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Housing in Austria
Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home
Accommodation in Austria consists of mainly apartments in the major cities, and houses and cottages in less densely populated areas. Housing tends to be of a high standard and usually includes central heating. However, expats should be aware that many places are unfurnished when they are sold.
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There are several different types of houses in Austria, such as houses in the mountains, studio flats, apartments, wood-built lodges, and cottages. If you need somewhere to stay while you find permanent housing in Austria, a short-term rental could be your best option. This guide explains the alternatives available.
Once you are ready to look for permanent houses and apartments for rent, you will need to know about the average rent in Austria, plus the requirements and documents for renting. We also cover the rental process and rules, rental contracts and deposits, and utility bills. If you are looking to buy a house in Austria, we will also tell you everything you need to know.
Renting a House or an Apartment
In this section, we tell you how to rent houses and apartments in Austria, a country with progressive housing schemes but also rapidly rising prices in some areas. In Vienna, for example, average real estate prices increased by nearly 10% between 2017 and 2018, partly due to a trend of renovating old apartments.
If you are looking for a stately period property in Austria, Vienna is one of the best places to look and has a range of properties from the 19th and 20th centuries. You will, however, have to pay more than one million euros (1,103,350 USD) to purchase one of these period properties in Vienna.
In Austria, policymakers believe that everyone should benefit from decent, affordable housing, and the government has spent a lot of money to ensure this is possible and the results are there to see. Vienna has one of the most impressive social housing systems in the world, and it houses over 60% of the city’s residents. Anyone earning up to 53,225 EUR (58,980 USD) annually, and having lived in Austria for at least five years, can apply for one of these subsidized public city flats.
Rent regulations in Austria mean that households only spend an average of 21 per cent of their income on housing, compared to 37% in the US, and even as high as 60% in cities like New York.
Despite how it is in other countries, subsidized housing is not just for low income households in Austria. Subsidized housing provides refuge for much of the middle class too. This housing can be very attractive as it usually comes with swimming pools, saunas, childcare facilities, eye-catching architecture, and well-kept shrubbery.
You can find apartments in Austrian national newspapers, such as Der Standard and Kurier.
Average Rent in Austria
In the second quarter of 2019, average rent in Austria, including running costs, was 530 EUR (590 USD) per month per property, and 8 EUR (9 USD) per square meter (10.76 square feet) of living space.
The average rent in Austria in 2018, without running costs, was 385 EUR (425 USD). However, keep in mind that the rent you will pay will vary depending on the province in which you live.
How Much is the Monthly Rent in Austria?
Below you will find average monthly rents, excluding running costs, for all different types of property in all of Austria’s provinces. The national average rent is 390 EUR a month. The minimum average house rent in Austria can be found in Carinthia, where monthly rent is about 310 EUR (350 USD). The highest average monthly rent is 500 EUR (550 USD) in Vorarlberg.
Average Monthly Rent in Different Areas
- Burgenland: 350 EUR (390 USD)
- Carinthia: 313 EUR (350 USD)
- Lower Austria: 350 EUR (390 USD)
- Upper Austria: 370 EUR (410 USD)
- Salzburg: 450 EUR (500 USD)
- Styria: 350 EUR (390 USD)
- Tyrol: 460 EUR (510 USD)
- Vorarlberg: 500 EUR (550 USD)
- Vienna: 390 EUR (430 USD)
Average Living Space
The average living space in Austria is growing. In 2018 it was 100.1 square meters (1,077 square feet), which was up from 99.6 square meters (1,072 square feet) in 2017 and 99.3 square meters (1,069 square feet) in 2016.
Regulated Austria Rent Prices
Austrian rent prices are governed by a number of things, but they are mostly regulated by the authorities. For example, landlords can add a location surcharge of 0.33% per square meter to the final advertised rent price if the property is in an above average area.
This location surcharge is 0.33% of the lower price of land, or the “reference rent”, in a less desirable area.
The Supreme Court demands certain criteria are met for a surcharge to be added.
Some criteria for comparing areas and deciding whether a location surcharge can be added is:
- high-density area
- medium-density area
- low density area
Only high-density areas can be compared with other high-density areas, medium-density areas with other medium density areas, and so on.
Other criteria that is considered is access to public transportation, infrastructure, proximity to cultural institutions such as theatres and museums, access to public transport, and noise emissions.
Rental Process and Rules: Rental Contract and Deposit
Types of Contract
There are two types of rental contract in Austria: primary leasehold (Hauptmiete) and sublet (Untermiete). Rental contracts in Austria usually have a minimum term of three years and there is no maximum term. Limited contracts (Befristeted) and unlimited (Unbefristeted) contracts are found in Austria.
Contract Details: Giving Notice
If before you sign your rental contract and move in you know there is a chance you will have to move out due to work before the three years is up, you can ask to have a Diplomatic or Repatriate Clause inserted in the contract. This allows you to leave the property before the three years is up by giving two months’ notice to your landlord. In this case, you would still get your security deposit returned. If you simply want to move out from the property, you can after 16 months as long as you give the landlord three months’ notice.
Landlords can only terminate your lease contract if you fail to pay the rent or if you use the property inappropriately (e.g. if you physically damage it or you disturb the neighbors).
The security deposit is usually the equivalent to three months’ rent. However, it can be up to the equivalent of six months’ rent.
By law, an apartment must have central heating, hot water, a kitchen sink, stove top, a shower, and toilet.
Utility Bills Payment
You can pay electricity and gas bills by direct debit each month. The bills are calculated based on estimates of consumption in the previous year. You can choose whether to pay monthly or in instalments. Remember to have the meter read before you start living in the property.
Requirements and Documents for Renting
Renting in Austria as a foreigner is quite straightforward. Generally, you should be able to rent an apartment simply by signing the lease and showing proof of identity. However, you may also be asked for proof of employment, your Austrian visa, and references (translated into German if necessary) from previous landlords.
Foreigners can apply for subsidized housing in Austria if they have legally resided in the country for at least five years. Keep in mind your eligibility will also depend on:
- the size of your family;
- family income (income of all people living in the same household);
- size of the flat;
- housing expenditure (Wohnungsaufwand);
Monthly furnished rentals are hard to come by in Austria. Many apartments to rent will be unfurnished, and if you are looking for something furnished it could cost considerably more. The average cost of a furnished apartment in one of Austria’s major cities, such as Vienna, Innsbruck, and Salzburg, is around 1,380 EUR (1,523 USD) per month.
Short Term Rentals
As rental leases are usually three years long in Austria, apartments for rent on a short-term lease, where you still sign a rental agreement, do not really exist. If you need somewhere to stay for up to a year (but less than three years) a short-term rental is probably your best option. InterNations GO! offers a home-finding service to help you discover your short or long-term home sweet home abroad, so why not get in touch with us today?
If you are considering finding somewhere to live with a short or flexible contract, you should bear in mind that the average monthly price for short-term, temporary rentals in Austria is about 1,600 EUR (1,765 USD).
What Documents Do I Need (And Other Things to Know)?
Most temporary rentals only require you to show some form of identification and you will most likely be asked for your passport. Landlords can ask for proof of employment, your Austrian visa, and even references from previous landlords. If you are only staying somewhere for around four weeks or less, you are unlikely to need more than your official identification document.
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Buying Property as a Foreigner
How hard or easy it is to buy real estate in Austria partly depends on whether you are from an EU or non-EU country. As with most official processes in Europe, nationals from EU countries face fewer restrictions than those from non-EU countries. When it comes to buying property in Austria, it is possible for both EU and non-EU nationals to buy an Austrian home, but those from outside the EU will face more restrictions and requirements. Keep reading our guide for more on buying a home in Austria as an expat.
How to Buy a Property as a Foreigner
For people coming from the European Union, requirements to buy a property in Austria are very straightforward. There are virtually no restrictions on buying property, although some Austrian provinces prohibit purchasing real estate in certain areas if someone is not using the property as their permanent residence.
Third-country nationals are allowed to buy real estate in Austria. However, you may be asked to apply for a special permit from the Land Transfer Authorities before you can buy. Different provinces in Austria have different land transfer laws and requirements for claiming a special permit for purchase. Note that you cannot buy a house in Austria and get citizenship, nor can you buy a house in Austria for permanent residence or buy a house to get a visa.
Process and Steps for Buying a House in Austria
Unless you have wealth to rival the Austrian billionaire owner of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, you might not have the luxury of scouring the Alps for your pick of the best castles, villas, and churches available. However, once you find the ideal property for you, the process is as follows:
Make a Formal Offer
Once you find a property that you like, your first step towards purchasing it is to make a formal offer in writing via a real estate agent. InterNations GO! has local property experts around the world who can help you secure your ideal home in your new country.
Attached to the offer should be the Kostenaufstellung, which is a list documenting the relevant transaction costs (9.4 to 13%), such as legal fees, any property transfer tax (at 3.5%), registration duty (1.1% of the sale price), the notary fee (120 EUR/132 USD per signature, plus 20% VAT), and real estate agent fees (3 to 4% plus 20% VAT). The buyer and seller each pay half of the real estate agent fee.
Once the seller has agreed to your offer, a purchase agreement or sale contract should be drawn up by an Austrian solicitor.
Once the contract is signed by all parties, the buyer might have to pay 10% of the purchase price as a deposit. This amount is put in a safe account until the property sale goes through.
When the sale is final, your lawyer should register the transfer of ownership with the local registry office. Transfer and registration duties will also need to be paid.
Property registration costs approximately 4.5% of the property’s value. It takes between nine and 32 days for the property to be registered.
Austria House Prices
In Vienna, house prices vary throughout the city’s 23 districts. The lowest average property price is in the 10th district – Favoriten – where a property less than 50 square meters (538 square feet) is approximately 198,000 EUR (218,400 USD). The highest average property price is in the expensive 1st district – Innere Stadt – where a property more than 130 square meters (1,399 square feet) is approximately 1.64 million EUR (1.82 million USD).
Other average house prices in Vienna:
- 250,000 EUR (277,000 USD): a three-bedroom subsidised apartment in the 22nd district of Donaustadt.
- 5 million EUR (2.7 million USD): a villa with views in the 18th district of Währing.
- 40 million EUR (44 million USD): a nine-bedroom loft on Börseplatz in the 1st district (Innere Stadt).
In Graz, it is approximately 165,000 EUR (182,000 USD) for a property less than 50 square meters (538 square feet). For a property more than 130 square meters (1,399 square feet), the average cost is approximately 570,000 EUR (628,900 USD).
In Salzburg, properties below 50 square meters (538 square feet) are on average 269,750 EUR (297,600 USD) to buy while properties more than 130 square meters (1,399 square feet) are approximately 752,960 EUR (830,770 USD) to buy.
Types of Property
There are two types of property according to Austrian law: normal property and co-property. “Normal property” means the owner has dominion over both the house and the land it is built on. However, owners are not allowed to build on the land. “Co-property” means the owner can develop more buildings on the same plot of land.
Types of Houses
In Austria, nearly 50% of people live in a detached house, while about 7% live in semi-detached homes. 45% of people lived in apartments, and less than 1% live in a different type of home.
There is a range of options for utility companies in Austria but try not to choose your provider at the last minute. You should give yourself at least two weeks between enlisting a utility company to set up your gas and electricity services and moving into your new home in Austria.
Utilities: Things to Know
Before you move in to your new place, you should allow your new utilities provider to ensure that the electricity and gas has already been switched off before a technician restores the service. You need to get meter readings before you start living in your new property to ensure you only pay for the energy you use once you move into your new place. Also, features like propane gas tanks may need to be refilled. If it is a new property, your utilities may also need to be connected to certain power services for the first time.
Be aware that you might need to have an Austrian bank account to pay for your new utilities, so consider this potential obstacle before trying to set up your new home. An Austrian phone number might also be required.
To open a new electricity account, you must contact a supplier and provide them with your personal and property details, such as the appliances you have, your heating system, and a meter reading.
The process to set up your new gas service is similar to setting up your electricity service. Like with electricity, there is a range of local providers to choose from and some offer both gas and electric services. Simply choose a supplier and contact them with your personal details. If possible, you should also have a meter reading at hand.
To register with an energy supplier in Austria, you simply need to give the following information:
- bank account details
- ID of your meter and meter reading if you have it
- your Zählpunktummer (reporting point number – a 33-digit number assigned to a specific property)
Utility Providers in Austria
Gas and Electricity Suppliers by City
- Vienna: Wien Energie
- Graz: Energie Steiermarkt
- Linz: Energie AG
- Salzburg: Salzburg AG
- Innsbruck: TIWAG
- Klagenfurt: KELAG
- Villachs: KELAG
- Wels: Energie AG Oberösterreich
- Sankt Pölten: EVN Energieversorgung Niederösterreich
- Dornbirn: VKW
Each province has its own water suppliers. For example, Vienna is supplied by Vienna Waterworks. You will need to look into the correct water provider depending on the province to which you are moving.
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Internet and Mobile Phones
If you want to get internet and a cell phone as soon as you arrive in Austria, you will have to be fairly organized as the process can take several weeks. You will want to get a phone number first as you will need this to set up utilities in your new home.
Just waiting for an internet modem to arrive can take around 10 days. You should also know that to sign up for internet and a mobile phone in Austria, you are generally required to have an Austrian bank account with an IBAN (international bank account number).
Setting this up also takes time because most Austrian banks require you to already be living in the country.
How to Get a SIM Card (SIM Card Number/Phone Number)
The largest telecoms providers in Austria are Tele2, A1, UPC, and TELEMATICA. They each offer contract deals and contract-free plans. The contract deals are usually 12 months long or more. A1, T Mobile, and 3 are good mobile networks in Austria, and it is easy to get a new SIM card and phone number with them.
You can buy a prepaid sim card from many supermarkets in Austria or simply go to one of the major telecom companies’ official stores. Going to the store might be the easiest way to set up your SIM card and/or phone as in-store staff can help you. Remember to view the store’s website before you visit so that you know what phone and/or package you want to purchase. Do not forget to bring your passport or identity card to register any prepaid SIM cards you buy.
If you are landing at an airport in Vienna, or in another major city, and want a SIM card straight away, look for stands, like Hallo Hallo, which often sell SIM cards with 1GB of internet data for approximately 15 EUR (17 USD). However, the same product could be considerably cheaper at a store in the city.
How to Watch Your Home’s Country TV in Austria
Some of the major Austrian television companies are UPC Austria TeleKabel, LIWEST, Salzburg AG, and BKF. With these providers it is possible to view around 400 international TV channels in the country. ORF is the main public television provider in Austria. They offer more than 200 live broadcasts and on-demand TV choices at any one time. If these 400 international channels do not televise your favourite shows from your home country, it might be a better option to sign up to an internet streaming service.
Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!