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Moving to Austria

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe, and an increasingly popular expat destination. Newcomers to Austria will discover a country of picturesque historical little villages and modern cities. 

The capital, Vienna, is home to a quarter of the country’s population, and with a rich history, breathtaking architecture and an abundance of things to see and do, it's no wonder the city is so popular with both Austrians and foreigners. Besides expats, the city also lures plenty of travellers, and the city's high quality of life and its location at the heart of Europe have ensured Vienna is a regular host city for international conferences of all kinds.

While charming, Austria also holds its own in the commercial and industrial sectors, and expats should be prepared to work hard while not forgetting to enjoy the many splendours this country has to offer. Expats looking for a job in Austria have a good chance of finding employment in understaffed industries such as project management, engineering, research, finance and logistics. 

Austria boasts efficient and well-maintained public transport facilities. Trains are the easiest means of travel between cities, while buses connect many of the smaller towns to the main rail network. This integrated transport system is the easiest way to get around Austria and ensures that expats have access to easy and affordable travel. Cars are also popular and Austria’s road network is extensive, connecting the country to all of its neighbours. High-speed motorways are also easily accessible.

Healthcare in Austria is of an excellent standard, and the system is funded by a number of compulsory public insurance schemes and covers the entire population. Expats that are EU citizens can get access to treatment provided that they have a European Health Insurance Card, while those from outside of the EU should arrange for temporary health insurance until they are officially registered and covered by the Austrian public health system.

Austria may be relatively small and landlocked but it is the heart of Europe. With impressive Baroque architecture, awe-inspiring churches and captivating cultural events, Austria will easily nestle its way into the hearts of expats who choose to make it their home.


Fast facts

Population: About 8.9 million

Capital city: Vienna (also largest city)

Neighbouring countries: Austria is a landlocked country which shares borders with Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west; Germany and Czech Republic to the north; Hungary and Slovakia to the east and Slovenia and Italy to the south.  

Geography: Austria is a predominantly mountainous country with the Alps running across the country. The River Danube, with its source in Germany, flows through Austria.

Political system: Federal parliamentary republic

Major religions: Catholicism

Main languages: German is the official language of Austria but English is spoken in the major cities.

Money: The Euro (EUR) is divided into 100 cents. Banking systems are sophisticated, ATMs are readily available and credit cards are accepted in most places. 

Tipping: A service charge of 5 to 10 percent is expected at restaurants. Taxi drivers should be tipped as well. 

Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last week of March to the last week of October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs have two round pins, sometimes with grounding clips on either side.

Internet domain: .at

International dialling code: +43

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Like most of Europe, Austrians drive on the right-hand side of the road. The standard of road infrastructure in Austria is excellent but new arrivals may need to adjust to driving in winter when snow can make mountain passes difficult to navigate. Public transport throughout Austria is also very good, so those without a car shouldn't struggle.

Weather in Austria

The weather in Austria is marked by a moderate climate and four fairly distinct seasons. Expats moving to this central European nation should plan to bring clothing to suit sunny summer days, warm apparel for winter, and plenty of lightweight layers for the months in between.

The four seasons and beautiful Austrian landscape provide plenty of scope for outdoor activities and ample travel opportunities. Summer high temperatures can reach 86°F (30°C), while winter lows frequently descend to a chilly 14°F (-10°C). The hottest months are July and August, while December and January are the coldest. Most of Austria's rain falls in the months of June, July and August.

 

Embassy Contacts for Austria

Austrian embassies

  • Austrian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 895 6700

  • Austrian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 344 3250

  • Austrian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 1444

  • Austrian Embassy, Canberra, Australia +61 2 6295 1533

  • Austrian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 452 9155

  • Austrian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 269 4577

  • Austria Consulate, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 540 3000


Foreign embassies in Austria

  • United States Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 313 390

  • British Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 716 130

  • Canadian Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 531 383 000

  • Australian Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 506 740

  • South African Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 320 6493

  • Irish Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 715 4246

  • New Zealand Embassy, Vienna: +43 1 505 3021

Public Holidays in Austria

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Epiphany

6 January

6 January

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Ascension Day

13 May

26 May

Whit Monday

24 May

6 June

Corpus Christi

3 June

16 June

Assumption Day

15 August

15 August

National Day

26 October

26 October

All Saints' Day

1 November

1 November

Immaculate Conception

8 December

8 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

St Stephen's Day

26 December

26 December

Working in Austria

Expats looking for work in Austria will find that their nationality will often affect their ability to secure a job. EU citizens can legally work in Austria without having to obtain a work permit. However, those from outside the EU (known as 'third-party nationals') will need to show that they can fill gaps in sectors lacking skilled local workers.


Job market in Austria

Plenty of engineering and construction jobs feature in Austria's list of shortage occupations, so expats with skills, qualifications and experience in these fields will have a good chance at finding work. 

Lower-level posts in the country's world-class tourism industry are also plentiful. Western Austria's winter sports region draws sporting enthusiasts of all ages and nationalities, which in turn creates huge demand for instructors, restaurant workers, chefs and housekeeping staff, especially during the peak season between November and March.

Otherwise, though Vienna boasts some leading corporations in the finance and consulting sectors, jobs in these areas are scarce for expats.


Finding work in Austria

Austria is often thought of as old-fashioned and, besides searching online, it's worth trying traditional job-hunting routes.

Online job sites and classifieds are always a good starting point, along with social-networking sites such as LinkedIn, but employers also advertise in print publications and the comprehensive services of the Arbeitsmarktservice. The latter is a highly informative resource that expats can use to familiarise themselves with Austria's labour laws, work contracts and work culture.

Expats applying for work in Austria should draft both their letter of application (a cover letter) and their resume in German unless otherwise specified by the position in question. This is the official language and lingua franca of the country, though English is the dominant corporate language.


Work culture in Austria

Work culture in Austria definitely has a hierarchical structure, and those in senior positions, particularly those who have high qualifications and many years of experience, are highly regarded and deferred to. Expats from more egalitarian work cultures will have to get used to Austria's less inclusive and consensus-driven approach to management. There is a somewhat old-fashioned sense of politeness and courtesy in the Austrian workplace, and any form of correspondence, such as emails or memos, should convey a formal tone.

On a higher level, Austrian work culture prides itself on the concept of Sozialpartnerschaft, or social partnership, which promotes cooperation and dialogue in matters relating to industrial relations. It is important for entrepreneurs and business owners to work closely and cooperate with local business partners and Austrian subsidiary companies.

Doing Business in Austria

Owing to the country's significant wealth, doing business in Austria is an attractive proposition. Though Austria has a small population and little in the way of natural resources, the country has one of the highest GDPs in the world and Austrians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Europe.

Austria is perfectly located to take advantage of the development and enlargement of the EU. In addition, Austria has the highly developed infrastructure needed to act as a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe.

The World Bank ranked Austria 27th out of 190 countries in its Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. The country ranked well in trading across borders (1st), enforcing contracts (10th) and getting electricity (29th). It ranked poorly, however, for starting a business (127th) and getting credit (94th).


Fast facts

Business hours

Mondays to Fridays 8am to 5pm, with an hour-long lunch break.

Business language

While German is the official language in Austria, English is widely spoken in business circles.

Dress

Formal and conservative, with dark-coloured business suits being the norm for both men and women.

Gifts

Not necessary in business but expected if invited into a colleague's home, flowers or chocolate will suffice.

Greetings

When meeting business colleagues a formal handshake is appropriate at the beginning and end of the business proceedings.

Gender equality

It is fairly unusual to see women in very senior positions in Austrian businesses. Businesswomen visiting Austria, however, can expect to be treated with a great deal of professional respect.


Business culture in Austria

Austrians take a formal and conservative approach to doing business. There is a definite hierarchical approach, with respect being granted to those in senior positions, particularly those who have high qualifications and many years of experience. Being organised, neat and respectful of the time of colleagues will go a long way towards ensuring a positive outcome.

Hierarchy

Senior management figures in Austria tend to be less open to group decision-making than in countries where a more inclusive approach is used. Management will often give direct orders to their subordinates who will then be expected to deliver on those instructions without question. Business culture in Austria is not very consensus-driven and managers are expected to be experts in their field – they are therefore considered to be in a position to make decisions alone without needing to consult their colleagues.

Respect

There is a somewhat old-fashioned sense of politeness and courtesy in the Austrian workplace. While senior managers hold most of the power within an organisation, they will rarely act in a tyrannical way. In fact, managers work hard to create a comfortable workplace and keeping all the workers on their side is a priority. In order to maintain a respectful work environment any form of correspondence, such as emails or memos, should convey a formal tone.

Sozialpartnerschaft

On a higher level, Austrian business culture prides itself on the concept of Sozialpartnerschaft, or social partnership, which promotes cooperation and dialogue in matters relating to industrial relations. It is important to work closely and cooperate with business partners and Austrian subsidiary companies.


Dos and don’ts of business in Austria

  • Do come to meetings well prepared; this means bringing supplementary materials for all parties

  • Don’t arrive late to a business meeting in Austria, as it is seen as unprofessional

  • Do dress formally for business meetings in Austria

  • Do address people by their titles such as Herr (Mr), Frau (Mrs) or Fräulein (Miss), or in the case of senior management, by their academic or professional titles

  • Don’t assume that Austrians are like Germans. While they speak German, Austria is a country with a great sense of history and a unique culture.

Visas for Austria

Expats from EU- or EEA-member states are able to enter Austria without a visa. Those from other countries will require a visa to enter, unless they're from a country that has a visa-free agreement with Austria.

In addition, if non-EU citizens plan on living or working in Austria, they will need to take the necessary steps to obtain either a work or residency permit.


Travel visas for Austria

Citizens of certain countries will be required to apply for a travel visa (also known as a category C visa) ahead of time, while others are able to enter visa free. Once the travel visa is granted, holders can be in Austria for up to a total of three months within any given six-month period. Holders of this visa are not granted permission to work or carry out any form of business activity.

The processing time for a travel visa is usually 15 days or less, but in busy periods the wait can be longer. Bearing this in mind, it's best to apply well ahead of time. Travellers can make their application at the Austrian embassy or consulate in their home country.

As Austria is part of the Schengen territory, once a person is granted a travel visa they can visit multiple destinations that are signatory to the agreement. Those who plan on travelling to a number of Schengen countries will find that it is best to make their application at the consulate of the country in which they plan to spend the most amount of time. 


Resident visas for Austria

Resident visas (category D visas) fall somewhere between travel visas and residence permits. Expats staying in Austria for between three and six months – for example, to study or do business – should apply for this visa.


Residence permits for Austria

A residence permit is required for stays of longer than six months for work, study or family reunification. In order to obtain a residence permit, the applicant must demonstrate that they have health, travel and accident insurance as well as sufficient funds to support themselves while in Austria. It is also necessary for the applicant to submit proof to back up their proposed reason for entry.

Those intending to work in Austria should apply for a combined work-and-residence permit. There are three types of work-and-residence permits: the Red-White-Red Card, the EU Blue Card and the Red-White-Red Card Plus.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Austria

Expats who are not citizens of EU-member states must obtain a work permit to legally take up employment in Austria. This is not a straightforward process, due to the fact there are a number of different types of work permits available depending on an expat's field of work and their level of skill and qualifications.

It is important to note that expats from non-EU-member states must apply for the relevant entry visa or work permit at the Austrian embassy or consulate in their home country prior to travelling to Austria.


Types of work permits in Austria

Red-White-Red Card

Valid for two years, this work-and-residence permit is granted to non-EU foreigners who score adequately on a points-based immigration system. Points are granted for various desirable attributes, such as special skills and qualifications, work experience and language skills.

After two years, Red-White-Red Card holders become eligible to apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus. This gives expats fixed-term settlement and free access to the labour market, allowing them to change employers without having to reapply for a new Red-White-Red Card.

EU Blue Card

This is a residence-and-work permit which allows highly qualified non-EU citizens to live and work in Austria for a period of up to two years. Applicants for an EU Blue Card must have completed a university degree course of at least three years. Their qualifications must match the job profile and the salary specified in the contract must be at least one and half times higher than the average yearly income of full-time workers in Austria. This type of work permit will only be granted if the Austrian Public Employment Service is satisfied that the company could not find a suitable Austrian or EU citizen to do the job.

As with the Red-White-Red Card, after two years EU Blue Card holders are entitled to apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus and gain all associated privileges.

Red-White-Red Card Plus

Red-White-Red and EU Blue Card holders must work for the same Austrian employer for two years to be granted a Red-White-Red Card Plus. However, family members moving to Austria to join either an Austrian citizen or a holder of an employment card are eligible for a Red-White-Red Card Plus right away.


Job Seeker Visas for Austria

This type of work permit is aimed at highly qualified non-EU citizens who want to work in Austria but have not yet secured a job and therefore cannot apply for an EU Blue Card or a Red-White-Red Card. As with the Red-White-Red Card, the Job Seeker Visa utilises a points-based system that applicants must satisfy to be eligible for this visa.

Under a Job Seeker Visa, an expat is allowed to visit Austria for up to six months for the purpose of finding and securing a job, but it does not allow them to work. Once expats have secured a suitable position, they must still apply for a relevant work permit.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Cost of Living in Austria

Expats moving to Austria will find the high cost of living a small price to pay for the much higher quality of life their move will afford them. Vienna, Austria's capital, in particular offers expats an excellent quality of life, which comes at an especially high cost. Vienna ranked 54th out 209 cities in Mercer's cost of living survey for 2020. While the city remains less expensive than other major European cities such as Zurich, Copenhagen and London, the cost of living in Vienna is well above that of places like Brussels and Berlin.

That said, the cost of living in Austria naturally varies according to location (urban centres are more expensive than rural villages) and personal choice – factors that can certainly influence one's bank balance at the end of the month.

However, expats should note that food costs in Austria are high, especially during winter when fresh fruits and vegetables are more likely to be scarce. The price for purchasing housing is astronomical, and sending children to international schools can monopolise a fair chunk of an expat's salary.


Cost of accommodation in Austria

Most expats prefer to rent accommodation in Austria, especially as purchasing property in Austria is unaffordable for most.

When initially signing a lease, expats should also anticipate paying at least the equivalent of two months' rent as a refundable deposit in addition to the first month of rent. If using a real-estate agent, the bill may amount to an additional two to three months of rent.


Cost of transportation in Austria

The majority of Austrian cities and towns are well connected by an efficient and reliable public transport system. Larger metropolises feature underground metro trains, tramlines, buses and even suburban railways, while smaller towns may only have one or two modes of transit. Public transport in Austria is moderately priced by European standards.

Cycling is also popular in Austria, and many cities have incorporated bike lanes into their city planning.

Austrians love automobiles, and expats who choose to live outside of the city may opt to buy a car. Note that parking is at a premium, both in terms of availability and price. Owning and driving a car is expensive, and in many cases, it's more of a headache than a help.


Cost of groceries in Austria

Austria has some of the highest food costs in Europe. Buying in bulk can minimise expenditure, and shopping at grocery stores and cooking at home is a good alternative to eating out, cutting down costs.

Penny Markt is probably the most reasonably priced supermarket chain, though at the sacrifice of the quality and selection of the goods available. Spar Gourmet and Merkur are high end, and everything else falls somewhere in between. Fruits and vegetables can be expensive and hard to find out of season.


Cost of education in Austria

Expat residents can send their children to Austrian public schools for free. However, the curriculum is taught in German. If an expat child doesn't already speak some German this can be a difficult option.

There are many international schools in the larger Austrian cities, but these can be expensive. Tuition fees vary depending on the school and the age of the child.


Cost of living chart for Austria

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below is based on average prices in Vienna for February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 880

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 630

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,200

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.10

Cheese (1kg)

EUR 10

Dozen eggs

EUR 3

Loaf of white bread 

EUR 1.60

Rice (1kg)

EUR 1.65

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 5.50

Transportation

City centre bus/train fare

EUR 2.40

Taxi rate per km

EUR 1.40

Petrol/gasoline per litre

EUR 1.20

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8

Coca-Cola (330 ml)   

EUR 2.70

Cappuccino

EUR 3.40

Bottle of domestic beer

EUR 3.90

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 50

Utilities

Internet (uncapped ADSL per month)

EUR 34

Mobile call rate (mobile-to-mobile per minute)

EUR 0.06

Utilities (average per month for a standard household)

EUR 193

Hourly rate for domestic help

EUR 15

Culture Shock in Austria

Austria is a modern, cosmopolitan and efficiently run country; and expats might even find that day-to-day life is easier in their new home than in their country of origin. Austria is known for its organised systems of transportation, its contemporary housing, excellent healthcare and moderate cost of living. Expats from developed countries will therefore experience minimal culture shock. 


Language barrier in Austria

The language barrier might well prove to be the greatest challenge facing expats moving to Austria. The official language of Austria is German; however, Austrian German differs greatly from that spoken in Germany. In addition, Austrian German is full of regional particularities. Learning basic words and phrases – or even better, enrolling in a language class – will help expats integrate into Austrian culture.

While many Austrians know some English, they often hesitate to speak English unless it is necessary for foreigners to communicate with them. However, expats will be relieved to know that English is widely spoken in the business world in Austria, especially in the larger urban centres.

That said, it is important to realise that not all Austrians speak English. For example, the person who sells internet packages to a new arrival might speak fluent English, but then the installer who comes to set it up in the home may not. In addition, most cashiers speak some English, but it’s nonetheless a good idea to learn the German numbers in advance.


Attitude toward foreigners in Austria

Austrians are quite friendly and foreigners are typically received with a warm welcome. Despite this, Austrians tend to lead more private personal lives. It can be difficult to make friends with locals unless one interacts with them on a daily basis at work or as part of a recreational activity. 

Austrians are proud of their heritage, and they tend to prefer locally grown produce and locally made products over imports. This national pride can make foreigners feel alienated but they should try not to take it personally and remember that Austria is a small country that places great importance on its heritage and traditions. 


Meeting and greeting in Austria

Austrian people appreciate personal titles and it is polite to use someone's title when emailing them, addressing them in person, or introducing them to someone else. 

Close friends often kiss when greeting one another and departing. Typically, women will kiss other women, men and women will kiss, but men just shake hands with other men. 

Accommodation in Austria

Expats will find that although their options for accommodation in Austria are limited in variety, they are plentiful in number. Vienna is characterised by older apartments in the classical Austrian style. Further afield, more housing options present themselves, such as modern luxury apartments and small houses.


Types of accommodation in Austria

The type of property available to expats moving to Austria will depend largely on where they choose to relocate to within the country. The majority of new arrivals tend to be found in Vienna. Space is limited in Vienna and most of the accommodation options will be studios or apartments. Houses and cottages are more likely found in the suburbs or rural parts of Austria rather than in city centres. Regardless of the type of accommodation, the standard is generally high, with indoor heating being a standard feature.

Expats are advised that most shared-housing options will be at least partially furnished, while whole apartments are usually unfurnished. If opting for an unfurnished option, shipping furniture to Austria (especially from within the EU) is a viable option, and there are plenty of excellent furniture stores around (such as IKEA) where expats will find everything they need.


Finding accommodation in Austria

Renting property in Austria is a reasonably straightforward process, as the vast majority of apartments are rented through real-estate agents. Expats should be aware that there are better seasons in which to hunt for accommodation. The beginning of the academic year (September) is a particularly poor time, as the influx of students from all over Europe stiffens the competition.

Unless expats speak fluent German, navigating property websites or classifieds sections of newspapers will be difficult. Most new arrivals therefore opt to save time by going through an estate agent. Not only do agents help expats overcome the language barrier, but they have an intimate knowledge of the local property market, which is helpful in finding a property that meets an individual's requirements. They charge the equivalent of up to two months' rent for their services.


Renting accommodation in Austria

Expats should read their leases carefully and, if necessary, have it translated. Leases usually run for at least three years – people living in Vienna tend not to move often because of the expenses involved in finding and securing a lease. Up to three months' worth of rent will be required as a deposit to cover any potential damage to the unit. It is important to keep the unit and any provided appliances undamaged to guarantee that the deposit is returned in full. Leases can be terminated early after a certain period of time, but a written letter detailing the desire to vacate is needed. Leases generally require that notice is given three months before leaving.

Expats should be advised that, under normal circumstances, they will be responsible for all their utility bills; however, it is possible – and probably desirable – for expats to pay a flat monthly fee to their estate agent that covers their rent and all their utility bills (including broadband internet).

Healthcare in Austria

Expats moving to Austria can rest assured knowing that they will be moving to a country with one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. 

Expats in the country will be entitled to public healthcare as a result of contributions made through their taxes. Owing to the excellent standard of public healthcare in Austria, most people do not invest in private health insurance policies. However, those who have private health insurance as part of their employment package will have access to a greater number of services and shorter waiting times.


Public healthcare in Austria

The healthcare system in Austria provides free access to basic healthcare to all citizens and residents of Austria, as well as tourists and those staying in the country on a temporary basis. Basic healthcare in Austria includes treatment in public hospitals, medication, basic dental care and some specialist consultations. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Public health insurance

Expats working in Austria are required to pay into a health insurance scheme, which goes into a larger social security system. The system covers the contributor as well as their family for health, accident or pension insurance. The amount an individual has to pay is determined by their salary level, with health insurance, accident insurance and pension insurance all taking up a percentage of an individual's salary. The employer is also obliged to make a contribution.

Electronic health services, also known as E-services, form an important part of Austria's healthcare system. To access E-services, expats will be issued with an E-card upon registration. Through the E-card, the Austrian government processes healthcare claims electronically, significantly reducing queues, backlogs and bureaucracy. In addition, E-cards contain important information such as health records and prescribed medications.

Like most other state-funded healthcare systems, patients with E-cards can only consult medical professionals with which the state has a partnership. However, this is not limited to public healthcare providers; about 50 percent of private-practice doctors and 75 percent of private-practice dentists have a contract with social services that covers e-Card holders for all costs.

Healthcare providers who do not have any such contract are known as elective doctors. Though patients will have to pay to see elective doctors, 80 percent of the fee is reimbursed by social health insurance.


Private healthcare in Austria

Private health insurance in Austria is generally used to complement the public health services supplied by the state. Private insurance tends to either cover hospital costs or daily benefits, depending on the insurance plan preferred. Private insurance allows members easier access to elective doctors and medical professionals as well as smaller wards in state and private hospitals.


Pharmacies and medicines in Austria

Pharmacies, or Apotheke as they are known locally, are easily found in all towns and cities in Austria. 

The majority of the costs of prescription medicines are covered by the state health insurance programme apart from a small prescription fee in some cases. Those with private health insurance will need to pay for their drugs and then send the receipts to the company for reimbursement. 

Pharmacies in Austria are open from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays. Pharmacies within a particular area will be open on Sundays according to a rotating schedule. There are also a few 24-hour pharmacies, which are useful if medication is unexpectedly needed after-hours. 


Pre-travel restrictions and vaccinations for Austria

No special vaccinations are required for expats moving to Austria. However, routine vaccinations such as those for measles, mumps and rubella, tetanus and polio should be kept up to date.


Emergency services in Austria

In the event of a medical emergency, expats can dial any of the following numbers:

  • 144 (ambulance)
  • 141 (emergency medical service)
  • 112 (European emergency number)

Local authorities in Austria are responsible for the provision of emergency services, which means that standards of emergency medical services vary slightly across the country. Nevertheless, response times throughout Austria are generally excellent. Paramedics generally speak German, but some may also speak English.

Education and Schools in Austria

Education in Austria is generally considered to be of a good standard and is on par with other prominent European countries.

Standard Austrian public schools can be attended free of charge, but they are taught in German, and many foreign parents – particularly those with older children – feel that the language barrier is too difficult to overcome. However, there are a few bilingual public schools, which can be a good midway point for those who nevertheless want their children to learn German and integrate into the local population. 

There are also private international schools that teach foreign curricula. These schools provide the opportunity for a child to continue with a familiar curriculum with minimal disruption.


Public schools in Austria

Schooling in Austria is compulsory between the ages of six and 15 (Grades 1 through 9). Compulsory schooling begins with primary school (Volksschule or Grundschule) and ends with the completion of junior secondary school (Hauptschule), co-operative intermediary school (Kooperative Mittelschule) or grammar school (Gymnasium). Following this, students wanting to continue on an academic track undertake higher secondary education, while those in search of professional training can undertake a vocational track at a commercial school.

Bilingual public schools

Bilingual public schools are an attractive option for expats who are eager to have their children interact with local students and learn the local language. As part of the public system, these schools are free and follow the Austrian national curriculum.

Instruction in bilingual schools is given in both English and German, and young expat children tend to achieve fluency in both languages quickly and efficiently. Older children may initially struggle, as the curriculum is tailored to those who have knowledge in both languages, but still, with a little determination they can succeed.

Space can be limited, especially for the popular schools in high demand. Students may need to attend an alternative school while waiting for admission.


International schools in Austria

There are a few privately run international schools in Austria, most of which are based in Vienna. The international schools offer either a foreign-country curriculum or an International Baccalaureate curriculum, and are taught in either English or the language of the sponsoring country. Many expat parents prefer to send their children to these schools to eliminate difficulties created by the language barrier, and to allow children to continue with a familiar curriculum and teaching style.

Such comforts are naturally accompanied by high costs, with tuition varying depending on the child's age and school. The more popular schools have limited space, and children still stand the chance of being denied entrance even after paying a hefty application fee. For this reason, it's best to start research and applications as early as possible.


Special-needs education in Austria

Learners officially labelled as having special educational needs attend mainstream schools as far as possible or, for severe disabilities, special schools designed to cater to their specific needs. According to Austrian law, parents have the right to choose the kind of schooling they prefer for their child.

Special schools educate disabled children through a variety of methods depending on the disability by means of small learner groups, specially trained teachers, curricula which pay attention to the respective disabilities and special methods and materials.

Education in special schools covers the whole period of compulsory schooling. After academic education, a pre-vocational year takes place in special schools, during which learners are supported in the transition period from school to the labour market.


Tutoring in Austria

Tutors are widely used in Austria to improve and assist children's schooling. Tutors might be employed to assist in specific subjects such as maths or science, or expat parents will often hire a tutor to improve their child's German language proficiency. Tutors are further used in preparation for important exams or for university entrance exams.

Newcomers to Austria might also find that their child may benefit from having a guiding hand in navigating a new school system or just to build some confidence. Top private tuition companies include GoStudent and TeacherOn.

Transport and Driving in Austria

Getting around in Austria is easy thanks to the country’s small geographic size, efficient rail network and well-maintained road infrastructure. For most expats, travelling by train is the easiest way to get around.

While domestic flights between Austrian cities are readily available, they are relatively expensive and only save travellers a small amount of time. Driving in Austria is a pleasure and while owning a car is not a necessity for those living in a big city, it’s a great way to explore the country.


Public transport in Austria

The national public transport infrastructure in Austria consists of buses and trains operated by the state-owned company, ÖBB. The train and bus networks complement each other well and ÖBB has implemented an integrated ticketing system.

Tickets on buses and trains in Austria are based on the distance travelled, the type of train or bus used and the class of seat. Base fares are fairly expensive, but expats who take some time to do their research will find that there are plenty of discounts available.

Trains

Trains are the most popular mode of public transport in Austria. Intercity trains that connect the major destinations in Austria are moderately priced and relatively comfortable.

Most train routes are operated by ÖBB, while WestBahn offers competitive services on certain lines. Commuters must be aware that ÖBB rail passes and tickets are not valid for West Bahn trains and vice-versa. Tickets for either service can be purchased in advance online, at train stations or, in some cases, onboard the train.

Buses

ÖBB also oversees buses in Austria. The national bus network is not quite as comprehensive as the rail system but has been designed to complement trains. Tickets can be purchased online, at the station or on the bus.

Bus travel in Austria is generally cheaper than the equivalent train journey. Still, where there is the option to travel by train or a bus to a destination, most commuters will opt to take the train. Trains in Austria will generally offer a more comfortable and faster service than intercity buses.


Taxis in Austria

Taxis can be easily found at taxi stands or outside bus and train stations. Fares are regulated and charged according to the meter. Taxis can be hailed while out and about, or they can be pre-booked in advance via phone, apps or online.

Ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Bolt also operate in Austria.


Driving in Austria

Generally, most expats living in Austria are based in a city and therefore will have little or no need to own a car. But for those wishing to explore the country and visit more isolated parts of Austria or certain popular skiing spots, having a car can be useful. That said, most expats will hire a car for a short period rather than making a long-term investment.

Driving in Austria is generally a pleasant experience as the country is small and roads are well maintained. Outside of the cities, there is little congestion and driving provides a great opportunity for expats to experience the wonderful scenery in Austria. However, expat drivers should take care when driving during winter, especially if unused to driving in icy conditions. Ice on the roads leads to large numbers of accidents each year, so winter tyres are strongly recommended.

Expats who plan on driving in Austria should note that on Austrian motorways they are liable to pay tolls. Drivers are required to purchase an Autobahnvignette, or toll pass, in advance. Digital toll passes, which are linked with a car's licence number, can be purchased online, while sticker toll passes can be purchased at any petrol station. Driving on a motorway without an Autobahnvignette will result in a hefty fine.


Domestic flights in Austria

Austria is a small country, and so there is no real need to fly between destinations. It is, however, possible to fly domestically between cities in Austria, although it does mean that expats who choose this option miss out on seeing some stunning Austrian landscapes.

Domestic flights within Austria are particularly expensive and the time one saves by flying is minimal. Therefore, the majority of commuters that fly within the country do so only on business trips.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Austria

Expats relocating to Austria can look forward to dealing with a banking system that is modern, efficient and user friendly. Opening a bank account is a fairly straightforward task and there are many different types of bank accounts on offer. Internet banking is a standard feature in Austria.


Money in Austria

The official currency used in Austria is the Euro (EUR), which is subdivided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1 cents, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents and 20 cents, and 1 EUR and 2 EUR


Banking in Austria

Austria offers myriad reliable, high-quality banking institutions for expats to choose from. Popular local banks include Bank Austria, Erste Group Bank and Raiffeisen Zentralbank. There are also multinational banks with a presence in the country, including Deutsche Bank, CitiBank and Western Union Bank.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Austria is a straightforward process. Some banks allow accounts to be opened online, while others require new customers to visit the bank in person to open an account.

Expats considered residents of Austria should have no problem getting started, but due to legislation some local banks only provide limited or no services to non-residents. Non-resident expats should therefore make sure their desired bank is able to assist.

Mobile and internet banking are popular in Austria and are offered as free services by the major banks.

ATMs and credit cards

Bank branches have ATMs attached that let people withdraw cash, get account statements and transfer money 24 hours a day. ATMs can also easily be found in shopping centres and main streets.


Taxes in Austria

All foreign nationals working in Austria for more than six months per tax year are defined, for taxation purposes, as residents in Austria. This means that they are liable for taxation on all the income they earn worldwide. Non-residents for tax purposes only pay taxes on their Austrian income. Personal income tax is deducted directly from an individual's salary, on a progressive tax scale of up to 55 percent. 

Expat Experiences in Austria

When considering a move to any new country, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you have lived or are living in Austria and would like to share your story with other expats.


Dragos is a software engineer from Romania who has lived in Austria since 2010. With an incredible eye for detail, he enjoys exploring and writing about the particularities of Austrian life. Read his insights about expat life in Austria.  

A cafe-lined street in Vienna

Tessa is a university student from the UK, who relocated to Vienna in September 2016 to pursue a job in marketing and sales as part of her studies. In her interview with Expat Arrivals, she tells us about the pros and cons of life in the Austrian capital. Read more about her experience in Vienna.

Michael is a Mexican expat living in Vienna. He has lived in Austria for the past 15 years and has set up his own relocation company to assist other expats have a successful expat experience abroad. Find out more about life in Vienna by reading his expat experience in Austria.

Stephen is a retired headmaster from Britain who has been living in Vienna for the past four years. He enjoys the cultural life and internationalism of Vienna, as well as the ease of access to the country’s natural wonders. Read about his expat experience in Austria.

This anonymous Irish expat is living and studying in Vienna. With her finger on the cultural pulse, she is studying the violin at the University of Music and Performing Arts and enjoying meeting many interesting people and the variety of entertainment on offer in the city. Read about her expat life in Austria.

Stephanie, an American living in Austria, moved to the small mountain city of Innsbruck to master the German language while her husband lectures at the local university. Read what she has to report about the beginnings of her expat experience in Innsbruck

Kaitlin, aka American Schnitzel, leaves us some breadcrumbs about living in Austria. She left the sunny shores of Florida to fulfil her dream of living and studying somewhere, anywhere in Europe; and now, fantasy has become reality and she shares her experience with Expat Arrivals.

Phillip, an Australian living in Austria, seems settled amidst the sumptuous architecture and quaint cobblestone of Vienna. Though he'll admit that his existence as an expat may be more lavish than that of others, he still shares some valuable expat insight about the ins and outs of life in Vienna.

Ruth is a British expat living in Vienna. A French and German graduate, and currently an English teaching assistant, she has really taken to life in her new surroundings. Read about her impressions of the cultural differences between Austria and the United Kingdom, as she talks about her expat experience of Vienna.