Living in Cork | Guide Into “The Real Capital of Ireland”

Living in Cork | Guide Into “The Real Capital of Ireland”

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Perhaps when you think about living in Ireland, Dublin is the first among Irish cities to come to mind. But, the truth is that Ireland has much more to offer. If you’re thinking about moving to Ireland to work, study or maybe spend your gap year in this magical land, consider living in Cork!

So, if capital cities are too much hassle for you, get ready to find out everything about studying and living in this city.  

Living in Cork | Style and Quality of life

With a population of little more than 200 thousand inhabitants, Cork is the second most important city in Ireland. It is located in the Munster province, south of Emerald Island. Cork is not a huge city and you can get almost everywhere on foot. It is just the perfect blend of a metropolis and small town, due to its calm and warm ambiance.

The first thing that catches one’s eye is its peculiar and attractive architecture. But there is so much more to discover when living in Cork. Its calm and quaint atmosphere adds up to the list of charms attracting hundreds of foreign students and tourists. This points to a wide variety of alternatives and attractions to see in Cork. One thing is for sure: you’ll never be bored.

If you’d like to see Irish tradition up close in its purest form, then, living in Cork is a must. Truth to be told, Cork has nothing to envy from DublinIt is even cheaper than the capital, but we’ll get to that later.

5 Reasons to Live in Cork

Job opportunities

Just because it is not the capital, it doesn’t mean that there are no work opportunities for foreigners. Cork is also home to great companies like Amazon, Apple, Telus International, and Pepsi. With a great attitude and a well-polished CV, your chance of finding a job in Cork multiply.

Student City

If your plan is to study in Ireland pay attention to this. Many students choose Cork because of its great student atmosphere. If you prefer calm over big city ruckus, but you’d like to keep cultural diversity and meet new people, Cork is your city.


Besides the already mentioned attractions in Cork, it is also very close to many Irish touristy attractions. For example, Blarney Castle or the charming town of Cobh. It is also close to the largest coastal route: Wild Atlantic Way.

A chance to practice English

Imagine visiting Ireland and not improving your English skills (unless English is your mother tongue, why not get to know the Irish accent?). The city’s inhabitants are known for their kindness and patience, so don’t worry if your English is not perfectly fluent. One thing though, the local accent can be a little complicated at first.

You won’t get bored while living in Cork

We really must insist on this because there is a widespread belief that life in small cities is too quiet (meaning, boring). But this just isn’t true for those who come to live in Cork. We do not deny that it is more relaxed than Dublin, but there is always something to do. Festivals, events, bars, castles, shamrocks, goblins, you name it.

Weather in Cork

As it happens with most of the Irish cities, the weather in Cork is temperate and rainy throughout the year, with a thermal amplitude of 5°C on its coldest days, and 17°C on the warmest seasons.

The warm season (“warm”) runs from May to August and it is the best season to visit Cork.  This means it is the high season because tourism goes up and it is full of people.

The warmest day of the year is July 26 with temperatures going from 13°C and 19°C. While the cold season goes from November to March, and the coldest day of the year is February 18, with 4°C as the lowest temperature and 9°C the highest average temperature.

Besides, Cork is cloudy 70% of the time and it rains often. The time with less chance of rain is in April. It is good to keep all this in mind before traveling to the city. Although you can experiment on your own and get to know all the season changes if you decide to live in Cork.

Cost of Living in Cork

Another important matter that probably has come to your mind is how expensive living in Cork will be. The good news is that, compared to Dublin, it is so much cheaper to rent and buy all you need. This also makes it a favorite for students looking for a good time as they study and work abroad.

Here’s some data updated on 2020 regarding what you will spend on the most important items while living in Cork. Food, accommodation, services, and, of course, fun. Plane tickets and other necessary transactions are not considered in this list.

Food and accommodation for living in Cork

If you are not used to going to the supermarket and cooking, we suggest you start practicing. This is because when you move to another country, you’ll have to fend for yourself. These costs are approximations, depending on the neighborhood you live in and the market you visit, things may vary.  Little by little and with good saving habits, you’ll understand how important it is to save money. Basic food articles cost more or less:

  • 1 dozen eggs: €3.30
  • 1 chicken breast: €4.80
  • 1/2L commercial beer: €2.10
  • 1/2 kg cheese: € 5.70

If you didn’t have the chance to learn to cook or you have no time because of your job and your classes, you can always look for a menu. The most expensive one is about €14. Here, we must say that Cork’s gastronomy is one of the most attractive ones in all Ireland. Now, in more extreme cases, a fast food hamburger can come up to €8.

When it comes to rents, costs will vary as well depending on the zone you choose to live in Cork and the size and type of accommodation you choose. From hostels to shared rooms and houses, there are so many possibilities, but we’ll talk about all that later. For now, we’ll give you some costs considering the most expensive scenarios:

  • Furnished apartment on expensive area: €1400
  • Study apartment on expensive area: €1120>
  • Basic services (electricity and water): €105
  • Basic Internet conexion: €35

Fun and Entertainment in Cork 

It would be sacrilege not to visit the city’s lovely bars, restaurants and culture centers. Of course, it’ll have a cost in cash. Fo example:

  • A pint in a Cork bar: €5,70
  • 2 movie tickets: €19
  • Expensive coffee: €3,15
  • Monthly gym subscription: €40

On average, you’ll need between €1000-€1100 a month to live in Cork, rent included (shared flat). We know it is not such a cheap city, but this is because Ireland tends to have high salaries that compensate for the high cost of living in Cork and other important cities.

Moving Around While Living in Cork

Moving around in Cork

As we said above, Cork is a small city, both in population and expansion (187 Km²) and although you can move easily around on foot, it also has an excellent public transport system. You can use trains, buses, and, of course, bicycles. Yes, we hadn’t mentioned this before, but Ireland is an eco-friendly country that greatly boosts bike use.


The bus network is operated by Bus Éireannand it has 19 routes numbered from 201 to 2019. All of them connect downtown at Parnell Station. The network operates throughout the day and until midnight. In fact, you can take a bus to many other Irish cities, like Dublin and Galway, from this station. And, there is also route 226 which connects the station to the airport.


This is the most popular means of transport for both tourists and locals. It is connected to the central bus network and it has trains to many points in the city and other nearby locations. Kent station is the main station, from here you can catch trains to places throughout Ireland.

You can buy tickets at all stations and they also have monthly tickets. Just like the buses, the trains also have wi-fi signal, although if you’d like to learn more about the city, why not try and interact with the locals?

Bicycle and other means of transportation in Cork

As a cultural and sustainable city, bicycles are a must have in Cork. Here, bicycle rent costs are varied. For example, the most popular companies are The Bike Shed  and Coca Cola Zero Bikes which gives you a yearly subscription for 10€.

If you’re still not convinced, that’s because you don’t know that Cork is home to an annual biking festival. Conceived as a way to boost bike use as a more accessible, healthy, fun and ecological transport system.

As for taxis or cabs, there is not much difference with other Irish and European cities. Just to give you an idea, an 8km trip on a regular day costs €15. So it would be about €1,40 per km.

If you save to travel and you include renting a car in your budget, you can certainly do so in Cork. Europ Assistance is one of the most wanted car rental companies. Keep in mind that in this region cars are driven on the left side, just like in Australia, New Zealand, England, Malta and other 70 countries.

Where to Live in Cork

There are so many different neighborhoods in Cork that you’ll have to make a very careful selection. Costs will vary and here we only present approximations to help you get an idea of the cost of living in Cork depending on the zone and type of home you choose. A more updated reference can be found at Daft, an often updated site for rentals in Ireland.

Since it is a small city, there are only four main areas for living in Cork: Downtown, the Douglas zone, Black Rock and Ballincollig. Next, we will talk about each one.


If you are more of a city bug and the hassle of the center does not bother you, this is your zone. Not only because of this, but also because you’ll have everything nearby: study centers, office buildings, bars and other points of interest. As to costs, a room can be about €500 and an apartment €1000 per month.


Douglas is about 20 minutes on foot from the center. This area is ideal if you want to live in Cork calmly in a residential area without going too far away from downtown. Costs of apartments can be 950€ per month. It is one of the nicest and safest zones in the city.


A bit further from the city centre you’ll find this area. It owes its name to the Black Rock castle. Filled with lots of nature and relatively new neighborhoods. It also has many points of interest like the Mahon Point, a mall to have a coffee or watch a film. Black Rock is well connected to downtown if you go by bus.


Much further away from the city centre, but with lots of exclusivity and tranquility is Ballincollig. This is a wide residential area that has everything you’ll need nearby. An apartment is about €1300 per month with all the comforts you might want. Sadly, buses don’t come over here that often, so if you have to study or work elsewhere in the city, it might be a bit more complicated.

Tips on Finding Accommodation in Cork

The following tips will be of great help to not get lost as you adjust to the experience of living in Cork. It is always a good idea to keep these recommendations no matter where you choose to settle.

  • Do not book from your country of origin. We are talking about the apartment or studio you’d like to live in for a long period of time. You never know if the pictures and description will actually match the place. So, it is best to book a temporary room until you are capable of personally checking your new home.
  • Keep in mind the high season. You have to consider this since during this time accommodation is hard to come by. So, it might be best for you to choose another time of arrival so you don’t have to compete for a spot.
  • Deal directly with the owners. It is common that some tenants sublease when they have a room to spare. It is not precisely a crime, but it is always best to close the deal with the actual owner to avoid possible problems.
  • Find out the rental norms. Each city has its own regulations regarding rentals and they are renewed over time. Keeping up is vital.

Were to Have Fun in Cork

Enjoy yourself while living in Cork

Nightlife in Cork is quite active and attractive. Not visiting the many bars to enjoy a good old beer with live music would be sacrilege. Therefore, we will now show you the best places to go out in Cork and have the best time.

Franciscan Well Brewery

Built on an old franciscan monastery, you’ll be able to enjoy all the mystical bar vibes. You can enjoy the most varied and natural handcrafted beers you’ll ever find. And all this looking over river Lee. Furthermore, Franciscan Well Brewery has tours for you to see the manufacture of this holly beverage.

Jim Cashmans Bar

Located in the heart of the city, Jim Cashmans Bar is characterized for its variety of food and beverages, as well as its kind treatment of tourists. It is a favorite spot to watch football on a large screen and listen to live music with beer flowing all over. If you decide to live in Cork, it is very likely that it will become your favorite spot to have a nice time.

South County

This coffee bar is located in the Douglas zone. Although it is far away from downtown it also has lots of attractions and is worth a visit to have a drink. Live music is a staple at night, as well as home made food and the best handcrafted beer. If you’d like to celebrate your birthday, South Country is a very good option.

Sober Lane

Don’t let the sober word confuse you. Here you will also be able to enjoy good pints. Just be sure to drink moderately. Besides beer, Sober Lane is famous for its food, especially pizza. If you are near downtown Cork, along the shores of the Lee river, be sure to step into this fabulous and cozy bar.

Gallagher’s Gastro Pub

No, this bar does not belong to any of the Gallagher brothers, but it is really worth a visit anyway. Gallagher’s Gastro Pub has a wide variety of drinks and food, so lovers of Irish food must be sure to come here. It is also open during the day for brunches and lunches. From wednesdays to sundays you can enjoy live music here. Quite the package isn’t it?

Fun Plans While Living in Cork

At this point, you must be convinced that living in Cork is not boring at all. The event program throughout the year is also very active. You’ll find music, sports, culture and many, many, other things.

Don’t forget to bring something green if you’ll be coming to Cork in March because Saint Patrick’s party is quite celebrated here. Then, in May, you’ll have the International Choral Festival, for music lovers who would like to become better acquainted with gaelic music.

Another very important event in Cork and all Ireland is the Midsummer Festival. It draws a very large amount of tourism to the city. It is celebrated from the 21st to the 30th of June and it is a great concentration of theatre, dancing, street art, history and much more. Also, in June there’s the Cork Harbor Festival and the Cork City Marathon. And speaking of sports, remember July’s Cycling Festival we mentioned above.

Of course, you can imagine spending Christmas in Cork. You know that it is a city that is full of life and movement, and, of course all this peaks in Christmas TIme.

What to See in Cork

Saint Fin Barre cathedral is a tourist attraction

We’ve talked about events and plans you can do while adapting to live in Cork (which is not difficult). Now we will talk about the attractions that you can and should visit at any time of the year. These are permanent landmarks that are just there waiting for you.

Saint Fin Barrre Cathedral

Finbar Cathedral is a colossal construction in Neo Gothic style that marks the spot of the city’s historic origin. It is consecrated to the local patron saint, who, during the VII century, founded a small monastery where the temple now stands on top of a marsh.

Actually, Cork means “marsh” in Irish. Did you know that? The place is located on the southern shore of the Reed river. It has an entry cost of €6 for maintenance.

Fitzgerald Park

First, a bit of history. The park owes its name to Lord Edward Fitzgerald who organized Cork’s International Exhibition in 1902. This large garden is located towards the north and is the headquarters of sporting and recreational events. Planning a picnic? Fitzgerald is the place to go.

Also, you can find other points of interest like the Main Museum and the famous statue of Michael Collings, an important figure of Irish independence.

English Market

This is a picturesque municipal wholesale market, considered among the most ancient in Europe, dated from the XVIII century. If you enjoy shopping, but not precisely in a mall, the English Market is a must.  The variety of natural and traditional products is a sensation among locals and tourists alike.

The good prices, fresh products and traditional irish cuisine samples make this market the best shopping destination at Cork.

Working and Living in Cork

As we mentioned earlier, many multinational companies are based in Cork. Remember that it is the second largest city in Ireland, after Dublin. This means that work opportunities here are also accessible and varied. You just need a good CV and lots of attitude.

In case you were curious, the minimum wage in Ireland is currently €10.10 per hour and €1706.90 per month. Of course, it depends on how qualified you are and your knowledge and experience.

The common positions for immigrants are in the tourism area: cafes, restaurants, bars, etc. And, in case you hadn’t thought about it yet, a good English level will further open up your opportunities to work in Ireland or any other part of the world. Up next, what we’ve all been dying to know: the requirements to work in Cork.

Requirements for Working in Cork 

Be over 18 years old

It is very likely that you already know this, but anyway, here’s a reminder that the minimum legal age to move to another country and find a job is 18.

Work and study visa

This is a must have. When it comes to visas for Ireland, things vary depending on if you are from a European Union Country or from elsewhere. You can check if you need a visa here.

The most advisable visas to study, work and live in Cork are:

  • Work and study visa (stamp 2)
  • Working Holiday Visa
  • General Employment Permit

Irish Residence Permit (IRP)

The IRP is a certificate that allows you to live everywhere in Ireland. You can use it to renew your visa if you require it. It costs €300.

Personal Public Service (PPS) Number

This is a seven number code with which you’ll be able to work but also do other bureaucratic procedures, like using public services and accessing government scholarships.

Studying and Living in Cork

Above we mentioned the visas for working in Ireland. Among them, there’s the work and study visa (Stamp 2) which is the most broadly requested. With it, you can study and access better employment opportunities. Wherever you look, studying and working in Cork to take advantage of your stay is more than convenient.

Cork’s educational system boasts a very high quality, as it happens throughout Ireland. One of Europe’s most prestigious universities is located here: University College of Cork, with a campus near downtown. You’ll also find the CIT, Cork Institute of Technology, and Saint John College.

English Courses in Cork

If you are reading this, you probably have a pretty good grasp of the English language. Nonetheless, you may want to improve it to reach academic or work specific levels. If this is your case, you’ll be glad to know that English courses in Ireland are usually quite demanding. Classes start every monday of the year, so it doesn’t matter when you arrive in Cork. Check out all the English levels you can study with us in Cork.

Vocational Courses in Cork

Also known as VET courses, they are educational programs that certify your mastery of certain skills according to the professional area of your choice. They are relatively short and you can also enroll in them with an Irish Stamp 2 visa.

The licensed programs to obtain a work permit appear in the ILEP (INterim List of Eligible Programs). You must check if your professional specialty is eligible to build a professional career and live in Cork or elsewhere in Ireland.


How to Live and Study in Cork | Step by Step

The requirements to study and live in Cork are quite similar to those for working there: visa, IRP, etc. Now, as we’ve come to the end of the rainbow, we will show you the steps to follow so you can enjoy your stay at the Emerald Island to the max:

  • Select the course and school where you’d like to study.
  • Request your study and work visa. Remember that the process depends on your country of origin.
  • Show evidence of English level.
  • Prove that you have enough funding. If coming from the EU, the candidates must have €3000. Those from the rest of the world must have €7000.
  • Hire international medical insurance. OSHC coverage is necessary for those who must request a visa for the duration of their studies.

Check this article for more information.

Living in Cork with GrowPro

At GrowPro, we have been accompanying young adventuring souls as they follow their dreams of studying and working abroad in destinations like Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Ireland for years. That’s why we can help you make your stay in Cork the best time of your life.

First, choose the experience you want to live in Ireland. Second, fill out the form, and one of our Students Advisors will contact you shortly to discuss a personalized budget.

Have access to exclusive benefits in our Grower Area. Besides, be part of events and workshops where you’ll meet new people and learn how to move around Ireland. If paperwork is not your thing, we’ll take care of everything, so you can focus on enjoying the experience of living in Cork.

Ready to go?

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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