The Most Popular Places for Irish Expats to Migrate To

Ireland’s history with emigration goes back hundreds of years. Many countries around the world still feel the influence of Irish culture and can see the imprint of the many Irish people who helped populate their countries at their inception. The trend has been growing over the years, at least according to the data. 

In a Central Statistics Office analysis, it was calculated that 54,000 people left Ireland in 2021 to settle in new countries, alone. While people migrate to different countries for all kinds of reasons, the commonality of moving to start a new life, and experience a new culture are something many Irish people have displayed for generations. That in-built Irish wanderlust might be simmering inside you too, and so, if you’re considering making a move, here are the most popular places for Irish ex-pats to migrate to.

United Kingdom

The UK has always been a popular destination for Irish ex-pats due to its very close proximity, shared language and intertwined culture. It is estimated that there are over 600,000 Irish-born people living in the UK, so you won’t be alone when you get there. That said, Brexit has made the process of migration between the UK and Ireland somewhat harder. We’d strongly recommend consulting with immigration solicitors Ireland or UK-based, especially if you’re in the position of having to move back to Ireland after an initial stay in the UK, and eventually would like to make a permanent move to the UK in the future, for example. This is because the new agreements (in light of Brexit) now in place to smoothen the immigration process have only been in place for a short time, and may still be prone to change. 

It’s important to remember that Irish citizens still have a fixed right to live and work in the UK, too, and vice versa, so if you’re looking to move back and forth while settling into your new life, you’re more than able to do so and still make a living. 


Australia is another popular destination for Irish ex-pats due to its warm sunny climate, laid-back lifestyle, and strong economy, particularly in tech and financial services. Over 100,000 Irish citizens live in Australia already, and many people share some Irish heritage from generations of migrants.

The downside is that Australia’s visa process is points-based and particularly complicated and expensive compared to others. It’s a very good idea to consult with an immigration solicitor, before making any plans. This is due to Australia’s border force being rigorous about only allowing in those who fulfil their rigid requirements.


Canada is highly immigrant-friendly and supports numerous visa schemes, therefore, it’s an unsurprisingly popular destination for Irish people. The 2016 Canadian Census recorded around 250,000 people in Canada who claimed Irish ancestry, alone. The process of immigrating to Canada can be lengthy, but the country’s benefits include free healthcare and a quality education system which make it a great long-term option to settle in.

United States

The United States and Ireland share a close bond – in fact, it’s home to 30 million plus people with Irish ancestry, making it one of the largest communities of Irish people outside of Ireland. The US migration policy isn’t the simplest and throws numerous challenges and expenses to applicants. Like Australia, an immigration solicitor is highly recommended before planning a move like this, which will take much longer than a move to the UK, in comparison. 


Despite being a non-English speaking country, Spain is a very popular destination for Irish ex-pats with a hotter climate, a large ex-pat community, a beach lifestyle and a strong presence of non-native English-speaking people. With about 17,000 Irish citizens living there already, many run businesses catering to British and Irish holiday-makers, too. 

If you’re thinking about making a move from Ireland, you’ll see that you’re never far from Irish culture or history in many of these locations. The chance to enjoy a different climate, while still having the chance to speak your language and feel a sense of community, is naturally alluring to those Irish people with wanderlust.

Whether you’re looking for warmer weather, better job prospects, or a change of scenery, the world really is your oyster. Just be sure to do your research, speak to a solicitor where possible, and enjoy the adventure, wherever you choose to go.