Top 10 best places to live in Ireland, ranked

With modernisation and marketing drives, the island has become one of the most desirable places to live in recent years.

As we hesitantly begin to emerge from a global pandemic that has brought the world to its knees, shut down borders and paused life as we know it, we may now be able to plan what our life will be like once normality returns.

Top of the list for many of you for where to settle down and bask in normality (or whatever version of that emerges from the final lockdown) may well be the Emerald Isle, the green island holding the fort on the coast of Europe.

For Irish citizens and global tourists alike, read on to find out the ten best places to live in Ireland.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for living in Ireland

  • Learn to embrace the Irish weather! No matter the time of year, the weather is variable and subject to change, so be prepared.
  • If you are living in Ireland, don’t just head to the cities. See the vast beauty of the Irish countryside in all its glory.
  • Become familiar and comfortable with Irish customs and traditions, such as St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, the GAA, and other things.
  • If you intend on purchasing a car and driving whilst living in Ireland, be mindful of the fact that in Ireland, people drive on the left side of the road.
  • Try and learn some of the Irish language. Visit the Gaeltacht areas where people speak it fluently, and pick up every day phrases you can use.

10. Belfast, Co. Antrim – an up-and-coming choice

Belfast is an up-and-coming choice.
Credit: Tourism Northern Ireland

Kicking off our list of the top ten best places to live in Ireland is Belfast, Ireland’s second city, the birthplace of Titanic, harbourer of history, and now gateway to a vibrant, exciting, and up-and-coming way of life.

With Queen’s University and now the University of Ulster opening up a city-centre campus, it is also a no-brainer for a temporary (or permanent) home place for students.

Read more: Give yourself the best chance of choosing with our article on Living in Belfast: the PROS and CONS of living there

9. Dublin city, Co. Dublin – life in the Irish capital

Dublin city is one of the best places to live in Ireland.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

If it weren’t for Dublin’s obscene rent prices, the Irish capital would be much higher on the list of the best places to live in Ireland. Still, it is hard to leave the city out.

Partitioned by the River Liffey, Dublin is a metropolitan haven. Lined with universities, sports stadiums, bars, public parks, literature, and history, Dublin is an iconic city choice.

Read: Living in Dublin: the pros and cons about living here, explained

8. Killarney, Co. Kerry – reside in the Kingdom

Killarney is an amazing spot in Ireland.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Killarney is a picturesque town enveloped by heavenly Kingdom countryside, with Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe only two of the awe-inspiring attractions awaiting.

Overlooked by the awesome McGillicuddy Reeks, the town is littered with restaurants, cafes, and bars to make it the ideal place to live.

7. Cork city, Co. Cork – the food capital of Ireland

Cork city is one of the best places to live in Ireland.
Credit: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland

If the countryside isn’t your thing, but the non-stop culture of a capital city doesn’t appeal to you, residence in Cork city may be right up your street.

Cork is a small city, with all the amenities you want from a city right on your doorstep. Better still, it is dubbed the food capital of Ireland.

6. Ennis, Co. Clare – one of the best places to live in Ireland

Ennis is a great place to live.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Situated only 12 km (7.5 miles) from Shannon Airport, Ennis is easily accessible for ex-pats new to Ireland and looking to settle down on the island.

The town is characterised by its laid-back and relaxed feel, with plenty to see and do. Literature lovers may find the town appealing, with Ireland’s only Book Club Festival held here.

If you need more inspiration, read our article on the top 20 reasons why you should move to live in Ireland.

5. Holywood, Co. Down – a town that has it all

Holywood is one of the best places to live in Ireland.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Holywood was named the best place to live in the North this year so it is an obvious addition to our list of the best places to live in Ireland.

The home of Jamie Dornan, this golf-mad town is great for shopping, coffee, fancy restaurants, idyllic homes, and a golden beach on the outskirts of the town.

For more on Dornan, read our article on the top 10 fascinating facts about him.

4. Carlingford, Co. Louth – living in Ireland’s ancient northeast

Carlingford is a great spot in Ireland's ancient northeast.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Coastal towns do not come much better than Carlingford, which finds refuge on the Cooley Peninsula with easy access to Newry, Dundalk, and Dublin.

It is an adventure homeland, ideal for families. Carlingford offers play parks, walking trails, and a pier at the beautiful Carlingford Lough.

Related: Check out Ireland Before You Die’s article on the top 5 best things to do in Carlingford, Co. Louth (2023)

3. Westport, Co. Mayo – in the shadow of Croagh Patrick

Westport tops our list of best places to live in Ireland.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

One of Board Failte’s Heritage Towns, Westport in County Mayo lies in the shadow of the majestic Croagh Patrick at the mouth of Clew Bay, a natural ocean bay in the heart of Ireland’s west.

The town is extremely aesthetically pleasing, with perfectly lined streets, leafy trees, and solid bridges that scale the river. Shops, cafes, and pubs adorn the town streets.

2. Galway city, Co. Galway – for bohemian charm

Galway city offers bohemian charm.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Just missing out on the top spot is Galway city, a beautiful bohemian harbour city in the west of Ireland. The city itself is full of charm and warmth whilst still maintaining its city status.

Rent and living costs are not as high as Dublin and amenities include Eyre Square, the Latin Quarter, and Salthill. What’s more, there are few better nights out than in Quay Street, host to a row of classic Irish bars and pubs.

1. Greystones, Co. Wicklow – your gateway to the capital

Greystones tops our list of the best places to live in Ireland.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

A crown in the jewel of Ireland’s east coast, Greystones in County Wicklow is an ideal location if you are considering taking up residence in Ireland. This is a town that has grown but not shed its homely village feel.

Greystones claims the number one spot not only for its coastal charm. It is also your gateway to Dublin with excellent rail connections, letting you bypass Dublin’s exorbitant house prices.

Your questions answered about the best places to live in Ireland

Should you have any further questions – not to worry! Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the best places to live in Ireland.

Where is the best place to live in Ireland for quality of life?

Some of the best places in Ireland to live in for families and a good quality of life include Killarney, the Skerries, and Westport. Cities like Dublin and Galway also offer a good quality of life.

Where do most Brits live in Ireland?

Most British expats to Ireland would move to places like Dublin and Cork, mostly for job opportunities and quality of life.

What is the safest place to live in Ireland?

According to official statistics, the safest places to live in Ireland include County Mayo, Roscommon, and Longford. See more in our article on safety in Ireland.

How do I decide where to live in Ireland?

To help pick where to live in Ireland, use factors like job opportunities, quality of life, safety, local amenities, transport, and the cost of property or housing.

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Ireland vs USA comparison: which country is better to live in & visit

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