Austria is a country comparable to Germany in terms of language and cultural affinity. It is about 1/3 the size of the United Kingdom and is divided into 9 states, its capital is Vienna, it is part of the EU. The country offers an excellent quality of life and was ranked 10th most livable country in the world in 2021. (World Happiness Report). Moving to Austria is an interesting decision.
The currency is the Euro and the official language is German, although in many cities the Bavarian dialect is spoken in one of its variants. It is similar to German, but not the same. Austria has 9 million inhabitants, of which almost 1.5 million are immigrants (15% of the population).
Moving to Austria
For EU/EEA citizens, an ID card is sufficient when entering Austria, but if you want to stay longer than 90 days, you must submit a residence application to your city’s residents’ registration office within four months of arrival.
Those who are not EU citizens or Swiss need a residence permit for Austria if they want to stay longer than six months.
For stays up to six months, third-country nationals need a visa. For stays up to 90 days within 180 days, some third-country nationals do not require a visa (depending on their citizenship).
The most common visas are:
C visa, the most common visa for visitors; it is issued for a three-month stay and allows entry to all EU countries that are part of the Schengen area.
Visa D: This visa is issued for a maximum stay of 6 months. The D visa allows you to travel through other Schengen countries.
Remember that you cannot work in Austria with a class C or D visa.
Non-EU citizens must present some travel and identification documents to the Austrian border official upon entry. These documents are as follows:
- A valid passport. It should be valid for at least 3 months after your date of departure.
- visa – if you are subject to an Austrian visa regime.
Please note that the Austrian border officer holds the final decision whether you should be permitted to enter Austria or not. The border official will check your documents and may ask you a few questions about your trip to Austria like:
- What is your purpose for visiting Austria?
- How long do you intend to stay in Austria?
- Where are you going to stay in Austria?
If you want to stay more than 6 mounth you have to get a residence permit.
Education stay permit
If you think about moving to Austria, it would be an interested option, at the beginning, to apply for an education stay permit.This type of stay permit is issued if you enroll at a school or university in Austria. Requirements for getting enrolled at universities differ, depending on the course or studies you want to do. Every year during your stay, you will have to report the results of the exams to the authorities in order to get another year’s permit. Even if you have the education stay permit, if you want to work, you have you to get a work permit to get a job. To obtain this permit you have to get in touch with a school/university and ask their help to achieve your goal.
Work residence permit
You are considering moving to Austria to work. As in most countries, your chances of obtaining a work permit increase with your level of education and skills. If you are highly qualified, the process of obtaining a work permit is easier and faster. The requirements are:
- You must have a university degree or similar qualification
- Your work is of particular importance to the employer or the area
- Your work will eventually create new jobs
As a highly qualified worker from a third country, you have several options to enter Austria:
The “Red-White-Red” card is an option for highly qualified workers who have found employment in Austria. This document allows you to stay up to 1 year.
The “Jobseeker” visa allows you to stay up to 6 months to look for a job. It does not entitle you to work in Austria and is only available for highly qualified workers from non-EU countries.
The “EU Blue Card” you must provide proof of a university degree, entitles you to work for up to 2 years.
Moving to Austria, useful resources
- You can find all the information you need about the obligations you must fulfil once you arrive in Austria on the website of the Austrian Government
- For those who want to learn more about living and working in Austria, I would like to refer to a complete guide Living and Working in Austria for foreigners who want to move to Austria (in English).
- More information about living and working in Austria can be found: on the Austrian government website Help. Gv (in part in English).
- Guide to entry and residence requirements for foreign students
- A complete guide About Study in Austria
Find accommodation in Austria
After your arrival, the first step is to find an apartment. I do not recommend looking for a long-term rental from abroad, as there is a lot of scam on the internet and the selection is small. The best solution is to rent a room in a hostel or through airbnb for a week. Then, when you are on site, look for a permanent place to stay. To rent an apartment, the owner usually requires an employment contract, but to have an employment contract, you must have a residence. Therefore, guesthouses or shared housing are the only alternatives at the beginning.
- Some inns, hotels or hostels allow the registration of a residence
- WG (Wohngemeinschaft), i.e. a room in a shared apartment where you can register your residence
Once you have found a job, you can start looking for an apartment.
Compared to other European countries, the real estate market here is much faster and more dynamic. If the price-quality ratio of the flat is good, it will be rented within a few days.
Finding an flat on your own without knowing German is practically impossible, even if you have a good job. And that’s understandable, because if there are any disputes or problems to discuss, the landlord would not know how to do it. Resign yourself to the fact that you have to pay an agency. There are many of them in Austria.
When you sign the contract, you will not only have to pay the current monthly rent and a deposit (amounting to 2 or 3 months rent), especially if the flat is furnished, but also brokerage fees (amounting to one/two months rent), plus another 200/400 € for the registration of the contract
In addition, you may have to provide proof:
- an employment contract
- bank guarantees
- a self-declaration (declaration from the old owner that you have always paid the rent regularly)
All these documents may change from case to case.
If you are renting from a private landlord, remember that the “transfer fee” is still in use, officially illegal, but still widely used by private landlords. This is an amount you have to pay for the use of the furniture, which is non-refundable and can even reach several thousand euros. So it might be cheaper to hire an agency.
In most cases, the rent includes: Heating, water and waste disposal, while electricity consumption is excluded. In any case, it is up to the owner’s discretion to find out which costs are included and which are not.
You also need to know that in some contracts there is an index adjustment clause. This means that the contract is automatically adjusted periodically based on cost of living increases. Typically, the term of the contracts is three years with a 3-month notice period.
If you want to look for a house on your own to save broker fees, I recommend you to set up an email account with .at or .com domain and avoid other domains. Because people are more suspicious when they receive an email from a foreign country.
Rental websites in Austria
Here are the most popular real estate websites:
- Housing, website also in English
- Immodirekt, website with offers in different regions of Austria
- Immo, popular website
- Bazar, free classified ads where you can find ads for apartments or rooms or you can place your ad
- Willhaben, is another very popular free classifieds site
- Oehjku, the real estate section of the famous free classified ads site
- Wonhnet, website with many offers
- Immobilien, it is possible to search by category and city
- Immo Welt, you can download the app
- Miet-Wohnungen, real estate from all over the country
- Flohmarkt, real estate section of this free classifieds
- Der Standard, newspaper
Moving to Austria, rental costs
As in all countries, it is more difficult and expensive to rent an apartment in the city center. Therefore, one might consider the idea of moving out of the city and reaching the workplace using the efficient Austrian public transportation system. Among other things, when dealing with foreigners and knowing that they are in great need, many landlords tend to take advantage of this by raising the rent.
Rent costs are generally higher and continuously increasing in big cities like Salzburg, Insbruck and Vienna than in small towns. In any case, they are still lower than in many other northern European countries. In many Austrian cities it is still possible to find studios for €600/700 per month (including utilities).
When choosing a city to live in, Vienna is certainly the city that offers more opportunities in all fields, but the choice of where to move to depends on what you are looking for and what your profession is (some jobs are more in demand in certain cities than others).
In any case, the solution of a shared apartment is certainly the right one once you arrive, both because of the lower cost and the need to find accommodation relatively quickly. For the move to Austria, I recommend a budget of at least € 3,000 / € 4,000 to cover the initial costs.
Registration and health insurance in Austria
Once you have found an flat, the next step is your registration. The landlord must sign the registration form, which you must present at the town hall to receive the ‘registration’ of your residence
Once you have a job, you will automatically be registered with the Gebietskrankenkasse, which is paid by the employer.
Within a few weeks you will receive your (health card) by mail. If you wish, you can also integrate it with a private insurance, but at your own expense.
Moving to Austria, Conclusion
In summary, the following steps are required for EU citizens to move to Austria:
- Renting a room (where an employment contract is not required), it is enough to pay the deposit and pay the rent regularly
- Go to the registry office of the municipality of residence (Meldeamt), with an identity document (passport, identity card) to obtain your registration (Meldezettel)
- Find a job
- Open a bank account
- After 90 days, you have to register in the Bezirkshauptmannschaft (BH) to obtain Anmeldenbescheinigung