It is Time to Leave the Irish Rat Race

  • By: Walter Dunphy ACCA
  • Date: May 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

The days of being able to live a simple, but comfortable, life in Ireland appear to be a thing of the past.

I’m not talking about too long ago, in the 90’s a lot of people had the choice if they wanted to join the rat race or not. A couple with modest earnings could live in a decent-sized new build and at the same time find the mortgage repayments well affordable (relatively speaking).

I think the definition of what the rat race is has changed in recent years. In the past, people were competing for status and wealth. But now, the majority of people have to join the rat race as a necessity to survive in modern Ireland.

Working a minimum job in Ireland makes it almost impossible to be self-sustainable, many people are at the mercy of social services which may or may not help them. Nobody wants to be in that position so they are encouraged to join the rat race with everyone else so they can achieve more financial safety.

This Reddit User I feel summarised the feelings of many.

I can really empathise with this persons feelings, the rat race has grabbed me and swallowed me up.

What really irks me is how it has changed me as a person. I suffer from anxiety, and the stress of the fast-paced capitalist society we are working in now has gotten the better of me many times. I often boil over and spend a lot of my time being very irritable and it is those close to me that suffer.

I feel the pressure to keep pace with my friend’s and society’s expectations. I’m sure a lot of you have felt the very same.

But as the Reddit User says it is not just purely financial constraints that keep us locked in the rat race, family commitments can also bring added levels of stress and pressure.

The Word is Gone Made

Most major cities in the world have become unlivable due to spiralling property and rent prices. Dublin is the very same, even people earning well over the average wage in Ireland are finding themselves miles away from being able to get on the property ladder.

And when they do they are trapped with that debt. The bank owns you for the next 20-30 years – you have to keep it going, keeping clocking in those pay checks so you never fall behind and lose it all.

It’s not a unique problem for people in Ireland, worldwide people have become more and more dissatisfied with their lives. Goolge trends has shown a steady increase in people searching to live off grid over the past two decades.

There was a glimmer of hope during the global pandemic that everything would reset and for a time we all looked at our lives a lot differently. But now that the pandemic is almost a distant memory a lot of us are slipping back into our old habits.

The hunger for change remains, we can see it in the battle raging (Great Reset) between employees and companies for freedom and flexibility.

While being able to work remotely can alleviate some of the causes of dread we face such as the commute and endless office small talk, it still won’t give you total freedom.

How Can We Escape????


Cryptocurrency or any other type of financial asset is unlikely to be the answer to any of your problems. Get rich quick schemes are always to good to be true, you’ll unlikely be that lucky.

And I am saying this as a person who is a massive fan of crypto.

A big reason for the popularity of cryptocurrency in Ireland is the dreams that come with it. People believe that it is a moonshot that can lift them to where they need to be financially. You can’t bank on it.

Although it will work out for some, these people may be in the minority. It is likely that well over 90% of cryptocurrencies will go to zero (similar to what we see in the venture capital world). We have already seen high profile projects such as Terra Luna go to zero, many will see the same faith.

Crypto is surely the future, but it is a high-risk strategy to bring you the wealth you need to fund your exit from the rat race.

FIRE Movement

The FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement has grown a huge following over the last decade.

The basic idea is that you save aggressively, often up to 70% of your income until you reach a certain level of invested savings that you can realistically live off for the rest of your life. Once this target is hit 3-4% (Bengen Rule) may be withdrawn from the savings annually to fund the retiree’s lifestyle. You need to be able to strike a balance and not spend too much or you will not be able to fund your whole retirement.

There are varying degrees of FIRE from the Baby FIRE to Fat FIRE to suit your situation.

If this is something that interests you, there are many calculators that you can use, as a fun exercise, to see how much you would need to have saved to achieve your early retirement goals. Remember that these calculators often don’t take into account the Irish tax rules, so take everything with a pinch of salt.

There are plenty of Irish content creators that provide useful information and real life chats with people going through their FIRE journey that are also worth checking out (Here is one

Again this may not be for everybody and it will require a lot of sacrifice and hard work.

Building Assets

When we work in our 9-5 jobs we are trading time for money, but we only have so much time to give.

There is a shift in mindset and potentially unlimited upside when you start a business that can work for you even when you are in Spain sitting on a sun lounger.

The problem is this will also require time, skill, funding and a little bit of luck. You may even need to try multiple times before you succeed.

It has become easier ( but more competitive) for someone sitting at home to start earning an additional income from the comfort of their home.

As Robert Kiyosaki campaigned for in his book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, the secret to building wealth that can sustain you for the rest of your life is to buy assets instead of liabilities, which he says is what separates the rich from the poor.

Get out of Dodge

We are living in a country that has one of the highest cost of livings in the world. This has huge disadvantages when you live in Ireland but if you were to be in a situation where you could maintain your levels of income and move to a low cost country in Asia or South America then your euro will go a lot further than it would at home.

The difficulty is leaving all your family and friends behind, which can be easy for some but hard for others.

Choose Happiness Above All Else

Maybe there is no escaping the rat race in Ireland, the least we can do is try to enjoy the race.

There are high levels of dissatisfaction with work in Ireland, probably as we we are often slaves to large multi national companies that pigeon hole us into jobs that barely even make sense to us or have any effect on our local community.

The best we can do is work in something that brings us joy and not a feeling of dread when we wake up in the mornings.

God Speed Everyone.

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