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For members

AUSTRIA

Weird habits you’ll pick up living in Austria

Whether you've lived in Austria for years or just a few months, there's a good chance you’ve picked up some of these peculiar Austrian habits.

Focus on the eyes - never focus on the beer! Photo by ELEVATE from Pexels
Focus on the eyes - never focus on the beer! Photo by ELEVATE from Pexels

Staring deeply into people’s eyes as you say ‘cheers’

In Austria it’s considered bad luck not to look your drinking or dinner companions in the eyes when clinking glasses, and saying ‘Prosit!’ – the Austrian equivalent of cheers.

Failing to do this is said to bring you seven years of bad sex – so no wonder they take it so seriously. 

Not crossing the street until the light’s green

Walk when it says walk, don’t walk when it says don’t. Welcome to Austria. Photo by JESHOOTS from Pexels

In the Anglophone world it might seem like perfectly reasonable behaviour to step out into the road if you’ve scoured both horizons and not found a vehicle in sight.

But in Austria it’s considered illegal and downright reckless – and a bad example to children, who might be watching out of windows even if they’re not there beside you on the street.

After a few months in Austria you too will be waiting with the crowds for the little man to turn green – if you don’t, prepare to get shouted at, and possibly fined.

Saying hello and goodbye as you enter and leave lifts

If you take a lift in a department store, or a block of flats or offices in Austria it’s considered downright rude not to greet people as they enter and leave the lift, with a ‘Gruss Gött’ or ‘Auf Wiedersehen’.

The same goes for doctor’s surgeries and other public waiting rooms.

We don’t know why this is, but perhaps it dates back to a time when more people lived in small villages and everyone knew everybody else.

Clapping when the airplane lands

It’s always an entertaining clash taking a flight from the US or the UK to Austria and witnessing the Austrian passengers clapping upon landing while the rest look baffled.

Especially when there’s a bit of a bumpy ride beforehand, it’s actually quite a nice gesture to show appreciation to the crew who’ve transported you safely back to the ground.

Obsessively collecting bottles for Pfand

OK, so this is taking it to the extreme (and the picture’s not from Austria) but it doesn’t take long after moving here before you become a Pfand enthusiast… Photo: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Austrians are very serious about recycling – as you can tell by the specific bins in most apartment building’s courtyards.

On top of that, supermarkets make it extremely easy to turn in bottles for their Pfand deposit and immediately get the cash reward (of around 20 or 30 cents) through automatic machines.

Thus you will see long queues of people on weekends awaiting their chance to claim back those extra cents and do their bit for the environment. Simply throwing a beer bottle in the normal garbage bin starts to feel almost sacrilegious.

Being totally cool with nudity (and mixed sex saunas)

You’ll get used to naked saunas in no time. Photo: TORSTEN SILZ / AFP

This is one habit that prudish Anglo-Saxons take some getting used to. In Austria it is accepted – if not widespread – to be naked in certain areas at the beach or by the lakeside.

If you are a member of a gym in Austria you will also have to get used to the fact that you’ll be the only one wearing  a swimsuit in the sauna if that’s how you choose to go about it.

And there’ll be naked members of the other sex too. This is one habit that is sure to cause a storm if you take it back to the Anglo world with you.

Going through the supermarket checkout at lightning speed

When you head to the checkout counter at grocery stores in Austria, you have to be both physically and mentally prepared. Those cashiers don’t mess around.

And no one is going to bag your food for you like stores do in the US or the UK.

Austrian grocery store checkouts are a survival of the fittest, a competition between consumer and cashier to see if you can keep up with their lightning-speed hands, throwing veggies, milk and eggs across the scanner as you scramble to pack things in a reusable bag before they tell you how much you owe.

Those who are too slow should expect frustrated sighs and passive aggressive watch-checking from both the cashier and the customers behind them.

For members

PROPERTY

What will happen to Austria’s property market in 2022?

The property market in Austria performed well in 2021 with rising prices and high demand. Will this continue in Austria in 2022?

Austrian chalets
Whether you're looking to buy a first or second home in Austria, here's what experts predict for the property market. Photo: Finease Anton/Unsplash

As we near the end of 2021, Austria is in another national lockdown and many businesses are closed, but the property market is still riding high.

This means 2022 could be another strong year for property in Austria, although prices might start to stabilise over the next 12 months.

Here’s what you need to know.

READ ALSO: Why are property prices in Austria’s Tyrol region so high?

What can we expect from Austria’s property market in 2022?

Experts are predicting the high demand in the property market to continue throughout 2022, especially in rural areas and in the luxury homes market.

Justin Field, Marketing Director at property consultants Amazing Austria, told The Local: “The movement of people [as a result of the pandemic) created a demand for more country properties so people could work from home.

“Due to the uncertainty over the virus for the coming year, we would expect the local market to stay buoyant with demand for larger family homes in villages.”

READ MORE: Why are property prices in Austria’s Tyrol region so high?

Maizie Delaney Baird, Property Consultant at ski chalet specialists Lindforth, said they are receiving high numbers of enquiries from buyers looking for an investment property, despite the current national lockdown.

Maizie told The Local: “We still have a backlog of clients who wanted to buy last year but had to put their searches on pause. Additionally, many new buyers, especially Germans, have been inspired by the pandemic to invest in their family lifestyles. 

“Many of our clients want to buy a lifestyle investment property in Austria – a place they can holiday and “work from chalet” on occasion, but also rent out to earn an income.”

However, Justin at Amazing Austria predicts prices could start to stabilise or even drop during the next year.

He said: With the uncertainty of corona, and as personal debt ratios in Austria rise, my own thoughts are that the property market will level out in 2022, or even reduce as debt catches up with people and businesses.”

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy property in Austria?

Property market trends and hot spots in Austria

Since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, the Alps region in western Austria has been experiencing a real estate boom as both Austrians and foreigners have sought to buy property in the mountains.

Maizie told The Local it is a seller’s market right now with high demand and a shortage of supply.

She said: “With few chalets becoming available to buy there is a lot of competition so buyers need to be quick and determined if they wish to find their dream chalet, especially in the top resorts.

“In terms of prices, property in world-famous and glamorous Lech am Arlberg [Vorarlberg] are some of the highest in Austria and average around €20,000 per square meter. 

“Whereas, in sporty Zürs am Arlberg, sharing the same ski region and just five minutes away by car, prices average around €15,000 per square meter.”

FOR MEMBERS: Altbau vs Neubau: What’s the difference and which should I rent in Austria?

Elsewhere in Austria there is a similar story, although prices aren’t rising to the same extent as in the Alps.

For example, in Vienna prices have risen by around 12 percent in all districts to an average of €5,800 per square meter (sqm), and luxury properties have gone up by 23 percent to €14,500 per sqm.

In Penzing, prices have gone up by 19 percent in the past year after the average price per sqm exceeded €5,000. In Donaustadt, prices rose by 15 percent to €4,870 per sqm.

What happened to Austria’s property market in 2021?

In the first half of 2021, the House Price Index (HPI), which measures changes in residential property prices, increased from 142.85 in January to 150.77 in July – an all-time high. 

To compare, in June 2020 the HPI in Austria reached 135.11. This was the highest ever recorded level at the time.

Earlier this year, a study by Deloitte showed that new apartment prices in Austria were the most expensive in Europe with a 70 sqm apartment costing an average of 10.6 times the national annual salary.

Gabriele Etzl, real estate expert and partner at Jank Weiler Operenyi / Deloitte Legal, said: “The rising construction costs and the high attractiveness of real estate as an investment form are the main reasons for this price development.”

FOR MEMBERS: Seven common mistakes to avoid when buying a home in Austria

Rising prices have since prompted the Österreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) to warn of overheating in the housing market after it was revealed property prices across Austria have doubled since the beginning of 2010.

The average price increase across the Eurozone in the past decade is just one third.

In fact, some experts say residential property prices are currently overvalued by around 30 percent and there are concerns about the steep growth in mortgages in Austria, which is outpacing the average across Europe.

Stefan Selden, banking advisor at 720° Restructuring & Advisory, told Der Standard: “The development of real estate prices is undoubtedly wild.”

However, according to ImmoScout24, the cost of rent in Austria in 2021 only rose by 1.6 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in 2020. The average cost for a 70 sqm apartment in Austria is €944.

Tyrol remains the most expensive province for rent, followed by Vienna and Vorarlberg.

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