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.
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.
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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