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Interview with Phillip – an Australian expat living in Austria

Updated 7 Mar 2011

interview with an australian in austriaPhillip, an Australian living in Austria, seems settled amidst the sumptuous architecture and quaint cobblestone of Vienna. Though he'll admit that his existence as an expat may be more lavish than other's, he still shares some valuable expat insight about the ins and outs of life in Vienna.

Read more about Austria in the Expat Arrivals Austria country guide or read more expat experiences in Austria.

About Phillip

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Australia

Q: Where are you living now?
A: Vienna – Landstrasse. This is District 3, but is directly adjacent to the City District 1 so we are only 10 minutes walk from Stephansdom.

Q: How long you have you lived here?
A: 2.5 years.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: My wife was transferred and she took her husband (moi), who was delighted to retire and become a Hausmann (house husband).

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: My wife is the Legal Director for a US pharmaceutical company and looks after an area covering Africa, Asia, Middle East and Russia and former states. She travels constantly. I write, cook, blog and entertain the cats.

About Vienna, Austria

Q: What do you enjoy most about Vienna, how’s the quality of life in Austria?
A: The quality of life in Vienna is fabulous. On the Expat index it is always 1 or 2, and for good reason. It is very safe and very clean. It has great restaurants and is located in the centre of Europe. We travel extensively.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: You need to be well paid to enjoy life in Vienna. It is a very expensive city in which to live and the costs are kept high by tourists and the expats. We really do not miss anything about home, which is just as well because we will not see it for a long while yet.

The worst part about Vienna... It is the smoking capital of Europe. The Viennese are Barbarians as far as smoking is concerned and will smoke anywhere. Since 1 July last year there are now more non-smoking venues – but not nearly enough. Vienna is the last bastion of smoking in the EU and simply will not adopt EU standards.

Q: Is the city safe?
A: It is very safe in the areas in which expats and tourists live and play. The crime rates are low. There is a strong police presence.

About living in Vienna, Austria

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Vienna as an expat?
A: People like us without kids choose the city or near to – which is expensive. For children most expats live in or near the 19th District which has international schools – but is of course also expensive. The transport system is excellent – as good as the Paris Metro but cleaner with fewer weirdos.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Vienna?
A: Ours is fabulous but costs €5,000 per month – which we don’t pay. It is probably the same as Sydney for equivalent accommodation Harbour-side.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Austria compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: All costs are higher – food costs in particular. We are paid a cost of living adjustment.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: Locals are aloof. That is simply the way they are. Language is a significant barrier. Expat groups are very strong.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Expat groups are all well developed and there are no problems with any major groups. There are Internet meeting places such as Virtual Vienna Net to help newcomers.

About working in Vienna

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: Arranged by employer – cannot imagine how you would do this without an employer in place.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: Strong – but employment is difficult and language is a barrier.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Can’t comment. They have a lot of public holidays and everything is closed on Sundays. I mean everything! Many smaller shops have Mittagspause (midday pause) i.e. a lunchtime break each day for two hours. Quaint really – once you get used to banging into the closed doors, that is.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A: Yes – cannot imagine how you would do it without one unless you were fluent in German.

Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: No

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: The cats love it – although one turned up his toes so we adopted two Austrian cats.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Austria?
A: Excellent but expensive – but we don’t pay. Be prepared to wait in doctor's surgeries even if you make appointments. Learn to knit. Get an iPod or an iPad.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Learn as much of the language as quickly as you can. You WILL need some German as many of the workman who visit you to fix things in the apartment will not speak English. Don’t try to become fluent or you will go mad.

► Interviewed March 2011

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