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Expats will find that although their options for accommodation in Austria are limited in variety, they are plentiful in number. Vienna is characterised by older apartments in the classical Austrian style. Further afield, more housing options present themselves, such as modern luxury apartments and small houses.
Types of accommodation in Austria
The type of property available to expats moving to Austria 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 city centres. Regardless of the type of accommodation, the standard is generally high, with indoor heating being a standard feature.
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 excellent furniture stores around (such as IKEA) where expats will find everything they need.
Finding accommodation in Austria
Renting property in Austria is a reasonably straightforward process, as the vast majority of apartments are rented through real-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.
Unless expats speak fluent German, navigating property websites or classifieds sections of newspapers will be difficult. Most new arrivals therefore opt to save time by going through an estate agent. Not only do 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. They charge the equivalent of up to two months' rent for their services.
Renting accommodation in Austria
Expats should read their leases carefully and, if necessary, have it translated. Leases usually run for at least three years – people living in Vienna tend not to move often because of the expenses involved in finding and securing a lease. Up to three months' worth of rent will be required as a deposit to cover any potential damage to the unit. It is important to keep the unit and any provided appliances undamaged to guarantee that the deposit is returned in full. Leases can be terminated early after a certain period of time, but a written letter detailing the desire to vacate is needed. Leases generally require that notice is given three months before leaving.
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).
Buying property in Austria
Expats who wish to buy property in Austria should be warned that house prices are prohibitively expensive – even by EU standards. However, on the bright side, the process of purchasing property in Austria has become easier in recent years, with a general relaxation of laws and regulations regarding property ownership.
Nationals of all EU- and EEC-member states now have the same rights as Austrian nationals when it comes to buying property; and while non-EU nationals must still apply for permission from the local authority office in the area in which they wish to purchase, this process is not difficult and may be accomplished quickly. Furthermore, even non-EU nationals are now able to obtain loans from Austrian banks for the express purpose of buying property in Austria.
Expats looking to buy property in Austria are strongly advised to hire a (bilingual) real-estate lawyer to guide them through the process.
►Learn more about Renting Property in Vienna
Are you an expat living in Austria?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Austria. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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