July 1st brings in financial changes

Four changes that might affect life for people resident in Austria from July 1st - from a cap on roaming charges, to child support, and public transport fare increases.

July 1st brings in financial changes
Will families be better off? File photo: APA

Roaming charges

A new EU roaming charge cap takes effect from midnight, July 1st, and will lower costs for people travelling across the EU. Under the new rules the maximum charge for outgoing calls, excluding VAT, will be 19 cents per minute, six cents for outgoing text messages and 20 cents for a MB download of data.

However, the new caps only apply when you use a mobile within the EU – and not for the whole of Europe. If you’re travelling further afield the most crucial thing is to turn off data roaming on your phone or tablet. Look up your model on the internet before you travel to find out how to do this. It will stop the automatic downloads of updates, which can cause a huge bill.

Child support

If you are a parent of one or more of Austria’s 1.8 million children, you can expect between four and six euros to be added to your monthly child support money.

That might sound like a good thing but Alfred Trendl, president of the Catholic Family Association, sees no reason to rejoice. “Again, Austria will say it gives families great support but it is a myth that Austria champions families,” Trendl told Der Standard newspaper.

He said that Austria does significantly less for families than other OECD countries and that tax benefits do not necessarily result in tangible benefits for children. He added that the amount of child support has not increased in line with inflation, as the consumer price index has risen by 1.7 percent in the last 12 months – so that in reality families are now worse off. Currently parents get a tax free allowance of €132 euros, per child, each year. Trendl is calling for childcare costs to be made automatically tax deductible.

Public transport fares in Vienna and Salzburg

Vienna’s public transport (Wiener Linien) is putting up some of its prices – although the price of an annual ticket, as well as annual travel cards for pensioners and young people will stay the same.

A ticket for a single journey will now cost €2.20, rather than €2.10, a weekly travel card will cost €16.50, up from €15.80, and a monthly travel card will cost €48.20, up from €47.00. A full list of changes can be found on the Wiener Linien website. Tickets that were purchased before 1st July 2014 will remain valid until the end of the year.

An annual travel card is the cheapest way to travel around Vienna for residents – at €365, it costs just one euro per day.

Salzburg is also facing increases, with single journey tickets purchased on the trolley bus going up from €2.40 to €2.50, and reduced fare tickets increasing from €1.60 to €1.70.  A 24-hour ticket also increases from €5.30 to €5.50, while monthly passes increase from €49.40 to €51.40.

On the positive side, the cost of a year's card in Salzburg is being reduced from €494 to only €366, bringing it in line with Vienna.

Tax on prostitution

This is unlikely to apply to many of our readers – but those working for “the oldest profession in the world” may now have to pay more tax.

Prostitution is legal and regulated in Austria and prostitutes are considered to be self-employed, and since 1986 they have been required to pay taxes.

But from July 1st they have been told they will all need to do “individual tax assessments” – rather than the brothel they work for paying tax on their behalf. Christian Knapp, who works for the non profit organization, is worried that women will now be forced into “illegality” – working in unregulated brothels, or on the street, to avoid having to pay tax.

“Political leaders are not concerned with improving sex workers' lives, but only on taxing their earnings,” he added.

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How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

With energy costs continuing to rise, in Austria many people are reluctant to use air conditioning in their apartments this summer. Here’s how to keep your apartment cool without breaking the bank.

How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

It’s a well-known fact that air conditioning units are expensive to run – and even more so this year with spiralling energy costs.

But with temperatures in Austria already hitting the mid-30s on some days, apartment dwellers are starting to feel the heat.

What are the alternatives to air conditioning? Here’s what you need to know.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Use a fan

An electrical fan might not cool the air down as much as an air conditioning system but it is significantly cheaper to run. 

Der Standard reports that a fan uses 95 percent less energy than a mobile AC unit with an average cost of just €7 per summer (based on 60 days of use).

Whereas a mobile air conditioning unit could cost €170 in additional electricity costs.

Close blinds and curtains

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to cool down an apartment is to keep all blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep out the heat.

In Vienna, there are even government subsidies available to purchase external blinds and shutters for an apartment. Although permission from a landlord is required for rental properties.

The City of Vienna website has more information about this scheme.

Hang up wet laundry

A top tip to cool down a hot apartment is to hang up wet laundry to dry.

As the clothes dry, evaporation removes heat from the air which cools down the room. Plus, it saves more money on energy bills by not using a tumble dryer.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

Wear clothing made from natural fibres

Wearing natural fibres is one of the best ways to stay cool in hot weather.

This means wearing clothing made from cotton, linen, silk, bamboo, lyocell or merino wool.

Bamboo and lyocell are also sustainable crops, so buying clothes made from these fibres is better for the environment too (as long as it’s from FSC-certified wood).

Drink lots of water

This is an obvious one, but it works.

Always drink plenty of water during hot weather – even when inside an apartment – as this will help to keep your body temperature down.

Additionally, try to eat a light diet during times of high temperatures, such as salads and vegetables.

READ MORE: Vienna to handout €200 payments to counter rising energy costs

Use a damp cloth

If it gets really hot at night, try using a cool damp cloth to cool the neck.

It won’t have the same effect as crisp air conditioning, but it will help to cool you down.

Last resort

If there really is no other option than air conditioning then try to use it sparingly. For example, just for a few hours at night.

Mobile air conditioning units are the most expensive with approximately 8kWh of electricity consumed during an eight hour period. However, these are easy to source at hardware stores and are simple to install.

Split units (with indoor and outdoor compartments) are cheaper to run but need to be installed by a specialist and usually require permission from a landlord. These devices use around 40 to 50 percent less energy than a mobile unit.