Ireland second most expensive country in EU (2023)

In news that may not surprise many people, new research from Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency shows that prices here are now 40% above the EU average.

Only Denmark has higher prices.

The gap is also widening. Back in 2016, prices here were 29% above average but the gap has gotten bigger every year since.

Prices in Ireland are now well above traditionally expensive countries such as Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg.

Romania has the lowest prices in the EU at 44% below average, followed closely by Bulgaria.


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Deep dive

Taking a deep dive into the figures, Ireland has the most expensive alcohol and tobacco in the entire EU with prices over double the EU average. However these figures were compiled before Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol was introduced, which has raised prices here further.

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Ireland also performs poorly when it comes to restaurants and hotels, where prices are the fourth most expensive in the EU, at 30% above average. Again these figures were compiled before scores of hotels were blockbooked by the Government to house asylum seekers and Ukrainians fleeing the war, which some say has led to prices in the hotel sector skyrocketing this summer.

Ireland also has the third most expensive food and non-alcoholic beverages in the EU, with prices here 19% above the EU average.

Meanwhile our health costs are the most expensive in the EU, at a staggering 72% above average. While housing costs such as rents, mortgage rates, gas and electricity, are again the most expensive at a staggering 89% above the EU average.

Communications costs are the third most expensive in the EU at 47% above average.

Ireland performs better on clothing and footwear, where prices here are actually 1% below the EU average. Prices for household goods and furnishings are also competitive with prices here just 3% above average.

Danger to competitiveness

No one is under the illusion that Ireland is a cheap place to live. However the scale of the difference in prices between Ireland and our neighbours is pretty shocking.

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And it’s getting worse, which doesn’t bode well for our competitiveness.

Of course wages in Ireland are also above the EU average. However not by over 40% for most people.

Many other countries in Europe also benefit from far cheaper childcare, which isn't covered by these figures.

Why is Ireland so expensive?

There are several reasons why prices here are so high.

These include:

  • Our higher wages
  • A lack of competition in certain sectors
  • High taxation on certain goods such as tobacco and alcohol
  • Low government subsidies in certain areas such as public transport and childcare
  • Our small, dispersed population
  • High insurance costs for businesses, which then get passed on to consumers

We delve into all these reasons in more detail in this article here.

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What can be done?

Ireland will never be as cheap as Romania, Poland or Bulgaria etc. Nor should we want to be. But prices here are beginning to spiral out of control compared to our neighbours.

At a minimum, the Government should look at measures that are within its control to lower the impact of high prices and the cost of living in Ireland.

At 23%, our rate of VAT is among the highest in the world. While charges for GPs visits and hospital stays undoubtedly contribute to us having the highest health costs in the EU.

Meanwhile we have astronomical childcare costs. While Government stamp duty leads to higher car insurance and home insurance.

Meanwhile, repeated failures to tackle our comp culture means some businesses continue to pay astronomical insurance costs, which leads to higher prices.

Here's an article on the ways Government taxes and charges currently add to our cost of living.

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Consumer bodies such as the CCPC, and regulators such as the CRU for energy and ComReg for telecommunications also need to do better jobs and stand up for consumers more. If they need more powers to enforce laws and bring prices down, they should demand them.

Finally, the Government should look into creating a new ministerial position for consumer affairs. We rightly have a huge focus on business and enterprise in almost all areas of government in this country. But that same focus isn’t extended to consumers.

Let's hear from you!

What do you think should be done to tackle the cost of living in Ireland?

Let us know in the comments below.

We’d also like to hear from you on social media. You can reach out to us onFacebook,TwitterandInstagram.


Is Ireland the most expensive EU country? ›

A report released by the European Commission's data analysis wing Eurostat revealed that Ireland was the most expensive EU country for cost of living. Ireland and Denmark were found to be a staggering 40% higher than the EU average in 2021.

What is the most expensive country in EU? ›

Ireland and Denmark had the highest price levels for consumer goods and services across the EU in 2021, according to Eurostat. The EU's statistics agency published data today showing price levels here and in Denmark were 140% of the EU average.

Is Dublin one of the most expensive cities in Europe? ›

Dublin remains the sixth most expensive city in Europe in October 2022. Dublin is known for its bustling nightlife and proximity to Ireland's stunning natural landscapes. However, it is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, largely due to the high number of expats, and thus the high rents.

How expensive is Ireland compared to Europe? ›

Total (all products) prices in Ireland are 41.4% higher than the European Union average.

Does Ireland pay more into the EU? ›

According to the Department of Finance Budgetary Statistics for 2019, Ireland made a net contribution of €0.5 billion to the EU Budget, reflecting receipts of €1.9 billion and payments to the EU of €2.4 billion.

Where does Ireland rank in richest countries? ›

If this is calculated per inhabitant, taking purchasing power parity into account, then Ireland ranks 3rd in the list of the richest countries. Inflation in Ireland in 2021 was around 2.36%. Within the EU, the average in the same year was 2.55 percent. In the United States, it was most recently 4.70%.

Is Paris or Dublin cheaper? ›

Cost of living in Dublin (Ireland) is 17% more expensive than in Paris (France)

Is London or Dublin more expensive? ›

Cost of living in London (United Kingdom) is 6% more expensive than in Dublin (Ireland)

Why is Ireland so expensive? ›

There's a serious lack of competition in Ireland across many industries. And less competition almost always leads to higher prices for consumers. From banking, to insurance, to telecommunications and grocery shopping, there are fewer providers supplying Irish customers than in most other countries.

Is Germany or Ireland more expensive? ›

Living in Ireland is almost 21% more expensive than in Germany. The average yearly cost of living in Germany is between 850 EUR to 1,000 EUR whereas in Ireland, it is between 6,500 EUR to 12,000 EUR. Ques.

Is Ireland more expensive than Italy? ›

Italy is 38% cheaper than Ireland. Jan 2023 Cost of Living.

Is it cheaper to live in Ireland or the US? ›

What is the Cost of Living in Ireland vs. the US? At a country level, the cost of living in Ireland, including housing, is only 10% lower than the cost of living in the USA. However, the United States has many cities that are cheaper to live in than similar cities in Ireland.

What are the top 3 richest countries in Europe? ›

2014-10 Richest countries in Europe
2 more rows

What are the 3 most expensive countries? ›

Top 10 most expensive country in the world
  1. Japan.
  2. New Zealand. New Zealand is the most expensive country in the world. ...
  3. Switzerland. Switzerland is known for its high standard of living, excellent education and health care systems, and beautiful scenery. ...
  4. Israel. ...
  5. Luxembourg. ...
  6. Hong Kong. ...
  7. Singapore. ...
  8. Iceland.
6 days ago

Where does Ireland rank in cost of living? ›

Dublin ranks 49th in Mercer's 2022 Cost of Living Survey launched today, which ranks 227 of the world's costliest cities for expatriates. While Hong Kong is in the top spot, Zurich (2) and three other Swiss cities - Geneva (3), Basel (4) and Bern (5) - completed the top five world's most expensive locations for expats.

Why are salaries so low in Ireland? ›

Ireland suffers from a very low 'social wage' – employers' social insurance. This explains the high cost of public services and low in-work supports for Irish employees. The Social Wage would have to more than double to reach the EU-15 average. 8.

How much does Ireland owe to the EU? ›

In the third quarter of 2020, Greece's national debt amounted to about 341.02 billion euros.
National debt in the member states of the European Union in the 4rd quarter 2020 (in billion euros)
CharacteristicNational debt in billion euros
9 more rows
Jul 15, 2021

Is Ireland wealthier than UK? ›

In 2021 Irish GDP/capita was $100,129 compared to $47,508 for the UK and there is no sign of that divergent trend ending any time soon. Ireland's GDP growth rate was 13.5% in 2021 and is expected to be 7.9% in 2022 while the UK has entered a period of recession or GDP decline expected to last a least a year.

Is Ireland the 3rd richest country in Europe? ›

The ranking of the richest European countries is led by Luxembourg. The duchy has the highest per capita GDP at $135,046. The second place is occupied by Ireland with $101,509.

Is Ireland the 3rd richest country in the world? ›

The reason why “rich” often equals “small” then becomes clear: these countries' economies are disproportionately large compared to their small populations.
(GDP per capita, constant prices)
RankCountryGDP-PPP per capita ($)
97 more rows
Aug 2, 2022

Where does Ireland rank in Europe? ›

The land has a total area of 70,280 km² (27,135 mi²) and a total coastline of 1,448 km (899.7 mi). This land area is approximately 88% of the area of Maine. Ireland is thus the 22nd biggest country in Europe and in terms of area ranked 121st worldwide.

Is Ireland cheaper than Spain? ›

On average, the cost of living in Spain is 106% cheaper than in Ireland.

Is Ireland cheaper than London? ›

Cost of living in Dublin (Ireland) is 6% cheaper than in London (United Kingdom)

Is Dublin cheaper than New York? ›

Cost of living in New York City (United States) is 29% more expensive than in Dublin (Ireland)

Is Ireland or France more expensive? ›

France is slightly more expensive to visit than Ireland. It's most famous city is Paris, where visitors often spend anywhere from a few days to weeks.

Why is Dublin living so expensive? ›

The housing supply in the city simply cannot keep up with the demand, which causes housing prices to soar. Dublin is an ideal city to visit and live in for many reasons. However, the high cost of living here isn't one of them.

Is it cheaper to live in Ireland or UK? ›

Affordable luxuries

Comparing the cost of living between Ireland and London mainly depends on your everyday expenses, income, and rental prices. However, those who have already made the move entirely agree that London tends to offer cheaper and more affordable luxuries.

What is the average salary in Ireland? ›

Median annual earnings were €40,579 in 2020
X-axis labelMaleFemale
4 more rows

Are taxes high in Ireland? ›

In Ireland, low earners pay an effective rate of 16.72% tax, average earners pay 26.66%, and high earners pay 36.02%. Of these, only the high earners scraped into the top 10 of the highest effective tax rate across the EU.

When did Ireland get so expensive? ›

Ireland's high prices are not a recent phenomenon. Since 2001, the price level in Ireland has been at least 20% above the EU average. Other than during the 2009-2010 recession, the general trend has been for Ireland to become relatively more expensive than the EU average year after year.

Is it cheaper to live in Ireland or Germany? ›

In total, the costs of living in Germany are on average 18,5% cheaper than in Ireland.

Which is better to live Ireland or Germany? ›

The average cost of living in Germany is significantly lower than in Ireland, according to our analysis of the two countries. The cost of living in Germany ranges from 850 to 1,000 euros (INR 75,570 to INR 88,907) a year, while the average monthly rent is between 290 and 560 euros (INR 25,783 to INR 49,787).

Is Dublin more expensive than Germany? ›

Cost of living in Dublin (Ireland) is 28% more expensive than in Berlin (Germany)

Is Ireland one of the most expensive countries to live in? ›

The price of alcoholic drinks and tobacco in Ireland is the most expensive in Europe, more than double the average. The cost of housing is 88% higher than the EU average.

Is Ireland one of the most expensive places to live? ›

"Dublin is a notoriously expensive city and the cost of living crisis is continuing to fuel price hikes across everyday goods and services," it said. The guide said car rental prices in Ireland were "high" compared to the European average and that Dublin pubs and restaurants were often overcrowded.

Is Ireland one of the most expensive? ›

Irish prices are 40% above the EU average

According to Eurostat, prices in Ireland for everyday goods are 40% more expensive than the EU average.


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