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The words you need to know before renting a flat in Austria

From smaller towns to the Viennese suburbs, renting in Austria ain’t easy. While we can’t find you a flat, we hope to take some of the confusion out of doing so.

The words you need to know before renting a flat in Austria
Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

Whether you speak German or not, getting your head around the complex words used in renting in Austria. 

(Der) Mieter

Meaning tenant or renter, Mieter comes from the German miete which means to rent. 

Vermieter means landlord – although the latter is frequently used in super-hip Berlin and Hamburg. 

READ MORE: The hidden costs of buying a home in Austria

(Der) Mietvertrag 

The German word for lease, Mietvertrag – literally rent contract – is the document between you and your landlord which allows you to live in the flat. 

As we discussed in our report on the Anmeldung (address registration) process, you’ll need to show this at the Bürgeramt to receive your Meldebescheinigung (certificate of registered address).  

(Der) Altbau and Neubau

When moving into an apartment block, you’ll frequently be told whether your potential flat-to-be is an Altbau (old building) or a Neubau (new building).

This can however be confusing, as the highly sought after Altbau can frequently look much newer and nicer than the Neubau, the latter of which can often be found at the outskirts of larger towns and cities. 

Buildings from before the Second World War are known as Altbau, whereas those made afterwards are known as Neubau

(Die) Kaution

Meaning either bond or deposit, Kaution is the money paid as a security deposit when you move into a flat to provide the landlord with a degree of protection should you fail to pay the rent or if the flat is damaged. 

Foreigners are frequently targeted with Kaution scams, so be sure to discuss the nature of your Kaution and how it will be returned when moving into a flat. 

(Das) Casting

Right out of the same category as ‘Handy’, ‘Public-Viewing’ and ‘Beamer’, Casting is an English word which has taken on a different and somewhat odd use in German. 

While ‘casting’ in English means the process of auditioning for a part in a movie or play, ‘Casting’ in German is the process of interviewing a new flatmate. 

Although it will not always be the case, a Casting can be structured much like a job interview – with each of the existing housemates asking a variety of questions to determine if you’re truly worthy. 

(Die) Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung 

Literally translating as rent-debt-freedom-certificate, the Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung is a document which confirms you are not in rental debt for any of your previous properties. 

While the word is an absolute mouthful – try saying ‘meat-shool-den-fry-height-b-shine-ee-goong’ out loud – this document is an absolute must when renting a flat. 

Remember that the German word for debt (Schuld) also means guilt – so anyone hoping to rent a flat will need to prove that they are debt free. 

(Die) Verdienstbescheinigung

Another Bescheinigung, the Verdienstbescheinigung is a document from your employer which shows your earnings.

Given the highly competitive property market, you’ll want to have this document on hand for when you first see – and decide to apply for – the property. 

(Die) Nebenkosten, (Die) Warmmiete and (Die) Kaltmiete

Nebenkosten, which are otherwise known as Betriebskosten, means all the extra costs associated with the apartment other than the rent. These include water, gas, internet, heating, electricity and insurance costs. 

When renting a flat, the advertised price will either be Kaltmiete (cold rent) or Warmmiete (warm rent). A Kaltmiete price will only be the price for the rent itself, while Warmmiete will be the price including the Nebenkosten

Flats will often be advertised as “€600 Warmmiete/WM/Warm” or “€550 Kaltmiete/Kalt/KM”. 

(Die) Wohngemeinschaft

More commonly known as a ‘W-G’ (pronounced ‘vey-gay’), Wohngemeinschaft is the German name for a share house. The word literally translates to ‘residential community’. 

WGs are common in Austria for students and adults alike, given that the country’s unique and sometimes complicated Altbau architecture can create share houses with a significant amount of privacy and independence. 

(Der) Mitbewohner

If you live in a WG, you’re likely to have one or more Mitbewohner. Translating literally as ‘with-occupant’, Mitbewohner means housemate or flatmate.

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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