Our First Month in Ireland
We made it! We have been living in Ireland for over a month. My first blog is simply a travel journal. I want to be able to look back and remember our amazing, sometimes irritating, yet eye-opening first month in Ireland. So here is what happened.
On Monday, July 11 we said goodbye to our family, dog, and home, which can all be summed up in one word: emotional. We took a one-way flight to Dublin International Airport and upon arriving we met our driver who was holding a ‘Pexa’ sign (so fun), he helped us with our 6 bags (2 were Mathew’s, the remaining 4 were mine, but who is counting?), and we began the 2-hour drive south to New Ross, Ireland. New Ross is where Mathew’s office is located. We did not immediately have a car so we decided to stay within walking distance of Mathew’s office.
By the time we were situated in the Brandon House Hotel it was mid afternoon on Tuesday, July 12. Mathew started work the next day, but before he could start work he/we needed to register as American immigrants. Jet lagged, we made our way to the Garda station to register. Our passports were stamped and our Irish adventure was beginning. There is quite a difference between our stamps, Mathew’s on the left, mine on the right. (Later I'll blog on my stamp)
The following day Mathew started his new role with Lake Region Medical as a Quality Systems/Regulatory Affairs Supervisor and I came down with a fever. Fever or no fever we needed cell phones. The 20-minute walk from the hotel to the cell phone store felt like a throwback to college. By the time I had decided on an appropriate plan and the SIM cards were switched out Mathew emailed me that a driver was taking us the 90 minutes to Cork to pick up our car. Our manual, right hand drive Volkswagen Golf was waiting for us. Both Mathew and I have owned manual cars, so the 10 minutes spent trying to figure out how to reverse the car we’d like back. Note, you have to push the stick down then shift.
For the remainder of the week I did as little as possible. My fever turned into a horrible cough and cold. I just couldn’t seem to get better. Thank you Netflix- Ireland. They offer some options that are not available at home. I was able to watch the Big Bang Theory. Made me laugh. I have to say Raj is my favorite! The little that I did in between naps and episodes was quite stressful. I was responsible for finding us a home. And Mathew might be the worst micromanager I know. He hates hotels, always has, so he was constantly asking for a progress update. Anything to move out of the hotel.
Daft.ie, Ireland’s property website, a Zillow comparable, became my life. Mathew and I decided we wanted to live in Wexford. It's a town of about 20,000. Founded by Vikings, it sits on a beautiful waterfront called the Wexford Quay where many local fishermen set out from each day. The charming city centre with local shops and restaurants is quintessential Europe. Although Mathew's commute to New Ross would be about 30-minute Wexford excited us and seemed like the perfect backdrop for our Irish adventure. And it turns out many think fondly of Wexford because I quickly learned the Wexford rental market was hot.
I was turned down about 3 times before I got the flow of the leasing agencies questions.
- ‘Yes, my husband and I are American.’
- ‘Yes, we will be in Wexford for at least a year.’
- ‘Yes, I can provide a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord.’ (Thank you Newman Leasing for your glowing letter of recommendation. I had no idea you thought so highly of our 18 years together)
- ‘Yes, I can provide proof of employment/ income.’
- ‘Yes, I can pass a credit check.’ (Which they never ran, they just wanted to see if I would say yes)
- ‘No, I do not have a pet.’ (At least not yet. The leasing agent said let’s talk about your dog again once you have been an excellent tenant for a couple of months)
Once I answered all these questions correctly the tours began. I saw 3 apartments. They all reminded me of apartments you would rent in Uptown. Not new-construction-Uptown, these were cute-character-Uptown. And please note I never lived in Uptown on purpose. Cute character equals old and dirty to me. After seeing 3, 2 bed, 1 bath, apartments that were so similar I could hardly tell them apart, and I hated them all, I had, what one might call, a melt down to the leasing agent I had been working with. Then out of the blue she suddenly had this beautiful 3 bed, 2 bath duplex available. Obviously, having just lived in a home in Minnesota and with our dog joining us in late October we wanted a home. I saw the duplex and agreed to the lease all before even giving Mathew an update. I knew he’d love it. I saw the duplex on July 18 (our 1st wedding anniversary) and we moved in Friday, July 22! After 10 days in a hotel, we were excited to get the keys to our new place.
That Friday was a busy day. I loaded all 6 of our bags into our Golf (it was like a Tetris puzzle), drove to Wexford Rentals to pick up our keys, drove to our new home to drop off our bags (not before getting into a fender bender that required speaking with a Garda officer and dented our new car. More on driving in Ireland in a later post), then drove to the Dublin airport to pick up our first visitor! My brother- in-law, Kevin, had an impromptu business trip to England that allowed him to stop in Ireland for the weekend! It was so much fun having him in town. We spent the weekend checking out Wexford restaurants and night life.
After Kevin left the remainder of the first month was filled with setting up our new home (I have more to say about this in a later post) and the stresses of selling our home in Chanhassen from Ireland. When we left everything was all set. We should have known that was too good to be true, right? It felt like if something could go wrong the week before our house sale, it did. From a ‘wet’ basement to the buyer’s legal name changing and voiding papers Mathew and I had signed before we left. We sure felt helpless 4,000 miles away. If our families hadn’t been local and able to step in to be our eyes and ears the whole sale might have fallen through. Whew, glad that’s behind us.
Reflecting on our first month in Ireland has been fun. It is nice to feel settled. I am excited to transition from setting up our life here to actually living life here. My hope is my future posts will be able to highlight life-living moments.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I look forward to sharing our Irish adventure with you.