictated by a sliding earnings scale. It introduces a system where tax credits can be utilised to offset the total yearly burden based on the fixed tax rate band (currently set at 20% and 40%).

Calculating your tax burden can be slightly complicated, as the government also takes into account personal circumstances (namely being single and living on one income vs. being married and having multiple incomes). Whether you have to pay 20% or 40% depends on the total household income minus the relief offered from the tax credits mentioned earlier.

To simplify matters, income tax is automatically deducted from salaries by employers in Ireland, as part of a scheme called PAYE (Pay As You Earn). The tax is paid directly to Revenue, the government agency in charge of managing employee tax. Your payslip will also reflect an additional deduction for USC (Universal Social Charge), a health contribution charged as a portion of gross income for anybody earning more than €13 000 a year.

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