Costs of Living in Austria
Expats moving to Austria will find the cost of living a small price to pay for high quality of life in this beautiful country. According to the 2010 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, which evaluated 214 cities across five continents, Vienna, Austria's capital was ranked first in terms of quality of life and 28th in terms of cost of living.
Cost of living in Austria naturally varies according to location: urban centers are more expensive than rural villages. Austria is generally in the middle European Nations; making it cheaper than the UK and France, but more expensive than the Netherlands and Spain.
Accommodation costs in Austria
Since Austria has some of the highest property prices anywhere in the EU, most expats will opt to rent property in Austria. Renting is a much more common due to the government's efforts to construct state-owned apartment buildings with subsidized rates. Affordable housing options can be found even in high-income neighborhoods and prices can be as little as € 450 for 50 m², including electricity, gas, and water.
When initially signing a lease, expats should also anticipate paying the equivalent of three months rent as a refundable deposit, in addition to the first month of rent. If using an estate agent, the bill will amount to two months of rent after having successfully negotiated the rental agreement.
The standard of accommodation in Austria is generally high. Home security will not be a major issue for expats relocating to Austria. Although minor break-ins do occur in some neighborhoods (especially in the larger cities), these crimes are rarely violent; and more often than not, simply ensuring that the door is locked is enough of a deterrent.
Food costs in Austria
Eating out in Austria can be relatively expensive. However, there are plenty of reasonable priced supermarkets. Also, basic foods are subsidized and therefore affordable for everyone. Cooking at home can be a significant cost saver for those with a tight budget.
Alcohol is fairly reasonably priced, a bottle of wine can cost as little as € 2, and a half-liter can of beer below € 0.80.
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.
A single journey on the metro in Vienna is € 2.10 and an unlimited pass for all modes of transit is € 365 per year. Other cities in Austria will have comparable rates for public transportation.
Cycling is also popular in Austria, and many cities have incorporated bike lines into their city planning.
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. A liter of gas is around € 1.40.
Cost of education in Austria
Expatriates can send their children to Austrian public schools for free. The curriculum is taught in German, and if a child is not 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 € 18,000 per 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.
Universities do charge fees for attending classes. Fees are usually around € 390 per term, however there are many exceptions. Only a very small percentage of Austrians actually pay for studying at the public universities.