Vienna, Austria Report of what it's like to live there - 02/06/19
Personal Experiences from Vienna, Austria
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
We are from Washington, D.C. Direct flights from Dulles to Vienna daily. Cheaper flights with connections can be made through major European cities.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
We lived in the new lower compound apartments in the 19th district. We had a large apartment on the second floor. There was an American-size kitchen. There was a playground and common area in the compound. There are smaller apartments available in the first district and larger homes near the American school in the 19th district.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Everything you need can be found on the local market. We also had access to the UN international commissary which was helpful.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I wish I had a bunch of chocolate chips to make homemade cookies.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There is anything you want in Vienna. There is Foodora, Lieferservice, and UberEats. Our favorite restaurant in the 19th district was Figls. We loved sitting at the heurigers in the summer time.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Just ants in the spring.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
We only employed a babysitter, and that generally ran ten euros per hour. We have one child.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are various gyms and workout facilities around the city. We belonged to Holmes Place because it was right next door to the UN. There are yoga studios with English classes and I took a boot camp class at the local park.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards are widely accepted, but always carry cash on you just in case. I always seemed to stumble upon a cafe that was cash only without any cash!
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
International Mass at Votiv Church in the 1st District. And an English speaking Catholic community that held mass in the 19th and 21st districts.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Some basic phrases of German are helpful. I wish I had put in more time and energy into the language. Classes are available at the Embassy and local community centers.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
If someone is in a wheelchair, I think they would struggle living in the city. There are not a lot of ramps up to buildings, the elevators (if they have them) in buildings are very small, and public transportation has spots for people with physical disabilities but Vienna still runs trams that are not wheelchair accessible and a lot of times the elevators are slow or not working in ubahn stations.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes. Public transportation in Vienna is a dream.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
We had a 4 door sedan and it was fine. I wouldn't bring a super large SUV.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it is available. From what I remember, you need to use temporary hot spots in the beginning because in order to get access you need to have an established bank account (which takes a few weeks).
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We used a local provider, Drei, and were satisfied.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Austrians love animals, especially dogs. There are good quality vets all over the city. There is a vet school on the outskirts of the city which we went to for an emergency and our dog received wonderful care. You cannot go wrong with bringing a dog to this cit.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
I would say the dress code is smart casual. So, jeans but put together. You NEVER see Austrians in workout attire or yoga pants unless they are in the yoga studio, at a gym or on a run.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The quality of medial care is excellent. All the doctors and nurses are qualified and we did not have any issues. There is a children's hospital, called St. Anna's in the 9th district. We took our son there in the middle of the night twice and had quality care.
2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air quality was good.
3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Be clear about your food allergies and double check everything when ordering. We just suffered from normal seasonal allergies in Vienna.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Some folks get the winter blues because it can be very gray in the winter. We did not have any issues and mostly everyone in the city escapes to some sun during the winter.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
You get all 4 seasons in Vienna.
Schools & Children:
1. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
My son attended preschool in the 19th district at Fleur. We had a good experience. It was 240 euros per month and he could stay from 7:30a.m. - 4:00p.m. This price also included lunch. Austrian preschool is focused more on play than instruction and they went outside twice a day. They also went on field trips.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
My son took swimming lessons at the local pool. The classes were taught by young Austrians in English and German. There was also ballet and karate studios.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Morale was high. It is a very large post and so, you need to be proactive in making connections. A lot of families traveled extensively.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Vienna Babies Club - you will meet other international english-speaking mom's who have kids your age. They coordinate activities and play dates.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is an EXCELLENT post for families; tons of parks, lots of pools, cheap travel opportunities. A must on any bid list.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
It takes the Austrians a while to warm up to you but they are very welcoming once they are comfortable. We were lucky and had a lot of international families in our apartment complex and made many friends.
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Best trip was to Lake Attersee in Upper Austria. It is where the Austrians go in August. Swimming in the lake, hiking in the mountains, blueberry picking and touristy stuff a short drive away.
6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
We loved Garten Tulln and Lake Tullin; they are about 30 minutes outside the city. Both are wonderful day trips for the whole family. We also loved all our adventures in Western Austria. Be sure to check out kinderhotels, Sonnentherme (about an hour outside of Vienna), is a hit with small kids. We also enjoyed going to Therme Wein in the winter when it was an American holiday but not an Austrian holiday - pools to ourselves and lots of fun!
7. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
It is the #1 livable city in the world because of: 1. reliable public transportation, and 2. green space - tons of parks!
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I had known more about the history of the Hapsburgs and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. It is worth visiting the museums in Vienna first before traveling because we heard about the Hapsburgs all over Eastern Europe in our travels.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes!! We would move back in a heartbeat.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
The yoga pants you grocery shop in . . .
4. But don't forget your:
Snow gear. while vienna doesn't get much snow, it is worth it to ski or sled in nearby mountains.