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‘There’s more of a laissez-faire kind of thing in Ireland and especially that translates to driving’

New to the Parish: Emily McKenzie moved to Dublin from Vancouver in 2017

When Emily McKenzie moved from Vancouver in Canada to Dublin in 2017, she did not expect to still be here seven years later.

It was a “total cliche”, says McKenzie. She met an Irish man in Canada and fell for his “lovely, charming accent”.

“I kind of thought we’d be here – we’d have a fun year of travel and probably be here a year – and go back to Canada, but time has just flown, and I’ve really been enjoying myself too,” she says.

Growing up, McKenzie had no intentions of moving abroad. “To be honest, I’m kind of a homebody. I never had any visions of moving abroad, it wasn’t really something I wanted to do.”


She and her partner had lived in Canada together for four years, and like most multicultural couples, spent time “trying to figure out where you’re going to settle and start your life”.

“And we said we’d move to Ireland, and we’d give it a go. I just never saw it being a more permanent thing, and much to my family’s dismay, I’m still here. I’ve got a toddler now too, I’m a mom and settled down, put some roots down here,” says McKenzie.

In 2021 she gave birth to a son, and is glad of her partner’s parents being “literally up the road” from their home in Marino, because they can help out with their grandson.

Before the move, McKenzie had been to Ireland a few times, getting a flavour of Dublin while visiting, and relocating with her Irish partner helped her get the lie of the land quite easily, she says.

“He forced me to watch the Father Ted episodes with all the different bits, so yeah, [it helped] definitely,” she says, laughing.

One thing that took some getting used to, however, was getting the TV licence and motor tax sorted, but McKenzie’s biggest learning curve was on the road.

“It’s funny, I think there’s kind of the cliched ‘It’ll be grand’ Irish mentality kind of piece. In Canada we love our rules, our processes and thinks like that, and there’s more of a laissez-faire kind of thing that’s noticeable in Ireland and especially I think that translates to driving on the road,” she says.

“I remember the first time I got the car, like people tend to run more yellows and the red on some occasions, where it’s a little bit more relaxed, so it’s been a learning curve. It’s just adjusting to small pieces like that in your day-to-day.”

Dublin has definitely become more and more expensive in my time here, but it’s hard to compare when Vancouver is also a notoriously expensive city to live in

When McKenzie started her first job in Ireland, she says it was really easy to make friends, and everybody made an effort to ensure she felt welcomed and included.

“In Canada we can be maybe a little bit more cliquey. I know from Irish people that I’m friends with who moved over there, it can be a little bit harder to make friends, and especially when you’re in that awkward phase and transition kind of post-college, you don’t have kids, you’re in your late-20s, early-30s trying to meet people and I think it’s a little bit easier probably over here in Ireland.”

McKenzie works as head of marketing at Codex in Dublin.

“Especially when early into my college career, I was doing a little bit of [marketing] work in the summers and I had a few volunteering positions, and then when I moved here I was doing a postgrad in strategic digital marketing with the Marketing Institute of Ireland.”

She then got a position as a marketing executive with Glandore and continued furthering her education, doing courses in graphic design and web development.

She has been with Codex for 4½ years, having done a postgraduate degree during the pandemic, while pregnant and completing the course with a newborn.

“I’m someone who loves continuous development and it’s been great to get to do it here. There’s lots of opportunities for an education space,” she says.

Being pregnant during the pandemic while so away from home was difficult, however, as was finding childcare when her son was born.

“People were telling me initially to put my name down when I was pregnant, and I was like, what? I’m not superstitious but that feels kind of weird. So I held off, and when my son was born we contacted probably a dozen different creches in our local area and a little farther afield.

“I think we only just got one call, maybe three months back, saying we’d been offered a place, but he’s almost three years old, so that didn’t work out for us, but we ended up with an absolutely amazing childminder and we couldn’t be happier with it.

“One of the places, I called with my newborn – it must have been 2021 – and they were like, we don’t have a place until 2023 in the newborns class, and you’re like, what?” she says, laughing.

I suppose it’s hard to imagine never going home and I don’t know, initially, you can really consume yourself with trying to figure out what the future looks like

The difficulty in finding childcare is stressful, and can make it challenging for women who have been off on maternity leave to return to their full-time jobs, she adds, but other than that, there have not been many big challenges in her time in Ireland.

“Dublin has definitely become more and more expensive in my time here, but it’s hard to compare when Vancouver is also a notoriously expensive city to live in,” says McKenzie.

“It definitely feels like things have gotten more expensive from a renting and buying perspective but it’s equally as problematic and challenging I think where I’m from too.”

McKenzie is unsure whether she will spend the rest of her life in Ireland.

“It’s always a point of discussion in our household. For me, I suppose it’s hard to imagine never going home and I don’t know, initially, you can really consume yourself with trying to figure out what the future looks like,” she says.

“But [I’m] just trying really hard to take it day by day and not put so much pressure on myself to have to make a forever decision, so we’re here now, enjoying it, but I don’t know what the next step will be.

“Even the idea of home, when you’re living somewhere else, sometimes I really struggle with it,” she says. “For me, I’ve been gone from Canada for so long at this point, [but] it still is what I would refer to as home.

“But the reality is that when you’re living away for so long, you miss a lot of the changes and the different things that you have when you’re living somewhere. So it’s kind of this weird place where you’re like, where is home? Really, I feel split.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email or tweet @newtotheparish