Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Austria Delights with Its Nature but Leaves Expats Feeling Isolated

Austria offers an exceptional Quality of Life that’s counterbalanced by narrow social circles, limited leisure options, and a language barrier.

Curious about life in Austria? According to our Expat Insider 2024 survey, Austria places a modest 24th out of 53 countries, securing top-10 placements for Quality of Life (2nd) and Working Abroad (10th). However, it falls short in the Ease of Settling In (49th) and Expat Essentials (35th) Indices, so expats should expect challenges in their personal and social lives. Overall, expats rank Austria 22nd in terms of their happiness with their life abroad.

How Expats Rate Life in Austria

A Consistent Performer in Quality of Life

With a stellar 2nd place in the Quality of Life Index, Austria is the destination for expats seeking a high standard of living. The country has regularly placed in the top 10 for this Index since 2014 and excels in four of its five subcategories: Travel & Transit (2nd), Environment & Climate (3rd), Healthcare (9th), and Safety & Security (10th).

“I like that public transportation is punctual and there are adequate sidewalks and roads, as well as many public spaces.” – Indonesian expat

Austria leaves something to be desired in terms of Leisure Options (27th), however. Expats are not quite satisfied with the culture & nightlife (35th) nor the culinary variety & dining options on offer (39th). At least the opportunities for recreational sports (7th) are bountiful: 83% of respondents rate this factor favorably (vs. 72% globally).

In 20th place for the Personal Finance Index, Austria supplements its high standards of living with decent finances. The majority of expats (82%) say that their disposable household income is about or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 70% globally) — and over three in five (62%) are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 54% globally).

Bottom 10 for the Eighth Year in a Row

Settling in Austria presents with some challenges for expats. This is demonstrated by a bottom-10 ranking for the Ease of Settling In Index (49th) and two of its three subcategories: Culture & Welcome (46th) and Local Friendliness (52nd). Finding Friends isn't in the clear, either: Austria ranks 42nd in this subcategory, with 57% of respondents agreeing that making local friends is difficult (vs. 41% globally).

Building social networks is thus challenging, and is compounded by several factors: 41% of expats say that the locals are generally not friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 20% globally), and 31% don’t feel welcome nor find it easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 17% and 21%, respectively). As a result, nearly a third of respondents (29%) don’t have a personal support network in Austria (vs. 27% globally).

“I miss the friendliness of people and the ease of exchanging a few words even with strangers. Here the state works so well that no one really needs help from others, so people tend to be individualistic and closed. You can get very lonely.” – Italian expat

Job Security Gives a Peace of Mind

Austria is, nevertheless, a promising destination for those seeking professional opportunities abroad. It secures 10th place in the Working Abroad Index and excels in the Salary & Job Security Subcategory (5th). Expats are happy with the state of the economy (8th), their job security (9th), and the local job market (13th).  

Expats’ opinions their personal career opportunities (24th) are slightly above average. A similar share to the global average (55% vs. 56%) agree that moving to Austria improved their career prospects. And overall job satisfaction is ranked 25th: 66% of respondents are happy with their jobs (vs. 60% globally).

Servus! Sprichst du Deutsch?

In the realm of Expat Essentials, Austria underwhelms in 35th place. The performance of the individual subcategories is either average or poor.

The best-performing subcategory is Admin Topics (24th) — thanks to the ease of opening a bank account (10th). However, expats should make it into the country first before rejoicing: 37% say it was difficult to get a visa to move to Austria (vs. 26% globally), ranking this factor 46th.

When it comes to Housing, Austria ranks 27th. Expats rate their experience with its affordability (26th) and availability (27th) as average.

Austria falters in the Digital Life Subcategory (31st). Although over nine in ten expats (91%) positively rate their unrestricted access to online services (vs. 82% globally) and rank this factor 12th, getting high-speed internet access at home (37th) in the first place is tricky. And the possibility of cashless payments is in the bottom 10 (48th): 14% of respondents say it’s difficult to pay without cash (vs. 8% globally).

The most challenging aspect is Language (43rd), though. More than a third of expats (36%) find it difficult to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 33% globally), and nearly two-thirds (63%) find it difficult to learn (vs. 40%).

The Typical Expat in Austria

Further Reading