I Decided To Leave My Comfy Job And Work Abroad. This Is What Happened

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo

For those who have decided to wander away from the comforts of home, to seek out a new, albeit temporary, life abroad, there are important things to keep in mind in order to ease the process. After 2-years and 8-months of plugging away at social media posts for a digital marketing company, I decided I wanted to try something else. Maybe it was my Millennial mindset — discontent, stir-crazy, a need to embrace my generation's YOLO mantra. Whatever it was, I felt the urge to get up and go.

My partner and I had a long discussion about our future together. We talked about what we wanted out of life, what we valued the most, and what we were willing to take on to make all of this happen. He is from Ireland and lived in Canada, my homeland. Technically he could live and work in either place and I was still young enough to get a 2-year work visa in his homeland. Tit-for-tat, we made the final decision to jump the Canadian Shield ship and head for the Emerald Isle. I got a bar job making a few bucks to save up for the big move. He went ahead to spend some time with his family.

We were jumping into an opportunity of having jobs and place to live. It didn't seem like such a grand leap. We planned to help his brother run a guesthouse and restaurant in, well, the middle of the countryside. That's a whole other story, one that deserves more than a post. This post is to help others who want to make the big move and what it entails to do it.

ireland 1.jpg

"Next, say see-you-soon to your friends. They will find a way to see you, whether online or in real life."

left, Wicklow Mountains

First, if you are moving out of your beautiful, rent-controlled apartment that held 4-years of memories, say a proper goodbye. Thank your space for giving you many days and nights of amazing tales, good and bad. Host to girls' nights, single nights drinking for one, cat snuggles and Netflix, wine and cheese parties, a place of love, and a place that housed many tears. It was a life-size memory box filled with precious moments. 

Next, say see-you-soon to your friends. They will find a way to see you, whether online or in real life. 

Finally, get your life together because you're an adult and you have responsibilities. If you are travelling with a pet to Ireland, read up on the essentials for bringing your fur baby in. There is no quarantine time for certain critters from certain countries. Read up on it for the sake of your sanity. There's a lot of jargon in there as there always in paperwork.

From Canada, keep in mind that you cannot bring your pet with you through the cabin. Ireland doesn't allow it unless they enter from another European Union country. Therefore, your furry friend needs to arrive in the cargo hold. When I first learned this, my heart dropped. My elderly, diabetic feline would probably not make it if he had to travel on the lower deck. However, Air Canada Cargo offers a slightly swankier cargo hold for your pet. They directly handle the animals and the hold is pressurized as well as temperature controlled, ranging from 10 to 20 degrees celsius. It is pricier, but I think it's worth it. Your pet needs to be microchipped and has its rabies vaccine. You must have the right forms filled in by a veterinarian and signed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency no more than 10 days before your pet jet sets.

Benbulben, Co. Sligo

Benbulben, Co. Sligo

The entire process of getting a work visa and being able to work in Ireland was longer than expected. Because of this, make sure you save more than you think you need, especially if you don’t have work or a living situation lined up.

The work visa was easy to apply for:

  1. You need to apply at the embassy and that is located in Ottawa. There is a satellite location in Oshawa, however, the representative was on vacation. This meant making the 4-hour drive and hoped I had remembered everything that one needed for the application, including passport.

  2. You need the appropriate photo with appropriate measurements.

  3. You need to have one year of health insurance and sign off that you will get another year of insurance once the first year has expired. (Talk about pricy.)

  4. Payment for said application.

It isn't difficult to do any of the above things, but each part needs to be done meticulously.

Within a few weeks, I had been approved for the work visa and it was sent to me by registered mail. Happy days, I was ready to work in Ireland. Or so I thought.

Upon arrival, I needed to register with my local authorities. To do that, I needed to email the head of the Immigration Unit and it took a whopping 3 weeks to get an appointment. By law, I needed to register within 30-days of my arrival in Ireland so it was cutting it close.

I needed to bring my work visa, passport and a proof of address. As I was living with an Irish family, I didn't have a proof of address. However, they do accept a utility bill with a letter from the owner of that address with that name saying that you live there. Done and dusted, I was finally registered. 

It isn’t difficult to do any of the above things, but each part needs to be done meticulously.

To work in Ireland, you are required to have a social security number. This was one of the most time-consuming processes. They make obtaining a social security number a bit more difficult because it grants you the ability to work and to collect social welfare. Therefore, they are more strict.

To obtain the number, you must bring your passport, proof that you can work, an official proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, etc.) and proof that you will be working. The letter from the owner of the address will not suffice and you can't get a bank account unless you have your social security number. Thankfully, I spoke with a foreign customer service representative for a bank and she said I could use my local authority’s registration letter. Another thing to note is that the proof that you can work, like a work visa, is not proof that you will be working. You will need a letter from an employer with the tax number and address stating that you will be working with a set start date. Three visits to the social welfare office and 6-weeks later, I obtained my social security number.

Once you get your social security number, you must register online for your place of employment. This way, the tax man can find you and take a percentage of your earnings. 

For those who are hoping or needing to drive a car, it's important to note that Ireland is pretty strict on which provincial licenses they accept. If you are staying for a while, you might need to swap over to an Irish driver's license for your stay, especially when considering insurance for your car. 

Fun stuff, but so important to know if you decide to take on the challenge of working abroad. It's not easy, but if you want to have an alternative experience it's helpful to know some of the steps involved. The process may seem long and frustrating at the beginning, but in the grand scheme of things it's merely a blip in time.

Happy travels, everyone.