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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Austria Is a Beautiful Yet Lonely Place for Expats

While Austria comes last for Local Friendliness (53rd), it does make it into the top 5 of the Quality of Life Index thanks to its scenery, travel options, and healthcare system.

Austria comes 42nd out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey, making it into both the top and bottom 10 worldwide. It is among the countries offering the best Quality of Life (5th) but is one of the worst for the Ease of Settling In (52nd) as an expat. While it ranks only slightly better in the Expat Essentials Index (44th), it comes 24th for Working Abroad and 23rd for Personal Finance. Overall, 67% are happy with their life in Austria, compared to 72% globally.  

Hard to Make Austrian Friends  

Austria has ended up among the bottom 10 of the Ease of Settling In Index in nine out of the past ten years. In 2023, it comes in 52nd out of 53, only ahead of Kuwait — landing in the bottom 5 for all eight factors featured in this index. Austrians are considered the unfriendliest locals worldwide, both in general and towards foreign residents in particular (53rd for both). More than two in five expats (43%) find that the locals are particularly unfriendly towards foreign residents, compared to 18% globally.  

This probably explains why 58% of expats find it hard to make local friends in Austria (vs. 36% globally), and 32% have no personal support network there (vs. 24% globally). It is then hardly surprising that 33% do not feel welcome in Austria, more than twice the global average (15%).  

“I am finding it very hard to make friends and to create long-lasting friendships.  I also find it very difficult to meet people.” – Canadian expat

Easy to Live a Green & Active Lifestyle  

The Quality of Life, on the other hand, is an index where Austria has always ranked among the global top 10, and it places 5th in 2023. The country ranks particularly well in the Travel & Transit (4th), Environment & Climate (6th), and Healthcare (8th) Subcategories. For example, expats are happy with the affordability of public transportation (80% happy vs. 71% globally) and their travel opportunities (92% vs. 84% globally). Another 93% find it easy and safe to get around on foot and/or by bicycle (vs. 77% globally).  

More than four in five enjoy the urban environment (84% happy vs. 67% globally) and are happy with the availability of green goods and services (83% vs. 65% globally). On top of that, 81% rate the opportunities for recreational sports positively, compared to 75% globally.  

“I love the healthy lifestyle, the opportunities to explore the outdoors, and Austria’s location in Central Europe, which makes it easier to visit other countries, e.g., Italy.” – British expat 

Few Cashless Payment Options & a Language Barrier 

Austria ranks below the global average for Expat Essentials (41st), coming 47th in the Language Subcategory. German is a tough language to learn — 56% of expats find it difficult (vs. 38% globally) — but absolutely necessary in Austria. According to 45%, it is hard to live there without local language skills (vs. 32% globally).  

The country performs somewhat better for Housing (30th), Admin Topics (31st), and Digital Life (36th). Expats find it particularly hard to pay without cash, though (17% unhappy vs. 8% globally).  

An Excellent Economy but Low Job Satisfaction 

Austria ranks 24th in the Working Abroad Index, even coming 10th in the Salary & Job Security Subcategory. Expats especially highlight the state of the economy (84% happy vs. 62% globally) and their own job security (64% vs. 59% globally).  

Despite that, 29% are unhappy with their personal career opportunities (vs. 22% globally), with the country ranking 44th for this factor. Just 52% find that moving to Austria has improved their career prospects, somewhat less than the global average of 59%. Maybe this is why the overall job satisfaction is below average, too. Close to one in five expats in Austria (19%) are generally unhappy with their job (vs. 16% globally).  

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