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Moving to Austria? A Guide to Austrian Living, An Expat’s Complete Guide

Why Move to Austria?

While there are dozens of good reasons to go to Austria, the country’s economic stability is one of the most attractive. As one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, Austria offers a high quality of life and an opportunity for solid, reliable work for expats from around the world. Unlike other European countries where expats have a difficult time finding work, Austria offers a huge selection of expat jobs to pick from, and immigrants to the country will have no problem locating something they love to do within their new Austrian home.
What’s more, since Austria offers so many good things, it’s become a very popular place to live among expats. This has allowed it to develop a lively and robust expat community that is more diverse than many in Europe. There are many expats here and people who move to Austria can expect the Austrian nationals to be friendly, warm, and welcoming. This is a nice change from other places in the world where expats are not as embraced and may be utterly unwelcome.

Migrating to Austria: The Paperwork

Austria has a very flexible immigration model that makes it easy for expats to gain residence. This is particularly the case for third-country nationals who want to migrate to Austria to live and work. This is facilitated by the new Red-White-Red Card program, which allows expats to settle in Austria for one year, pending employment by an Austrian organization.
Would-be expats who do not fit the criteria for the Red-White-Red Card program are likely to qualify for one of Austria’s several other visa programs. For all visa applications, you’ll need to be able to prove a few things. One is that you have “Adequate means of substance” (sufficient finances) to support yourself in Austria. To prove this, you’ll likely be required to present copies of bank statements and financial holding statements to the Austrian immigration authorities.
In addition to demonstrating adequate funds, you’ll also need to submit proof of Austrian health insurance and appropriate accommodation arrangements, meaning you’ve found a place to lease or rent during your stay in Austria.
While Austria is an easy country to immigrate to, it’s always wise to check the Austrian Immigration website before you begin your immigration process. In addition to updating you on the current standards and requirements for Austrian immigration, this site also provides helpful details on the population, demographics, and geography of Austria.

Finding Housing in Austria: What to Expect

Austria offers lots of help to expats looking for housing in the country. The immigration webpage provides a resource on the topic, and the country offers may skilled real estate agents who specialize in helping expats locate property in Austria.
While Austria is a user-friendly place to purchase property, it’s wise to bear in mind that certain property and housing restrictions apply to expats buying in the country. For example, people who want to buy property in Austria must register their properties with the government registrar. Lawyers are often required for this process.
If you prefer to rent a home in Austria, you can look forward to dealing with either the owner of the building or the future proprietor if the building has not yet legally switched ownership. There are also two separate types of tenancy agreements: limited and unlimited.
In a limited lease agreement, the renter is required to stay in the property for a minimum of three years. In an unlimited tenancy agreement, none of these terms apply.
Keep in mind that unfurnished properties in Austria typically come without light fixtures, furniture, or kitchen appliances and that moving into one means a significant start-up cost up front. For this reason, most expats try to find furnished apartments when they first make it to Austria.

The 5 Best Places to Live in Austria

1. Vienna
Vienna is the capital city in Austria and home to ¼ of its population. Known around the world as one of the most beautiful cities in Austria, Vienna offers everything from fine restaurants and al fresco cafes to world-class live music and plenty of highly livable, attractive apartments and homes.
Known for its postmodernist architectural style, Vienna is a city that’s as beautiful as it is interesting. The seat to many of Austria’s financial and administrative jobs, Vienna is one of the best places for expats relocating to Austria to find work.
In addition to being beautiful and filled with opportunity, Vienna is also highly livable. The safe, walkable and bikeable streets lend themselves nicely to after-dinner strolls, and it’s always easy to find something to do outdoors on the weekends or holidays.

2. Innsbruck
Innsbruck is an outdoor lover's dream come true. A nice mixture between a quiet, quaint city and jagged, rocky spires that beg to be climbed by experienced outdoorsmen and women, Innsbruck is a rugged and strikingly beautiful place. Tourism rules here and expats who move to this destination will likely find plenty of jobs in the service and tourism sectors. Attractions like the city’s Olympic ski jump and ancient Habsburg cathedral make Innsbruck an attractive and exciting place for visitors from all walks of life.

3. Salzburg
If you had to dream up a fairytale in your head, you’d set it in Salzburg. Home of Mozart, Salzburg is situated on the banks of the scenic Salzach River. Behind the river and up in the rolling hills of the city lies an ancient fortress complete with the spires you’d expect from any fairytale castle. 
Beyond that are rugged mountains just begging to be explored on a hike, climb, or horseback ride. One of the best-known areas of Salzburg is Altstadt, which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The area features dozens of ancient and picturesque churches that draw tourists from around the world.
Venture outside of that, though, and you’ll find plenty of galleries, delicious restaurants, plenty of green spaces, and dozens of live shows on any given night. A wonderful place for expats who want a unique, attraction-packed town bordered by some of the most pristine natural landscapes in the world, Salzburg is a place that truly has it all.

4. Graz
The second-largest city in Austria, Graz is a colorful, scenic, verdant city with a relaxed lifestyle that draws people from around the world. Known for its exciting nightlife, red clay roofs, and ample community and social attractions, Graz is a place where architecture, mountains, and flowing water meet to create a beautiful, laid-back culture that’s as welcoming to expats as it is its own natives. Plus, since it is home to four separate universities, it’s a wonderful place for expats to attend school or work in administrative roles in the schools themselves.

5. Linz
Linz is one of the most cutting-edge cities in Austria. Known for its hyper-advanced art scene, healthy gallery population, experimental and daring restaurants and eateries, and exciting tech hub, Linz is a vibrant, active, electrifying city that’s perfect for entrepreneurial expats from all walks of life.
No matter what you’re looking for, Linz has it – from high-level administrative positions to openings for tech-savvy young professionals in any of the city’s dozens of startups. Beyond the hub of the city is the industrial belt, and there’s plenty of jobs to be had for expats there, as well. Rental prices here are not as expensive as they are in a place like Vienna or other cities, and expats will enjoy the quality of life just as much as they will the attractions.

The Pros and Cons of Living in Austria

Living in Austria has many pros and may cons. By understanding both sides of the coin, you’re better able to prepare yourself for a smooth transition into this beautiful and unique country.

Pros

Cons

The Weather in Austria

Many expats wonder about the weather in Austria. Like many places in Europe, Austria has distinct seasons and each is beautiful in its own right. Summers are warm, mild, and sunny, with plenty of outdoor attractions to draw people into the hills. 
As the fall sets in, the trees begin to change colors and expats in the area will enjoy fruit harvests, fall activities, and cooler days. Winters are cold and grey throughout Austria, although especially so in the Northern and Eastern portions of the country. The alpine Western portion of Austria gets a healthy amount of snow and colder temperatures during the winter. In the spring, the country is windy and mild, with plenty of rain to green things up and prepare for summer.

The Case for Moving to Austria

While it’s wise to think about any large move carefully before undertaking it, Austria is a beautiful, enticing place to live. Chock-full of fantastic attractions, diverse, welcoming communities, unique art, live performances, scenic vistas, good jobs, delicious food, and other expats, Austria truly has it all.
While the expense associated with living in a place like Vienna or Linz can feel overwhelming, these scenic cities offer astoundingly high qualities of life, which makes the additional expense associated with them well worth it. Whether you’re migrating to Austria to take a job, study, or simply enjoy a new style of life with your family, there’s no doubt that Austria stands out as one of the nicest and most beautiful places to live in the world.