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Erney B
 
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Living the Ireland life

03 December 2010, 13:05  - Erney B
For the geographically challenged, Ireland is an island (smaller than the province of KwaZulu Natal) and consists of Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland which is a sovereign state and a member of the Euro Economic Zone.

Economics
Ireland use to be, before the current recession, one of the most expensive countries within the 16 European Economic Zone countries. Accommodation is very expensive and the average three-bed townhouse will cost around R3m (R9.50 = €1).

Car insurance is compulsory and so is an annual road tax. My car insurance is around R6000 per annum and road tax (licence in SA) is around R12 350. Car insurance for young drivers is astronomically high. Ireland's public transport system is very poor compared to other European countries.

Food is relatively cheap compare to SA. A loaf of white bread costs around R5.20, an average bottle of SA house wine R90.

Petrol is around R12 and a consultation with your doctor will set you back R470.

What impress me most are the sales, especially of clothing. Most sales starts at a 20% discount and can go up to 60%. Although salaries are very difficult to compare, I would say that a teacher, two years out of college, will take back home around R13 500p/m. Ireland has currently no water charges or property tax.

Culture and Society
My experience of the Irish is that they are very friendly, tolerant and easy going people who love a party. Traditionally most socialising took place in a pub, but that culture is changing fast. Although the official language is English and Irish (which is spoken in certain pockets of the country) I still struggle with certain accents. An accent can change within a couple of kilometres and some accents I cannot understand at all.

When I arrived in Ireland in 2001, my partner would get upset when a murder was reported in the media once a week. Today, murders and shootings are reported on a daily basis. Most shootings and killings are between feuding gangs and families and are drug related. The private possession of handguns, semi-automatic and automatic fire arms are illegal. Violent crime like assault, murder, hijackings and rape are miniscule compare to SA.

Negatives
The only negative aspect for me living in Ireland is the weather. The winters are very long, cold, dark and wet. In November last year there were areas in Ireland which had more than a meter of rain recorded.

Positives
Compared to SA Ireland has no racial or ethnic problems. The Catholic Church has lost its grip on society and the Irish have, in general, a liberal and tolerant outlook on life.

One can buy an airline ticket with a no-frills carrier for R10 (taxes and airport charges excluded), jump on a plane for a weekend to Barcelona, Paris or Vienna. Thank God my green passport days are gone.

The only aspect that gets me through the Irish winters is my "strandhuis" in sunny SA where I come to holiday every December.

Whenever SA plays sports against Ireland, I will always support the South African team, as in the last Bokke win over Ireland. Otherwise I support my new home country, Ireland.

PS: For those who think I'm a traitor, I pay my rates and taxes in South Africa.

- Are you a South African living abroad interested in sharing your views? What is it like for a South African living in a foreign country or how do you view South Africa from a distance? Send us your columns to feedback@news24.com and you might get published in our new Beyond Borders section.

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