Living in Vienna?
Living in Vienna
At a Glance:
- From the sprawling vineyards on the outskirts of the city to the stunning architecture, Vienna has it all. It is comparable in size to other big European cities, but crimes are usually limited to small offenses.
- Compulsory schooling begins at six, and public schools are free. For expats worried about the language barrier, there is a wide variety of English-speaking schools to choose from.
- Daily commuting using public transportation is made easy by the Wienier Linien, with five lines that run smoothly throughout the city.
- If you want to drive on the Austrian highways you are required to buy a vignette as the country has imposed a toll on those high-speed roads. Fortunately they can be valid for up to a year.
- Almost every employee is automatically covered by a public health insurance plan and Vienna offers several dozen hospitals specializing in many different fields of medicine.
A Sparkling Metropolis
For centuries, Vienna has been a city renowned for its contributions to the arts, literature and science. Many of the world’s greatest minds lived in Vienna at some point of their lives. History buffs and “culture vultures” are in for a treat: immortal pieces of classical music were composed here; there’s stunning architecture around every corner, and the locations of countless historical events bear the traces of the past.
Despite its size, wealth, and international appeal, Vienna — especially the city center — is generally a very safe place. Crime is usually limited to small offenses such as petty theft, and violent crime is comparable to other European cities of a similar size.
From Elementary School to Higher Education
Expats with children or prospective parents should familiarize themselves with the Austrian school system. Compulsory schooling begins at the age of six and lasts for nine years. If you begin your new life abroad in Austria’s capital before your child turns six, one year of Kindergarten is obligatory. Here, your offspring will easily and naturally be introduced to the German language.
Public schools are free of charge for everyone living in Vienna. Elementary schools, grades one through four, provide additional German courses and — for some languages — classes in the child’s mother tongue. Starting from the secondary educational level, parents have the choice between different types of school according to their child’s academic skills and interests.
The highest level of secondary education in Austria ends with the Matura, the equivalent to a high-school diploma. It enables students to attend higher education and go on to one of over 15 local universities and academies.
International Schools in the City
If you don’t plan on staying in Vienna for a long time, or simply do not want to enroll your child in a public school, there are multiple private international schools. Lessons are mostly taught in English. The United States Embassy offers a comprehensive list of private international schools, pre-schools, and kindergartens for people living in Vienna and the rest of Austria. No matter what you decide on, rest assured that your children will receive a high-quality education in Vienna.
Such high-quality education generally comes at a high price with fees costing between 5000 and 30.000 EUR per year. Some schools offer a range of scholarship and sponsorship programs, or income-based discounts that cover part of the tuition fees. As international schools in Vienna are quite popular, the waiting list can often be very long so it’s useful to start applying as soon as possible. The general application requirements can vary from school to school, but they usually ask for school reports and academic records.
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