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MONEY

Cost of living: Seven tips to save money in Austria

Life in Austria can be full of delights but the country can be an expensive place to live, depending on where you are from or what you do. Here are seven simple money-saving tips from Tyrol-based writer Hayley Maguire.

Cost of living: Seven tips to save money in Austria
AFP

If you’re from the UK, buying alcohol and going to restaurants is significantly cheaper in Austria. Particularly when compared with London. Plus, rent is often lower in Austria than in the UK, making the cost of living cheaper overall.

But for people from countries like Spain and Italy, where the cost of living is much lower, Austria can be a very expensive country to live in. Especially for essential outgoings like rent, food and bills.

As a result, the cost of living is a regular topic of conversation amongst international residents.

So, how can you save money when living in Austria? Here’s seven simple money saving tips.

  • Buy second-hand

A good place to start for second-hand products in Austria is willhaben.at, an online marketplace. Visitors can search by location, and the website is especially useful for furniture and electronics.

For clothing, most cities have second-hand and vintage clothes stores. This is not as common in smaller towns and villages, but there are many flea markets to be found in Austria – even in rural places. Or try kleiderkreisel.de, which is a German-based platform for buying and selling used clothes.

In fact, a lot of German-based platforms can be used in Austria, including the German version of Amazon.

Then there is Facebook Marketplace. Not very Austrian but it’s still used by people all over the country to find second-hand goods.

  • Buy an annual vignette

To drive on the autobahn in Austria you need to pay a toll, which is called a vignette. This comes in the form of a sticker to be displayed in the windshield, or in a digital version that can be bought online.

ASFINAG network with route toll (green) and vignette (orange) sections and exceptions to the compulsory Vignette usage (blue). 

There are three options when buying a vignette – 10 days, two months or one year. A 10 day vignette costs €9.40, two months costs €27.40 and an annual vignette is €91.40 (2020 rates).

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Austria in November 2020 

The 10-day rate sounds cheap, and in the short term it is. But if you end up buying a 10-day vignette more than 10 times in one year, it makes more sense to go for the annual pass instead.

 
  • Save money on food shopping

Want to save money on groceries? Then start growing fruit and vegetables. Food shopping can be expensive for a lot of people, so growing your own can help to save money. Plus, Austria gets a lot of sun in the summer months, which is perfect for growing produce in a garden or on a balcony.

This website can give you useful tips for when to plant seeds and what fruit and veg you can grow in Austria.

When it comes to supermarkets, Hofer is the best place to find bargains. Hofer is the Austrian version of Aldi and is cheaper than most other shops for food and household supplies.

Another tip is to shop at local farm shops, although they are not always the cheaper option.

  • Ski touring and cross-country skiing

Austria is a playground for winter sports, but it’s not cheap. And if the cost of living is already squeezing the budget then skiing might seem completely out of reach. 

This is where ski touring and cross-country skiing come in. 

Ski touring doesn’t involve using a lift and usually takes place in back country skiing areas. The times are changing though and some resorts now charge a small fee for on-piste ski touring. This is a much cheaper way to go skiing without forking out for a full lift pass. 

It’s a similar story with cross-country skiing. Again, you don’t need a lift pass. Just the right equipment and access to trails, making it an easy way to embrace winter sports without the expensive price tag.

  • Exercise outside

Like other countries around the world, there are plenty of gyms, sports centres and indoor exercise clubs to join in Austria. But for people trying to save money, paying the fees for these places will make the cost of living even higher.

To stick to a budget, here are the best ways to exercise outdoors for free (or cheap):

Some public parks even have sections with free-to-use outdoor gym equipment, which is perfect for the summer months.

READ ALSO: Austria’s most beautiful spots for lake and river swimming

Image: weinfranz.at

  • Cycle instead of driving

The financial benefits of cycling are well known and it can save a lot of money in the long term. In Austria, it’s even easier to embrace cycling with plenty of cycle lanes and bike parking spots available in towns and cities across the country.

The only downside is for people living in the mountains or rural areas. The weather conditions in the winter might not be suitable for cycling, and a car is often needed in the countryside. But this money saving tip could be a seasonal option for the summer months.

  • Speak to the locals

Finally, speaking to locals is a money saving tip worth remembering. 

It might sound obvious but word of mouth really does go a long way in Austria. Why? Because Austrians are proud of where they’re from and will be happy to point you in the right direction. Even when it comes to business.

For example, if you want to move house, someone in the community might know a landlord with a vacant property. This can help to save money on rental agent fees. Or if you want to buy a new car, ask around to find out if someone is selling a vehicle instead of going straight to a dealer.

Plus, speaking to local residents is a great way to get to know the country better and further integrate into Austrian life.

by Hayley Maguire

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

It’s always good to know your legal rights when living as a foreigner in Austria - including if you get in trouble with the police.

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Getting arrested is probably not high up on a list of must-dos for international residents in Austria, but it’s not a bad idea to know what would happen if you did.

In a nutshell, the process in Austria is similar to most other countries in that you have to be suspected of committing a crime to be arrested.

But what happens next? What are your rights? And how long can someone be held in custody?

Here’s what you need to know.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What cyclists and drivers in Austria need to know about new rules

When can someone be arrested in Austria?

If someone is suspected of being a criminal, they can be arrested by the police and taken to a police station for questioning. 

Under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, suspects must be informed of their rights as soon as possible, or at the very least before being interrogated by the police.

They also have a right to remain silent or to make a statement, as well as consult a lawyer.

According to Vienna-based attorney Evert Vastenburg, the initial detainment after arrest can last up to 48 hours while a judge decides whether a person should remain in custody or not.

A suspect can then be released on bail or under certain conditions, such as handing over a passport to police.

However, those suspected of serious crimes that typically lead to a prison sentence of 10 years or more (if found guilty) are almost always remanded in custody.

READ MORE: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

When is someone remanded in custody?

To be refused bail and remanded in custody, there must be serious suspicion that another crime could be committed. 

The judge also must believe there is no other way to deal with the suspect. For example, he/she needs to be readily available to the authorities for questioning.

Another valid reason to keep someone in custody past the initial 48 hours is the risk of someone absconding. In fact, Vastenburg says a flight risk is often assumed with people that do not live and work in Austria.

Other reasons to deny a suspect release are a risk that evidence will be destroyed, witnesses will be contacted, or there is a possibility that further crimes will be committed.

What happens if bail is denied?

If bail is denied and a person must be held in custody for more than 48 hours, they have to be legally represented by a lawyer.

If a suspect can’t afford to hire a lawyer, they will be appointed a Verfahrenshilfe (public defender) by the state.

The case will be then reviewed by a judge on a regular basis to decide if custody should continue.

The first review will take place after 14 days, then at one month and every two months, but a suspect can petition for release at any time.

READ ALSO: Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

How many foreigners are in Austrian prisons?

According to data from the Austrian Judiciary, the number of foreigners in Austrian jails as of June 1st 2022 was 4,332 – almost 50 percent of all prisoners.

In relation to the statistics, the Austrian Judiciary states: “The high proportion of foreigners is one of many challenges for the Austrian penal system. 

“In particular, with regard to successful rehabilitation, the fastest possible transfer to the countries of origin is encouraged.

The most common nationality of foreign prisoners in Austria is Romanian, followed by people from the former Yugoslavian states, Hungary, Nigeria and Turkey.

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