Setting up a 3 month home in Dublin?
June 14, 2011 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Living in Dublin 9, by DCU. No car, own nothing but some clothes in a suitcase, and will be here for the next three months. Currently eating off of paper plates (the only plates I could find) and groceries (expensive, I think?) from the nearby Eurospar. How can I best manage being without a car, and how do I feed myself cheaply here?

Help out this clueless Los Angeles person. For instance: at Eurospar, I discovered that unlike Amurricans, the Irish grocery-bagging way is to bring your own. I found out that soap and shampoo was cheaper at the pharmacy right next door. And so far, that's all I know.
posted by Xere to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
Ah, living in Dublin on a budget. First things first, you need to abandon the idea that you can get all your shopping done in one place. You will, for the most part, be buying different items in different places.

Do you have access to a fridge, stove, werewithal to cook and store food? If so, here are some tips. Meat is horrifically expensive there, so I tended to restrict myself to sausages, bacon and black pudding a couple of times a week (I love black pudding. YMMV). Staples like potatoes and pasta are reasonably cheap and filling, the trick will be to make them nourishing.

Are you near a Tesco or other grocery store? They often have a reduced-for-quick-sale rack of vegetables that are in reasonable shape that you could cook. Consider bulking up a noodle soup with some chopped vegetables, for example.

There's a Chinese market near George's street, you could make a pilgrimage down there on the bus and load up on cheaper ethnic items like rice.

Dublin Bus, bless it, is as unreliable as hell, but a bus pass is probably your best bet for getting around. It should be good on the Luas as well as the DART, too. You might be able to get a bike reasonably cheaply, if that's an option.

Home goods like plates, towels, etc are available at Roche's stores.

Dublin is walkable, in parts. Maybe not from DCU, but once you get to the city centre, you can walk around fairly easily. Bring a backpack, it'll make schlepping stuff easier.

I hope this helps!
posted by LN at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2011

I've only spent a brief time in Ireland, but I can tell you the apples there are much, much nicer than anything in North America.
posted by zadcat at 12:15 PM on June 14, 2011

Groceries are generally expensive in Dublin by my standards (comparing to the UK and Australia) but Eurospar is more expensive than necessary. If there's a Tesco, Dunnes or Superquinn supermarket nearby you'll do better than Spar or Centra. There is a small Tesco at Drumcondra, which might be near you. I lived in Dublin for a couple of years without a car, but did so by staying handy the Luas or within walking distance of a supermarket. All of the supermarkets will have relatively cheap crockery and tableware too. If you're close to DCU does it offer anything? Most people brought their own bags to the supermarket because of the tax on plastic bags, but I never found a supermarket that couldn't supply bags as long as you were prepared to fork out the 22 cent per bag. (Except that Dunnes seemed to have a regular policy of keeping only the bigger bags at the checkouts, which naturally cost more.)

As to the soap and shampoo, you might guess from what I said above that I wouldn't be surprised that soap etc were cheaper at the pharmacy than at Eurospar. The likes of Spar and Centra are basically off-licences (that is, liquor outlets) with a supermarket as a sideline.

Would help to know more about your circumstances. Are you living in a flat, a serviced room, university accommodation or what? How close are you to a bus stop? Dublin Bus has an iPhone application which I found useful.
posted by Logophiliac at 12:20 PM on June 14, 2011

Here's the Asian market I was thinking of.
posted by LN at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2011

I'm living in student housing with a fridge, freezer, cooking stove, oven, and plenty of shelf space. I'm near these buses and am figuring out where they can take me.
posted by Xere at 1:07 PM on June 14, 2011

You could shop at SuperValu in Killester which is at the end of Collins Avenue on the 103 route (unfortunately the 103 is one of the less reliable bus routes though). It's a bigger supermarket so much better/cheaper for your groceries then Spar. (They also used to do a great Chicken Fillet roll at the deli btw if you happen to be there at lunchtime)
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:54 PM on June 14, 2011

I spent a semester studying in Dublin (but down at UCD). It was quite a while ago now but the things I recall:

1. I wish I bought a cheap bike. The buses are okay but things are not that far, IMO Dublin is perfectly sized for biking. Also, it would be fantastic to have it late at night; I recall that night buses were expensive and sporadic, and taxis were expensive and nearly impossible to snag.
2. I would go to the area around O'Connell Street just north of the Liffey whenever I needed to buy stuff. I would say that's the easiest place to go to get your basic housewares and all that, and pretty much all the buses have stops along that street. I used to go to this Dunne's but I think there are plenty of other places.
3. Big grocery stores are definitely the way to go. I used to walk 30-40 minutes to a big Tesco because it was so much cheaper and better than the smaller groceries near school.

Dublin was pretty fun, but living on the outskirts without a car kind of blew, to be honest. I was surprised by how sprawling it is. I think the bike would help. Don't know what you're doing during your time there but I'd really recommend spending as much time as possible exploring the central parts of the city. Also some of the seaside burbs along the DART are very cool, primarily Howth and Dun Laoghaire. (Didn't even have to look up the spelling of that!)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:40 PM on June 14, 2011

fwiw, i lived in nyc for 6 years without a car and found that a granny cart was indispensible for consolidating my shopping.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:17 PM on June 14, 2011

Xere, can you give us a little clearer idea of where you are living? Around DCU is pretty vague and could be anything from Glasnevin to Whitehall. Spar is basically the most expensive way to buy anything, you might as well do your shopping at a petrol station. I am going to assume you are relatively physically able, and send you off to the shops on foot with a rucksack or a granny trolly.

There's plenty of places not far off, I mean if you are on the northern side of DCU, Collins Av. Ext. or something like that then you have Tesco in Omni Park about ten minutes walk away or the one in Ballymun either. The 103 is a really shitty bus line, but there's likely no reason to be taking that. Depending where "near DCU" you are, even the campus itself has gotten huge, there's a billion buses that go in towards town passing Tescos as they go.
posted by Iteki at 10:55 PM on June 14, 2011

Okay, I'm not living "near DCU" ... to be honest, I'm living in DCU, in one of their campus apartments.

I looked up Asia Market and am attempting to walk to Tesco in Omni Park today, or at least walk part of it, and then hop on a bus. We shall see.

There's tons of bicycles everywhere and I'm tempted to find a cheap one and then sell it off at the end of my stay.
posted by Xere at 1:21 AM on June 15, 2011

I live in Dublin. Aldi and Lidl are our two German supermarkets and absolutely the best place to do cheap shopping. There's one of each on Parnell/Moore st. but probably one closer to you. Excellent for canned goods, toiletries, wine, etc. Not so great for fresh food but okay.

Eurospar will be expensive compared to Dunnes and/or Tesco.

If you need plates/cutlery, go to a Dunnes or TK Maxx (one of both in Stephen's Green shopping centre). Cheap as chips.

The fruit market on Moore st on Saturday is great for cheap fruit and veg, although you have to scout the good stuff.

Meat, local butchers is probably best. Supermarket meat is less good and not cheaper, generally. But scout around.

As mentioned above, Chinese and Asian markets are good for cheap foods. Good Chinese on George's st and around the block on Drury. Good Asian market on Mary St.

I do not use Dublin bus. I cycle everywhere. Dublin is a wonderfully scaled city for cycling. Don't let anyone talk you into thinking it's dangerous. Just obey the rules of the road and you'll be fine.
The bus is okay, it'll get you around. But the bike frees you.

Try Dublin Bike Man or Rothar for cheap bikes (Rothar is great).
posted by distorte at 2:58 AM on June 15, 2011

Bike is absolutely doable. If you are looking for a something for going in and out to town I would advise the 19a or the 11 busses from Ballymun Road to the west of you, or the number 3 from Collins Avenue to the north of you (well northwest, outside of St. Aidens secondary school like).

Entertaingly enough, the 103 mentioned on the DCU site you linked, and that I was complaining about was cancelled in 2009. The 104 that replaces it seems equally meandering and hard to time*, but if you can crack the code of it's timetable it's probably your best food-shopping bus. In the one direction it will take you up to Omni, and in the other direction it will take you to Ballymun shopping center. Route map.

*As best I can tell the intervalls it goes in are 40, 50, 80, 60, 50, and then once an hour till evening.
posted by Iteki at 7:18 AM on June 15, 2011

While a walk to the Omni may be doable, the walk back with groceries is not! I used to live near DCU while studying there, and found it much more convenient to stomach to cost of smaller type shops and less lugging the stuff around, or the hassle of waiting for a bus out to the Omni and back in. The 11 bus is probably your best bet for getting in and out of town
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 9:03 AM on June 15, 2011

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