Where to Live in Dublin, Ireland
Considering moving to Dublin, Ireland? Looking for the best districts in Dublin for expats?
We’ve brought you a simple guide to the often complicated geography of the city, including the center, its outskirts and those indefinable little areas which straddle the two. If you’re planning to relocate, we’ve crammed this article with helpful details on the best neighborhoods in Dublin – and why you should consider living in them.
Dublin is divided in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s literally divided by the vast Liffey River, which cuts the iconic city in two, leaving Dublin with a north side and a south side. It’s also divided into 24 separate postal districts. But beyond these postal districts, Dublin is then further divided into even smaller areas and neighborhoods.
Some of these Dublin neighborhoods are still referred to by their postal districts, while most areas are now referred to by name. But whatever you call them, all of these separate neighborhoods and areas offer distinctly different atmospheres.
We’ve included information on the best neighborhoods in Dublin for families, students and expats of all other descriptions – and details on the most affordable districts in Dublin, for anyone relocating on a budget.
For years, Dublin has been a popular relocation hub for people from all over the world, and from all over Ireland. Around 1.2 million live in Dublin, which is more than 25% of the entire country’s inhabitants. In short, it’s a busy city packed with a diverse cast of people and places, and it’s full to the brim with residents from around the world. Whatever type of life you’re looking for, Dublin can give you it.
No matter who you are and why you want to move to Dublin, we’ve got the perfect place for you to live. Whether you want a home, a house share or a rented apartment in the city, here are the best boroughs in Dublin for expats…
10 Dublin neighborhoods at a glance
North Inner City
City Center South
1. North Inner City
Best for: city center living, a fantastic food scene and residing right in the heart of Dublin
A wide area north of the Liffey river, this Dublin neighborhood is the D1 district, so you can’t get any more central. If you want to live in the very center of Dublin, your options are here and City Center South. The North Inner City is a little more affordable and a little more working class than its southern counterpart, but more on that later.
The North Inner City is home to some of Dublin’s most exciting food, with excellent cafes and restaurants, while famous tourist attractions here include The Irish Emigration Museum, plenty of bridges and the National Leprechaun Museum (no, that’s not a joke). This part of the city stretches right to the sea, and incorporates some of the Docklands along with the Liffey and the Royal Canal.
You won’t find many residential areas or good schools here, but if you want to live in Dublin short-term or see the city through the eyes of a tourist, living in the North Inner City is an excellent option.
While some pockets of the North Inner City have a slight reputation for being a little unsafe, that’s largely no longer the case. The North Inner City offers all the pros and cons which are always offered by big inner city neighborhoods – you get great nightlife, excellent eateries and endless action. But you also get soaring prices, neverending noise and very few green spaces.
Just west of D1 is D7, which is home to Stoneybatter, the newest up-and-coming hipster haven on the north of the river. Home to swathes of gentrification and alternative urban projects, it’s a little more kooky and quiet than the North Inner City. If you want to live close to the northern part of the city center but a little more affordably and alternatively, consider moving to Stoneybatter instead.
2. City Center South
Best for: a central location, non-stop nightlife and living like a tourist
If you want to live right in the heart of Dublin, City Center South is your second choice. Bordering the southern stretch of the Liffey, this area is known as D2, and it’s a little more affluent (and even more expensive!) than its northern neighbor.
Though City Center South is a very small district, there’s plenty squeezed into its relatively humble confines. If you’re planning on living in Dublin only for a short amount of time and you want to explore it just like a tourist, this is absolutely the best area to live. Here, you’re close to all the tourist action and fantastic nightlife, including the iconic Temple Bar, the must-visit haven of anyone keen to declare they’ve had a genuine pint of Guinness.
Other nearby attractions include Dublin Castle, The Book of Kells and the National Archaeology Museum.
Because it’s the center of Dublin’s tourist trade, City Center South is expensive, and prices for everything are high. But if you can afford the costs, and as long as you don’t mind endless crowds, City Center South is a great place to live.
City Center South is also one of the best districts in Dublin for students, with a young population, lots of university buildings and plenty of places to slurp on some drinks. If you’re a student seeking a hedonistic dose of Dublin, consider living in City Center South.
If you’re moving to Dublin with a family, the City Center South will likely be too lively and noisy for you. But for students, young professionals and short-term stays, it’s an excellent choice.
Best for: students, hipsters and student hipsters
Beside D2 is D8. And inside D8 is Portobello, one of the trendiest areas in the entirety of Dublin. It’s one of the best districts in Dublin for expats who want to explore the artier aspects of the city. Trendy, happening and teeming with hipsters, Portobello is the home of yoga studios, avocado-laden brunch spots and moustached craft beer drinkers. You get bookshops, speciality food stores, edgy bars and a load of other bohemian venues.
At weekends, Portobello bustles with on-street drinkers, who cram around the area’s canal to sip their Saturdays away. This canal also offers an escape to a quieter life, as the districts south of Portobello (and its canal) mark the beginning of Dublin’s outskirts – and the beginning of the city’s residential areas.
Portobello is also close to lots of D8’s other attractions, including Christchurch Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Irish Jewish Museum. D8 itself is one of the oldest districts in the city, and lots of locals consider the neighborhood to be one of the most authentic parts of the city. If you want to live centrally without being right in the heart of the hustle and bustle, Portobello is an excellent choice.
Portobello is one of the best districts in Dublin for students, as the neighborhood and its surroundings are home to a young population who study at the nearby Trinity College.
Best for: family life and cosy doses of central suburbia
Southeast of Portobello and on the other side of the Grand Canal is Ranelagh. Nestled inside the D6 district, Ranelagh has a very diverse population, crammed with locals and expats who’ve moved to Dublin for a whole host of reasons.
Ranelagh is one of the best districts in Dublin for families, as there are some excellent schools in the area. It also offers a fantastic family-friendly compromise between residential and central.
Though Ranelagh is very close (and well-connected) to all of Dublin’s central attractions, it feels like a small town of its own. Upmarket, leafy and liberally dotted with lots of beautiful homes, Ranelagh is a tree-lined haven which feels more like an urban village than a borough of a bigger city.
Ranelagh was home to some of the first suburban homes in Dublin, so it’s packed with stunning Victorian and Edwardian architecture. If you like gawping at other people’s homes, you’ll love doing it here. Ranelagh is pretty expensive (even by Dublin’s standards), but living here is definitely worth the lofty fees.
For similar atmospheres in a similar area, try Rathmines and Rathgar.
Best for: good schools, making friends and quirky hangouts
Bordering Ranelagh is Rathmines, which also sits in D6. What you get here is pretty similar to what you get in Ranelagh, though Rathmines is arguably a little more affordable and humble. Again, there are excellent schools in this area, making Rathmines one of the best districts in Dublin for families.
A little bigger than Ranelagh, Rathmines boasts a bigger population, along with a huge number of residents from around the world, making Ranelagh one of the best neighborhoodss in Dublin for expats. It’s also a great place for buddying up, as you’ll often find social events geared towards newcomers looking to make friends in the city.
Like pubs, thrift shops and cute cafes? You’ll love Rathmines.
6. The Docklands
Best for: waterfronts, redevelopments and an eclectic combination of contemporary and classic
The Docklands crosses over the Liffey, making for an area which spreads over districts 1, 2 and 4. But although we’ve already covered those areas, The Docklands deserve an entry of its own.
A hub of redevelopment, the Docklands area is both modern and ancient, both glass facades and historic buildings. Here, you’ll find history and heritage sat beside illuminations, glass fronts and mega-modern buildings. This is gentrification done right. Once overlooked as a place to live, lots of expats and locals alike are making the move to live in Dublin’s Docklands. And it won’t be long before it becomes one of Dublin’s most popular relocation neighborhoods.
If you like water, you’ll love living here. You have canals, Dublin Bay and the wide beginnings of the Liffey. It also bustles with boats, while the port runs regular services to various other parts of Europe.
Because of its waterfronts and classy modernity, the Docklands is a peaceful place to live, even though it’s very central. It’s a little pricey, but it’s worth the outlay if you can afford it. The Docklands is a pretty good pick for families, as it’s safe, central and relatively serene.
Best for: shopping, young people and homely residential life on the outskirts of the city
Another of the best neighborhoods in Dublin for families, and one of the most affordable districts in Dublin, Dundrum isn’t central but it’s got plenty going on. A sprawling neighborhood which crosses over districts 14 and 16, Dundrum is home to the biggest shopping center in Dublin.
It’s also a decent place for students, as University College Dublin is pretty close by. And because it’s home to good nightlife and a young population, there’s always somewhere to drink – and someone to do it with. Almost 40% of Dundrum’s population is between 18 and 34, so it’s brimming with young people.
Dundrum is a real draw for families. It’s residential, it’s quiet and it’s dripping with charm. But more than that, it has a cute town center, great green spaces and even an urban zoo. There are also an excellent selection of schools in the area. And although it’s on the city’s outskirts, it’s only a 20-minute tram trip into the center, making the neighborhood far from remote.
Best for: families and young people who like pubs, green spaces and affordable living
Drumcondra is one of the most affordable districts in central Dublin, making it popular with families, students and young professionals.
Quietly nestled in D9, Drumcondra is packed with contradictions. It has a young population but a relatively quiet atmosphere. It has an excellent location but relatively affordable housing. And it offers excellent nightlife along with great proximity to some of the city’s best green spaces.
Close to canals, parks and the National Botanic Gardens, there are plenty of outdoor pursuits in Drumcondra, so it’s a great option if you want to live centrally without too much chaos and congestion.
It’s also a great area for drinking and dining, with lots of excellent eateries along with plenty of traditional pubs. Lots of the authenticity of Dublin’s pubs has been stripped away, but Drumcondra is home to lots of drinking dens which have proudly retained their charm.
Though Drumcondra is only a short hop from the very center of the city, it’s largely bereft of tourists, and prices are surprisingly affordable (or as affordable as they get in central Dublin).
Best for: professionals, high-earners and mingling with the middle classes
One of the biggest districts in central Dublin, D4 is home to lots of the city’s upper-middle classes. It’s also home to many different neighborhoods, including Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount.
On the south side of the river and east of D2, living in D4 is a good choice if you want to reside relatively centrally without being right in the middle of the city. But it does come as a price, as it’s definitely not one of the most affordable districts in Dublin.
The area is so synonymous with wealth that the term ‘D4’ is often used to refer to Dublin’s upper-middle classes, whether they live in the area or not. The area has also birthed a more ‘refined’ accent (whatever that means) which is relatively dissimilar to the other accents you’ll hear throughout Dublin.
In short, if you’re seeking a classy existence in Dublin, consider moving to the D4 district. The whole area is full of expensive restaurants, highbrow bars and people who like to think they live in an Irish Beverly Hills.
D4 also offers some nice slices of peace and tranquility. Here, you’ll find the Docklands, some great green spaces and the shoreline escape of Sandymount Beach.
Best for: rich people, outskirt life, and outdoor adventures
Our last entry is a somewhat of an outlier, both literally and thematically.
15km southeast of central Dublin is Dalkey, an affluent area with a reputation for soaring prices. People such as Bono, Van Morrison and Matt Damon have lived (or still live!) here, and it has a very different atmosphere to all the other entries on this list. Some people will love living here, while some people will hate it, but it’s one of Dublin’s most sought-after districts.
Peaceful, quiet and serene, it’s a great pick for those seeking a tranquil life. Because of this, it’s one of the best boroughs in Dublin for families.
But best of all, it’s an excellent neighborhood for anyone who likes outdoor adventures, sandwiched between rolling hills to the west and an excellent coastline to the east. Here, you get fresh air, great hikes, cliffside vistas and some of the best architecture in the whole of Dublin.
If you like the idea of living in an area packed with outdoor attractions and adventures, other good Dublin neighborhoods include Sandyford, Portmarnock and Stoneybatter.