Living in Austria?
Living in Austria
At a Glance:
- Austria is the home of many famous intellectuals, who have left their mark on the country. The capital attracts people from all over the world who want to live in this cultural hub.
- Many expats say they experienced no major problems when they relocated to Austria, as the Austrian attitude towards foreigners is very friendly and welcoming.
- Competition for a good, central flat in the bigger cities can be fierce. If you intend to stay in Austria for a longer period, you could look at buying a place.
- Within three days of moving to Austria, you have to register with the municipal administration. You only need to bring the residence registration form and your passport.
- If you work for an Austrian employer, you already pay into the social security system and are therefore insured. This insurance covers treatment by all doctors, dentists, and specialists who have a contract with your insurance fund.
Austria is a country rich in history, culture, and tradition. People from Austria, especially the Viennese, have their very own cultural identity that is appealing to tourists and expats alike. During and after World War II in particular, Austrians took great care to differentiate themselves from the Germans, with whom they share not only their language but also, to some extent, their culture. Therefore, expats in Austria should avoid committing the faux pas of calling their hosts “German”.
The Austrian Hall of Fame
On a similar note, try to get your historical facts right while you are in Austria. The country has produced many famous thinkers, writers, composers, actors, scientists, and philosophers over the past few centuries. Unfortunately, they are often not thought of as Austrian but as German.
After having spent some time in Austria, you will hopefully soon be able to tell the difference between famous Austrians and Germans. Many famous writers and great Jewish intellectuals of the 19th and 20th century originally came from Austria-Hungary. People like Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Karl Popper, Kurt Gödel, Konrad Lorenz, and Ferdinand Porsche all originally came from Austria, and have left a lasting impression on the world.
Actors like Romy Schneider and Klaus Maria Brandauer left their former home country behind and conquered cinema screens across the world. One even made the transition from Hollywood star to Governor of California: Arnold Schwarzenegger, probably one of the most famous Austrians in the world!
A Heritage of Classical Music
The world of classical music would seem empty without the numerous composers who made Austria such a cultural hotspot during the 18th and 19th centuries. Around the world, Vienna was known as a center for classical music, and continued to attract musicians and composers alike during the 20th century.
Try to take advantage of the country’s musical heritage by attending concerts by the famous Vienna Philharmonic, the Salzburger Festspiele or one of the many musical theaters. Certain musical forms, such as waltzes, polkas, marches, and the operetta, are still a big part of life in Austria; on New Year’s Eve, for example, the Viennese enjoy dancing to the famous “an der schönen blauen Donau” on the streets and in public places.
A Multicultural Mix
As a historically multicultural country, Austria is used to absorbing different influences and integrating them into its own culture. While Germans are the biggest immigrant community in the country today, migrant groups from Turkey or Eastern Europe have also left their impression on life in Austria.
Recently, like many Western European nations, the volatile economic situation has led to a rise in right-wing populism. However, Austrians are generally open and welcoming towards foreigners, and expats are unlikely to face any major problems fitting in.
The Austrian government has introduced several measures to help foreigners integrate. Every non-EU citizen with a Red-White-Red Card, automatically signs the Integration Agreement, under which he or she is required to attend German classes to attain level A2 of the European language level assessment framework.
For more information on the Red-White-Red Card and other residence and work permits, please see our articles on moving to Austria and working in Austria. More information on the Integration Agreement for foreigners living in Austria can be found at the Austrian Migration Portal.
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