From Couch Surfing to Apartment Hunting — How I Moved to Ireland by Emma Powers (CLAS ’13)

A little beach outside Galway.A dragon parade down Shop Street at the beginning of the Arts Festival in July.The Spanish Arch area in the middle of the city center where people often go to meet up and sit by the canal.The house I'm living in.

During my preliminary research into what I would need to know to set myself up in a new country, I learned that finding housing was a task best left until you were actually there. No one wants to rent a room to someone still halfway across the world.

I did find temporary accommodation, though, through the website couchsurfing.org. I contacted a German woman living in Dublin two weeks before my flight, and she said I was welcome to stay on her couch for a few days after I arrived.

I definitely prefer couch surfing over staying in a hostel—it’s so nice to get to a new place and already have someone there to welcome you into their home, and who will usually even show you around the city if they have time!

After spending a few days exploring Dublin, I bought a bus ticket to Galway, the city I knew I wanted to spend my year in. This time I arranged to stay in a hostel since I’d be getting in late at night. The next day, I got down to business.

Daft.ie is the best website for finding housing in Ireland—you can limit your search by type of place, price range, whether you want roommates or to live alone and proximity to the city center. I set myself up on the hostel’s patio that morning and powered through a few pages of ads.

Once I’d found about 10 favorites, I gave the contact number a call and set up a visit for a time when all of the people living there would be home from work or school. I really wanted to live with people I felt like I could get along well with, so it was important for me to meet everyone before I agreed to move in.

The first apartment I visited was right above a bar. There were five students around my age living there already and I enjoyed meeting them, but the place was filthy. Also I didn’t like the idea of being so close to the action every night. Next, please!

The second place was nicer—on the docks, with a view over the water and a surprisingly cheap rent—but the people there didn’t seem to interact with each other much, so I knew this one wasn’t for me either.

Around this time I had found another couchersurfer to stay with, and he gave me a good piece of advice: make sure that when you place your deposit you get a signed contract, even an informal one, for the amount you paid and the date you paid it on in case disagreements arise later.

The third place I had had my eye on for a while, but the person showing it was out of town for the weekend. The apartment looked beautiful, the room was in the attic and took up the whole third floor, and it was right off of Eyre Square, a small park in the center of Galway. The girl letting it out had seemed friendly over the phone, too.

I had a good feeling about this place. When I went to visit it I brought enough cash for the deposit as well as the first month’s rent, and since I had a great conversation with the two girls who already lived there I told them I’d pay them money now if they’d cancel any other viewings they had planned. They accepted, and I moved in the next day!

Emma Powers

About Emma

Emma Powers is a 2013 graduate of the College, with a major in Cognitive Science. She is currently living in Galway on a year-long working holiday visa. More posts by Emma

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