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COST OF LIVING

Renting in Austria: Where is expensive – and where can you find a bargain?

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up Austria's rental market. Here's where costs have risen - and the one state where rental costs have fallen.

Scaffolding on a high-risk apartment
Austria has seen the highest average rent increase over the last 12 years. (Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Across Austria, rents rose on average 14 euros per square metre in 2020 – an increase of five percent on prices from 2019. 

Rents rose in all but one Austrian state. Predictably, rents are the highest in the urban and western states, particularly Vienna and Tyrol. 

READ MORE: Is it better to buy or to rent property in Austria?

Rents increased sharply in Vienna in 2020 – by €15.8 per square metre (4.8 percent). 

Rents also rose in the west of the country. In Tyrol, there was an increase of €16 per square metre (5.1 percent). 

Tyrol remains the most expensive state in Austria to rent a property, while Vienna is the second most expensive. 

In Vorarlberg, there was an increase of 4.1 percent – or €15 per square metre, making it the third most expensive state for rentals in Austria. 

Rents declined in only one Austrian state – Burgenland, where they fell by 2.4 percent or €9.30 per square metre. 

Burgenland remains the cheapest state in Austria when it comes to rental prices, followed by Lower Austria where the costs are €11.20 per square metre (a 0.5 percent increase on 2019 prices). 

Where has the demand for houses risen the most in Austria? 

The impact of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has meant that homes with gardens are more popular than ever. 

“Although our current trend study shows that Austrians are basically satisfied with their living situation, the dream of owning their own house has become firmly entrenched for many in 2020,” said ImmoScout managing director Markus Dejmek. 

The demand has been greatest in the extended suburbs of Vienna and Graz, where urban residents have been looking to get a little more green space. 

The increase in house demand has also been felt in a number of other Austrian states. 

According to ImmoScout, demand has been particularly strong for second homes or holiday homes. 

The highest increase was in Carinthia, where demand grew by approximately 76 percent. 

In Lower Austria (63 percent), Styria (59 percent) and Burgenland (55 percent) demand also grew dramatically. 

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COST OF LIVING

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?

It’s no secret that winter is set to be expensive with rising energy costs. But some British people in Austria might be able to access financial support through the UK benefits system.

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment.

And, as the rising cost of living in Austria takes a chunk out of household budgets, some British people are wondering if they can still claim this benefit while living in Austria.

To find out, we took a closer look at the rules for claiming the winter fuel payment from the UK while overseas.

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules about turning on the heating in the workplace in Austria?

What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Eligible people are those born on or before 25th September 1956 who were living in the UK during the qualifying week (starting the third Monday in September).

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £100 and £300.

Those living in a care home or nursing home only qualify for the benefit if they are already receiving pension credit, income-based job seekers allowance or employment and support allowance.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What will happen to Austria’s property market in 2023?

I’m a UK national living in Austria. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

As with most issues related to bureaucracy, the answer to the question above is: it depends.

Official guidance from the UK government states that you may be able to claim the winter fuel benefit from abroad if you are at least 68 years of age, live in Switzerland or an EEA country, have a genuine link to the UK (such as family) and you’re covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Additionally, having previously claimed the winter fuel payment in the UK before moving abroad is not a requirement.

So, in theory, some British people living in Austria will be able to claim this benefit from the UK, as long as they were already in Austria by 31st December 2020.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

However, only those that lived and worked in the UK for most of their life can claim the winter fuel payment, according to the online checker on the UK government website. 

This means if you moved to Austria for retirement and you meet the other criteria, then you probably will be eligible. But if you lived and worked in Austria for most of your adult life, maybe not.

How to claim the winter fuel payment?

To make a claim for this benefit for the first time, you will need to call the Winter Fuel Payment hotline on +44 (0)191 218 7777. The phone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (UK time).

Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling in the IPCF091 form.

To apply for the winter fuel payment, you will need to provide your National Insurance number and bank details. The authorities will also ask for a copy of the Article 50 Card to prove that you were living in Austria by 31st December 2020.

Find out more about the application process at the UK government website.

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