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.
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.
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).
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.
- 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