Despite the small size of the country, Austria attracts many foreigners each year. Only alone in 2019, 20.8 million tourists visited this country and many thousands arrived for a long stay.
If you plan to live and work in the country with the highest quality of life, the issue is choosing the place that’s best for you. After reading this article you will see which city fits more to your lifestyle and expectations.
Here are the top 7 cities to live and work in Austria:
- Vienna, Vienna
- Graz, Styria
- Linz, Upper Austria
- Innsbruck, Tyrol
- Salzburg, Salzburg
- Bregenz, Vorarlberg
- Villach, Carinthia
Choosing where to live in Austria is not that easy – the country’s nine states are diverse and each has its positives and negatives. Two biggest are Lower Austria and Styria, Vienna is the smallest one.
Each state has its own differences like bordering counties, culture, dialects, and food. Let’s focus on the city itself and what do they have to offer.
Vienna has been named the best city in the world for quality of living, according to a new survey. As a city with the highest quality of life in the world, it’s no wonder why you should think to go there in the first place.
The capital of Austria ranks high in terms of income, jobs, health, access to services, environment, education, safety, engagement of locals, and housing.
While living in Vienna you don’t need a car since public transportation is excellent: busses, trams and underground will bring you anywhere anytime (24-hour services on weekends). You can buy an annual card for 365 EUR and pay 1 EUR per day for the usage of all transportation kinds.
First, the rich history is represented in the architectural wonders found throughout this capital city. It was influenced by many other European counties such as Italy, Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia.
Vienna had been a home for many important in the history people, so it was a place of residence for Sigmund Freud, Beethoven and Mozart both lived here – amongst other famous intellectuals.
Accommodations in Vienna famous for its think parquet floors, period features, and high ceilings. You probably will live in the historical building for an affordable price.
- The biggest city in Austria with a population of 2 ml. people
- Abundance of culture: museums, music, opera, concerts, festivals, art galleries, nightclubs, etc.
- Great connection to other capitals: Prague, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest
- Hipster city with the youngest population in the country
- Various free time activities from Opera to Viennese coffee houses
- Very bicycle-friendly city
By far the biggest opportunities a foreigner can find in the capital of Vienna. If you love big city life, going out, visit events, shopping then it is the best place. Vienna also the most popular city for tourism, hence there are many things to do and see. It also has the best clubbing culture and many trendy bars for younger once.
Vienna has originated many prominent foods, like schnitzel, tafelspitz, and various cakes, also croissant came from Austria and not from France as anyone tends to think. The food culture here also comes with a unique heritage, as Vienna is the epicenter of Austrian gastronomy.
Additionally, the region of Vienna produces the most Austrian wine so you can enjoy it right from the winery.
Highlight: the city has incredible museums and some amazing music venues – including the world-famous Vienna State Opera House, where thousands of visitors flock each year to see world-class musical performances.
Another key feature contributing to the city’s well-being is the incredibly strong coffee culture. If you don’t drink coffee you probably won’t taste Vienna fully.
Viennese coffee houses are loved by locals and tourists alike, for providing a space to discuss the day’s events in a relaxed and chilled environment.
Together with classic coffee houses, there are many hipster coffee shops can be found, they normally have younger contingent and more international alike vibe.
Vienna is the most international place in the whole of Austria, and it might be obvious since it is the biggest city. The Austrian capital is by far foreigners favorite and had been since many dozens of years before.
Vienna first became a place for immigrants from Balkan, Yugoslavic countries and Turkey. Nowadays expands and international students from all over the world come to find their luck there.
Vienna is a great city to live and either working or studying. Many regional and international companies are located there, as well as the best universities in the country.
In general, Austria tends to focus more on the local and DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) market. Hence speaking german will make you a big favor.
Vienna is a beautiful, bold and fun city that manages to make sure you have the highest quality of life possible. It’s easy to navigate, culturally diverse and highly modern.
Not only is Vienna one of the most important cities in Europe, but it’s also one of the most important cities in the world.
If you want to live in a thriving and bustling city of almost 2 million people but still surround yourself with one of the richest and most culturally important heritages in Europe, then Vienna is definitely the best place for you.
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 738 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 859 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,600 EUR
Graz is the second biggest city in Austria with the population of 440,000 people. This city is loved by students for excellent education and it’s a convenient size therefore it has a high student population. The city atmosphere gets less international and less touristy.
Due to its southern location, overall temperature is higher than in other Austrian cities, summer in Graz feels like in Italy and winter brings only a little snow.
Graz has a more reasonable prices than Vienna. Good public transport in the form of tram and busses, however, no underground. Good cultural events, good food, and museums.
The city has everything you could need (shops, schools, universities, bars, restaurants) and a just-right size so you won’t need to spend hours on transportation.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site old town of Graz provides great entertainment in the form of stunning architecture, cafes, shops, bars, and restaurants.
There are many historical buildings to enjoy as well as museums, palaces, and markets. Speaking about markets, Graz is known as Austrian culinary capital, the reason for this is that the city is surrounded by farmland that supplies it with the freshest ingredients.
Social life is also bustling, of course not to the same extent as in Vienna, but still, there are plenty of events going on almost every day. You can relax with after work beer/wine in cozy bars and go dancing afterward.
Graz international community contains predominantly people from Slovenia, Croatia and northern Italy, since they are so close located. Besides foreigners who come to search for job opportunities, there are hundreds of exchange students arriving to 6 different universities each year and add to its multicultural vibe.
Most Austrians in Graz speak English, but also Italian and Slovenian since they learn it in school.
Graz is the IT hub in Austria, many Startups have started here and more and more IT companies are opening locations here.
Especially if you are working in this field, there is a large choice of jobs for you. This is also contributing to the growth of the city. Apart from IT, jobs almost in all areas are available since it is a big city.
- Second biggest city with the population of 440,000 people
- In 2003, Graz was named the “Cultural Capital of Europe” due to its famous cultural relics, churches, historic museums and contemporary art and architecture
- City close to the borders with Slovenia, Italy and Hungary
- Riverside city
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 843 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 568 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,411 EUR
Linz is another Austrian riverside city and the third biggest city with a population of 203,000 people. It is a very comfortable and walkable place. The city located close to the Czech Republic and Germany means you can spend your weekends drinking the best beer in the world.
Linz has well-structured public transportation. Within the city, you can take a bus or tram, and for intercity take a train, they depart regularly to Vienna, Salzburg, and Graz, but also other cities in neighboring countries and beyond.
Cycling is another popular way of transportation, in fact, you can use bicycle service stations for free.
Furthermore, the Blue Danube Airport, 20 minutes from the city center, has direct flights to and from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Salzburg, and Vienna.
If you worry about the education of your kids there is no need to: Linz is home to 57 schools, four universities, two colleges of higher education and two teacher training colleges.
- Third biggest city with a population of 203,000 people
- Situated close to the Czech Republic
As an expat living in Linz, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to culture and leisure. The old town of Linz has a large choice of shops, bars, and cafes, where the famous Linzer Torte, reputed to be the oldest cake in the world, can be sampled.
For a night out head to Old Quarter where everything happens, to educate yourself to museums, and for emotions to festivals or open-air concert. In the summertime, you can enjoy the food truck festival.
For cultural entertainment and to learn more about Upper Austria, you should visit The Linzer Schloss Museum. Linz also was the European Capital of Culture in 2009.
In summer or early autumn, I recommend taking a beautiful cruise on the river Danube to see the area around the Linz. Moreover, the city surrounded by a great landscape, so you can enjoy outdoors without traveling far.
Tourists come all year round to visit the medieval city of Linz. Besides that, there are some communities of expats in Linz, you can find them in Facebook groups or Irish pub. Remember that to live and work there speaking german is essential.
There are many regional and international based companies. Software developers will have good chances of receiving a job in English, most other positions require knowledge of german.
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 860 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 662 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,522 EUR
When I visited Innsbruck for the first time it immediately has met my expectations as a place I would like to live. Thoughts about moving to Austria came to my mind since at that time I was living in Saint Petersburg Russia.
The mountainous background of the city will impress you first and as second architecture, coziness and how smart the city is planned.
Innsbruck is known as an international winter sports center.
Small Austrian cities have everything that the bigger cities have, except noise, pollution, and overwhelmingness. In my experience, people are typically more friendly and there often seems to be a greater sense of community.
Innsbruck is easy to navigate, traffic-free, most of the time you can go everywhere on foot. If you need a lift take a bus or tram. It’s also a university town, so there are lots of activities for young people who like the excitement of a vibrant nightlife scene.
Important: With 30,000 students competing for rented apartments and the popular winter skiing season, finding suitable accommodation may be difficult.
- The fifth-largest city in Austria with a population of 310,000 people
- Alpine city that’s known as the winter sports capital of Austria
- Innsbruck held the Olimpic Games for 3 times
- Rent is higher than in other cities in Austria
- Major Industries: tourism, textiles, shoes, musical instruments, metal products, processed food, beer
With the mountains on the doorstep, Innsbruck is a famous outdoor place, where you can skiing or snowboarding all year round (thanks glacier), mountain biking, paragliding and of course hiking. The city itself has a few parks to relax on a sunny day.
The natural environment is at the next level in Innsbruck, you can also spot a lot of wildlife in the mountains. There are many different hiking trails with a length of one hour to one week.
Innsbruck is a riverside city, mountain river Inn is not improper for a swim but you can enjoy its freshness by sitting nearby.
After enjoying activities visit various mountain restaurants is a must, grab some cool beer and Knödel (Austrian dumplings) and sit back.
If you prefer entertainment over outdoors Innsbruck has it as well, there are many bars and some night clubs to visit, as well as open-air concerts and festivals. Check out cafes in the main square, to enjoy coffee and cake on the weekend afternoon.
You also don’t want to miss out on the cultural heritage of the city such as Ambras castle, Hofkirche, and Imperial Palace.
Innsbruck has excellent five universities with international and exchange students, it adds to the somewhat young and relaxed vibe of the city.
There are some expats and immigrants from neighboring countries, and you will see many tourists from all over the world (especially China).
Innsbruck has an abundant amount of jobs in the tourism sector, where lack of German isn’t a problem. Overall engineers sand IT specialists have the best changes on getting a high paid job.
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 845 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 770 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1615 EUR
Innsbruck has even higher prices than Vienna due to its popularity for tourists, students and international workers rent rises each year.
Located just on the border with Germany, Salzburg is the most budget-friendly city on our list. Known as the city of Mozart, Salzburg is famed for its love of art and music.
For this reason, there are 4,000 cultural events taking place across the city each year. Salzburg’s old city is UNESCO World Heritage Sites and known for its Baroque churches and picturesque clifftop fortresses.
The city is very popular for all-year-round sightseeing tourism, especially among the older generations seeking peace and cultural beauty. Outdoor tourism also booming (skiing in the south, some hiking).
This is a place to come to if you’re looking for culture and cheaper rents but still a quite reasonably sized city. With 3 big universities, Salzburg population is dominated by students hence prices tend to be lower.
Salzburg transportation includes busses trolleybuses, which are powered by overhead electrical cables. Although, due to its small size and easy accessibility many people get around the city by bicycle rather than a car or public transport.
- Fourth-largest city in Austria with a population of 152,000
- Salzburg is a very popular tourist destination
- Home of the world-renowned composer Mozart and most popular energy drink Red Bull
- Major industries are tourism, metals, and associated high-tech businesses, beer, fashion (traditional clothing) and luxury items
Known as the city of Mozart, Salzburg is famed for its love of art and music, it has over 50 galleries and numerous theaters to visit once you’ve set up home.
Every summer, the city hosts Salzburg Festival with internationally famed musicians, actors, and opera stars for a several-weeks-long arts and culture celebration.
Just walking through exceptionally well-preserved Medieval and Baroque old town is an experience you will enjoy again and again.
Speaking about outdoors, Salzburg is located in a very pretty part of Austria, where the Alps meet the flatter hill region to their north, with lots of lakes. You can go for a hike, skiing or just relax by the lake.
There are numerous ski resorts in the area that can be reached in under an hour from the city center.
Thanks to its location trips to Germany are incredibly easy, you can be in Munich and explore beautiful Bavaria within 1,5 hours.
My conclusion is that Salzburg a perfect place for international students and young professionals who want to be surrounded by historical arts and culture while still living in a modern and young European city.
Besides its beauty, it is also an affordable place to live as a student.
You will definitely see the mass of tourists and some exchange students as well. Germans are dominating the international vibe of Salzburg, to meet other expats check out Facebook groups.
As you already know Salzburg in the home for some world-known brands (Red Bull and Porsche). Changes in getting a job in tourism are high, but Red Bull offers most of English speaking jobs.
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 826 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 606 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,432 EUR
Beautiful but small Bregenz is a quaint lakeside city perfect for someone missing on nature and quite village alike life.
The city has a few museums, an art gallery, the Bregenzer Festspiele (Operas performed on a stage on the lake) take place each year attracting thousands of visitors, and a really pretty city center.
Bregenz has a strategic location with a few minutes you can go shopping in Germany and the other 10 min you are in swiss mountains. This will allow you to travel and expand your chances to get a job in one of these three countries.
While Bregenz is an amazing place for outdoors (the Alps, lake, hills, rivers, etc) foreigners can feel a bit lonely since its very region focussed place. People who live here are from the surroundings and they never leave due to its beauty of the region.
Lake Constance alone is a paradise for relaxing and enjoying nature, you can swim, sunbathe, take a boat ride or just chill in one of the cafes on the lakeside. As anywhere is Austria the Alps is the place where people spend most of their free time.
Rent a bike and go on the tour since there is an incredible system of bike trails leading in all directions or put on hiking boots and go explore, you won’t be disappointed.
Bregenz might look like a village for the first time, you will notice few tourists but overall there are almost no international students (hence no university) or workers from abroad.
Bregenz itself doesn’t have many international companies which will suit an expat, but Switzerland just 20 min away and has an enormous job market for someone like you.
- Smallest city on our list with a population of 30,000
- The city around the Lake Constance which is a summer destination for sailing, windsurfing, and swimming
- Lake Constance itself has a few islands
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 700 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 700 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,400 EUR
Villach is the last and second smallest city on our list. You might think why I even mention this, but it’s worth it, believe me. First is the location of this city is amazing – situated just on the borders with Italy and Slovenia, Villach is a charming riverside city with a stunning mix of nature.
Villach is the riverside city with all the romance of Austrian architecture mixed with nearby mountain adventures.
To travel within the city take a bus, for longer journeys train connection will spoil you, apart from the Austrian network there are direct rail connections to many major European cities, such as Rome, Belgrade, Zurich, and Munich.
Because of its location and size rents are also cheaper, so you can get a one-bedroom apartment for 500 EUR. The best place to live in Villach is near to the center of town.
So you will have easy access to the city’s railway connections, but also shopping, cafes, and restaurants will be in minutes reach. Therefore you might survive without a car.
- 7th largest in Austria with a population of 60,000 people
- Great connection to neighboring Italy and Slovenia
- Mountains and lakes on the doorstep
- Great location for someone willing traveling
Life is simple and quite in Villach. Simply enjoy the chilled atmosphere, the safe living and clean air of the warm and welcoming small town.
As you read above Villach is a great place for activities on nature or for visiting neighboring Italy and Slovenia.
It’s surprising but Villach has the international community, check out platform www.welcome2villach.at for newbies in town, Facebook groups also will help to find likeminded people.
Despite this size, Villach has a solid amount of jobs and it has a lower unemployment rate (4.1%) than the Austrian average (4.9%).
It sounds like a good deal, work in economically booming Austria and spend your weekends in more cheaper and nevertheless beautiful Italy or Slovenia.
Cost of living:
- A single person monthly costs without rent – 700 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom in – 558 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,258 EUR
Austria always had been an immigrant and tourist country, not without a reason. Most of the forengers there happy with their choice and live a fulfilling and comfortable life. You want to know why? Here is the short summary.
1. A VERY high standard of living
Austrian capital Vienna ranked several times as the best city to live in the world, and there are many factors for that. Some of them are economic conditions, infrastructure, social security, entertainment, and free-time activities. No other city can beat Vienna it these measures.
Austria located right in the middle of Europe, bordering with 8 countries.
Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic or Hungary are all easily accessible hence you can travel all weekends to new counties and cities. The possibilities for travel are huge. Great bus and train connections will make it an easy and cheap experience. My personal favorites are any place in Italy, Budapest, and Prague.
If your soul desires the Mediterranean sea can be easily reached by a relatively short car or train journey.
3. Well paid job
Austrian companies are world players, have you heard about Redbull? They hire international professionals by offering a decent salary for their expertise. Don’t miss out on the chance to earn good money and live dreamlike life in Austria.
Austria is the 14th-richest country in the world, due to its well-developed social market economy. It also has one of the highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per head, indicating a very high standard of living for citizens. In fact, in GDP ranking Austria placed on position 14 above Germany and the UK.
Additionally, Austria has over 18,500 organic farms, another contributing factor to its flourishing economy.
5. Social security
Social security is something very important for all Austrians, maybe you haven’t even heard about it before if your country of origin is Russia or other places from the bottom of the ranking.
In Austria all workers are secured with several insurances, both the employer and the employee are required to pay contributions. It includes health insurance, long-term care insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, accident insurance.
Read more about the benefits of employee in Austria in my comprehensive post.
6. Affordable living
Only imagine Austria offers you the best quality of living and working and all this for affordable living costs! Rent costs are much lower compared to other big cities with a high quality of life like Paris or London.
In Vienna, you can easily get an apartment for under 1,000 EUR, which will be nearly impossible in other megapolises.