Six ideas to make Vienna even more liveable

Vienna has come second in a list of the world’s most liveable cities, missing out on first place to Melbourne in Australia. Here are some ideas for how to do better next time.

Six ideas to make Vienna even more liveable
The Volksgarten. Photo: Negina Pirzad

It is the fifth year in a row that Melbourne has topped the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability Survey. Vancouver and Toronto in Canada came third and fourth, in a ranking based across five areas: stability, infrastructure, education, healthcare and the environment.

Earlier this year, Vienna came top in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey for 2015, and second in a similar survey by Monocle.

Whilst we happily admit that Vienna is a great city in which to live, we believe there is still room for improvement. Here’s six ideas that could help it really confirm its status as the city for best quality of life. One or two are fairly controversial, so we don’t expect everyone to agree.

Introduce 'the scramble'

Vienna does have great traffic lights. Photo:

In many countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia, busy intersections can feature ‘pedestrian scrambles’ – meaning that when the lights go red for traffic those on foot are allowed to cross in any direction including diagonally. And while we’re at it, why not give pedestrians priority at marked zebra crossings and allow us to make our own judgement as to when it's safe to cross a road? No more waiting at traffic free crossings for the lights to turn.

Better cycling lanes


Although Vienna is a pretty bike friendly city, it ranks only 16 in a top 20 list of best cycling cities put together by the Copenhagenize index. In order to compete with cities like Amsterdam and Denmark it still needs to invest in cycling infrastructure – creating even more cycle lanes so that bikes are separated from heavy traffic, and reducing pollution in the city centre.

Crackdown on dog mess

Bag it and bin it, folks. Photo:

Vienna's 'clean city' campaign has stepped up the fight against dog fouling and dog owners faces fines of up to €225 for failing to clean up after their pooches. However in some districts dog mess is still a problem in residential streets and parks – even more so than in bigger cities like London and Paris. Maybe local schemes where people publish pictures of offenders online would help reduce this foul problem, or failing that a 'canine CSI' to track down errant owners.

Cap the price of a melange


Vienna is rightly famed for its grand and historic coffee houses and the traditional coffee known as melange (a coffee with milk foam). However, prices have risen scandalously in some of the more famous cafes along the Ringstrasse and personally we’d like to see a cap on the price of a melange – a maximum of €4 seems reasonable, €6 seems excessive. No wonder that 88 percent of Austrians prefer to drink their coffee at home.

Crack a smile


A little bit of friendliness wouldn’t hurt the Viennese, and might even improve their reputation with foreigners – they are rather renowned for their grumpiness and aloofness. Grumpy bus drivers, old ladies who shout at you in supermarkets for getting in the way, and waiters who can’t crack a smile even when you tip generously – it’s all part of that particular Viennese way that is starting to feel a little outmoded these days.

Stub it out!

Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrians love to smoke – in bars and restaurants, in the office, at the bus stop, in parks, anywhere you can think of really. A complete smoking ban is due to come into force in May 2018, but until then prepare to partake in your fair share of passive smoking if you’re a non-smoker and like to socialise once in a while.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

Foreigners in Vienna say the city offers excellent health and transport benefits but has an exceptionally unfriendly population.

'Bad-tempered locals': Vienna ranked the world's 'unfriendliest city'

The Spanish port city of Valencia is the most popular city among international employees this year, followed by Dubai and Mexico City, according to the “Expat City Ranking 2022” by Internations, a network for people who live and work abroad.

The ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider study, in which almost 12,000 employees worldwide participated this year. The report offers insights into the quality of life, settling in, working, personal finances and the “Expat Basics” index, which covers digital infrastructure, administrative matters, housing and language.

Vienna ranks 27th out of 50 cities in this year’s ranking. Although it scores very well in terms of quality of life, many expats find it difficult to settle in and make friends in the Austrian capital.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Vienna ranks last in the Ease of Settling In Index and also in the Local Friendliness Subcategory. 

Nearly half the respondents in the city (46 percent) say that people are unfriendly towards foreign residents (vs 18 percent globally), and 43 percent rate the general friendliness of the population negatively (vs 17 percent globally). 

An Australian immigrant told Internations they were unhappy with the seemingly “bad tempered locals”, while a survey respondent from the UK said they struggled to get along with the “conservative Austrians” in Vienna.

Unsurprisingly, more than half of the expats in Vienna (54 percent) find it challenging to make friends with the locals (vs 37 percent globally). Moreover, around one-third (32 percent) are unhappy with their social life (vs 26 percent globally), and 27 percent do not have a personal support system in Vienna (vs 24 percent globally). 

“I really dislike the grumpiness and the unfriendliness,” said an immigrant from Sweden.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

In the Quality of Life Index, Vienna snagged first place last year, but it reached only seventh place this year. In terms of administrative matters such as getting a visa for residence, Vienna is only 38th, and the federal capital also scores poorly for cashless payment options (42nd).

Where does Vienna shine?

The Austrian city ranked particularly well in categories including Travel and Transit (first place) and Health and Well-being (second place). International employees rated the availability, cost and quality of medical care as particularly good.

“I like how much you can do here and how easy it is to get around by public transport,” said an expat from the US. 

In addition, Vienna is not particularly expensive and ranks ninth worldwide in the personal finance index. 

READ ALSO: Five unwritten rules that explain how Austria works

Vienna ranks 26th out of 50 cities in the Working Abroad Index. Sixty-eight percent of expats rate their job as secure, and two-thirds rate their work-life balance positively – compared to 59 percent and 62 percent globally. However, 23 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their career opportunities, and a third feel that the corporate culture in Vienna lacks creativity and unconventional thinking.

In the “Expat Basics” index, international employees consider housing in Vienna particularly affordable (9th). In addition, eight out of ten find it easy to open a local bank account (vs 64 percent worldwide).