Written by Bethany Hemsley,
Last Modified: 9th August 2023

One of the main joys of Ireland is just how different each county is. From vibrant and colourful cities to jaw-dropping rugged landscapes, there is something for everyone in the Emerald Isle. Today we compare two counties, Dublin and Donegal, delving into what each has to offer, the best places to buy a home and how much it would cost you.

County Dublin

Home to Ireland’s lively capital city, County Dublin is small but mighty. In fact, around a quarter of Ireland’s population reside there.

The county borders Wicklow, Meath and Kildare and curves around Dublin Bay. It is a popular choice with overseas buyers due its proximity to the UK. It also has excellent links with mainland Europe and the USA.

Dublin offers all the excitement of a capital city but with a more down to earth feel.

Being a major Irish hub, you’ll find the most attractions and facilities here. Many expats are young professionals who enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, great ‘craic’ and plentiful job opportunities. The number of global companies with headquarters in Dublin is really quite astounding – Facebook, Google, Airbnb and Microsoft, to name just a few, are all based in the Irish capital. There are also excellent schools and universities.


Dublin offers all the excitement of a capital city but with a more down-to-earth feel. It is much smaller than many other European cities and has managed to avoid becoming overwhelmed with high-rise buildings. There are lots of green spaces too, including the popular Phoenix Park which is home to several herds of wild deer. As such, many retirees also choose to reside in Dublin and the surrounding seaside suburbs due to the unique blend of city hubbub and relaxed way of life.

There is plenty to do outside of the city centre too. A short 20-minute train ride will take you to some of Ireland’s most beautiful countryside and coastal towns. Boasting some of the best seafood in the country, the harbour towns of Dún Laoghaire, Dalkey and Malahide are definitely worth a visit. In Dalkey, you may spot some rather famous faces – U2’s Bono and The Edge, Neil Jordan and Enya all have homes in the town.

Currently, the mean property price in County Dublin stands at around €418,300.

Before you go on a viewing trip to Dublin, make sure to read the free Viewing Trip Guide. It covers everything you need to know and what to look out for.

County Donegal

If spectacular countryside, an outdoorsy lifestyle and a lively social calendar are what you’re searching for in Ireland, then look no further than County Donegal. This gorgeous county in the north-west is quintessentially Irish and enjoys 300 miles of Atlantic coastline.

It is the perfect destination for active expats thanks to the impressive mountains, Blue Flag beaches, unspoilt boglands, vast lakes, enchanting woodlands and the only national park in the Province of Ulster: Glenveagh National Park.

While there is plenty of opportunity for extreme sports like mountain climbing, scuba-diving and surfing, Donegal also offers some brilliant golf courses. You’ll find several renowned courses such as Ballyliffin (Glashedy), Ballyliffin (Old), Murvagh and Rosapenna.

Donegal is quintessentially Irish and enjoys 300 miles of Atlantic coastline.

Donegal’s cultural calendar is far from empty with numerous festivals and events happening throughout the year. Some local favourites are the Earagail Arts Festival in July, the Dunfanaghy Jazz and Blues Festival in September, A Taste of Donegal Food Festival and the Donegal International Rally Weekend.

When it comes to buying property in the county, all of the towns and villages are brimming with Irish charm. Some lovely places to consider are the laid-back surfer town of Bundoran, the Bohemian village of Dunfanaghy, the blustery town of Glencolumbkille (Glencolmcille) and Letterkenny – a major hub of the county.

What’s more, property prices are incredibly affordable. The average home in County Donegal costs just €170,000!

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