Austria is one of the top 10 countries to live, it provides great opportunities for work and family life while opening the neighboring countries for exploration. Statistics show, that almost third expats plan to stay for their entire life in Austria.
Three most common reasons why people come here are:
- Found a job
- Moved for studies
- Moved for love
Austria most popular among Americans (7%), Italian (6%) and British (5%). Reasons they move to Austria are obvious, Austria has top industries such as IT, technology, software which are offering perspective jobs for international professionals.
Obstacles of Expat Life in Austria
Austria famous for quality and affordable high education, most famous and oldest University of Vienna greet each year thousands of multicultural students.
However, expats have seen downsides while living in European Center, like the cost of living, high taxation and difficulties of communication due to lack of English/German.
In addition to downsides, rankings for personal happiness in Austria are only satisfactory. The reason for this might be the difficulty of settling in. Accordingly to statistics, Austria reaches a poor 54th place out of 67 in the Ease of Settling In Index.
The perceived lack of friendliness of the locals, the trouble finding friends, and the difficulty of learning the local language are the main factors that bring Austria so far down in this category. It all makes the life of foreign citizens difficult in Austria.
Around half of the expats in Austria (51%) believe, that the German language is difficult to learn. Moreover, 4 out of 9 respondents say, that making local friends is hard, which could be connected to the level of friendliness of the locals towards foreign residents.
26% of respondents are not happy with the local attitude towards expats. On the other hand, 61% of foreigners say, that they feel at home in Austrian culture, while 58% have no problems with living in Mozart country without good German skills.
Austria has advantages and drawbacks, every country does. Here are 17 reasons why should never move to Austria.
Reason 1. The High Living Expenses
Living in Austria can be heavy for your pocket. But if you are from the UK or France, you may actually find Austria cheaper than your home country.
On the other hand, people from the US, Canada, the Netherlands or Spain feel that Austria is more expensive. The country has also a higher cost of living compared to its neighbors: Germany, Italy, and Slovenia.
Statistics show that Vienna is 56% more expensive than Budapest and 20% more expensive than Ljubljana. Although Vienna is not the most expensive place in Austria in comparison with city Innsbruck and region Vorarlberg close to the Swiss border.
If you are planning to study here, calculate at least 950 EUR per month to spend on basic life. In Germany, students need only 850 EUR. While the average salary in Vienna is 47,000 EUR gross and in Germany its 45,000 EUR gross.
What does it cost
Rents in the heart of the cities are a lot higher compared to other areas. For example, a furnished, 2-bedroom (85 square meters or 900 square feet) house on the main street is likely to cost at least 1,350 EUR per month, while the same-sized house in an inexpensive location can cost you 1,025 EUR.
Similarly, the cost of renting a furnished 1-bedroom or studio (45 square meters or 480 square feet) apartment is approximately 800 EUR within the city center and about 600 EUR.
Austria is known to have one of the highest grocery costs in Europe, but you could minimize your costs by purchasing items from supermarkets such as Lidl and Hofer in bulk. This german discounts can save you quite a lot.
Foreigners find canned foods, frozen foods, turkey, chicken and other meats expensive in Austria. Things get worse during the winter months when fresh fruits and vegetables of limited variety and in short supply.
Even those food items that are manufactured in Austria are limited in selection and generally expensive.
Eating out in Austria can be quite an expense. A 3-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is likely to cost you around 50 EUR. You’ll pay 12 EUR for a single-course meal for one at an inexpensive eatery and about 7 EUR for a combination meal at a fast-food joint.
Student cafe (kantine) is the cheapest option, you can use it without being a student, the average price for a meal 5-6 EUR.
Reason 2. Cost of Goods
Goods are expensive in Austria due to the higher taxes on them. Austria currently has a 20% standard sales tax rate, 13% on tourism services and 10% on basic items.
While sales tax in Germany is 19%, 5 % in Canada, 11.725% highest and 0% lowest in the USA. If you are a materialistic, NOT RICH person, who wants to own a lot of things, you shouldn’t move to Austria.
Reason 3. Austrian Food
You might think Austrian food was all about Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte, but it’s not. It has much more to offer, however, the food culture here will not adapt to your dietary restrictions. It’s hard for vegetarians or gluten-free folks to have a good meal.
Country cuisine is based on meat, all kinds of noodles (Käsespätzle) and potatoes. If these aren’t your favorites (neither they are mine), think twice before going to Austria. Bread, coffee, and cakes are very popular and could be found everywhere.
Despite the variety of food in Austria, you still will see people eating Wiener Schnitzel and fries almost each second day.
Reason 4. High Taxes
In Austria, most employees pay between 42% and 48% of their income in tax. Depends where you come from it might be better or worse. Many people experience shock while paying this amount to the state, but with the time they get used to it.
Taxes rates rise with income and get very high, very quickly. For all who earn less than 31,000 EUR – tax rate 35% is applicable, what isn’t that bad.
Reason 5. You Hate Cigarette Smoke
Smoking is permitted in cafes, restaurants, and bars in Austria. Many people use this opportunity, but if you hate smoking it might be the worst place to be. Or you can avoid smoky places like this by going out less.
Reason 6. You Don’t Ski or Snowboard
Alps is one of the highlights in Austria. If you don’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding you might be missing out on important social activity for Austrians.
In wintertime, folks love to go up in the mountains and spend there all weekends. If you live close to the Alps expect to sit alone, as all people will be gone skiing.
Reason 7. You Aren’t a Beer or “Spritz” Drinker
As a neighbor of beer capital – Germany, Austria loves its beer and very proud of it. It is almost impossible to find beer, which made outside of the country.
Austrians are big patriots when it comes to this drink, and they will offer you exceptionally their beer. Or you take it or don’t come here.
Another story is spritz, which means wine mixed with soda/lemonade or water. Don’t know who invented this drink, but Austrians are fans of it.
Reason 8. Making Friends Among the Locals is Difficult
Although Austrians enjoy meeting foreigners making friends with locals can be difficult as they tend to be private about their personal lives. In Austria, people usually have made most of their friends by the time they graduate from university, most times even earlier.
It’s hard to make new friends as an outsider. In addition, Austrians don’t have the same after-work drinks as many other countries do.
It could be hard to build a genuine connection with someone, as they don’t open up for foreigners and might show only the surface of themselves. So you might get to know many people, but you rarely will know them truly.
Reason 9. Housing is Challenging to Find
There are several different types of housing in Austria, such as houses in the mountains, studio flats, apartments, wood-built lodges, and cottages. However, it’s hard to find a place to live in Austria. Especially in densely populated cities.
For example, in Vienna, there are just not enough suitable apartments for everyone, as the population is growing each year, but houses aren’t built that fast.
Reason 10. Long Winters
Those used to more tropical climes will find that winters in Austria can feel exceptionally long and grey, even in Vienna, which is warmer than most regions in the country. And indeed, it goes from the end of October till the end of March/beginning of April.
Reason 11. Austrian German is Different to German
Learning Austrian German is difficult as the language is full of nuance and, despite Austria’s small size, regional quirks. Those already fluent in German should expect many vocabulary differences and be ready to learn a couple of dialects.
Be aware that Austrians don’t like to speak high German (Hoch Deutsch).
Reason 12. Shops Close Latest at 8 pm
For those not from Europe: 24-hour retailers don’t exist in Austria, stores shut early in the evening. Many shuts over the weekend. All closed on Sundays. So you will have to adapt and take time out of your day to do groceries and needed services.
Reason 13. Bureaucracy Level
Before coming to Austria you will need to do a lot of paperwork, Austria loves bureaucracy. For me, as a Non-EU/EAA citizen, it took 3 months to collect all papers for Austrian universities.
As an EU/EAA member you will have it easier, but still not without visiting a couple of authorities, fill out forms, writing and receiving letters. YEES, they love to write letters in Austria.
Reason 14. Salary
Generally, if you are in a good trade (but not always), especially engineering, medicine, IT, chemicals, petrol, etc., you can make a lot more living in the USA & Canada or other countries with a powerful economy.
As I already said the average salary in Vienna is 47,000 EUR gross which does not make it a high paid place in comparison with the high cost of living. It’s rare when a person earns more than 100.000 EUR in Austria, while in the USA it’s absolutely normal.
Reason 15. Attitude to Work
If you love your career and define yourself with what you do, then probably you won’t understand by Austrians. Austrians do not usually define their lives by their careers.
It’s very uncommon to overly focus on your job in conversations and such. They differentiate very straight free time from work time. Work-life balance is extremely important for them.
If you are a fairly hardworking person, who wants to better themselves, progress, takes their job quite seriously and is competitive, you may find it hard to find a lot of people with the same level of ambition and stamina.
If you want to invest more in your work, in the nights, weekends – Austrians might take you for crazy. Attitude to work in Austria something between Italian and German, to climb the career ladder and working hard consider to move to Germany instead.
Reason 16. You Plan Never Learn German
If you don’t plan to learn german, life in Austria will be difficult for you. Most people speak English here yes, but it is generalized, you might meet many people who haven’t spoken English word for years.
In urban Austria, big cities like Vienna it will be easier to live without German. However, you need to understand that you are missing a huge part of the experience.
If you only speak English, outside tourist zones you will always be viewed as some kind of colonial power forcing everyone to speak badly learned school English and turning even trivial social events, like a short chat at the bakery, into an embarrassing situation for everyone involved.
Each time you in a group of people, where the majority is Austrian, expect to hear them speaking German, they won’t communicate all the time on English because of you! Unless you move here with some solid level of german language, you are going to face some serious, serious loneliness.
“Locals can be a little rejecting to foreigners especially if you do not speak German.”Expats
Reason 17. Dead Sundays
Sundays in Austria must be free by law, that’s why everything is shut down and people enjoy their weekend. For Austrian it seems to be so, but foreigners experience Sundays as the worst part of the week, which can be depressing and inconvenient.
Even grocery stores closed on this day, together with many cafes and restaurants. How you supposed to enjoy your weekend if everything out of service?! That’s still not understandable for me and other outsiders.
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