Population shift: Where are people moving to when they leave Vienna?
New statistics show people are moving away from larger cities to smaller towns and villages in Austria. Where are they moving to - and why?
A recent study found that smaller towns and communities in Austria grew faster than larger cities in 2020 - for the first time in 20 years.
The reason for the demographic shift has been put down to the pandemic and an increase in home working after OGM and APA analysed data from Statistics Austria.
The only city in Austria that saw a rise in population was the capital Vienna due to new homes being built in the city’s outskirts, but both Graz and Linz stagnated last year and Innsbruck actually lost residents.
However, smaller towns with populations below 5,000 have grown with an average of 3.9 new residents for every 1,000 inhabitants, particularly in Upper Austria with 5.4 new residents and in Tyrol with 5.8.
From Vienna to Lower Austria
In Lower Austria, smaller towns and cities have also grown in the past year - particularly those with strong transport connections to Vienna.
For example, in 2020, the population growth rate in Wiener Neustadt was way above average at 13.8, followed by St. Pölten at 6.6 and Klosterneuburg at 3.2.
But just how close are they to the capital city?
Wiener Neustadt is located around 45 minutes from Vienna by car or half an hour by train.
St. Pölten is the capital city of Lower Austria and is just over an hour from Vienna by car or around 30 minutes by train.
Klosterneuburg is just 30 minutes from the capital by car or around 40 minutes by train.
According to OGM, if this represents a trend reversal from 20 years of population growth in Austria’s larger cities, governmental policies and planning might have to be redirected to new areas to deal with increased demands on transport and climate protection.
Johannes Klotz from OGM said: “The expansion of public transport connections is essential, because without a corresponding connection, even the cheapest public transport ticket will not be used."
How do the populations compare to Vienna?
So what is it like to live in these smaller towns and cities outside of Vienna and how much smaller are they?
Wiener Neustadt is located south of Vienna and has around 46,000 inhabitants, of which around 20 per cent are international residents.
As a comparison, the population in Vienna is around 2 million people with about 31.5 per cent foreign nationals.
What about elsewhere in Austria?
According to the study by OGM and APA, larger municipalities elsewhere in Austria with more than 20,000 people have stagnated with an average of just 0.8 new residents for every 1,000.
However, three towns in Vorarlberg recorded an above average increase in population with Feldkirch up by 9.6, Dornbirn up by 7.7 and Lustenau at 7.2.
Populations in Wels, Traun and Salzburg also slightly increased in 2020.