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Expat in Vienna - language barrier?


Stephanie's picture
By Stephanie - Posted on
22 November 2011
How necessary is it to learn German to live in Austria? I'll be moving with my husband who's been transferred to a multinational company in which the de facto business language is English. Can we get buy with our English at least for awhile, or will it be impossible to do basic things like go to the shops, open a bank account, speak to people on the street, etc. 

Any other tips about culture in Vienna that may take some getting used too?
StephanieDutcher's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 50 weeks ago
Joined: 22/11/2011

Living in:
Innsbruck, Austria

From:
the USA

Stephanie's Website
While learning German will greatly enhance your quality of life in Austria, it is not entirely necessary to conduct daily business and errands. Most bank employees speak English and they will be able to help you setup an account. In addition, it should be possible to find people who speak English that can help you arrange services suce as the internet, electricity, and cell phones. English fluency varies from person to person so it is best to learn some German if you can. For instance, the person who arranges your internet account may speak English but the installer who comes to your home may not speak English and you might have to use some German to complete the transaction.

If you study German before your move you will greatly appreciate it once you arrive. It is particularly helpful to know how to say "Do you speak English?" in German as well as "Please" and "Thank you." Once you get settled in your new home and establish a routine you will begin to have a better idea of how much German you should learn to feel comfortable in your situation. Enrolling in a German course at the university can have a drastic effect on how comfortable you feel in your daily life and it is also a great place to meet other expats!
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