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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Austria Offers a Healthy and Family-Friendly Environment

With stunning landscapes and a clean environment, Austria ranks number one for health & well-being, though finding friends and balancing work and life remains a struggle for many expats.
  • 97% rate the quality of Austria’s environment positively.
  • It’s tough to find friends and settle in; Austria ranks 65th for friendliness.
  • Ranking 2nd in the Family Life Index, Austria is an ideal location for raising a family.
  • Expats living there have below average annual incomes.

Healthy but Not Happy

According to expats, Austria is the healthiest country in the world. The following factors contribute to a healthy quality of life in Austria: high-quality medical care (87% positive ratings), an affordable healthcare system (81% positive ratings), and the excellent quality of the local environment (97% positive ratings). Only 2% of expats considered the healthcare standards in Austria a potential disadvantage before moving.

Austria is safe, with access to affordable healthcare as well as lots of outdoor recreational activities.

Austria also impresses with its peacefulness: more than nine in ten expats (91%) give this factor a positive rating. Along with peacefulness comes personal safety: less than 1% of expats considered personal safety a potential disadvantage before moving to Austria, and just 1% rate this factor negatively. Or in the words of a US American respondent: “Austria is safe, with access to affordable healthcare as well as lots of outdoor recreational activities. The lifestyle is much healthier, compared to that of the US. There are more everyday opportunities for exercise, and organic food is an inexpensive standard.”

Despite all these benefits, the country ranks only 47th out of 68 countries when it comes to personal happiness. Quite surprisingly, healthy doesn’t always equal happy.

Looking for a Hiking Buddy? Tough for Expats to Settle In

Whether expats move to Austria for work, a better quality of life, or a combination of reasons, feeling at home and getting used to the local culture can be difficult for many. Only 15% are completely satisfied with feeling at home in Austrian culture. Additionally, only one in six (17%) completely agrees that getting used to the local culture is easy.

When it comes to friendliness, Austria ranks 65th out of 68 countries, and nearly half the expats (48%) find it difficult to make local friends. As a British expat points out, “people are not always open to foreigners, or they prefer to stick to their own circle of friends”.

You will never be able to make local friends, that's commonly agreed upon for Austria.

Language also appears to be a topic of concern for expats attempting to settle in. Only 4% agree that learning the local language is very easy, and though only 5% report not being able to speak the local language at all, over half (51%) disagree that living in Austria without speaking the language is easy — 23% even think it’s very difficult. “You will never be able to make local friends,” according to a Greek expat, “that's commonly agreed upon for Austria. Vienna wants to be promoted as an international city, but your chances of finding a job are slim if you don’t speak German.”

Reasonable Working Hours in an Excellent Economy

Overall job satisfaction among expats remains slightly below average, with 62% of expats generally satisfied (compared to the global average of 65%). Working hours, though, are well rated: nearly seven in ten expats (69%) are satisfied with their working hours in Austria. The average full-time working week is 42.3 hours, compared to a global average of 44.0 hours per week.

The state of the Austrian economy does equally well: fewer than 3% of expats give it a bad rating. More than half (52%) also considered the economy and/or labor market a potential benefit before moving.

A Great Place to Raise a Family

From availability and cost of childcare and education to overall family well-being, not many countries can beat the superb combination of options that Austria offers to parents raising children abroad, with the country ranking 2nd out of 50 destinations in the Family Life Index.

Not only does Austria rank very well in the Availability of Childcare & Education subcategory (5th out of 50), but it also boasts favorable costs for these services. Nearly four in five expat parents (77%) agree that education is easy to afford in Austria, as opposed to a mere 47% globally.

Nearly three in five expat parents (58%) send their children to a local state school, which is free. With only 18% of expat parents reporting that they send their children to a local private school, the high ratings for affordability of education are clear. In addition, universities in Austria only charge students a very modest fee each semester, providing further affordable education to those who choose to continue their education after secondary school.

Austria scores near the top in the Family Well-Being subcategory, too, ranking 6th out of 50 countries. Just 1% of expat parents give a bad review for the factor “children’s health”, and another 96% say that their children’s safety is good. Both family life and children’s well-being in general also perform well, with fewer than 2% unsatisfactory reviews for either factor. According to one US American respondent, “Austria is a wonderful place to raise a family — safe, with access to affordable healthcare and education as well as lots of outdoor recreational activities.”

Surprisingly Below Average Incomes

The cost of living ranking is quite average for Austria, with a score of 34th out of 68 countries. However, the comparatively low gross yearly household income among expats is interesting: a majority (54%) have an income of 50,000 USD or less, compared to the average of 48% on a global basis.

Even so: Just over three-quarters (76%) report having enough or more than enough disposable household income to cover all daily costs; only 7% report having significantly less than what they need, compared to a global average of 8%.

Further Reading