Austria, known globally for its enchanting landscapes, architectural marvels, and rich cultural heritage, is an increasingly sought-after destination for expats. This European gem, offering both historic charm and modern luxuries, promises a high standard of living. However, understanding the cost of living in Austria is integral to ensure a smooth transition and an enjoyable lifestyle. This guide aims to provide an in-depth overview of the expenses you can anticipate, along with practical budgeting tips for your Austrian sojourn.
The cost of living in Austria can differ dramatically between cities. As the capital, Vienna is the most expensive city, particularly in terms of housing costs. Other cities like Graz, Linz, and Salzburg tend to be slightly more affordable, while smaller towns and rural areas offer substantial savings. For a detailed comparison of living costs across Austrian cities, websites like Numbeo offer a wealth of data.
Housing Costs in Austria: Renting vs Buying
Housing costs constitute a substantial part of living expenses for residents in Austria. These costs fluctuate significantly depending on several factors such as geographical location, property size, and the nature of the accommodation, i.e., whether it’s rented or owned. As expected, major urban areas like Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck command higher housing costs in contrast to smaller towns and rural areas.
Renting in Austria
Austria offers a range of rental options to suit various budgets. For instance, the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of a major city varies between €600 and €1,000 per month. In contrast, the same type of accommodation in suburban or peripheral areas would generally cost between €450 and €700 per month.
Larger families seeking more spacious accommodations, such as a three-bedroom apartment in the city center, should anticipate a rental cost ranging from €1,200 to €2,200 monthly. If such a property is located in the suburbs, the monthly rent could be a bit more economical, falling between €900 and €1,500.
Buying property in Austria
On the other hand, if you’re considering buying property in Austria, it’s crucial to understand the associated costs. Purchasing property in the city center generally costs between €3,500 and €10,000 per square meter. If you’re looking at property in the outskirts of the city, you can expect to pay somewhat less, typically ranging from €2,000 to €5,000 per square meter.
Although foreigners are permitted to buy property in Austria, the process can be complex, and it’s advised to seek the help of a real estate advisor to navigate through it. A valuable resource for understanding the property market in Austria, including available listings, average prices, and legal requirements, is Austria’s official real estate portal.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the average costs and necessary procedures. Conduct thorough research, plan your budget accordingly, and if necessary, seek advice from real estate professionals to find the housing solution that best suits your needs.
Groceries and Dining: Price Range and Saving Tips
Austria offers a wide variety of options for both groceries and dining, with prices to suit different budgets. Grocery shopping in the country is relatively cost-effective, especially if you’re open to exploring discount supermarket chains such as Hofer (known as Aldi in other countries) and Lidl. Both chains are widely recognized for their affordable prices and decent quality of products. Your monthly grocery bill, assuming most meals are cooked at home, is likely to range between €200 and €300, depending on the size of your household and dietary preferences.
When it comes to quality, Austrian supermarkets are known for their high standards. Fresh produce is abundant, and you can find a wide array of locally produced items, especially dairy products and meats. Furthermore, many supermarkets carry a good selection of organic products for those who prefer to shop sustainably.
Dining out in Austria provides a plethora of choices ranging from cozy local eateries to upscale gourmet restaurants. Eating at a budget-friendly restaurant is fairly affordable, with a typical meal costing between €10 and €15. However, dining at a mid-range restaurant, particularly for a three-course meal, could cost around €50 per person. The price can increase significantly at high-end restaurants, especially in touristy areas or major cities.
To save money while dining out, consider trying out lunch menus on weekdays. Many restaurants in Austria offer ‘Mittagsmenü’ (lunch menu), which typically includes a starter, main dish, and sometimes dessert at a reduced price. These menus are a great way to try a variety of dishes without stretching your budget.
Moreover, Austria is renowned for its coffee house culture. These traditional venues serve not only a wide variety of coffees but also offer affordable meals and pastries. Hence, coffee houses can be a cost-effective option for dining, particularly for breakfast or lunch.
Additionally, ‘Heuriger’ taverns, especially common in Vienna and the surrounding region, serve local wine and hearty homemade dishes at reasonable prices. They provide an authentic and economical Austrian dining experience.
Utilities and Internet: What to Expect
In Austria, the monthly utility costs encompass a range of essential services such as electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection. For an average 85m² apartment, these costs typically fall between €150 and €200. However, the actual amount can vary based on numerous factors such as personal consumption habits, the efficiency of household appliances, the type of heating system (gas, oil, or district heating), and the insulation quality of the dwelling. For instance, energy-efficient appliances and effective insulation can significantly reduce heating and electricity costs, especially during Austria’s cold winter months.
High-speed internet, another essential utility in today’s digital age, usually incurs an extra cost of €25 to €35 per month. It’s essential to note that the price and quality of internet service can vary greatly depending on the provider and the specific package chosen. Austria has several internet service providers, including A1, Magenta, and Drei. These companies offer a range of packages with differing speeds, data limits, and additional services such as TV or landline telephony.
When setting up utilities and internet services, platforms like Durchblicker can be extremely helpful. Durchblicker is an independent online comparison tool that allows users to compare prices and services of various providers in Austria, helping you find the best deals for your needs.
Moreover, the cost of utilities can also be influenced by the municipality you reside in. For example, water and garbage fees are determined at a local level and can differ from one municipality to another. It’s also worth mentioning that in Austria, most apartments are metered individually for heating and hot water, meaning you pay for exactly what you consume.
Transportation Costs in Austria
Austria prides itself on its extensive and highly efficient public transportation network comprising trains, trams, buses, and subways. A monthly pass for public transport in urban areas costs approximately €50. Taxis, although convenient, are more expensive, starting at about €4 and charging €1.50 per kilometer traveled.
If you are considering buying a car, keep in mind the additional costs such as insurance, fuel, and maintenance, apart from the vehicle’s cost. Fuel prices hover around €1.30 per liter. To find the best insurance rates, consider comparing prices on platforms like Durchblicker.
Healthcare Costs in Austria
Healthcare in Austria is renowned for its high quality. The country operates a statutory health insurance system that covers a substantial portion of healthcare costs for all residents, including expats. Depending on your gross income, you may have to contribute about 7-8% towards health insurance, which is automatically deducted from your salary.
For those seeking additional benefits, private health insurance is also available. These plans often include perks like private hospital rooms and faster access to specialists. However, premiums for private insurance plans can be higher, with monthly costs starting from around €100.
Education Costs: Free, Public, and International Schools
Austria holds its education system in high esteem. The country provides free public education to all children residing in Austria, including those from expat families. However, since instruction in public schools is predominantly in German, many expats prefer international schools, which offer instruction in English and other languages.
Fees for international schools can vary significantly but expect to budget between €10,000 and €20,000 per year. For higher education, public universities are quite affordable compared to many other countries. EU/EEA students can study at public universities for free, while non-EU students may have to pay a nominal tuition fee. You can find detailed information on the Study in Austria website.
Leisure and Entertainment
Leisure and entertainment costs in Austria depend largely on your lifestyle choices. If you enjoy movies, expect to pay around €10 for a cinema ticket. Gym enthusiasts will find monthly memberships averaging between €25 and €50.
Nature lovers can indulge in outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing, many of which can be enjoyed free of charge or at a minimal cost. Cultural aficionados can delve into Austria’s rich history through its diverse museums and historical sites. An annual national museum card, granting access to several museums, is priced around €59.
Taxes in Austria: Implications for Expats
Austria operates a progressive income tax system, with rates spanning from 0% to 55%. Your tax category as an expat will be classified as either resident or non-resident taxpayer, depending on the duration of your stay in Austria and other personal circumstances. Residents are taxed on their global income, whereas non-residents are taxed only on their income originating in Austria.
The Austrian Ministry of Finance website provides detailed information about the country’s tax system. However, as tax issues can be complicated, it may be beneficial to consult with a tax advisor.
Saving Tips: How to Live Economically in Austria
Maintaining an economical lifestyle in Austria is achievable with careful planning and a keen eye for savings opportunities. From groceries and dining to transportation and leisure activities, there are several strategies that can help stretch your budget while enjoying everything Austria has to offer.
Groceries: Opt for discount supermarkets like Hofer (Aldi) and Lidl, which are known for their high-quality goods at reasonable prices. Consider buying seasonal fruits and vegetables from local markets, which are not only fresh but often cheaper. It’s also a good idea to look out for weekly promotions and discounts offered by these stores.
Dining: Take advantage of weekday lunch specials (‘Mittagsmenü’) offered by many Austrian restaurants. These meals often include a starter, main course, and sometimes dessert, all at a reduced price. It’s a great way to enjoy a variety of dishes without overstretching your budget.
Transportation: Public transportation in Austria is efficient, reliable, and significantly cheaper than maintaining a private vehicle. Look into monthly or annual passes for buses, trams, and trains if you commute regularly. More information about public transportation and ticket prices can be found on the official Austrian Federal Railways website.
Leisure and Entertainment: Austria boasts a plethora of free or affordable outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, or swimming in the numerous lakes during the summer. Free entry or discounted tickets to museums and other cultural attractions are often available on certain days of the week or for specific groups (students, seniors). Check out the official Austria Tourism website for more information on budget-friendly activities.
Utilities and Services: Use online comparison platforms like Durchblicker to ensure you’re getting the best deal on utilities, insurance, internet, and other services. This site lets you compare the prices of various providers, helping you make an informed decision and potentially save a substantial amount.
Secondhand Shopping: Consider buying secondhand items from flea markets or online platforms such as Willhaben. It’s an excellent way to find good quality items at a fraction of their original price.
Student Discounts: If you’re a student, make sure to take advantage of the numerous discounts available to you, from transportation and meals to cultural attractions and events. The ÖH (Austrian National Union of Students) offers comprehensive information on available discounts and privileges.
By utilizing these strategies, you can live economically while still making the most of your experience in Austria.
In conclusion, living affordably in Austria is a realistic and achievable goal. It does require strategic planning, mindful spending, and an openness to adapt and take advantage of available resources and opportunities. Austria offers a high standard of living, and by wisely utilizing discount supermarkets, affordable dining options, efficient public transportation, and a plethora of free or low-cost leisure activities, you can make the most of what this beautiful country has to offer while staying within your budget.
Furthermore, online platforms and resources are great tools to compare prices and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money, from utilities to insurance and other services. Secondhand markets and student discounts are other great ways to save.
Remember, being economical doesn’t mean compromising your quality of life. With careful planning and informed choices, you can enjoy a rich and fulfilling lifestyle in Austria without breaking the bank. Austria’s mix of cultural richness, natural beauty, and efficient public services makes it a place where you can live well and affordably.