About Mind How You Go

We interviewed 500 recent Irish emigrants and asked them about their experiences. The only requirement was that people needed to have emigrated from Ireland at some stage since January 2009. All answers were collected in May 2014. None of the questions were mandatory so not all 500 people asked all of the questions of which there were 20.

66% of respondents were female and 33% were male. This is a stark finding from the survey. Why there was such difference in the level of participation between males and female is not clear but one could look to other research that suggests that females in general are more comfortable and willing to talk about their mental health.

The below table outlines the ages of participants with 75% being in the 24 to 35 age bracket and over 50% in the 24-29 bracket

Which category below includes your age?

Age Response % Response
18-23 6.8%. 34
24-29 51.5% 256
30-35 26.4% 131
36-40 8.5% 42
40-50 5.4%. 27
50 or older 1.4%. 7
answered question 497
skipped question 3

The country of residence of participants in summarised below with a notably large number living in Australia.

In what country do you currently reside?

Country Response % Response
UK 17% 76
Canada 17% 76
Australia 49% 223
USA 6% 27
New Zealand 5.4%. 16
Ireland 4% 34
Other 12% 53
answered question 448
skipped question 52

Of the 53 other countries mentioned eight people are living in the United Arab Emirates, four each in Singapore and Belgium, three each in Zimbabwe and Germany, two in each of the following – Denamrk, China, Spain, France and Austria with one person each stating the following as their country of residence: Kuwait, Qatar, India, South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Japan, Indonesia, Malta, Bermuda, Korea, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Holland, Sweden, Thailand, Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone. The year of departure was reasonably evenly spread over the five main years in question

What year did you depart Ireland?

Year Response % Response
2009 22.2% 108
2010 14.8% 72
2011 17.7% 86
2012 23.2% 113
2013 17.0% 83
2014 5.1% 25
answered question 487
skipped question 13

When do you expect to return to Ireland?

The most common answer and sentiment expressed in response to this question was one of uncertainty. 26% (124 of 475) of respondents stated that they didn’t know or were unsure as to when they would be returning to Ireland. While the majority of answers simply consisted of a ‘Don’t know’ or ‘Unsure’, some answers were more detailed and revealing:

I’m a resident now, this is home. But I never say never!

God only knows.

I’m not sure, no immediate plans to move back.

I don’t know. I have a two year contract here but my wife has potentially a four-year contract.

Unsure if I will ever return to Ireland

The second most common response was that people stated they would never be returning to Ireland. Again answers were generally brief, but some revealed a little more:

I hope never to return to live, only to visit

Sadly never

Never. Met an Australian partner and planning my life here now.

Others were clearer about their year/date of return:

Year Response % Response
2014 6% 108
2015 11% 72
2016 9.5% 86
2017 4% 113
2018 3% 83
2019 4% 25
2020 1% 72
Date range 7% 86
Other 7% 113
Unsure 26% 83
Never 15% 25

7% of respondents suggested that they would be returning within a particular date range. There was a notable degree of uncertainty in many of these answers and a minimum of another five years away was also commonly mentioned:

Hopefully in the next 5 years

Next 5-7 years.


For good? 5-7 years

Within next five years.

Hopefully in 6-10 years

I don’t know not for at least four more years.

I was supposed to stay for a year but really I knew it would be longer. Into my second year. Hopefully with more job experience I can go home in a year or two.

Not in the next five years

I plan on visiting at least once yearly. As far as a permanent move back to Ireland, it isn’t on the cards since I’ve only been gone a year. It will take a couple of years to decide what my long term plan is but in the back of my mind, I would like to return home.

2015 if not longer

I don’t expect to return in the next 5-10 years.

Not yet sure. Maybe in the next 5-6 years.

Within a decade

A total of 21 people or 4% of respondents specifically stated that they would return once there were jobs available and/or the economy improved.

If/when I can get a job in Ireland

Would like to return as soon as possible but unsure as job prospects in Ireland are non-existent.

When the economy gets better.

No idea, whenever there are prospects in Ireland again.

When Ireland returns to having a stable economy and house prices/rent/living expenses are not so high for the low wages.

Other answers did not fit into any aforementioned category neatly or mentioned periods of 10 or 20 years. The following are some examples:

2023 maybe, so our kid can get secondary education in Ireland

In a long time

Not in the short to medium term.

When my parents get too old to look after themselves.

When I retire.

Not in the foreseeable future.

Available emotional support

In terms of your available emotional support while abroad how would you rate it compared to when you were in Ireland?

Answer Response % Response
Much worse 22.1% 105
Somewhat worse 29.9% 142
About the same 31.8% 151
Somewhat better 9.3% 44
Much better 6.9% 33
answered question 475
skipped question 25

Alcohol Intake

How would you describe the level of your alcohol in take compared to when you were in Ireland?

Answer Response % Response
Much worse 22.9% 107
Somewhat worse 18.6% 91
About the same 32.6% 159
Somewhat better 18.6% 91
Much better 8.2% 40
answered question 488
skipped question 12

Read the Report