Vienna, Austria Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria 02/06/19

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

We are from Washington, D.C. Direct flights from Dulles to Vienna daily. Cheaper flights with connections can be made through major European cities.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Just ants in the spring.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic post.

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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 only employed a babysitter, and that generally ran ten euros per hour. We have one child.

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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.

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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 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Public transportation in Vienna is a dream.

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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?

We had a 4 door sedan and it was fine. I wouldn't bring a super large SUV.

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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 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).

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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?

We used a local provider, Drei, and were satisfied.

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Pets:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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?

Vienna Babies Club - you will meet other international english-speaking mom's who have kids your age. They coordinate activities and play dates.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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

Yes!! We would move back in a heartbeat.

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

The yoga pants you grocery shop in . . .

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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.

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Vienna, Austria 07/29/18

Background:

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

I have lived overseas previously in the Azores Islands (Portugal), Seoul (Korea), and Abuja (Nigeria).

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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?

There are direct flights (about 10 hours) from Washington Dulles airport to Vienna with Austrian Airlines. They also have direct flights from NYC, Chicago, Miami, and LA. Tons of carriers provide one-stop travel to/from Vienna and multiple US cities.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing for US Tri-Missions (bilateral, UN, and OSCE) is varied, mostly located in the 1st and 19th districts, but also scatterered through the 9th and a few others. There are two large mixed USG/private apartment complexes in the 19th District that opened in 2016; they are super modern and spacious, with underground parking provided. The GSO has done an exceptional job over the last couple of years in modernizing the housing pool and weeding out problem properties. Commute times vary; if you live in the 9th and work at the Bilat, or in the 1st and work at the Consulate, you can easily walk to work every day. Many families with kids at the American International School choose to live in the 19th for the shorter school commute. For those who work at the UN or OSCE, they generally need to take public transportation - my impression is that living in the 1st District or the 9th (near the Schottentor U-Bahn stop) is the best balance for work commute and location.

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

Quality is generally excellent, and prices are usually reasonable. Vienna is not as expensive to live as many other EU cities (Paris, London, all of Switzerland).

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

Anything spicy (the Austrian palate does not tend towards any kind of spiciness).

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

Viennese is wonderful: some dishes don't sound like they'd be all that great (e.g., Tafelspitz is a boiled beef dish), but I've always enjoyed them. I have no idea how many schnitzels I ate, but I never tired of it. The pastries are generally quite good, though I must admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by Sachertorte (usually seemed a bit dry). Vienna is also the only European capital with wineries inside the city limits - they all have their own restaurant and wine tavern referred to as "heurigers." Almost every type of ethnic food can be found in Vienna. If you want something to be spicy, you have to specifically ask for it (e.g., "I want it Thai hot") - even then, don't expect it to be spicy. Short of that, the quality of options are fantastic. Vienna has one of the world's 10 highest rated restaurants (Steirereck); some of my personal favorites: 1st District - Pürstner & Bettelstudent; 19th District - Fischerbräu (great beer brewed on site) and several heurigers (Fuhrgassl-Huber, Weinhof Zimmerman, Das Schreiberhaus, and Zum Martin Sepp are my personal favorites).

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

Occasional ants, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch. Occasionally I ordered a few things on Amazon's German site, which would deliver quickly to the local post office for pick-up. I never had any issues.

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

Many people who can afford to hire nannies for their kids; I've generally heard it's pretty expensive. Occasionally we hired someone to do some extra housekeeping; to be honest, I wasn't particularly impressed.

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

I've heard from others that some gyms are reasonably priced (not cheap, but manageable). That said, they usually only work with 12-month contracts; flexibility didn't seem to be a virtue in many aspects of Austrian life.

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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?

Yes on all counts, though for some reason my US debit card never worked at a Bank Austria location.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I heard that there were some English language Catholic services.

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

Most Austrians speak English, particularly in Vienna. When I learned German at FSI, I was told that Austrians would understand me but that I wouldn't necessarily understand them. That was often true, though I think my German was good enough that, if I made the effort, Austrians usually kept the conversation going in German.

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

Some, but public transportation is pretty good in this regard and several buildings are accessible, though many of the older buildings are not.

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Transportation:

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

Vienna has one of the best public transportation systems I've ever seen. Super safe and efficient. If you live in Vienna, you can get a year pass (maybe 350 Euro?) that covers nearly all public transportation options - if you are with the Tri-Missions community, you get this at a heavily discounted price (I think it was only 100 Euro).

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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?

Small SUV or smaller is recommended, though we had a Honda Pilot and didn't really have any problems. If you don't ship a car to post, you can make do without one. Buying options include diplomatic sales through BMW (excellent discounts) and Volvo, as well as Military Auto Sales in Germany (though you have to go pick up the vehicle in Bremerhaven and drive it back, about a 13-hour drive).

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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 generally good. We had A1; they required a minimum two-year contract (again, not very flexible). Service was usually reliable, but when it wasn't, it took a while to get someone to come out and fix it.

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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?

We had a package deal with A1 for TV, home internet, and cell phone. It was very helpful to have a local cell plan, especially if you traveled in the EU since there were no roaming charges.

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Pets:

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?

This is a very dog friendly country and most restaurants allow you to bring your dog on a leash. Dogs are allowed on public transportation with a leash and muzzle. Our vet (Tierklinik Döbling) was simply wonderful. Quarantine was not required. Flying our dog into Vienna with Lufthansa was no problem in summer, but we had to use a pet shipper (Animals First) to bring her back to the US. It was pricey, but they did a great job.

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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?

I've seen a mix; there are also EFM jobs available in the Tri-Missions.

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

Coat and tie at work; outside, Viennese usually expect something in the business casual mode (though that didn't stop me if I was running errands). You definitely want to attend one of the Viennese Balls in February, for which you will need a tuxedo/ball gown.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not much at all. There have been some concerns across all European cities of terrorist threats, but Vienna generally seems to be a bit more under the radar than other major European cities.

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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?

Allergies can be an issue; I also found that colds tended to make more rounds and hit everyone more than I was accustomed to seeing in the US. Medical care is excellent and shockingly affordable; many people (including us) choose to give birth in Vienna, since they give you a week in the hospital (including all kinds of training and medical checks for handling a newborn) for about the same price of a day in the US. Only in extremely serious or complicated medical situations did it seem to make sense to go to the US for medical care.

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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?

Other than the previously mentioned allergy issues, air quality was excellent.

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

Winter can be very gray and somewhat depressing (particular January - March), but totally manageable, especially if you take this time to travel.

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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 four seasons; summer in Vienna is magical. The only issue is that some Austrians have, um, slightly different hygiene standards, which was be a bit unpleasant on public transportation in summer (this summer, it was so warm that they started offering free deodorant samples on public transport).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are TONS of international schools. From what I've heard, they're generally excellent, though I have heard of some issues with AIS.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge and morale seems to range widely. That said, most of the complaints I heard seemed trivial (i.e., the people complaining would probably never be satisfied).

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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?

InterNations provides a good way to meet people from all over the world in Vienna. Lots of different groups with a wide range of activities.

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

It's a great family post. I heard some singles complain that the single scene was not particularly exciting and that meeting new people for dating was no easy. I've heard others mention that they sometimes had issues with locals not being very kid-friendly on public transportation, but we never had any issues (then again, our daughter is pretty darn cute, IMHO). :)

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

Vienna seems to be a very LGBT-friendly city. There's a huge pride parade every summer.

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

I didn't personally see any, though I've heard of some, particularly a growing anti-refugee sentiment in some circles.

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

Man, the wealth of travel opportunities are simply overwhelming. During our two years, we traveled outside of Austria to London, Dublin, Lisbon, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Liechtenstein, St. Gallen (Switzerland), Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Vilnius, Tallinn, Helsinki, and Kiev. Within Austria, particular highlights were Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Bregenz. Within Vienna, there are just way too many wonderful things worth seeing. One could do worse than just wandering the 1st District and seeing what beautiful surprises lie around each corner. Going to the opera and seeing Jose Carreras on his farewell tour was simply lovely. Attending the free Wiener Philharmonic open air concert at Schönbrunn Palace was also particularly magnificent.

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

I could fill pages with things worth doing, but I will mention one that I think is a can't miss. There is a performing arts festival in Bregenz every summer from mid-July to mid-August (http://bregenzerfestspiele.com/) where they perform an opera on a stage built on Lake Constance (Bodensee in German). It is one of the two or three most jaw-dropping experiences I've ever had - seriously, it is so visually stunning that I lack the vocabulary to give it justice.

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

Oh, yes. Now, whether you can afford it depends on what you want to buy. Snow globes were invented in Vienna, so they make for a nice souvenir.

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

There are so many wonderful things about living in Vienna, it's hard to pick just one. There's a reason it's been recognized as the #1 quality of life city in the world for the past 8 years or so. The tap water is often lauded as the best in the world.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How hard it would be to leave.

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

In a microsecond. I miss it desperately.

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

Negative attitude - seriously, if you can't enjoy Vienna, you have some misery issues.

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4. But don't forget your:

Vitamin D tablets.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

1. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present
2. The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey
3. Fin-De-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I had heard that the Tri-Missions community was not particularly tight, but I thought it was much better than I expected.

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Vienna, Austria 11/13/17

Background:

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

This is our first expatriate experience.

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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?

Washington, DC. Direct flights of about 9 hours are available into IAD.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Five years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing varies considerably in style and price, depending on the district in which one resides. Even with our requirements of a garage and personal green space (for our dog and to be able to barbecue), we were able to find housing that exceeds our requirements (in that we have both a personal garden and easy access to a large park with dog zone) in an enviable post code. From our house the commute is 20 minutes on public transportation to the center of Vienna.

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

Mainstream grocers in the "expat districts" are offering a much wider variety of items than from when we first arrived; there are more specialty markets (Asian, Turkish, Russian, Italian), as well. Compared to Washington, DC the costs are about the same.

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

Real peanut butter. The options are improving, though.

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Daily Life:

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

The local post offices are more than adequate for sending and receiving packages; oftentimes, though, one must be prepared for the queues.

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

Housekeeping and general maintenance help is available, mostly through word of mouth or social media groups. Compared to DC the costs are much less. Specialty help (painters, for example) tend to be more expensive.

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3. 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 with PIN are becoming more accepted; cash is still very much the preferred currency. Bankomats ("ATMs") are common and do not charge service fees. Paying bills "automatically" with IBAN transfers are also popular. In many ways, Austrian banking is more advanced than in the US.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are at least two churches offering English-language services regularly; in addition, I have seen announcements for one of the churches in a popular expat district (19th) that now offers an English-language service, though I do not know if this is permanent.

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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?

More local language is needed outside of the Inner Stadt and the expat districts. Local language classes are numerous and run across a wide price range, depending on the level and intensity of instruction.

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

Possibly. Not all of the trams are accessible, and not every private shop is easy to navigate for someone with mobility issues.

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Transportation:

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

Absolutely, within the bounds of common sense. And cost-effective, as well. A regular annual pass amounts to €1 per day; student passes for the school year are €40 or €65, depending on the student age. The system is easy to understand; and the ticket machines offer information in multiple languages. Traveling on public transport is on the honor system, though, and if caught without a valid ticket the fine is quite high.

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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?

I would advise against bringing an older car that might not pass strict European inspection standards.

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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, there are at least three options; installation times are short at worst.

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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?

With EU-wide roaming having an Austrian mobile phone offers greater flexibility than a non-EU plan.

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Pets:

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?

Coming from the US, our dog did not require quarantine, but had to be micro-chipped (he already had one). Vienna is super dog-friendly, and this may be either a good thing or a bad thing for some. Dogs in general are well-trained and are welcome just about everywhere. Veterinarians seem to be everywhere, as well, and the costs for visits and necessary vaccinations are lower than in the US.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Numerous. Several expatriate organizations and the two main charity groups have volunteer opportunities.

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

Formal dress is preferred at the many balls in Vienna; often the invitation or ticket will indicate how one should dress. Formal dress is never out of fashion when attending an opera.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are some sketchy areas along the Gürtel at night, but not really in areas that expats would be in, anyway. There are also panhandlers and the like typical of a larger urban area, but really, nothing more is needed than what commonsense might dictate.

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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?

Medical care is of high quality in general. Those with private insurance have the luxury of scheduling appointments and not having to endure possibly long wait times.

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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?

Vienna is a clean city; its air is fresh and its water is among the finest in Europe. Seasonal allergy sufferers might be a little uncomfortable in the spring, but there's always a nearby Apotheke (pharmacy) with a qualified pharmacist to suggest a remedy.

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

The number of stores and restaurants offering specialty groceries and menus has skyrocketed in the last five years, with many options now available for all kinds of diets.

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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)?

Winter can come early and can be cold and gray for long periods of time. But a good walk in the vineyards or the nearby Vienna Woods cures everything.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

International schools are offered across many platforms: Christian, French, Russian and Swedish, along with the two most-known international schools. Admission is selective at the AIS Vienna; our experience with the school has been positive.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

The Sports Unions offer a wide variety of programs; there are several indoor swimming pools, as well.

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Expat Life:

1. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Social media has made being able to connect with locals and fellow expats easy. There seems to be a group for everyone.

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

Speaking only for families, yes, this is a great city in which to live.

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

Gender inequality simmers below the surface, but seems to be less so of an issue with the passage of time.

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

Exploring the country outside of Vienna. The other states, outside of the known touristy places (Salzburg) are very different.

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

This is not a shopping post. Stores close by 8 PM on weekdays, 6 PM on Saturdays, and are closed all day on Sundays. Bratislava is an easy trip for a Sunday shopping fix; and Prague has stores and a mall filled with European labels (and they are open on Sundays).

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

Safety, cleanliness, and a general higher standard of well being.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Nationalism. As an American, I chose to integrate rather than have "America" shipped to me via post. Many friends have not, and they seem to be less happy for it.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Woman in Gold (movie).

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Vienna, Austria 06/07/16

Background:

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

This is my first European post.

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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?

Asia is my home. It's hard to get there because of limited direct 10-hour flights to Bangkok which cost around $1,000 US round-trip. Thai is much more expensive and has an extra flight through Frankfurt (then Austrian Airways to Vienna).

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3. How long have you lived here?

Six months.

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

Work.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

European-style apartments mean tall, narrow bathtubs with the faucet in the middle of the tub with a long-hose for your shower. Only modern apartments will have "normal stand-up showers." The Euro windows are cool. Can open two ways to open them. But remember if you're in town, you are surrounded by (beautiful) buildings which make the roads sounds like freeways.



1,000 square foot apartments feel small. They get hot starting in May. Then your A/C will likely leak. If it's an older building, expect peeling paint, leaky faucets, squeaky floors, and hallways of marble/tile from which you'll hear your neighbor go in-and-out all day/night as they walk their dogs.

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

Every 2 blocks there are these small, over-priced grocery stores with limited selections (Spar, Billa, etc.) There are also medium-sized luxury gourmet stores, as well as some cheaper small and larger stores. You just have to find them. Stores close at 6:30PM or maybe later. Only a few really expensive train station stores are open on Sundays.

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

Peanut butter, dehydrated coffee, decaf coffee, American crackers, detergent, refillable hand soaps. (They have fillable hand soaps but you're paying a premium.)

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

Not inside the house in the city. But in springtime with all the flowers - you get tons of bees everywhere.

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Daily Life:

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

For 20 Euros/month FitInn is a basic gym with some locations spread around. Next up, for 60 Euros/month there is Club Danube with a few large gyms. Then John Holmes 90-120 Euros/month with a 99 Euro joining fee. This is one of the two local elite clubs.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Yes. You can even use your old U.S. credit card without the chip at grocery stores. However, you have to look the cashier in the eye, show them the card, announce that it's a credit card WITHOUT a chip and they have to do something to their machine to make it work. Then you have to scan it the CORRECT WAY while you're holding-up the line and everyone (including the cashier) is giving you an evil look. Then press OKAY and sign the slip. (They prefer local Maestro swipe cards.)

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

You need some German out for signage, train announcements, and shopping Qs and As.

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

No. Public transport is wheel-chair capable for buses, trams, and subways. Elevators at each station seem always to work. (Only caveat is that some wheelchair buses are less often and houses/business often have steps.)

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are expensive. You'll easily pay 15-20 Euros within minutes. Buses, trams, and the subway are good and on time. Plus they often have an electronic sign which is fairly accurate as to arrivals. Just know that sometimes you'll have to sit next to smokers who have the smell on their clothes.

It is confusing on where to purchase and where to stamp your fare cards. But you have to do it because they often have a wall of enforcers blocking major exits and examining each person's ticket. You will get fined hugely. No excuses.

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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'll get rust from the salt, rain, and snow (even though they try to use gravel instead of salt). If your car is older than 10 years, then you can not insure it. You can only pay for 3rd party insurance. Vienna is expensive for just about everything...including used cars. Front wheel drive is better for snow. Smaller is better for parking. They're not really into SUVs. They prefer estate (station) wagons. Any BMW, Mercedes, Peugeot, Citroeon, and Renault. Some European-made Toyota and Nissans. (If you bring uncommon models then repairs and importing parts may be an issue.)

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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?

You can choose from A1 or Drei service. Each have locations around the city with English-speaking staff. One way is to buy their little box then pay for a top-up service each month. Can be less than 20 Euros/month. I'm happy. Rarely goes out. Can do your thing. Watch YouTube.

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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?

If you get a portable WiFi box from a local company and pay the monthly (or top-up cost), then you have created your own WiFi network and can carry this around with you in Austria. Then you can use Skype or the Line for free to make phone calls/video calls/Facebook, etc.

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Pets:

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?

I have noticed that people drive to Hungary to adopt/purchase puppies and drive them back to Vienna.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You could volunteer with the large migrant population and/or with a very active Catholic charity organization called Caritas.

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

Austrian Friday men's casual is jeans and the coat from a business suit. If it's a more casual party, even the expat men will come in these bright plaid shirts.



Otherwise, the dress code depends on your job. Plenty of funky paint-splattered work pants with side-holders for tools on the tram. If you're an Austrian wearing a suit to work, then they really dress it up. Once it gets vaguely warm, everyone turns into American-touristy chic with mismatched cotton clothes on workdays.



Older guys wear traditional wool hats and funky local jackets. Many people wear formal wear for the balls.

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Health & Safety:

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

Home break-ins. Late-night muggings. Haven't heard/seen of pick-pockets. Plenty of drug dealers hanging out in certain locations - even where families go. There are many beggars sitting around (including on the subway/tram).

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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?

Austrians rave about their spring water but one has to wonder if there's lead coming out of all those old building pipes.

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

Spring is bad for everyone, and especially if you are asthmatic. So many flowers.

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

Winter does get very cold, dark, and windy. I often just go directly to huddle inside after work.

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

Spring and summer gets surprisingly hot! Winters haven't been as cold as I expected. Maybe a few weeks a year it gets below freezing.

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Expat Life:

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

You've got the United Nations here with tons of staff and delegations. Plus the universities bring in international students.

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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?

Dog walking. Children's activities. Hiking. Charity work. Church.

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

Good for singles because they can travel and spend money without worrying. Can go to a lot of places. Families could take driving trips.

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

Seems like it. It is a Socialist city after all.

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

Austrians are surprisingly behind-the-times in gender equality and thought.

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

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

Weather is good (when it's not winter). Easy transport. Plenty of outdoor activities.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That Austrians have a lower-level of standards. They go cheap in everything about the house and you'll get a slightly smaller refrigerator, microwave, sink, etc. And your bathroom sink won't have a countertop or cabinets underneath. The shelves you'll get will be Ikea-acceptable but not worthy of being in a real home.

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

Not really.

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

Furniture. Electronics. Everything you don't absolutely need because your apartment will have NO STORAGE SPACE. Ikea is here - so you can buy everything from it. H&M is here too. And higher-end international stores.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bring your car if you have it. Work shirts.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Sound of Music.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Try living in Bratislava or Czech Republic instead. Close. Cheaper. That's where Viennese go to shop! Maybe even Germany. Cars are cheaper to buy and entrance fees for attractions are cheaper too.

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Vienna, Austria 03/24/15

Background:

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

No, I've lived in several other Western European cities.

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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?

East Coast is about 8-10 hours depending on route.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Mostly in the 1st, 9th, 18th, and 19th districts with a few people scattered elsewhere. There is a combination of owned/leased housing and it mostly seems to be apartments/townhomes. Several new complexes are under construction which will house both USG employees and the general public. Commutes can be a 1 minute walk if you live next to the Embassy or over an hour if you live in the 19th and have to commute to the US Mission to the UN Organization. There are pros/cons to all locations and nothing is perfecct. I've heard people complain about their housing but everything I've seen appears very nice.

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

Almost everything I need is here and I find I spend about the same as I did in DC. A decent commissary is available for those affiliated with the UN. If you're really compelled to save money you can drive to Hungary (about an hour) and shop at a large Tesco and save about half.

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

Nothing but I'm not tied to American goods.

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

LOTS of sidewalk sausage/falafel/schnitzel/pizza vendors at cheap prices (3ish euros for most things). McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, and Burger King all have a presence here but there are much better places to eat. It's a big enough city - you can find almost any type of food at almost any price.

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

Ticks are a huge issue here and the Health Unit (and our children's school) strongly suggest immunizing against tick-borne encephalitis.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

10 euros/hr for babysitters or cleaners seems to be the going rate. People are frequently advertising that their nanny/cleaner is looking for extra hours.

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

The Embassy has a small, sort of sad gym. There are private ones at varying prices and quality (30-100+ euros per month).

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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?

There are a number of stores that will only take chip/pin cards or cash.

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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?

When I first arrived I desperately wanted to improve my basic German skills. 95% of the time when I try to speak German people automatically switch to very decent English. It makes it hard to learn and too easy to get by without German.

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

As someone who travelled the city with a stroller I'd say yes. The older trams and sbahn trains have steps inside the train. Even the low floor buses can have a large gap between the bus and the curb. Elevators in u-bahn stations are often closed for repair. I rarely see anyone in a wheel chair on public transportation. Lots of streets are cobblestoned.

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Transportation:

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

You can get a pass that covers all public transport in the Vienna city limits for 365 euros/year - it's a fabulous deal. Trains are definitely safe and reliable. Prices can add up quickly for whole families however, though kids though age 6 are free. Taxis are abundant and I don't feel the prices are outrageous.

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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?

Many people don't even bother bringing one. We have a small car which is perfect for weekend trips but easy enough to park in the city.

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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?

We pay about 52 euros for decent service (no problem streaming through a VPN).

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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?

There are several options. Prepaid is cheap and easy, especially with an unlocked phone.

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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?

There are some with the UN agencies, OSCE, and schools but they are highly competitive. If you speak fluent German your options will be much wider.

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

I find it to be much less dressy than other parts of Europe.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are the typical tourist city pickpocketing problems and scams. The occasional protest blocks off some of the city and occasionally gets out of hand (but we've always been well informed about this ahead of time). Home break-ins are not uncommon, even in apartments, so be sure to lock all the bolts on your doors. Police presence in noticeably higher around the city (particularly in U-bahn stations) since the Charlie Hebdo shootings.

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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?

As mentioned above in the air quality question, my biggest health concern is the second hand smoke. Seriously, it is SO bad here. My pregnant friends don't like to walk around busy streets because of it and I'm so tired of taking my kids to the playground only to find a group of parents smoking next to the swings.

We've used both public and private health care providers/hospitals and overall have been very happy with the care received.

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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?

The biggest air quality issue is the secondhand smoke. The city is plagued with it.

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

It doesn't get nearly as cold as you might expect and the snow rarely seems to stick around for long. A few weeks in the summer can be hot and somewhat miserable when riding buses and old trams. The gray in the winter sometimes seems to go on forever but then you're generally rewarded with streaks of perfectly sunny days.

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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?

There are many great options including both public (60ish euros a month) and private (300-400 euros per month seems normal for private though there is a huge range). Both are highly subsidized by the government and even diplomats get the subsidy. If you want a preschool right by your housing you might need to wait for an opening but if you're willing to commute with your child you'll likely find something. We've been pleased with the quality but definitely ask around visit in person.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes - ballet, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, martial arts to name a few.

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Expat Life:

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

For a city consistently ranked with such a high quality of living it's surprisingly mixed. The Viennese are, generally speaking, a somber bunch in public and this can wear on you after awhile (glaring/shushing of children, dirty looks, etc). A few local expats have told me they loved it until they learned German well enough to understand what people were saying about them. If you can just enjoy the beauty around you and shrug off the grumpiness you'll be ok.

Within the USG many, many people are unhappy with the work environment and of course this spills over into personal lives. I wish I'd counted the number of times I've heard people say to newbies "Don't worry it's not this bad at other posts."

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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?

Heuriger (wine taverns), beer gardens, tons of good restaurants, Christmas markets (stand around a table merrily drinking gluwein), the Opera, Viennese Balls, lots of musical performances, theater (some in English), English language theaters.

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

It's a good city for everyone as long as you're willing to go out and explore it. If you sit around waiting for the CLO to provide your entertainment you will be bored as there aren't many mission-wide events. If you need to feel a tight connection with the USG community this is not the place for you.

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

Within Austria, as a family we've really enjoyed farm stays in the mountains where you actually rent a small apartment on a working farm. The views are generally gorgeous, the kids love being on a farm, and it feels like such an authentic piece of Austria. The Heuriger (wine taverns similar to a beer garden but for wine and often in the vineyards) on the outskirts of Vienna are such a lovely and relaxing way to spend a nice spring/summer/fall day. The abundance of charming festivals in the fall completely won me over.

Outside of Austria - the easy travel to Croatia, Slovenia, and Hungary (particularly Budapest) have been highlights.

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

Easter and Christmas Markets, taking a mountain train up the nearest mountain (the Schneeberg) and stopping for fresh krapfen (donuts) on the way up, enjoying the Danube on hot summer days, biking trips in the Wachau Valley

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

I prefer experiences (and there are many to be had here). Specialty local items -all I can think of are snowglobes (invented here), lederhosen and dirnls, wine.

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

The travel opportunities are endless: Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland - all are easily accessible by car (and usually train). If that's not enough, cheap flights can often be found to places further abroad. Vienna is consistently rated as one of (if not the) cities with the highest quality of life and it's easy to see why: great public transportation, tons of parks and outdoor recreation areas, great festivals, outdoor cafes ... I could go on and on.

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8. Can you save money?

It's unlikely if you're getting out and seeing things.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I'd known more about how bad the work environment is here. Long timers say it's been this way for a significant period of time - many appear to consistently push off major issues waiting for their replacements to deal with it.

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

Honestly, despite how much I love this city, I'm not sure. If I was assured the work environment has improved, then I would consider coming back.

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

Jokes about the Sound of Music - it annoys locals. Also your visions of living in the mountains - the mountains are quite far away.

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Vienna, Austria 07/18/14

Background:

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

Not our first expat experience, and in fact it was our second experience in Vienna.

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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?

At that time, our home base was the DC are, and we were able to fly directly to Vienna from Dulles.

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3. How long have you lived here?

two years

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

Diplomatic posting.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Families tend to get houses, although there are also apartments. Housing is usually very nice indeed. Not huge, but in lovely, park-like areas. If you have an apartment in the center, you may not have much space, but you will have access to all that the city has to offer. Typical commute from outer districts to the embassy or UN varies, but I'd guess 30 minutes on average. Trams come every 2 minutes.

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

Great availability, cost is relatively high.

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

U.S. breakfast cereals and peanut butter is pretty much all we shipped, food-wise. Oh, and vanilla, orange and almond extracts.

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

McDonald's is everywhere. I think there's a KFC near Mariahilfestrasse (big shopping street).

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

There is one tick disease you need to be vaccinated for. Ants are a problem in some of the older houses in the 18th district.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO, pouch, local mail.

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

Availability good -- I do not know cost.

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

The missions have some small workout rooms -- they're squished and a little dingy, but they get the job done if all you want is to run on a treadmill/lift a few weights. There are plenty of gyms competing with each other around the city, too, for not-bad prices, comparable to U.S. gym prices.

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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?

I had no problems using either, although some businesses won't take credit cards, only debit or cash. But largely, that's changing.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I know there are two English-speaking Catholic services available (one is at the Votivkirche) but don't know about the others.

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

Always good to know at least how to buy food, and a few other basic phrases. Many people speak English, but one's experience is always better with local language knowledge.

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

On the cobblestone streets in the center, yes, there would be difficulties. However, there are some accommodations, elevators in the subway, etc.

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Transportation:

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

Yes and yes!

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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?

Well, obviously it's easier getting German/European parts. Most people drive late-model vehicles. This is not a poor country. If you like going up in the mountains, you'll need 4WD. Carjackings don't seem to happen.

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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?

Let's see, should we call it "high-speed?" It's available, and the embassy makes sure you get it, which is great, but it's not very high-speed, I'm afraid. Maybe it has something to do with all those thick old plaster walls? I don't know.

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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?

There are a few outlets that the mission folks use -- best to get there and then ask around. Costs are similar to programs in the States, and you are locked in -- allow 6 months before leaving to start asking how to get out of your contract so you don't get caught paying extra. I think our "Drei" (3) contract required us to cancel 2 months before leaving.

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Pets:

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?

Very good vets, no quarantine: pets just need demonstration of good health and rabies shots.

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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?

Probably not, given strict labor laws. Teachers at the English-speaking schools, scientists at Atomic Energy: those are two possibilities.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not as many as you might think. You can find ways to volunteer through the various international and women's clubs, if you're female. I'm not sure what men do who want to volunteer. Here's an instance where it would really help to have German ability.

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

Relatively formal in the city. Suits and ties at work. If you see someone wearing shorts in public, it's a tourist.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very few. There is little violent crime in Vienna. There are some home break-ins and some pickpocketing, but compared to most of the world, this is a very, very safe place.

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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?

Good quality medical care through excellent doctors and hospital.

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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?

Excellent, especially if you live in the outer districts like the 13th, 18th or 19th, which are higher and close to the Vienna Woods.

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

Four seasons, but none extreme. Snow in winter (but not a lot), maybe one very cold week. Fairly cool springs. Some heat in the summer, maybe one or two weeks in the 90s, but not more. Beautiful falls. If you like a lot of snow and skiing, you can get that within an hour or two drive from Vienna for a good 5 months of the year, at least.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Several international schools, including the American International School in a beautiful setting next to vineyards and the Vienna Woods. We have not had school-aged kids in Vienna for more than 20 years, so can't really weigh in on this.

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2. 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?

Yes, many.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, but I don't know much about them.

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Expat Life:

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

Expat community is split into missions, and, not only that, but often in big posts like this, you don't have high morale. People are off doing their own thing.

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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?

Go to a wine tavern (heuriger) in nice weather with friends -- like a big picnic in the vineyards. Go to Long Night of the Museums, when city museums are open 'til 1:00 a.m. Go to free filmed concerts, both classical and jazz, at the Rathaus (city hall) in summer and to the Christmas markets in Nov-Dec. Go on the New Year's Champagne Trail on New Year's Eve. Go to concerts and the opera. Hit the excellent (if not very varied) restaurants.

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

Good for all.

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

Yes. There is a fantastic gay pride annual event that takes over city hall every year -- lots of fun.

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

Some racial/ethnic prejudice. Austrians are typically a homogeneous society and the influx of Turks and Yugoslavs in the past few years has some Austrians up in arms. Watch out for nationalism, and keep an open mind, too, to listen to both sides: some Austrians resent immigrants coming in and going on the generous welfare system, while they (Austrians) feel they have worked hard for 30 years and that this isn't fair. You can see their point, but still...it's just one step away from prejudice and often crosses the line.

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

Hearing world-class music. Seeing world-class art. Sitting in a typical Viennese coffeehouse with a newspaper. Hiking in the vineyards and Vienna Woods. Also, discovering neighboring countries like Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland and Germany.

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

A few gems that people don't always get to: Kunsthaus Wien, Friedensreich Hundertwasser's museum. The Austrian Folk Art Museum in the 8th district (Laudongasse and Langegasse). It's fun to stroll through the big auction house in the Dorotheum, an 18th century palace, and even attend an auction there. Every day around noon the Lippizaner horses are walked from their stables on Augustinerstrasse in the center across to practice in the palace, and it's fun to watch them cross the street with their trainers -- for free.

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

Julius Meinl coffee, antiques at the Vienna flea market on Saturdays at the Naschmarkt, great white wine (Grunerveltliner).

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

A gorgeous, clean city. A transportation system that works beautifully. A country that begs to be explored. A fantastic arts and culture scene. Being in the heart of Europe.

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10. Can you save money?

Not if you take full advantage of museums, concerts and restaurants, as well as travel around Europe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That you still might need a sun-lamp for winter days -- it can get quite dark in winter and, conversely, light very early (4:30 a.m.!) in summer.

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

Oh yes. In a heartbeat.

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

Old American clunker car. We brought ours and getting American parts was a bit of a hassle, although there is an American parts place on Hohegasse in the 14th district.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bicycles, skis and hiking boots. Austrians love the outdoors and if you do, too, you will love your experience in Austria.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Books like Frederic Morton and Paul Hoffman. Histories of Viennese music (Mozart, Beethoven, etc.).

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Before Sunrise. The Third Man. Amadeus (Director's Cut), even though it was filmed in Prague.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Musicologist and Episcopal priest Prentiss Dunn offers terrific music appreciation classes in his home. I highly recommend them, and you meet a very interesting group of people that way, too. Email pcdvienna@hotmail.com or srhale@aon.at

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Vienna, Austria 03/19/14

Background:

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

No - this is our fourth tour in Europe.

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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?

Dallas, Texas. So - Lufthansa (via Frankfurt) is the most direct way.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

U.S. Government .

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There's a wide variety of housing available - from downtown apartments to single family units at the edge of town. Commute times are minimal.

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

Some folks complain about the high price of groceries but I've found them to be pretty reasonable. Yes, it's a capital city and it can get expensive, but there are many grocery chains which offer good product choices and a wide range of cost. Your choice.

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

Wide variety and equally wide range in cost. Take your pick.

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO - which is okay, but tends to run quite slow (2-3 weeks to get to the States).

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

There are quite a few in the city, at a wide range of cost. Shop around. I understand there is a small gym in the basement of the Embassy, too.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problem at all, with credit or ATMs. Once in a while you'll find a shop that will only take cash.

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

You can get by without any German, but life will be a LOT easier if you have some language.

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

Yes, I'm afraid so. As convenient as Vienna is, it's still a very old city. That means lots of steps - old cobblestone streets - smaller elevators (where they have them) - etc. Anyone with mobility issues would likely find it challenging.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, yes, yes -- and yes! Public transportation here is fantastic.

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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?

If you must have a car: go small.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

At work, suits & ties for the gents. More formal than the States, definitely.

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Health & Safety:

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

Aside from common sense measures, you should be all right.

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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?

Excellent.

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

Four seasons - although summers can be very hot and humid.

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Expat Life:

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

The community is pretty large. I think morale here is a mixed bag: although quality of life is absolutely excellent, and people do enjoy it, work can be another matter.

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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?

Um...it's Vienna. The list is endless.

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

Good for everyone, I think.

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

I believe yes.

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

I haven't witnessed any problems first hand, but I gather there are some areas for concern.

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

Too many to list.

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

After you've exhausted all the options in Vienna proper (museums/concerts/opera/ballet/restaurants/bars/etc.), venture further out for skiing, hiking and sightseeing in the countryside. After that, look beyond Austria's borders to all the lovely regional opportunities. You're ideally situated for all sorts of European journeys.

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

All sorts of cultural experiences (opera, ballet, etc.)...and regional travel.

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

It's Vienna! And it consistently rates as one of the best places to live: cultural opportunities, travel options, green spaces, etc.

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10. Can you save money?

Actually, I think you can. Not a lot, but still...

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Perhaps...it would depend on the job.

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

...idea that because it's western Europe, it will be just like being back in the States. It's not.

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3. But don't forget your:

History books, and a good English/German dictionary!

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


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Vienna, Austria 08/23/13

Background:

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

No, we have lived in Canada and Brazil before coming to Austria.

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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?

Ha, where is home in this life? From DC, Austrian Airlines (codeshare with United) has direct flights, about 10 hours to Vienna.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We arrived August 2012 and are at the halfway point now (we are pretending we don't need to leave next year).

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

My spouse is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is spread out - smaller apartments in the 1st district and bigger units in the 9th, 18th, and 19th districts. Note that some housing is on the smaller side so if you're bringing a lot of things, make sure to inquire about storage space. Commute time varies but generally no more than 30 minutes to the Embassy depending on your proximity to public transport.

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

Everything is available, for a price! I would say I pay about 30% more for groceries here than in the U.S. which is consistent with the COLA. Some baking items like chocolate chips, baking soda, and vanilla extract can be hard to find.

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

Vanilla extract - I've only found vanilla sugar and pure vanilla. Everything else you can find here or order online!

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

The usual suspects plus some unique ones like Turkish kebab stands and, of course, Wuestelstands for your sausage fix! Restaurants can be costly if you want good food but there are some good ones in the middle-price range as well - don't expect the same customer service you have in the U.S. I recommend browsing the useful Trivienna website for ideas and suggestions.

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

Once the ants wake up from hibernation, expect a few (hundred) visitors in your apartment, especially if you're living in an older building. With this year's flooding, we also experienced an increase in wasps and mosquitos. Ticks are also present in the woods and parks so the MED unit recommends vaccinations to prevent encephalitis.

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Daily Life:

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

APO and pouch - APO takes about 10 days; pouch is longer as it's routed through Germany. The Austrian mail system is, unsurprisingly, excellent and in many cases faster than getting APO mail back to the U.S.

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

Widely available. We have a cleaning person and a babysitter both of whom charge 10 Euros per hour which seems to be the norm.

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

Available of varying quality and expenses - the CLO just negotiated a good rate with a nice gym but overwhelmingly the gyms are expensive (around 100 Euros per month plus a ridiculous high initiation fee) or run-down. I ended up exercising outdoors in the many parks here (you will see many joggers and Nordic walkers!).

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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?

Very safe to use - note though that Austria is still a big "cash only" economy where many restaurants will not accept debit or credit cards so it's a good idea to carry a bit of cash on you.

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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?

I am a native German speaker so it's hard for me to say but it seems like that everyone understands some degree of English! This is a tourist city, after all. But, keep in mind that like in any other city, a little bit of the local language goes a long way.

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

Having pushed a double stroller around for most of my time here, I have to say the city does a great job of making pretty much everything wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation:

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

The Wiener Oeffis (Vienna public transit) offers the best system in the world! A yearly pass costs 365 Euros and a long wait for a bus, tram, or subway would be 8 minutes ... Taxis are available as well and not too terribly expensive.

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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?

Something small! Parking spaces and garages are tight so leave your SUV and minivan behind. German car brands are most popular here (not surprisingly) but there are dealers and shops for pretty much all types of cars.

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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! The Embassy sets up Internet in housing prior to arrival which is fantastic - some people have reported problems with speed but we've never had any issues. The Embassy uses A1 to set up cable and internet (you can choose a package) and I think the costs are under 100 Euros per month.

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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?

You need one! Check the TriVienna website for information on how you can obtain one. The main providers here are T-Mobile, A1, and Drei (just merged with Orange).

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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?

That's a good question! Most people I know work at the Embassy or have a portable business - that said, the Embassy just got a new GEA who has been a great resource to those seeking outside Mission employment.

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

More formal than in the U.S.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is about the safest city I have lived in but you still should use common sense precautions, as you would in any major city.

In terms of home safety, there are increasing reports of break-ins and burglaries so be sure to close all windows and use your alarm systems.

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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?

Medical care is excellent here. The Embassy has a great MED unit and many doctors here speak excellent English.

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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?

Very good - pure, fresh mountain air! Although be aware of seasonal allergies here!

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

Four seasons so be prepared for all types of weather!

Spring and fall are beautiful and quite comfortable. Summers can get very hot (we reached 103F just a few weeks ago and A/C is generally not available here!) and winters can be....well, long, grey, and cold. This past winter, we had the first snowfall in October and the last snowstorm in April - it was long. But, the Viennese make up for this by hosting a number of Christmas/Winter markets and enjoying outdoor sports, so don't forget to bring your sled and ice-skates!

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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?

There are many options - the city subsidizes care so expenses are on the lower side (less than 100 Euros per month; private ones are more expensive).

Check out the following search engines to find a preschool:
Kindergarten
Kinderdrehscheibe

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Through the schools and through local "Sport Unions."

For the local options, check out:
SportUnion

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you ask! Most people love it here because there is so much to do and see but the winter can drag on and be a bit hard ....

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You name it, it's here! Do not miss the Viennese Ball season or a night at the Opera!

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

It's a fantastic city for everyone!

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

Yes - Vienna has a huge annual PRIDE parade!

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

People of Roma descent still report problems, but overall, nothing major. There was one hate crime this year when an African woman was pushed in front of the subway (an accident was averted thanks to the emergency brakes that bystanders were able to pull from the platform) but this seems to be an anomaly.

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

Taking a tour throughout history by visiting fantastic museums and palaces, exploring the beautiful city of Salzburg, visiting neighboring countries, hanging out at local heurigers (wineries) and just living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

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

Oh where to start? Museums, zoo, parks (endless), riding the Ferris wheel at the Prater amusement park, exploring smaller Austrian towns, heading to Salzburg, driving to neighboring countries (Slovenia, Germany, Italy etc), hanging out at a heuriger or beer garden, the opera, going on a hike around the Vienna Woods .... yeah, there is LOTS to do here!

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

Dirndls and Lederhosen.

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

Vienna is an absolutely amazing and beautiful city. There are tons of things to see and do - if you're bored here, it's your own fault! There are literally hundreds of museums in Vienna alone, amazing palaces, a beautiful zoo, and plenty of green space.

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11. Can you save money?

We are but plenty of people are not.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

ABSOLUTELY! That is assuming someone can actually get us to move away....

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

Expectations of customer service or that someone will bag your groceries.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sled, ice skates, and warm weather gear!

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4. Do you have any other comments?

If you are interested in living in Vienna or newly arriving, I highly recommend browsing through the
Trivienna website.

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Vienna, Austria 05/12/13

Background:

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

La Paz, Guatemala, Lusaka, San Salvador, Prague.

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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?

DC. There are direct flights on Austrian Airways to Dulles---about seven hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Since June 2011.

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

Spouse of U.S. State Department employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is spread all over the city, in part because there are three US missions here. It is mostly pretty good, although our first apartment had some serious problems. Fortunately, we were granted a move by the housing board. Viennese families are small, and housing is also on the small (but expensive) side. The embassy definitely seems to have some trouble accommodating large families. We love our downtown apartment because of the location, but it's a good thing we aren't packrats! If you have a chance to put some items in storage before coming here, do so. And expect a trip to Ikea, because there are few, if any closets (none in our current apartment). Housing out in the 19th district, near the American school, is larger, but not nearly as convenient.


Housing in Vienna is not designed with hot weather in mind. Many houses and apartments become uncomfortably (even miserably) hot during summer months. You will be told that the heat lasts "just a couple of weeks." Maybe in 1982 it did, but now these stretches are considerably longer. Be very cautious about accepting any housing assignment that does not include some form or air conditioning!

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

Expensive! Crazy expensive! But the quality is generally good. You can find just about anything, but you might have to try more than one small grocery store in the process. There are also some specialty Asian grocery stores. I order some items online just to save money and trouble but I could find them here if I really wanted to.

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

With the DPO and pouch available, I can't really think of much I would ship. The embassy furniture pool is nothing to write home about--we all have the old, ratty Drexel here--so stuff to cover it up? Also, I would ship (or buy locally at Ikea) any home office furniture.

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

Tons of restaurants, though the selection is more limited than in DC, for example. The Viennese do great Central European food--goulashes, sausages, schnitzel, etc.--and good Italian food, but you have to look harder for other cuisines. Austrians are scared to death of anything spicy, and are terrible about over-salting food. There are good Thai, Indian, and Mediterannean restaurants, though, you just have to read the reviews online first to find them, or you may end up with a plate full of greasy, salty noodles. All that said, with a little research, we eat very well here! The cost of eating out is higher than DC, but not as much more as you might expect given the overall cost of living here. Oh, and there is McDonalds and Burger King, of course :)

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

No serious problems, but the Viennese do not put screens on their windows, so you can get a lot of flies in the house.

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Daily Life:

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

We have DPO and pouch. Austrian mail is also good, and not too expensive.

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

People do have cleaning ladies (mostly Filipina), but they pay a lot for the privilege.

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

Yes. We belong to a very nice gym. Very clean, tons of equipment. The only problem is that it is not air conditioned--it doesn't even have fans. So, it can get pretty miserable in the summer. (Yes, this is insane.)

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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?

My USAA credit card runs into problems sometimes because it doesn't have this special chip that European cards do. It works fine at ATMs though, so I just operate on a cash basis. Not all places here take credit cards, anyway. Most embassy personnel have a local bank account because many service providers insist on payment by bank transfer!

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but we don't attend, so I can't comment.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

We don't have satellite TV, just AFN and a Roku for internet TV. There are English newspapers and news sites available.

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

I really think it helps a LOT to have at least some German. Many people here speak English, but many do not. And, nearly all signage etc. is in German only. To really enjoy living here, it helps to at least be able to understand menus, labels, tram announcements, etc. The embassy has a pretty good language program and I also know lots of people who have taken month-long intensive courses at one of the local language institutes. German is a tough language to speak well, but it is not too difficult to acquire some basic vocabulary, numbers, greetings, etc. I get by quite nicely with my minimal ability, picked up on the fly and in weekly conversation classes.

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

It would be difficult. I toured around with my elderly grandmother, and while people are very nice and accommodating, there is a lot of walking required to get anywhere. Not all public transportation is handicapped accessible. Many buildings are not--mostly because they are so old. Streets are uneven, and some sidewalks downtown are not wide enough for a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

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

Absolutely. You can buy an annual pass that allows you to hop on and off wherever you like. it's pretty wonderful.

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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?

I would not bring a huge vehicle because streets, parking spaces and garages are small. I have a small SUV that barely fits in our garage. Otherwise, bring whatever you like.

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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?

If by "high-speed" you mean, "better than dial-up" then yes. But internet service is surprisingly slow and unreliable for an otherwise modern country. That said, I successfully work at home, mostly online with minimal disruptions.

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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?

This is a complicated subject. There are dozens of plans, and pay-as-you-go is also available. One thing to be careful about is roaming charges. Make sure the plan you choose allows for some kind of inexpensive roaming arrangement. I pay 20 Euros a week flat fee for roaming and data when traveling with my T-Mobile phone.

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Pets:

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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

We have a great vet, and she is cheaper than our US vet. The Viennese are crazy about their pets, and every possible pet service or product is available here.

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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?

I do not follow this closely because I already have a part-time job. But I do not know many spouses who are fully employed here. The language barrier is probably a major reason for that.

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

More formal than the States, but not too fancy. Austrians dress pretty sensibly, like Germans.

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Health & Safety:

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

The city is very safe, with the exception of a lot of pickpockets in the tourist areas. Anyone with average foreign service street smarts should be able to deal with this. I have heard of some home burglaries occurring, but only when the occupants weren't home. It's not something people really worry about a lot, in my experience.

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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?

Health care is very good, but not all doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. speak English.

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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?

Excellent, except there is quite a bit of tree pollen in the spring. Many people have terrible allergy problems at that time of year.

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

The winter here is very long and very, very gray. People who have never had winter blues before get them here. It is not Moscow-cold, but many days hover in the 20s or 30s with a biting wind. I have not met many fans of the Vienna winter! Summer is mostly very pleasant, but there are some stretches of 90+ temperatures that can get pretty uncomfortable because the city is not equipped for hot weather. And even when there is air conditioning, the Viennese don't like to use it---or to open windows! They don't like to use fans, either. This is truly bizarre. Trams and buses, in particular, can get really stifling hot. I have seen some elderly people looking like they are in danger of heat stroke. Summers are definitely getting hotter here, but these people simply don't know how to deal with hot weather. In short, overall, I would not count the weather as an advantage of living here.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

All three schools are IB and have pretty challenging programs at the high-school level. It is very important to establish which school your kids will be attending before you accept a housing assignment. The three major schools are in totally different parts of the city. If, for example, you are housed out by AIS by default, simply because you have school-aged kids, and if one or more of them attends one of the other schools, the commute would be really long---possibly an hour or more by public transportation or school bus. This was a major reason we asked for a new housing assignment.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

My son is mildly Asperger's (with no other special needs) and we had a terrible time finding a place for him in the schools here. We almost curtailed the assignment solely because of the school situation. He attends the Danube International School, which does the best job of the three international schools of accommodating special needs. The American International School basically does not accommodate special needs, no matter what they say. They rejected my son, and several people have told me that I am lucky they did! I do not know much about the Vienna International School, but they rejected my son.

All that said, my son is very well accommodated at DIS. Reviews of the other two schools are mixed in this regard, to say the least. Definitely assume nothing. Contact the schools directly well ahead of time--preferably before bidding--with an honest disclosure of your child's needs. Do not count on the CLO to help you very much with this. ***Do your own research***I have heard of at least two instances of people arriving with special needs kids and having to leave post because they could not be accommodated.

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3. 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?

All the families with young children that I know of send their kids to preschool. There seem to be a ton of options. Babysitting and nannies are widely available, but expensive.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

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

HUGE. The biggest I have ever experienced.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good. A bit more mixed in the embassy community because there are a surprising number of people who have little to no overseas experience at this post. But all the corporate expats I have met are thrilled to be here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The embassy community is quite fragmented. It's not the kind of place you can expect to know everyone. People are off doing their own things. But that's OK, it's just different.

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

It's a good city for anyone with money! The cost of living is high, but it is a lot of fun to live here (there is a COLA for US government employees.)

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

Yes.

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

Yes. Vienna itself is OK about this (though racial stereotypes abound in advertising etc., and I know of some people of color who have experienced minor hassles) but the rest of the country can be pretty weird. There is a major political party that is basically neo-Nazi and still blames Jews and immigrants for everything. I am not making this up. That said, the xenophobia here is probably less than in many other parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

It is a very Catholic culture, which can be odd when you are not used to it. All the major holidays are Catholic, and everything shuts down on Sundays and about two dozen saint's days scattered throughout the year.

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

Travel!

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

Oh, tons. Everything from day trips to castles to longer trips to Italy, Croatia, the Czech Republic, etc. You will not be bored in Vienna.

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

I am not that much of a shopper, but I do enjoy the flea markets and antique stores. I know other people who shop for clothes and such here, but I just think that's nuts. Crazy expensive and poor quality.

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

It is extremely safe. Public transportation is the best in the world. Many embassy employees do not bother owning a car. There are activities to suit nearly every interest. We are not into opera or music, for example, but we love the museums, the hiking, and the travel opportunities.

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11. Can you save money?

We do, but my husband is mid-level and I am cheap.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, absolutely.

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

Giant SUV.

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3. But don't forget your:

Warm jammies and snow boots!

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4. Do you have any other comments?

If you are used to smaller posts, Vienna may be a bit of a shock. There is not a lot of embassy togetherness going on. Everyone is very spread out geographically and many people travel a lot. I do not think I would want to spend our entire career in posts like this. But for three years, it is fine, and there is so much to do here outside of the tri-mission community. We are enjoying it a lot.

For information about Vienna, in English, check out our community website: Trivienna

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Vienna, Austria 01/16/13

Background:

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

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and has lived in Vienna for one year, a fourth expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments in the 1st district all the way out to the 19th. Even in the suburbs (19th district) there are many apartments and just a few single-family dwellings.

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

You can get pretty much everything you want here but, again it can get pricey for some of the more exotic things, like maple syrup. Prosi is a great international supermarket that also sells Duncan Heinz cake mixes, chocolate chips and other miscellaneous things that you wouldn't find at a typical grocery store. Julius Meinl is an amazing high end grocery store that also sells some things you wouldn't normally find. Both have their own websites.

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

Can't think of anything.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC - none of which are all that good. Austrian fast food is at sausage stands and yummy sandwich shops. You'll also see Asian noodle stands, doner kebap stands and pizza stands on nearly every corner. Traditional Austrian fare (schnitzel, goulash, etc.) can get a little heavy, but there are lots of international options as well. Since Vienna is a major European capital, the prices can get astronomical for some of the high-end fancy places, but you can eat cheap, too.

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy DPO, but there are government mailboxes and post offices everywhere.

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

Available and pretty expensive from what I hear.

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

Yes - they're not on every street corner but they do exist and seem to be comparable to the U.S. Beware of the co-ed spas if you're at all modest.

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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?

I have never had a problem using either, but it's recommended to get an Austrian bank account just to make bill paying easier, and just in case you run into the one store that won't take any of your cards because they don't have a microchip like the Bank of Austria cards.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Not much if anything available for English TV. Most expats I know use a VPN service to dial into U.S. programming.

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

None really. It's nice to have some German, but you can get by just fine without it. Pretty much everyone here speaks some English.

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

Cobblestone streets in the 1st district could be a slight challenge, and many places have stairs with no elevators. Lots of restrooms in restaurants are downstairs in the basement.

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Transportation:

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

They are not only safe and affordable, they are way more practical than trying to drive here most of the time. Most of the people I know take public transportation rather than try to get their car out of a garage or try to find parking. Most of the districts in the city have 2-hour restricted street parking, and you have to either use pre-paid parking vouchers on your windshield (no street machines here) or pay for it on your cell phone.

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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 can pretty much bring anything, although you may have to order parts for American cars from the States. Audis are everywhere.

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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, I think our bill is about 30 Euros a month for a landline telephone and wireless internet.

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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?

Cell phones here are great, and Vienna really takes advantage of them. You can pay for parking, your metro tickets, and tons of useful apps put out by the city for getting around: bus schedules, getting a taxi, etc. I highly recommend getting a smart phone to take advantage of all of that.

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Pets:

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?

Not that I'm aware of. You can bring your dog into stores, restaurants and public transport. They're very serious about people cleaning up after dogs and dogs must be well behaved. Lots and lots of rules about dogs here but they're readily accepted as members of society.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Dogs are more valued here than kids, so you'll find NO problems with vet care or kennels.

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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?

Maybe in some of the UN missions or other government agencies.

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

Pretty casual, considering it's a European country, but that said, you'll see a lot of Prada and Gucci clad women wandering the Graben as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

Although crime is reportedly on the rise, there are still many stories of someone leaving their cellphone on a bus bench and coming back hours later to find it's still there.

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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?

Water and air are fine and there is a constant army of men cleaning the streets each day. I've heard of some pretty fine treatment in hospitals as well - cappuccinos and massages in your hospital bed.

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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?

Perfect, except for the massive number of smokers here. And that is interesting, considering how much they're also into wellness, Nordic walking, organic food, etc.

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

Nice summers (although there were a few hot days near or just over 90F) and cold winters. In the summer the sun starts rising at 4:00 am and doesn't set until after 9:00 pm - long dark winters.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our child attends AIS, but I don't have enough experience with the school yet to make a firm judgement. So far, they seem okay, although I wish the communication between parents and teachers was better.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are plenty of speech, occupational therapy, and other services available for kids. There is a kids' hospital here as well.

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3. 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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, there is a little league baseball group here, soccer of course, horseback riding, bowling, etc. I don't think I've seen American football for kids here - not even at AIS.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large. The U.S. has three missions here, so everyone is pretty spread out.

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2. Morale among expats:

People grumble about the unfriendly Austrians and no cohesion among the American community but I also know a lot of people who LOVE it here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As much or as little as you want.

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

Yes, yes, and yes, although you'll hear how much the Austrians don't tolerate children well. I haven't found it to be overly problematic. And, in fact, Austria has a ton of things geared towards kids, starting with a playground in every park, lots of kids' museums and gigantic indoor play parks, plus an entire group of hotels specifically geared towards small children (Google "kinderhotels in Austria").

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

Vienna hosts one of the largest AIDS charitable events, the Life Ball, each year, and it is widely attended by celebrities (including Bill Clinton), as well as an array of flamboyantly-dressed individuals. It also has a week long Gay Pride event where, among other things, all the city's trams are decked out with rainbow flags.

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

I've heard some reports of bias against darker-skinned individuals, and they still seem to hold a 300-year-old grudge against the Turks.

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

Wandering the many alleys of the medieval First District. Touring the countless museums in the city. Taking a weekend trip to the wine country along the Danube.

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

All types of sports, lots of parks, hiking in the Vienna woods, sailing lessons along the river, river cruises, museums, all types of concerts, road trips, tons of outdoor festivals practically year-round, shopping, eating. On a short 2-year tour you'd have to work hard every day to get it all in.

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

Travel, nights out on the town, concerts.

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

The history and culture are fascinating. Beautiful Gothic and Baroque buildings with sterile plain buildings interspersed - sad reminders of the bombings during the war. Gorgeous countryside ranging from rolling green hills to magnificent snow-capped mountains. Highways are immaculate with all the conveniences. Winters can be cold, but the Austrians enthusiastically embrace it, starting with Christmas markets in November and outdoor ice-skating rinks until Spring. Schools close for a week in February so families can go skiing.

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11. Can you save money?

You could, but it wouldn't be as much fun.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely!

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

Bad attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good walking shoes.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Only in Vienna
Have only seen it in the museum gift shops here but it's full of interesting hidden bits of history that you can see through out the city that you probably wouldn't notice walking by it on the street and wouldn't read about in guidebooks.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Third Man
- though there is a cinema here that shows it non-stop.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Vienna, Austria 08/06/11

Background:

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

3rd expat experience - Shanghai, China and Beijing, China being the first 2

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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?

US (midwest).took about 12 hours Vienna-Amsterdam-US or 10 hours Vienna-Washington DC

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3. How long have you lived here?

2008-2010

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

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

singles, couples, and young families mostly live downtown. Families with school aged children live in the outskirts of they city near the International School. Commute time can be 5-45 minutes, depending on which embassy you're working at. We liked our beautiful apartment in the old city (Sigmund Freud once had an office in our building)

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

Expensive. If you are affiliated with the UN, you can shop at the commissary, which is cheaper and has a good selection of products from the US. We brought staples from the US in our shipment, which helped defray costs

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

I'm glad I shipped staples and baby supplies such as diapers and food - all of which are, of course, readily available in Vienna, but very expensive.

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

There are MANY restaurants (even Mexican, which in my experience is hard to find overseas).As with everything in Vienna, it's expensive and we didn't eat out that often, but there are lots of different cuisines to choose from besides Austrian food if you're tired of schnitzel.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lots. You may have to go to certain stores (such as Spar or DM) to find them, but they're readily available. Europeans seem more interested in non-GMO than organic (in my opinion)

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

none

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. It usually took about 2 weeks, but around the holidays things took over a month to get to us.

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

Nannies are easy to find but expensive compared to what they cost in developing countries (about 10 euros/hour).

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

Yes, but they're expensive. I preferred to walk in the city or hike in local parks for exercise.

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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?

They can be used extensively. We had no problems.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Our apartment was USG owned, so it came with AFN.Newspapers and magazines are easy to find at local shops.

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

You don't NEED much, but any German you can speak would be helpful. Austrians aren't super interested in customer service, so knowing some German would be helpful with that.

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

It would be hard.there are a lot of stairs and hills and IF buildings have elevators, they are TINY (e.g. might not be able to fit a wheelchair or scooter)

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Transportation:

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

The subway/bus/street car system is extremely comprehensive and relatively cheap. I never drove in the city - my son and I went all over the city on public transportation. It's clean, safe, and trains/buses/street cars come every few minutes. I loved public transportation! I didn't take taxis - too expensive (similar to US prices).

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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?

As with many places overseas, smaller is better. Vienna has many dealers, and service/parts shouldn't be a problem (although it's expensive - an oil change cost is $150). We never used our car in the city (public transportation is excellent), but we used to to travel in the region a lot. Gas is expensive.

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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 was *super* fast, but it was fine for us.about 50 euros/month.

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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?

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Pets:

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?

No, but they will need current vaccinations and a EU-compatible microchip.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Excellent. The Viennese adore dogs. More than they like kids, in our experience!

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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?

To work on the local economy, you'd most likely need to know German. There are a few jobs at the embassy. I wanted to work but couldn't find anything.

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

More formal than in the US. Suits and ties at work. Outdoor activities are more casual (obviously).

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Health & Safety:

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

not that I knew of. I felt very safe

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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?

Excellent. People are medevac'd to Vienna. I had several friends who had babies there, and they had very good experiences.

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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?

very good. Vienna is exceptionally clean

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

Spring and Fall are beautiful. Summer can be hot and there is very little air conditioning. Winter is rainy and dark.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

The American Employees Association runs a preschool (Embassy children have priority).I also knew some people who sent their children to Austrian preschools/daycare (German language).Nannies are about 10 euros/hour, which can get very expensive if you're working full time.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Very large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies - winter can be very depressing with the dark and rain. I was frustrated by the Austrian's general attitude (often surly and unhelpful to strangers). It can be hard for spouses to find work. Spring/summer/fall are glorious, and there are lots of fun places to travel, which improves people's mood.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots to do (see above). However, I found the sense of community very lacking in Vienna compared to other posts. Perhaps it's because this is Western Europe, so people think it should be easy to acclimate.

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

Good for everyone. There is lots of green space and parks, many cultural events, lots of great places to travel

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

Definitely yes.

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

There is a lot of immigration right now, which the Austrians aren't necessarily happy about. I never personally experienced problems, but I heard stories of people being harassed

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

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

Parks, hiking, zoos, museums, wine/beer festivals, film festivals, circus, cultural events (music/opera/theater), travel to nearby cities/countries.we tended to do outdoor activities b/c they were cheap and we had small kids

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

Local travel.

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

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you're very frugal. Western Europe is expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Vienna, Austria 08/05/11

Background:

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

No, also lived in Bogota, Colombia

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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?

DC. Nine hours direct to Vienna from Dulles.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

Foreign Service

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Varies widely depending on preference. City living is convenient and safe, still relatively quiet. Other districts may offer convenience to schools, but be wary of taverns (heurigers) up in the hill areas. They can be loud, and late.

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

Groceries are expensive. Utilize the commissary, especially if you have a family. School lunches are almost unaffordable.

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

A healthy supply of corn tortillas. There is NO good Mexican food here. And I mean....NONE! We've looked.

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

MacDonald's is good and cheaper than a restaurant, but it costs a fortune compared to prices in the US. Better quality. Good pizza take out. Asian delivery. Cost is HIGH. This is the most frustrating part of living here.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

The big grocery chains have it all.

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

Ticks, mosquitoes. Very few bugs in general.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Awesome!

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

A maid is 10 Euro per hour. Be cautious...homes get burglarized fairly routinely while people are on vacation. Homes are cased, no question about it.

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

There is a good gym at the VIC. It caters to expats.

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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?

Plan to always have cash. Always! ATMs are available near tram lines and in the city. Very few places take credit cards, even sometimes large restaurants and public places, where in the US you would expect a debit/credit card to be taken. Grocery stores are getting better.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, plenty.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There is not much in the way of newspapers, and the magazines are costly. TV is available through SKY, a London company. It's good, and reasonably priced: 115 USD per month for hundreds of channels, including American sports channels. You will have to look pretty hard to get US news.

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

A lot more than you'd think. There is a real fear of looking dumb among this culture. So if someone does not speak English, they will respond with disgust. Make a strong effort to learn basics ahead of time and use the local phrases even if you think you sound dumb. It goes a long way to get what you want (but do not expect a smile).

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

Not many, actually. The outskirts can be hilly, but the access to public transportation is pretty great.

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Transportation:

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

Absolutely! Both safe and affordable. Best I've ever seen.

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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?

Any type. Smaller is better.

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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, there are 2 main companies. One is contracted with embassy but is slow. The other is difficult to communicate with but provides fast internet speeds. 74 euro a month for digital cable.

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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?

Don't buy one in the states and expect it to work here. Either get a cheap pay-by- the-minute phone or plan to invest in a phone AND plan here.

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Pets:

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?

No, but be ready to have a last-minute shuffle with paperwork and import issues.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great. Everyone I know who has pets has no complaints. There are kennels, vets and food, as well as an abundance of supplies.

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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?

Not that I have seen. You must speak German, fluently.

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

Dressier than you're used to in the US but not overly so. Women dress up and wear heels, make up all the time and are very concerned about fashion. Men are often in suits, esp at work, and tend to be dressier in restaurants than in the US.Being from the West Coast, it was even more significant of a change.

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Health & Safety:

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

None.

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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?

Tick-borne encephalitis. If you hike, camp or like to be outside, do your homework and read up on the vaccinations, which, btw, are not FDA approved, if that concerns you. Allergies are bad 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?

Great. Allergies are pretty high. Zero pollution.

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

Hot and humid in summer. Cool and temperate fall. Cold, snowy winter, warm beautiful spring. The essence of four seasons.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Great education. Slightly difficult to interact with locals. There is a palpable fear of foreigners here.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Shop around. The main schools are not open to dealing with special needs. Ask lots of questions.

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3. 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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Schools. Other than that, you must speak German.

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Expat Life:

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

HUGE. There are 3 missions here, as well as the United Nations. The community is incredibly diverse (the expat community, that is).

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. It is what you make of it, and it depends on your priorities. If you want to be close with the embassy, you can. If you want to make local friends, that's quite easy, too.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Exists, but it's quiet. This is not a party city. It shuts down early and it's not rowdy.

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

Anyone will love it here. I understand the night life isn't the most exciting, but it does exist.

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

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

This is a very xenophobic society. There is no attempt at hiding it, either.

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

Salzkammergut, Salzburg, Eastern Europe, cheap flights to anywhere in Europe/surrounding areas (for us it was Rome, Paris and Cairo).Biking, hikes, fantastic public parks and pools.

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

Museums, parks, learn about Austro Hungarian empire, see Eastern Europe, bike ride, walk, swim, hike, fish, boat, take pictures, let your kids run to the park, enjoy a stress free life.

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

Experiences more than items. Music classes, instruments, tours,and trips to see the rest of Europe. Wonderful locally-grown (and very healthy) food, but it is expensive.

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

Beautiful city. Lots of things to do both for singles and family. It is a safe city with museums, movies, shopping, great public transportation and good international schools.

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11. Can you save money?

Don't even consider it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Of course!

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

Excess anything. There is not a large amount of storage space.

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3. But don't forget your:

German dictionary.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Living in Vienna" by the American Women's Association

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Anything related to classical music.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

There is a lot to see and do in and around Vienna. There are two major flaws: the cost of everything, and the attitude of the locals. Eventually you realize that neither of these things is going to a) change, or b) do all that much damage. Just be ready for it and enjoy one of the cleanest, safest and most centrally located places on the planet!

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Vienna, Austria 08/15/09

Background:

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

My 5th overseas posting.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct flights to Wash DC - 8 hrs.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Townhouses for US diplomats. Many US diplomats live in compound areas known as "the American ghetto."

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

Expensive! About twice what one would pay in the US. There is a 50-60% COLA for US diplomats.

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

Cold-weather clothing

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

McD's, WienerWald, etc. There are tons of nice restaurants. Dont forget the thousands of coffee-houses.

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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?

Diplomatic pouch and DPO.

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

Expensive! 10-15 Euros/hour.

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

Yes --- but they are expensive. There are excellent hiking and biking trails in the Vienna woods --- a mere 20-30 min from downtown

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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?

Safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes.

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

In Vienna, none. Most educated people speak English. But it helps to know some German, especially in the countryside.

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

Lots.

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Transportation:

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

Public transport is safe and affordable. Many diplomats living downtown do not own a car.

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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?

Bring a well-maintained vehicle. Parts and repairs are expensive.

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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 is pricey.

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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?

Local plans are good but expensive.

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Pets:

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?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good.

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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?

Hmm - tough.

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

Formal at work, more casual otherwise.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Tick-borne encephalitis.

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

Few. Vienna is a very safe city. School-age children ride public transport (bus, tram, Metro) safely on a regular basis.

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

Excellent medical care is available. Excellent dental care is available 1 hour away in Hungary (e.g. dental tourism).

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

4 seasons --- cold winters, nice summers.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AIS is the best of the lot; it's academically demanding, with a full IB program; some kids also attend VIS.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Few. AIS and VIS can handle only kids with mild special needs, on a case-by-case basis; the International Montessori Pre-School [downtown] can accomodate children with special needs on a case-by-case basis.

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3. 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?

Lots of pre-schools available, but pricey. There are 2 excellent International Montessori pre-schools, one near the UN and another located downtown. Daycare costs 10-15 Euros/hour.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, plus there are lots of huge public parks.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge --- lots of diplomats, corporate expats, educators.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies. Many love it. But it takes time to get used to.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Vast. The ball season is a treat --- over 600 formal balls in a 2-month period.

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

Yes. It's a nice city for families; there is an active night-life for singles and couples.

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

Yes.

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

Some --- but better than it used to be. The city is quite international, with lots of immigrants from Turkey, the Balkans, Africa, and Asia.

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

Wow! Explore Vienna and its environs; Austria is a beautiful country, with much to see and do. Plus. Budapest, Prague, Slovenia, and Italy are only a few hours' drive from Vienna. Austria has many gorgeous national parks as well.

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

Tourist kitsch; antiques; art; clothing; food.

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9. Can you save money?

Good luck!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

bad attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

good cheer, curiosity, and friendliness.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Graham Greene, The Third Man.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Graham Greene, The Third Man.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Vienna is a beautiful, charming city, with a lot of history and culture, set in the middle of Europe.

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Vienna, Austria 08/05/09

Background:

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

Munich, Mannheim, Hong Kong, Seoul.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Have been living here 1 year.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

DC-based travelers should use the direct Austrian Airlines flight; takes about 8.5 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Singles and couples without children generally live downtown; commute time 10-30 mins depending on the mission you are assigned to. Families live in the 18th or 19th district. There are apartments/townhouses available outside of the dreary compound.

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

Widely available but very expensive.

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

Laundry detergent and stain treater, any other kind of liquid food.

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

McDonalds, Subway, TGI Fridays, Starbucks. All expensive.

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

This year mosquitoes are a problem because of the amount of rain. Also, the embassy health unit recommends immunization against ticks (series of 3 shots).

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Available, usually Filipina. We pay 10 Euros an hour, which seems to be standard.

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

The embassy has a gym. Austrian gyms are available but tend to be expensive and their opening hours may not be accomodating of a US-type work schedule.

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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?

Getting an Austrian ATM card is the best thing to do (Bankomat card). Many stores do not take visa or mastercard but will take Bankomat.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, and non-denominational.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

AFN is available free on the compound, but you have to buy a converter box.

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

You could probably get by with no German, but it just makes things so much easier and more interesting.

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

Cobblestone streets! Trams are not wheelchair friendly. That being said, there are a lot of old people here who manage just fine.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, yes, and yes.

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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?

Not a large SUV. Anything else should be fine.

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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, about $50/month.

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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?

Everyone has one; the market is competitive, so it's easy to find a good deal.

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Pets:

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?

I don't think so.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very high. Austrians love their pets.

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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?

Can be. It depends on what you're looking for. German is a huge plus. The embassy recently cut the LEA program, which was a foolish move. EFM jobs are limited.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

None.

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

None. This is a very safe city. That being said, use common sense.

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

High quality medical care.

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

4 distinct seasons. Cold but not bitter winter, with some snow in the city, short spring, lovely summer (albeit rainy), nice fall.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

AIS, VIS and VCS are the most popular. Most kids are at AIS but AIS won't accomodate special needs. So far, a positive experience.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

see above. I have heard VIS and VCS will make accommodations.

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3. 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?

There is a very expensive, embassy association-run preschool. There are also tons of Austrian preschools that vary in price and quality. We are very happy with the one we chose.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, baseball and t-ball, soccer, etc plus school sports.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies. It's a great place to live. But working here is a different story.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Opera, theater, wine drinking, movies, etc.

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

Yes to all.

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

I think so.

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

Yes, white Austrians can be very racist and sometimes anti-Semitic. Police tend to profile darker-skinned people and peg them as drug dealers.

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

The city has museums, an amusement park, lots of churches, etc. Easy travel by car or train to other central European destinations.

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

Crafts at Christmas markets; Polish pottery.

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I think so. It's a great place to live, but I have not been satisfied professionally.

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

ideas of saving money.

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3. But don't forget your:

clothes for all seasons.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Third Man

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Frederic Morton's books.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Frederic Morton's books.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Vienna, Austria 07/23/09

Background:

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

My eighth.

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2. How long have you lived here?

August to November 2008.

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

US Embassy Employee.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

8 hrs to Frankfurt, then 2 more to Vienna.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Small, old refurbished military quarters for most. I was in a TDY apt (1BR) but it was spacious and nice, with high ceilings, right downtown. I loved it.

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

Groceries are high, but pretty much everything is available. The Austrians don't dwell as much as we Americans do on variety. Foodwise, they don't do much in the way of beef or lamb. Do try the frozen prepared foods here, they are not like those in the US. Here they are VERY edible as meals. Wine is very reasonably priced, as is beer.

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

BEEF. Cental Europeans arent interested or familiar with it, apparently. Anything electronic, other than cell phones. That stuff is very expensive. A Bike! These people think a cheap bike is $400 or more!

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

Why go to McDonald's, Burger King or Pizza Hut (all available for those who miss the taste of home) when you have Wurst stands and chicken stands all over the city? You can have a doner kebab, a Gyro, a wurst of many types, or salad and a beer, usually for less than 6 Euros. Of course its a world-class city and has some world-class restaurants. But one of the nicest things about Vienna is that it shares with NYC the ability to eat well cheaply when one wants. Do stop in at the Sacher Hotel (bring money!) and have one of the chocolate desserts!

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

Local mail is expensive but reliable -- if not always fast. All of the world couriers are available (Fedex, DHL, etc). The embassy of course has APO/DPO and Pouch.

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

VERY available and very expensive.

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

Yes, but they are expensive. If you work for the US Embassy, they have a small workout room in one of the apartment complexes.

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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?

Whatever you want, but they arent as plentiful as in the States. Try to get to know a few in places you might frequent. As to reliability and security, there are no problems I know of.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Most are in german of course, but I noted many services offered in english and spanish, too. These were catholic churches, just what I noticed.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

At most of the bus stations and places of entry, english newspapers were readily available. Your local newsstand might not have all you want. TV is more mixed, but cable is kind of expensive, as are most things here.

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

Just a bit of German (Austrian dialect) goes far. English is fine tho.

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

In museums and govt buildings there are attempts to modernize to high levels of adaptation and accessibility, but this is an OLD city.

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Transportation:

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

Get a multi-trip ticket and ride any of the 3 modes to your heart's content. Also, rent or buy a bicycle. I didnt have a bike, and the ones they have all over town for "automatic" rental didnt turn me on (solid plastic tires). But getting around town on a bike is fun and not hard. I also rollerbladed pretty much all over the place. Some parts of town are kinda "hilly" for skates, but if you are just in the center of town, rollerblades can do OK. Be aware of places that are cobblestoned!

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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?

WHY? Their system of buses, trams, and metro (subway) trains is among the best in the world. I doubt they even know what carjacking is But they do have traffic, if you need that particular bit of home.

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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?

Internet is fast and reliable. Of course its expensive as most things in Central Europe are.

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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?

No recommendations are really needed here. It is a very modern country, everyone has the cellphone of their choice. Choose the plan that works for you. Most vendors speak english, in my experience.

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Pets:

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?

Not that I know of, check with your agency for advice.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, these people love their pets, especially dogs, which are very well behaved and clean.

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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?

Don't know. The embassy will work to get your spouse a job here, especially if said spouse is skilled, but I didn't see a lot of opportunities for other expats out on the economy. I think you would have to speak German fluently. Only having been there for 4 months though, I might not know.

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

At the embassy its business casual to suit and tie.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Generally decent.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

The usual western battery, nothing special.

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

This is possibly the safest city I have been in in 6 yrs of foreign service travel. Of course you should always take the normal big-city precautions, but it's not likely they are really needed. I walked the city at all hours and NEVER felt threatened. I could never say that back home.

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

Top-notch medical care here, but not the same medical infrastructure we have in the US. private doctors' offices would be much the same, but hosptials can be just a bit more spartan in design. However, I would say the care is as good as anywhere.

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

Weather in Austria is a mixed bag. You do get plenty of rain, but its not as bad as Germany, so you will see the sun a lot. It can get quite chilly in winter, with snow and ice, but I went in summer and it was usually very warm.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

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

Comparatively large, considering the size of the city (only 2Mil), I would rollerblade all around the city in decent weather and hear many different languages as I went thru the well travelled areas. There are also some growing immigrant communities, especially on the western side of the city.

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2. Morale among expats:

Fine, this place is easy living. Travel out of here is readily available and not too expensive. And there are plenty of interesting places to go, not too far away. But just staying here is fine.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Varied. Like most of Europe, small pubs abound. There are clubs and bars for the younger crowd, as well as the more mature (like myself). If you are in town for any length of time, take dance classes, as you are in a dance capitol. They can often be very reasonably priced and a lot of fun. I found a 10-week course at one of the top dance schools teaching most of the primary ballroom forms.

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

Excellent for all. Many museums, while definitely worthwhile, don't offer english interpretation though, so a bit of internet searching prior to visting can reap rewards in the amount of enjoyment and understanding.

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

I saw no overt discrimination vs alternative lifestyles, and it seemd to be generally accepted that people live as they wish.

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

Very little. As a black man, I found the Viennese to be quite reserved, but accepting. None of the big-city "hostility" that you sometimes feel in other places. They seem more laid back.

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

WOW. There is not enough room to write.....The city itself is an attraction! Ride the metro out to Danube Tower or Prater Fair with the kids, or walk thru all of the central city and see the opera house, the Burg theatre, Ring Blvd and St Stephens Cathedral. Don't forget Schonbrun Palace, the zoo, and the Vienna opera House.

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

Glassware, ceramics and art, sightseeing -- which can also be very cheap if you wish.

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9. Can you save money?

No way, unless you don't do anything. Even the weekend markets tend to be very expensive for used items, like in Germany.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

As soon as I could pack!

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

Worries about safety or security in a "big" city. Your prejudgements about SMALL, 'backwards' Austria. The place is small, but rarely have i seen so much packed into one small city. Parks, musuems strolling boulevards, the riverside, it will surprise and delight you. DO Remember that english is NOT the native language of this land, so the fact that the people here speak english is somewhat of a favor to those of us who are not as linguistically capable. Don't go everywhere thinking you are OWED an english-speaking greeter or guide. just a few words in the native tongue, followed by an admission of inability in German, will get you very far with most people.

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3. But don't forget your:

MONEY. You may want to shop. Souvenirs can be high. Decent hotels are also not cheap. Better restauants are expensive.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Be ready to enjoy all the convieniences of a mdern, world-class city in a small package, and with MUCH less stress or worry about safety or security concerns. Dont forget to go and listen to jazz or classical music (or the Boys Choir!) in the Rathaus PLatz or one of many playhouses or arenas, or one of the fairs!

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Vienna, Austria 05/21/08

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

I work at the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 10-12 hours to the U.S.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is small and a lot of personnel live on the U.S. compunds which are old Army quarters.

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

EXPENSIVE!!!!

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

FOOD!!!!!

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

McDonald's, Burger King and that is about it.

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Daily Life:

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

APO but it's not good.

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

Expensive.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Safe and numerous.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

None.

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

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

None.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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

Great public transport that is safe and clean.

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3. 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?

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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?

Good but expensive.

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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?

Expensive.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

VOIP.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great, the Austrians love their dogs.

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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?

None.

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

Fancy.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Great.

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

None.

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

None.

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

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Terrible.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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

Great for families and singles. Couples without children have a tough time since the expats travel and do not associate with each other. Too many cliques.

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

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

None.

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

Travel out of the EU to save money.

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

None.

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9. Can you save money?

No way!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Car.

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3. But don't forget your:

Warm clothes.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Vienna, Austria 04/04/08

Background:

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

Second expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Nine months.

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

I am affiliated with the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From DC, government folks take the United/Austrian Airlines codeshare. It's about ten hours direct. If you have to connect somewhere I'd avoid any layovers in Frankfurt. I'd take Heathrow over it every day and twice on Sundays. A truly horrible, crowded, miserable place. Avoid at all costs if traveling with a small child.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Generally apartments and generally pretty nice. I think Americans have a ton of space compared to everyone else. There are some single family homes, or villas that have been converted into apartments. The Embassy has two compounds which have their advantages -- AFN is provided, appliances are American-sized, there are playgrounds, but the aesthetics leave something to be desired. Singles and couples without children are generally housed in the first district, families in the 18th and 19th. The 18th is actually pretty close in to the Embassy and the city center. The 19th stretches all the way up to the Vienna Woods, so you can be pretty close to everything or quite far away.

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

Well, we're at 80% COLA these days, that should tell you something. For everyday living I find it manageable with the COLA, but travel or touristy things start to look pretty expensive.

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

You can find everything here, it's a question of cost. I'd ship my Weber grill again because it would cost 2x as much here. Ditto for big baby/kid/toddler items, bikes. Ship contact solution if you need it. With the exchange rate I don't buy shoes or clothes here.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, others. Lots of decent and some very good dining to be had.

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Daily Life:

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

Austria Post is pretty reliable.

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

Sort of available and cost is high. For cleaning 6-8 euros an hour and babysitting 8-10 euros an hour.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Your ATM card will work here, but you will need an Austrian Bank Account with a debit card for the grocery store. Most places do not take your American MasterCard or VISA.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Both Catholic and Protestant.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The International Herald Tribune. You can get a few English channels on basic (free) satellite, but most people have AFN. I'd buy your decoder before you get here if possible. They are in short supply, even at the military bases.

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

Little, but make no mistake, this is a German speaking country. You can get by with no German, but I think you're better off knowing some.

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

Some, but there are lots of elevators for the U-Bahn. Older buildings would be an issue.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, like in the States.

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

Very safe and pretty affordable.

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3. 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?

Some people manage quite well with no car. If you live in the 1st District I can't imagine you'd use it much. If you do bring something, make sure it's not too big -- you do see some smaller SUV's here but about the biggest is the BMW X5.

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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, I guess the same as the States.

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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?

Pay as you go. You can shop around for plans.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We use internet phone.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

A vet on every corner. I haven't checked into kennels.

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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?

Yes, but not tons. If you speak German it's easier.

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

Maybe a little more dressy than in the U.S., but jeans and sneakers are widely worn.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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

Very few, although home break-ins are apparently on the rise. Otherwise,Vienna is unbelievably safe. Children as young as 8 or 9 ride public transportation to and from school without adult supervision.

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

Very good medical care. The Embassy Health Unit is really great too.

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

Four seasons. Some winters in the past few years have been mild, but it snows. Someone told me it was like DC. They lied.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No experience. Most Embassy folks send their children to the American International School (AIS) and they seem happy with it. It has a gorgeous campus. The other popular schools are the Vienna International School and Danube International School.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

No daycare, period. If you have a child under the age of two and both parents are working you need a nanny. And they aren't cheap -- you'll pay what you'd pay in the States. That said, we have a absolutely wonderful nanny that immigrated here from the Philippines and our family is very happy to have found her. If you know you will need someone, start looking early-- the easiest way is to find someone that is leaving and hire their nanny/housekeeper.

I hate to be negative, but the CLO/Embassy was of no help other than to suggest to advertise in the newsletter (duh). Other potential resources are the Vienna Babies Club http://www.viennababiesclub.com/ or http://www.nanny-service.at/index2.html (I know a couple of families that have had a good experience with this service.). Some preschools will take children as young as 18 months, but they aren't full day programs. You might be able to cobble together full day care when your child is three or four. Also, do what you like, but there are laws concerning the employment of nannies and domestic help. There is an FSN at the Embassy that is very helpful for navigating the legal side of things.

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Expat Life:

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

Enormous.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. Some people complain and hate the Austrians and the staring, frowning and telling you what to do can get old, but this is a gorgeous, safe city with tons to do, not to mention the nearby travel opportunities. There also seem to be a lot of people here obsessed with their American products. Simply put, if you can't live without Butterball turkey maybe you should reconsider living abroad.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Home, out, whatever. There are clubs, restaurants, opera, theater, etc.

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

For everyone, really. I will buck the conventional wisdom and say that I find Vienna a great place to live with a small child. No, you can't take your toddler to a five star restaurant, but why would you want to? There are tons of parks and indoor playgrounds. The public transportation largely accomodates strollers and people make room for you. On the old trams someone will almost always offer to help you get your stroller on and off. I think the standards of behavior for older children are more stringent so I can see things from that viewpoint. The Viennese aren't particularly friendly so singles can be lonely if you don't find a niche somewhere. I think this would be paradise for couples -- just a million things to do.

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

I would think so.

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

Maybe. Vienna is very international, but I don't think they are color-blind.

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

Too many too mention. There is always something going on.

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

Well, not local, but Polish pottery. They also have these Easter markets with an unbelievable amount of lavishly decorated eggs.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. I like it here.

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

Calculator. If you think about what you are spending in dollars, you will go insane.

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3. But don't forget your:

Warm clothes. Bring or plan to buy a winter coat, snow boots, etc. You're going to need them.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Third Man, Before Sunrise.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I don't mean to be hard on my fellow expats, but this isn't America. If you expect friendly faces, familiar grocery stores, etc. you are going to be disappointed. I think this is a very nice posting with no real hardships. That doesn't mean no bad days, but it's a matter of perspective.

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Vienna, Austria 01/11/08

Background:

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

This is our first expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

About 2.5 years.

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

Author is in Vienna for her spouse's job.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Vienna to Washington DC about 10 hours direct.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There's a mix of housing compounds, single homes, and downtown apartments at very convenient distance from work/downtown.

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

All products are available - you just have to get used to the brands. The cost is higher than in the U.S.

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

I can't think of anything I would like to ship.

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

McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut. Although the local cuisine is much better.

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Daily Life:

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

Via Austrian Mail.

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

High. I didn't need domestic help.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are everywhere and having a Maestro local debit card is the best since it's accepted in all stores.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I know at least one Catholic church that has Sunday service in English.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Some international newspapers are available in English and there is AFN.

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

Many Austrians speak English and they are happy to practice it. That was not really helpful for me because I couldn't practice my German.

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

I don't think there would be any.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right hand side, same as the U.S.

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

Public transportation in Vienna is wonderful. Buses, trams, and subways are all syncronized and punctual. Trains are good too. You don't really need to own a vehicle in Vienna unless you plan on traveling around the country/Europe a lot. Prices are affordable, epecially if you get a monthly/annual ticket for public transportation in the city. Low-cost airlines are available, too.

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3. 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?

Most American-made vehicles don't meet the Austrian requirements; some people have to modify them for that purpose. It is definitely not recommended to bring big vehicles (trucks, SUVs).

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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?

ADSL and cable available. Cost up to 50 Euro/month.

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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?

There are very attractive offers from several cell phone services providers.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

I've used a local voice-over-IP service and I've been very happy with it.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

At high quality and high prices.

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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?

Not many.

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

Smart casual at work and casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good, the Austrian take care of their environment.

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

No, Vienna is a safe place.

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

No health concerns. High quality medical care.

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

Four seasons but there is a lot of rain and it can get pretty windy too.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Available, but I have no experience with them.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

Plenty are available.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Moderate.

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

It is good for all families, singles and couples. Maybe less for singles.

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

I think so, Austrians have no problem with people of other orientation.

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

None that I know of.

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

There are many restaurants, clubs, and outdoor sitting areas in the summer. Vienna is a vivid city. Austria is a country with a beautiful scenery so traveling is always a fun experience.

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

I have never been able to realize what that item could be.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really, Austria is an expensive country.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, definitely.

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

Worries.

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3. But don't forget your:

German dictionary.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

I love Vienna and Austria. Its location gives you the opportunity to travel a lot around Europe.

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