How do foreigners feel about living in Austria?

Austria is home to an increasing number of foreigners. Do they feel at home?

How do foreigners feel about living in Austria?
A sign at the Austrian border. Photo: DPA

Each year, Austria releases its Statistical Yearbook for Migration and Integration. The most recent edition was released in June 2021. 

The report includes diverse findings relating to how many foreigners live in Austria, where people come from and how they feel to live in Austria. 

Almost a quarter come from a migrant background

The study found that almost a quarter of Austrian residents – 2.14 million people or 24.4 percent of the population – have a migrant background. 

This is an increase of 40 percent on the same figure from ten years ago. 

IN NUMBERS: How many people become Austrian each year – and where do they come from?

In fact, while Austria’s population is growing, it is growing only through migration. According to the director of Statistics Austria, Tobias Thomas, “without migration the number of inhabitants would, according to the population forecast, shrink to the level of the 1950s in the long term.”

Around 40 percent of those who have migrated to Austria come from European Union countries, with the remaining 60 percent from outside the EU. 

More than half a million come from the former Yugoslavia, while 270,000 come from Turkey. 

‘Migrant background’ refers to people from abroad or who have parents born abroad. 

How do migrants feel about Austria? 

Besides the cold, hard numbers, the yearbook also reveals migrants’ attitudes towards living in Austria. 

The authors interviewed around 3,500 migrants or people with a migrant background, breaking them into two categories. 

In total, 86 percent of those from Bosnia, Serbia and Turkey indicated they felt at home in Austria, while 90 percent of those from Syria, Afghanistan and Chechenia said they felt at home. 

These countries were chosen as they are the source countries of the greatest number of foreign residents living in Austria. 

Generally speaking, people who had been in Austria for longer felt more at home than newer arrivals – while money played a role in how ‘at home’ people felt. 

“Across all countries of origin, immigrants with a longer period of residence felt more at home or belonged to Austria than people who had not lived in Austria as long,” the authors wrote. 

“In addition, those migrants who could more easily manage their household income felt more at home in Austria or belonged to Austria than those who had (some) difficulty meeting their current expenses.

Of longer-term residents, people from Chechenia felt the most at home (93 percent) while people from Turkey felt the least at home (81 percent). 

Only a small minority of foreign residents – less than two percent – said they felt “not at home at all”. 

People are particularly at home in Vienna

Vienna, with the highest proportion of foreigners in Austria, is a popular destination for new arrivals. 

The study found that it is also popular for longer-term foreign residents. 

Vienna’s status as a popular migrant destination was solidified with the study, which found migrants felt at home in the Austrian capital. 

“It was also striking that those persons from traditional countries of immigration who live in Vienna felt particularly often at home or belonged to Austria. This correlation was not found among immigrants with a recent migration history,” the authors wrote. 

More information about the study – including the full report – can be found at the following link. 

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‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

Foreigners in Vienna say the city offers excellent health and transport benefits but has an exceptionally unfriendly population.

'Bad-tempered locals': Vienna ranked the world's 'unfriendliest city'

The Spanish port city of Valencia is the most popular city among international employees this year, followed by Dubai and Mexico City, according to the “Expat City Ranking 2022” by Internations, a network for people who live and work abroad.

The ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider study, in which almost 12,000 employees worldwide participated this year. The report offers insights into the quality of life, settling in, working, personal finances and the “Expat Basics” index, which covers digital infrastructure, administrative matters, housing and language.

Vienna ranks 27th out of 50 cities in this year’s ranking. Although it scores very well in terms of quality of life, many expats find it difficult to settle in and make friends in the Austrian capital.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Vienna ranks last in the Ease of Settling In Index and also in the Local Friendliness Subcategory. 

Nearly half the respondents in the city (46 percent) say that people are unfriendly towards foreign residents (vs 18 percent globally), and 43 percent rate the general friendliness of the population negatively (vs 17 percent globally). 

An Australian immigrant told Internations they were unhappy with the seemingly “bad tempered locals”, while a survey respondent from the UK said they struggled to get along with the “conservative Austrians” in Vienna.

Unsurprisingly, more than half of the expats in Vienna (54 percent) find it challenging to make friends with the locals (vs 37 percent globally). Moreover, around one-third (32 percent) are unhappy with their social life (vs 26 percent globally), and 27 percent do not have a personal support system in Vienna (vs 24 percent globally). 

“I really dislike the grumpiness and the unfriendliness,” said an immigrant from Sweden.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

In the Quality of Life Index, Vienna snagged first place last year, but it reached only seventh place this year. In terms of administrative matters such as getting a visa for residence, Vienna is only 38th, and the federal capital also scores poorly for cashless payment options (42nd).

Where does Vienna shine?

The Austrian city ranked particularly well in categories including Travel and Transit (first place) and Health and Well-being (second place). International employees rated the availability, cost and quality of medical care as particularly good.

“I like how much you can do here and how easy it is to get around by public transport,” said an expat from the US. 

In addition, Vienna is not particularly expensive and ranks ninth worldwide in the personal finance index. 

READ ALSO: Five unwritten rules that explain how Austria works

Vienna ranks 26th out of 50 cities in the Working Abroad Index. Sixty-eight percent of expats rate their job as secure, and two-thirds rate their work-life balance positively – compared to 59 percent and 62 percent globally. However, 23 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their career opportunities, and a third feel that the corporate culture in Vienna lacks creativity and unconventional thinking.

In the “Expat Basics” index, international employees consider housing in Vienna particularly affordable (9th). In addition, eight out of ten find it easy to open a local bank account (vs 64 percent worldwide).