Expats will find that although their options for accommodation in Austria are limited in variety, they are plentiful in number.
As Austria is a welfare state which funds 'social-housing', there are a variety of state-owned apartment buildings that are leased at subsidised rates.
Types of property in Austria
Expats moving to Austria will find that the type of property available to them will depend largely on where they choose to relocate to within the country. The majority of new arrivals tend to be found in Vienna.
Space is limited in Vienna and most of the accommodation options will be studios or apartments. Houses and cottages are more likely found in the suburbs or rural parts of Austria rather than in any of the cities.
Regardless of the type of accommodation, the standard is generally high; indoor heating is a standard feature, and most apartments boast beautiful high ceilings and parquet flooring.
Expats are advised that most shared-housing options will be at least partially furnished, while whole apartments are usually unfurnished. If opting for an unfurnished option, shipping furniture to Austria (especially from within the EU) is a viable option, and there are plenty of very good furniture stores around (such as IKEA) where expats will find everything they need.
Finding property in Austria
Some expats are lucky enough to have their employer provide them with accommodation or at least some assistance in terms of finding a suitable home in Austria.
Those who are not so fortunate and have to find housing on their own should utilise the services of an estate agent. Unless expats speak fluent German, manouvering one's way through property websites or classifieds sections of newspapers will be difficult. Therefore most new arrivals opt to save time by going through an estate agent. Not only do estate agents help expats overcome the language barrier but they have an intimate knowledge of the local property market which is helpful in finding a property that meets an individual's requirements.
Renting property in Austria
Renting property in Vienna is a reasonably straightforward process, as the vast majority of apartments are rented through estate agents. Expats should be aware that there are better seasons in which to hunt for accommodation. The beginning of the academic year (September) is a particularly poor time, as the influx of students from all over Europe stiffens the competition.
Further from Vienna, more housing options present themselves – such as luxury apartments and small houses. However, unless expats organise themselves an excellent salary package, these will probably prove to be unaffordable.
More adventurous expats will be delighted to hear that there are no designated 'expat areas' in Austria – the accommodation scene is very cosmopolitan, and they're as likely to have Austrian students for neighbours as Japanese hairdressers.
Expats should be advised that, under normal circumstances, they will be responsible for all their utility bills; however, it is possible – and probably desirable – for expats to pay a flat monthly fee to their estate agent that covers their rent and all their utility bills (including broadband Internet).
Home security will not be a major issue for expats relocating to Austria. Although minor break-ins do occur in some neighbourhoods (especially in the larger cities), these crimes are never violent and more often than not, simply ensuring that the door is locked is enough of a deterrent. Expats consistently report that they feel very safe in their homes in Austria.