I'm an American living in Ireland. Here are 10 things I don't miss about the US.
- Since I moved to Ireland 3 years ago, there are some things that I have not missed from the US.
- Some differences are vast, such as the work-life balance and laws surrounding guns.
In 2019, I moved from the Midwest of the US to Dublin, Ireland, to start a new journey.
I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in both countries and compare my experiences between them.
Although there are pros and cons to living in both the US and Ireland, there are definitely things I don't find myself missing from back home.
I don't long for the US healthcare system
Although the healthcare system in Ireland is far from perfect, I'm still grateful for how much more affordable it is.
Since moving, I've found myself prioritizing my health in ways I never could've afforded to in the US.
I'm able to easily and cheaply see a doctor, dentist, psychologist, massage therapist, or chiropractor — even without private health insurance.
As a single woman back in the US, I paid about $300 a month out of pocket for subpar healthcare coverage when it wasn't covered by my employer. On top of that, to actually use my plan, there were enough co-pays and deductibles to put me off scheduling appointments.
I remember going years without seeing a doctor or dentist just because my policy wasn't comprehensive enough to cover the costs.
I don't miss the exorbitant cost of higher education
I was fortunate enough to receive a great scholarship and a grant that covered most of my undergraduate degree. But even though I was given the maximum amount of grant money, I still had to take out the maximum number of student loans to afford campus living expenses and extra fees.
Throughout college, I worked three simultaneous jobs and still struggled to pay the bills.
Under the terms of the Free Fees Initiative, the costs of public undergraduate degrees for Irish and European Union citizens are covered by the Department of Further and Higher Education.
Public colleges eligible for the Free Fees Initiative just charge a mandatory student contribution of €3,000 (about $3,053) a year.
I recently finished a master's degree in Dublin, and I was shocked when the standard tuition and fees amounted to €7,000 (about $7,110).
As a non-EU student, I ended up paying €15,000 (about $15,237) in total because of extra fees. But that's still a far cry from the sob-inducing costs in the US.
Before scholarships and grants, undergraduate tuition at my school was $45,000 a year, and room and board was $12,000 a year.
America's obsession with the rat race has never been clearer to me
Americans are pros at putting in overtime and multitasking. We're great at being perpetually busy — a trend I immediately noticed among my fellow American expat workers.
I found the intense work culture in the US overwhelming. I felt like I was never doing enough, even if I worked more than 50 hours a week.
In contrast, work here seems like less of a focus. It isn't something that defines someone.
Many people in Ireland tend to take long vacations without shame or guilt, in part because there are four weeks of annual paid leave. That doesn't even include Ireland's many "bank holidays" (federal holidays) throughout the year or paid sick leave.
The slower pace of life here also means businesses close earlier and more frequently than in the US, where the way of life in some areas revolves around 24/7 convenience.
The debate surrounding gun culture in America is exhausting
Crime is generally low in Ireland, and I've never felt safer.
In my experience, guns are not a major part of life here. Debates about gun rights aren't a predominant political conversation during elections.
Most law-enforcement officers in Ireland (referred to as the Gardaí) don't even carry guns. They're routinely unarmed, with only 20% to 25% qualified to deploy a firearm.
I think the US has a serious gun problem — the country has experienced over 300 mass shootings so far in the first half of 2022 alone. Ireland has pretty strict gun laws, and the rates of gun violence are low.
Gun violence was something I thought about regularly when I lived in the US. Fortunately, it's not something I worry about as much in Ireland.
I don't miss the overabundance of athleisure
After living in Ireland for three years, I can now proudly pick out an American in a crowd before they've even spoken. It's usually the person wearing head-to-toe athleisure.
The style refers to wearing clothes typically used for exercise — like leggings and tank tops — as everyday outfits.
I work in Dublin as a student program advisor, and I often have to inform visiting students they can't wear athleisure everywhere here. In some cases, they'll get turned away from restaurants and bars at the door in this attire.
I totally get the comfort and convenience of the athleisure aesthetic, but it's refreshing to experience the more diverse street fashion here.
I was so used to hidden taxes back home
When my partner and I bought a TV in Ireland, I remember thinking it was going to cost much more than the ticket price after taxes were added.
But we paid exactly the listed price — no hidden fees, no surprises at the cash register.
I really admire the fact that taxes are included in the cost of the items here. I'm not sure why we don't do this in America, but it's one of the things I'd petition for if I were in charge.
What's the point of a price tag if the number is different than what you end up paying?
I found it more difficult to get around in the US
After spending a lot of time in Europe, I've realized much of the US largely caters to vehicles and motorways, not pedestrians.
I always felt that owning a car in the US was absolutely necessary. Even when living in a major city, it was nearly impossible to get to surrounding areas efficiently without one.
Public transportation in Ireland has been life-changing. Even in smaller cities, there are often train stations and buses that make getting around without a car simple.
Although the system isn't as all-encompassing as it is in other European countries, it's cheap and easy to hop on a bus or train anywhere around Dublin or deep into the countryside.
Plus, not having a car has saved a lot of time and money, and it's allowed me to be more flexible with housing options since I don't need parking.
Compulsory tipping doesn't make sense to me anymore
In Ireland, employees don't depend on tips to supplement their income.
Tips are generally accepted as a token of appreciation for very good service but are by no means expected like they tend to be in the US.
Many restaurants automatically include the service charge within the final bill, which means it doesn't come down to you to do the math.
Tipping also isn't expected when ordering drinks on a night out. No more struggling to do math with friends after a few drinks.
The cost of US phone plans seems outrageous to me
In the US, I could never find a smartphone service plan for less than $50 a month. It was also difficult to find options that didn't come with a one-year contract.
In Ireland, it's much easier to choose from noncontractual service plans, and "top-up credit" gives users the flexibility to cancel and add services month to month.
I pay €20 (about $20) a month for unlimited data and texting, which is just what I need.
This applies to travelers, too. I often tell students who're passing through Ireland to purchase the $20 SIM card here rather than racking up international data and roaming fees.
I don't miss the overload of medical TV ads
Advertising culture in the US, in general, is overwhelming. You'll find corporate billboards along every stretch of road, and televised ads appear nearly every 10 minutes.
I never noticed just how many medical- and prescription-based ads aired in the US until I started watching TV in Ireland. Although there are ads for over-the-counter drugs here, drug companies can't publicly promote prescription-only medications.
I've found the absence of these commercials far more enjoyable for TV-watching.
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