Vienna, Austria Report of what it's like to live there - 09/27/22

Personal Experiences from Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria 09/27/22


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

This is my second expatriate post. My first was in Nairobi, Kenya.

I had moved a lot internationally as a child, but boy is it different as an adult.

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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?

I'm from New York. It's easy enough to get home. It's a transatlantic flight, but I can fly direct.

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3. What years did you live here?

I have been in Vienna since September 2019.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

We came to Vienna for my husband's job.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Typical housing varies a lot, as does commute. You can live further out in the suburbs or outside of the city and have a house. You can have an apartment in the city.

Our apartment is on the bigger size, with three bedrooms and 154 sqm in size. Our kitchen is a bit larger than most Viennese kitchens, but the aspects are the same. By this I mean: tiny sink and small fridge.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Right now, with the war in Ukraine, we are feeling the cost of inflation. Still, Vienna is affordable and everything is available. You might not get the variety of New York, but it's a lot cheaper and the quality is better overall.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. I can get everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Delivery services have really taken off since the pandemic. This is true for expats and locals alike.

Vienna is a very international city, so it's hard for me to say if there are any real expat hangouts.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?


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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Getting packages can be a pain. The Austrian Post is not the best. We rely on a nearby package collection place for most packages. There are many of these places through the city.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have someone come in to clean our apartment once every other week. The cleaning lady spends three hours and charges 45 Euro. This is pretty standard, although I think most cleaning services prefer weekly to every other week.

Dog walkers are also available in the city.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are a lot of gyms and they range from super-cheap to outrageously expensive. It depends on what you want.

You can find everything from yoga/pilates studios, to traditional gyms, to CrossFit and other functional fitness centers.

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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 and bank cards (debit) are widely accepted. There are places that only accept cash. It's safe to use credit cards.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get away without learning German, but your life will be easier if you take at least some lessons. I find it makes my day-to-day a lot nicer when I can at least try to communicate in German. I get a lot more respect that way.

Classes aren't cheap, but there are lots of online courses now that are a little less expensive.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. This is an old city. Vienna is doing a lot to make the city more accessible, but I would still consider it difficult.

Ramps and elevators are great, but when the sidewalks are narrow, it's hard to maneuver.

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is safe, efficient, and affordable. I love the transit system here.

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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?

You don't need a car. We just got one and it has made life nicer. It's nice to have, but not a necessity. We park on the street. It's very safe.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it's available. We got an appointment quickly...but getting the right service was a matter of trial and error. Be prepared to speak to the person installing in German.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Mobile phone plans are good here. I use my data a lot and have a data-intensive plan and it's only 20 Euros a month.

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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?

Quarantine will depend on where you come from. For us, moving from Kenya, there was no quarantine.

Vienna has excellent pet care and services, especially for dogs.

There are tons of dog parks (hundezone) and the city is very dog friendly.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most don't work or telecommute for clients in their home countries. It's not just a matter of work authorization. Most places want German speakers.

I can't comment on salary.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are lots of volunteer opportunities, but I can't really speak to any of them.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Vienna is a city and tends to be more formal/nicely-dressed, but that is a broad generalization. A lot depends on where you work, industry, level, etc.

Formal attire is really only required for the balls. But, then, yes...this is a city that has balls and galas.

Overall, dressing smart casual will allow you to fit in.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.


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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Quality of healthcare has been good in my experience. I don't think you would need to be medically evacuated from here.

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3. 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 is excellent.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Seasonal allergies are like any other place. For food...there's a lot of garlic when you eat out, no matter what kind of restaurant.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

It does get quite dark here in the winter. The winter isn't any longer than back in New York, but the daylight hours are less in the winter.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Summers in Vienna are now quite hot. We noticed it getting hotter each summer we've been here. We have air conditioning, but not all places have it.

The winter is cold, but it's not bitter cold.

The thing no one told me about, and this is year-round except for some of the summer, is the wind. Vienna is extremely windy!

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a large expat community. Coming out of the pandemic, it's hard to answer this. Morale had been down. Now it's up. Everyone is happy to be able to enjoy the city and travel again.

I have not experienced or seen a lot of homesickness here.

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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?

We met people through German class, through dogs, and through scuba diving. There are lots of clubs and organizations but I'm not in any of them.

Usually, when we socialize, it's over food or drinks.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Vienna is not the most kid-friendly city. But there are families here and there seem to be enough services for them.

It's great for couples. I think it would be good for single people too. The night life is not that great, but I'm at a point in my life where I don't want to be out all night. I think if I was younger this might bother me if I was single.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

It's not that easy to make friends with locals. The Viennese are friendly but they don't necessarily open up or welcome you into their homes. But you can make local friends.

I am a woman of color and I have not felt any prejudice. However, I have friends from various parts of eastern Europe who have experienced prejudice. In particular, Serbians and Romanians are discriminated against. I haven't witnessed it, but this is what my friends have told me.

Some people are also starting to turn on Ukrainian refugees.

People of Middle Eastern descent may also feel some discrimination. Overall, no, but there is a far-right segment of Austria that is openly hostile to Arabs and Muslims.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Vienna is LGBTQ+ friendly.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

People of Middle Eastern descent may also feel some discrimination. Overall, no, but there is a far-right segment of Austria that is openly hostile to Arabs and Muslims.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Too much to list. There is so much in Austria. I love the saunas and thermespas. Hiking is excellent. Cycling is excellent. The art scene in Vienna is fantastic.

There is something for everyone in Austria.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

If I had to pick one thing not to miss: the heurigers - wine taverns in Grinzing.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

You can find nice antiques here. There are a lot of nice local yarns and wool if you are into fiber arts.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Safe, clean, great public transportation, lots of culture.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The wind.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. I never want to leave.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

large kitchen gadgets - you won't have a lot of room in the kitchen.

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4. But don't forget your:


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