The Republic of Austria is famous all over the world for its Alpine mountains, vast forests and glassy lakes. Situated in Central Europe, it is bordered by Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Liechtenstein, and Italy. This EU State has its origins in the Celtic Kingdom as well as the Roman Empire. Today, this country is at the forefront of political thought as well as international relations.Austria happens to be one of the richest places in Europe, which offers its residents a very high standard of living. Expats moving to this landlocked nation will be treated to an intriguing mix of spectacular scenery, modernized cities and historical villages. Other factors that make it very appealing to foreigners include a temperate climate, standard healthcare, excellent infrastructure, quality education, political stability, a safe environment, lively nightlife, outdoor activities, a wide range of jobs and an impressive collection of multicultural activities, to name a few. Moreover, the people are usually friendly, respectful and welcoming.
According to the World Economic Outlook Survey conducted by the International Monetary Fund, Austria has the 30th largest economy in the world. This means that their banking system is stable, modern, efficient and user-friendly. The euro has been the official currency of the country since 1999. Since joining the European Union, the cost of food and other basic items have gone up in Austria. This is in line with the rest of the EU. In Austria, you can pick up products that originate from all over Europe.
Most expats feel that the cost of living is a fairly small price to pay for living in this nation. In fact, if you are from the UK or France, you may actually find Austria cheaper than your home country. On the other hand, if you are from the US, Canada, the Netherlands or Spain, you may feel that Austria is more expensive.
Your monthly expenses are likely to vary, depending on where in Austria you reside. Like in most other places, the cost of living is considerably higher in the urban centers compared to the rural areas. You should therefore be prepared to spend comparatively more if you live in one of the major cities such as Vienna (the capital), Salzburg, Innsbruck or Graz. Your personal choices will also play a major role in the amount of money you spend each month.
Accommodation & utilities are often the main expenses for expats all over the world. Unfortunately, the majority of the expats in this country can’t afford to purchase property and renting is the only feasible option.
Rents in the heart of the cities are a lot higher compared to other areas. For example, a furnished, 2-bedroom (85 square meters or 900 square feet) house on the main street is likely to cost at least € 1350 (US$ 1548, £ 1060) per month, while the same-sized house in an inexpensive location can be rented for € 1025 (US$ 1175, £ 805). Similarly, the cost of renting a furnished 1-bedroom or studio (45 square meters or 480 square feet) apartment is approximately € 800 (US$ 917, £ 628) within the city center and about € 600 (US$ 688, £ 470) outside.
Do bear in mind that rents also fluctuate, depending on whether the apartment is fully furnished or not. It may be a better idea for you to lease a fully-furnished house that comes with all household appliances, including electronics, if your employer is paying your monthly rent. Several expats prefer to lease houses that are semi furnished and purchase their own electronics, to save money. You could buy a branded 800/900 watt microwave oven for € 114 (US$ 132, £ 90) and a 40” flat-screen TV for less than € 400 (US$ 460, £ 314).
In Vienna, the government has made efforts to build state-owned apartments at subsidized rates in order to enable people to find affordable housing options, even in high-income areas. Though small, these apartments can be rented at half the cost of the houses in the buildings on 18th and 19th street.
In terms of utilities, a couple is likely to spend around € 145 (US$ 166, £ 114) per month on heating, electricity, water, and garbage disposal. Monthly internet bills average about € 25 (US$ 29, £ 20).
Austria is known to have one of the highest food costs in Europe but you could minimize your grocery expenditure to a great extent by purchasing items from supermarkets in bulk. Foreigners find canned foods, frozen foods, turkey, chicken and other meats very expensive in this country. Things get worse during the winter months, when fresh fruits and vegetables of limited variety and in short supply. Even those food items that are manufactured in Austria are limited in selection and generally expensive. The cost of basic food items include:
Mineral Water: € 0.71 (US$ 0.81, £ 0.56) for 1.5 Liters
Soda: € 1.97 (US$ 2.26, £ 1.55) for 2 Liters
Apples: € 2.21 (US$ 2.54, £ 1.73) for 1 Kilogram
Bananas: € 1.84 (US$ 2.11, £ 1.44) for 1 Kilogram
Oranges: € 2.33 (US$ 2.67, £ 1.83) for 1 Kilogram
Tomatoes: € 2.35 (US$ 2.70, £ 1.84) for 1 Kilogram
Potatoes: € 1.55 (US$ 1.78, £ 1.22) for 1 Kilogram
Onions: € 1.45 (US$ 1.66, £ 1.14) for 1 Kilogram
Lettuce: € 1.15 (US$ 1.32, £ 0.90) for 1 Head
Milk: € 1.07 (US$ 1.23, £ 0.84) for 1 Liter
Bread (White): € 1.64 (US$ 1.88, £ 1.29) for 1 Loaf or 500 Grams
Eggs (Large): € 3.03 (US$ 3.48, £ 2.38) for 1 Dozen
Cheese (Local): € 9.54 (US$ 10.94, £ 7.49) for 1 Kilogram
Chicken (Boneless & Skinless): € 9.17 (US$ 10.52, £ 7.20) for I Kilogram
Beef: € 14.54 (US$ 16.68, £ 11.41) for I Kilogram
Your grocery bills will probably be a lot higher if you consume alcohol or smoke regularly. A bottle of good-quality, medium range wine costs about € 7 (US$ 8.03, £ 5.49). Also, you will pay around € 0.98 (US$ 1.12, £ 0.77) for a 0.5-liter bottle of domestic beer and € 1.35 (US$ 1.55, £ 1.06) for a 0.33-liter bottle of imported beer. A pack of cigarettes costs almost € 5 (US$ 5.73, £ 3.92). Fortunately, it is quite easy to find useful discounts and deals at most of the leading supermarket chains.
The amount of money you spend commuting to work and other places on a regular basis is bound to have an impact on your expenditure.
Fortunately, Austria has a reliable and efficient public transport system that connects most of the major Austrian towns and cities. The larger metropolises have an underground metro, buses, tramlines and a suburban railway. However, there are only one or two modes of transit present in the smaller towns.
Traveling by public transport in Austria isn’t expensive. You’ll pay € 2.20 (US$ 2.52, £ 1.73) for a single journey on the Metro. If you are a regular commuter, you can opt for a monthly pass for € 48.20 (US$ 55.30, £ 37.82), which can be used on all modes of transport.
Many Austrians use cycling as a way to get from one place to another. Most of the major cities have incorporated “bike lines” into their planning. This is free if you have your own bicycle. Alternately, you can rent a bicycle in the urban centers for around € 5 (US$ 5.74, £ 3.93) per hour.
If you prefer moving around in your own vehicle, you could purchase a new basic small-sized car for € 22000 (US$ 25251.60, £ 17271.96). Do note that parking comes at a premium in terms of price and availability. You will also need to buy a vignette if you want access to the highways.
As expats with the relevant paperwork, your family is entitled to free education in the state schools. Do remember that German is the main language of studies and instruction in such cases. If your child isn’t fluent in this language, public schooling may not be a feasible option.
Fortunately, Austria also has a range of private international schools, following the British or American curricula. Most of these educational institutions are located in Vienna or other large cities. Moreover, they can be very expensive, with tuition fees of € 18000 (US$ 20660, £ 14126) per year. This amount may vary depending on the age of the student. The cost of books, stationery and other learning materials, as well as uniforms, is extra.
Many expats who move to Austria with their families negotiate with their employers for an education allowance.
Recreation is an essential part of any expat’s life and fortunately, Austria has plenty of leisure activities to offer people of all ages.
Eating out in Austria can be quite an expense. A 3-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is likely to cost you around € 50 (US$ 57.35, £ 39.23). The bill usually comes to € 65 (US$ 75, £ 51) or so at an Italian restaurant in an expat area, for appetizers, main course, wine and dessert. You’ll pay € 12 (US$ 13.76, £ 9.42) for a single-course meal for one at an inexpensive establishment and about € 7 (US$ 8.03, £ 5.49) for a combination meal at a fast food joint. The approximate costs for a drink at restaurants are:
Beer, Domestic: € 3.58 (US$ 4.11, £ 2.81) for 0.5 Liter (Drought)
Beer, Imported: € 3.75 (US$ 4.30, £ 2.94) for 0.33 Liter
Cappuccino: € 3.41 (US$ 3.91, £ 2.68) for 1 Cup
Cocktails: € 9 (US$ 10.32, £ 7.06) for 1 Drink
Sodas: € 2.52 (US$ 2.89, £ 1.98) for 0.33 Liter
People pay around € 10 (US$ 11.47, £ 7.85) per head to watch an international release in the cinema. Theater and concert tickets cost more than five times as much at around € 60 (US$ 68.80, £ 47.08) per head for the best available seats.
If you are a fitness freak, you could join a reputed, well-equipped gym for around € 35 (US$ 40.14, £ 27.46) per month (yearly memberships are cheaper). You can also rent a tennis court for an hour on the weekend for € 17 (US$ 19.49, £ 13.34).
Your visits to the supermarket are likely to include everyday toiletries and personal items. These also have an effect on your monthly budget. The costs of these products are:
Deodorant: € 3.14 (US$ 3.60, £ 2.46) for 1 Roll-on Stick (50 ML/ 1.5 Oz.)
Hair Shampoo: € 3.21 (US$ 3.68, £ 2.52) for 1 Bottle (400 ML/ 12 Oz.)
Toilet Paper: € 1.94 (US$ 2.22, £ 1.52) for 4 Rolls
Toothpaste: € 2.07 (US$ 2.37, £ 1.62) for 1 Tube
A visit to the salon for a haircut costs men around € 25 (US$ 28.67, £ 19.62). The amount is much higher for women.
Common over-the-counter medicines for minor health problems can be purchased for approximately € 10 (US$ 11.47, £ 7.85) a strip/bottle. Antacids (12 doses) are much cheaper at € 6 (US$ 6.88, £ 4.71). Even a short, general visit to the doctor could cost you as much as € 86 (US$ 98.61, £ 67.47).
The practice of tipping is very common across the country to show satisfaction with any service. In restaurants, bars and cafes it is customary to leave around 10% of the total bill for good service. However, since most establishments levy a service charge, patrons often just round up the total when paying the bill. This also applies to hair salons and other similar services. Most of the residents tip cab drivers a similar percentage of the meter fare. In case of porters and cloakroom attendants, you can give them small change. Not leaving a tip is an indication of dissatisfaction with the service.