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Where do Austria’s foreign residents come from and where do they live?

Where do Austria’s foreign residents come from and where do they live?
Photo: American Rugbier/Flickr
Almost one in five residents of Austria are foreign. Where do they come from and where do they live?

Austria has a diverse international community. Especially in larger towns and cities like Vienna and Innsbruck.

But where do Austria’s foreign residents come from? And where do they all live? 

The Local took a look at the data to find out.

How international is Austria?

Since the 1970’s, Austria’s population growth has mostly been due to international migration.

Fast forward to the start of 2020, and Statistics Austria revealed there were 1,486,223 foreign residents living in Austria.

This was about 16.7 per cent of the overall population.

More than half of all migrants in Austria are from EU or EFTA countries, with people from Germany making up the largest group at 13.5 per cent (199,993 people). 

This makes sense with both countries being neighbours and having the common native language of German.

When it comes to third-country (non-EU) nationals living in Austria, the largest majority is from Serbia with 122,155 people. This is followed by Turkey with 117,607 people.

Other popular countries for migration to Austria include Romania, Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria.

What’s the story in Vienna?

Vienna is Austria’s largest city and the country’s capital. It’s regularly named as one of the best places in the world to live, so it’s no surprise that most of Austria’s migrants settle in Vienna.

According to figures from the City of Vienna, the city has been transformed since 1961 when the census started registering migration flows.

Back then, Vienna’s population was stagnant. It then changed to shrinking and ageing before becoming the growing metropolis with a young demographic that it is today.

The main reason for this is international migration. In fact, at the beginning of 2020, 30.8 per cent of Vienna’s residents were foreign nationals. 

An Austrian flag on top of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Image: Alex Halada/AFP

Where do they come from?

Central and Eastern European nationals make up the largest majority of foreign residents in Vienna with 101,888 people from Serbia, 76,281 from Turkey, 61,945 from Germany and 55,051 from Poland.

Nationals from EU countries make up the bulk of international residents in Vienna most years, a trend that has continued since 2006.

However, 2015 was an exception when a high number of third-country citizens arrived in Vienna as part of the well-documented refugee movement in Europe. 

What about elsewhere in Austria?

After Vienna, the provinces with the highest number of foreign residents are Upper Austria, Styria, Lower Austria and Tyrol, with most people settling in the provincial capitals or the surrounding areas.

In Linz, Upper Austria, there were 50,792 foreign residents living in the city in 2019, according to AdminStat Austria. This made up just over 24 per cent of the whole population of Linz.

In Lower Austria, Sankt Pölten recorded 10,015 foreign residents in 2019, which was 18.04 per cent of the city’s population.

In Innsbruck, Tyrol, there were 36,320 international residents in 2019. This made up 27.5 per cent of the population. 

It’s worth noting that tourism is a prominent industry in Tyrol and Innsbruck is a university city, which could account for a larger foreign resident population than the other provincial capitals.

How many English-speakers live in Austria?

Around 73 per cent of the entire Austrian population speaks English, which makes it an attractive place for English-speaking migrants.

This is especially the case for working age people in sought-after professions like engineering, science and medicine.

As the UK used to be a member of the EU, many British citizens have made Austria their home. In fact, there are around 11,500 British people living in Austria, with 4,500 living in Vienna.

In pre-Brexit and pre-coronavirus times, people from Australia and New Zealand would also flock to mountain resort towns looking for work – many with British passports acquired through ancestry.

Today, this is not so common. But there are still communities of foreign residents from English-speaking countries that settled in these areas and have made Austria their home.

As British citizens are now considered as third-country nationals in Austria, moving to the alpine country is not as easy as it once was during the EU days. 

This could result in a decline in foreign residents in Austria from countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand in the future.

But we will have to wait for future migration statistics to find out.


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