Cost of Living in Austria
Expats moving to Austria will find the high cost of living a small price to pay for the much higher quality of life their move will afford them. Vienna, Austria's capital, especially offers expats an excellent quality of life, which comes at an especially high cost.
While expats from the UK or France will find the cost of living in Austria to be cheap, it is generally more expensive than the Netherlands and Spain.
The cost of living in Austria naturally varies according to location (urban centres are more expensive than rural villages) and personal choice – a factor that can certainly influence one's bank balance at the end of the month.
That said, expats should note that food costs in Austria are high, especially during winter when fresh fruits and vegetables are more likely to be scarce; the price for purchasing housing is astronomical; and sending children to international schools can monopolise a fair chunk of an expat's cash.
Accommodation costs in Austria
Most expats will not be able to afford to purchase property in Austria. Renting is a much more reasonable option athough, again, prices can vary dramatically depending on location.
In Vienna, the government's efforts to construct state-owned apartment buildings with subsidised rates make it possible to find affordable options even in high-income neighbourhoods. These flats are typically small, but the rent can be as little as EUR 450 for 40 to 45 sq. metres. Outside of these spaces, prices for apartments in Vienna can be much more costly - especially in the posh 18th and 19th districts of the city, where a similar sized flat costs at least twice as much.
When initially signing a lease, expats should also anticipate paying at least the equivalent of two month's rent as a refundable deposit, in addition to the first month of rent. If using an estate agent, the bill may also amount to two to three month's of rent.
Utilities are fairly reasonable: the cost of electricity and gas (water is generally included in rent) is generally around EUR 200 a month for a 100 sq. metre apartment.
Cost of transport in Austria
The majority of Austrian cities and towns are well-connected by an efficient and reliable public transport system. Larger metropolises feature an underground metro, tramlines, buses and even suburban railways; while smaller towns may only have one or two modes of transit available. Public transport in Austria isn't expensive, but it is also not cheap. A single journey on the metro in Vienna is EUR 2 and an unlimited monthly pass for all modes of transit is EUR 49.50.
Cycling, which is free, is also popular in Austria, and many cities have incorporated bike lines into their city planning. It's also possible to rent a bicycle for EUR 4 per hour in major urban centres.
That said, Austria loves automobiles, and expats who choose to live outside of the city may opt to buy a car. Do note that parking is at a premium, both in terms of availability and price. It's also necessary to purchase a Vignette, which is a toll that provides access to Austria's highways. Owning and driving a car is expensive, and in many cases, more of a headache than a help.
Cost of food and entertainment in Austria
Austria has some of the highest food costs in Europe. That said, buying in bulk can minimise expenditure, and shopping at grocery stores and then cooking at home can be a help to those who need to pinch pennies. Penny Markt and Zielpunkt are the most reasonably priced supermarkets, though at the sacrifice of the quality and selection of the goods available. Spar Gourmet and Merkur are high-end, and everything else falls somewhere in between. Fruits and vegetables can be expensive and hard to find out of season.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is fairly reasonably priced and cheap tickets for most types of entertainment are also affordable. A bottle of table wine can cost as little as EUR 2, and a can of beer below EUR 0.80 in a supermarket.
Cost of education in Austria
Expat residents can send their children to Austrian public schools for free. That said, the curriculum is taught in German, and if a child isn't fluent, this course of action is not recommended.
There are plenty of international schools in the larger Austrian cities, but these can be quite expensive, costing as much as EUR 18,000 a year for high school students. Tuition fees vary depending on the school and the age of the child. Expats moving to Austria with kids should try and negotiate an education allowance as part of their job contract.
Cost of living chart for Vienna (2014)*Based of prices in Vienna. Prices listed in Euros (EUR)
(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)
|Accommodation (monthly rent from unfurnished to furnished)|
|Furnished 2 bedroom house||EUR 2,900|
|Unfurnished 2 bedroom house||EUR 2,600|
|Furnished 2 bedroom apartment||EUR 1,900|
|Unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment||EUR 1,600|
|Food and drink|
|Milk (1 litre)||EUR 1.10|
|Cheese (500g)||EUR 7|
|Dozen Eggs||EUR 3|
|White Bread||EUR 2.40|
|Rice (1kg)||EUR 1.99|
|1 packet of cigarettes (Marlboro)||EUR 4.50|
|City centre bus/train fare||EUR 2|
|Taxi rate per km||EUR 2.50|
|Petrol/gasoline per litre||EUR 1.70|
|Big Mac Meal||EUR 8|
|Coca Cola (500 ml)||EUR 1.80|
|Bottle of beer||EUR 4|
|Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant||EUR 35|
|Internet uncapped ADSL per month||EUR 40|
|Mobile call rate (mobile to mobile per minute)||EUR 0.57|
|Electricity (average per month for standard household)||EUR 120|
|Hourly rate for domestic help||EUR 20|