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CULTURE

Six ways you might be annoying your neighbours (and not realising it) in Austria

It’s always a good idea to get to know the neighbours - especially when living in a new country. Austria has its own peculiar set of cultural norms. Here's how you might be breaking some or all of them - and how to fix it.

Six ways you might be annoying your neighbours (and not realising it) in Austria
Gardening is a great way to get to know your neighbours - but make sure you don't do it loudly on a Sunday. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It’s always a good idea to get to know the neighbours – especially when living in a new country.

Not only does it display good manners, but it also shows a willingness to embrace the new culture and integrate with the locals.

Some people tell us they’ve found it difficult to get along with the neighbours when moving to Austria. 

But while Austrians can be direct and sometimes curt, their frostiness could also be because you are breaking some unwritten rules. 

Here are six ways you might be annoying your neighbours – and how to fix it. 

Not introducing yourself

First things first – if you’re the new person on the street or in an apartment building, it’s up to you to make the first move.

Thankfully, this isn’t as scary or intimidating as it sounds, and most Austrians will expect it.

The best way is to simply knock on the door, start a polite conversation by introducing yourself and share details about where you’re from and where you live (e.g. which house or apartment).

You can say that you wanted to say hello in case you bump into each other on the street or in the hallway. It’s polite and helps to avoid any awkward conversations later on.

Plus, you can use it as an opportunity to ask questions about the local area and get some insider tips about where to go and what to do.

However, there’s no need to take sweets or food for the new neighbours. Just yourself and a smile will do.

Sharing is caring

If you grow vegetables in a garden on a balcony, it’s always nice to ask your neighbours if they would like some.

Sharing food is a friendly move and a great way to build a sense of community. It’s an easy ice-breaker with the neighbours and it stops unused food from going to waste.

And you never know, you might get some home-grown produce back in return.

Sunday, noisy Sunday

Sunday is observed as a day of rest in Austria – and it is taken very seriously. 

This means no mowing the lawn, hammering nails into a wall or blaring loud music out of speakers in the garden.

In other countries like the UK, New Zealand or Australia, this is not usually the case and doing some gardening or DIY on a Sunday is totally acceptable. 

But in Austria it’s a rule that’s observed nationwide – so expect unhappy neighbours if you break it.

Think of it this way – you wouldn’t make a lot of noise after 10pm, so until Monday morning at 7am, act like it’s midnight on a Saturday. 

FOR MEMBERS: Nine mistakes everyone makes when they first move to Austria

Not saying hello

Good manners and a friendly nature are appreciated in Austria.

Saying “Hallo”, or “Servus”, to neighbours is expected and helps to build up a polite rapport with the people you live next to.

However, there are other greetings to be aware of, like “Grüß Gott” (God bless you) or “Griaß di” (greetings), and using these local terms will earn you extra brownie points with the neighbours.

Don’t be shy – introduce yourself to your neighbours. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

It’s rude to stare? Not in Austria…

Staring isn’t considered rude in Austria, which can be hard to get used to if you’re from a country where staring is actually very rude.

So, if you’re the new kid on the block, you should expect some staring as the neighbours try to get a glimpse of who has moved in.

But instead of being offended, use it as an opportunity to say hello and introduce yourself instead.

Communication is key – especially regarding parties or noise

If you’re planning a big party or having building work done on your house, then it’s nice to let the neighbours know – especially if it’s going to be loud.

No one likes to be woken up by a drill in the morning, or kept awake by loud music at night, but most people will be understanding if they’ve been informed in advance.

The best way to do this is to knock on your neighbours door and have a quick chat, or even invite them if you’re having a party.

READ MORE: How do foreigners feel about living in Austria?

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VIENNA

What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

Vienna is once again at the top of the global liveability index, but what does it mean and where can Austria's capital still improve?

What makes Vienna the 'most liveable city' and where can it improve?

The Austrian capital city of Vienna made a comeback as the world’s most liveable city after it tumbled down to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Now, Vienna tops a ranking dominated by Western European cities, and it scores highly in nearly all criteria, including stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Vienna returns to top ranking as world’s ‘most liveable city

What does each of these points mean and in which areas is the city still not the best?

The liveability score is reached through category weights, each divided into subcategories. The indicators are then scored based on either judgement of “in-house expert geography analysts and a field correspondent based in each city” for qualitative variables.

In the case of quantitative variables, the rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a location using external data, such as information from the World Bank or Transparency International, for example.

Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, in Vienna (Copyright: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)

Stability

Vienna got a 100 percent score in this category, which is measured based on several indicators. The EIU rating evaluated the prevalence of petty crime and of violent crime. It also looked into the threat of terrorism, military conflict, and civil unrest threats.

Healthcare

This was another category Austria’s capital aced – and an improvement from the pandemic years, when it lost points on healthcare.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

The rating considers the availability and quality of both private and public healthcare. It also looks into the availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators provided by the World Bank.

Education

Vienna got a total of 100 points for this category, which considered the availability and quality of private education and looked into World Bank data on public education indicators.

Infrastructure

Another 100 percent for Austria’s capital which was found to have a good quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision and telecommunications. The ranking also considered the availability of good-quality housing.

Theater in Vienna (© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

Culture & Environment

This was the only category where Vienna did not get 100 points. Instead, it scored 96.3, which was still higher than many of the top ten cities. Vancouver, Canada, was the only city at the top of the ranking that got a 100. Melbourne and Amsterdam also fared slightly better than Vienna.

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

The category looks into humidity and temperature rating, the discomfort of climate for travellers, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, food and drink, and consumer goods and services.

Among all of these indicators, only the humidity/temperature rating, which is adapted from average weather conditions, didn’t receive the highest grade.

What can Vienna do to get better?

Even in the indicators where the Austrian capital did well, there are always things to improve, especially concerning the risks to the quality of living that rising inflation and the Ukrainian war bring.

When it comes to weather, though the city cannot control when it rains or shines, there are many things it can do to improve living conditions on those scorching summer days or freezing winter evenings.

READ ALSO: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

As summer and heatwaves arrive, it is already looking to bring more green areas and avoid “heat islands” building up in the city centre. It also has built fog showers, drinking fountains and increased offers of “cool” areas where people can escape the extreme heat.

Also, looking to reduce the use of cars and make life better for residents, Vienna is betting on the “15-minute city” concept. This means that Austria’s capital is trying to make the essential everyday routes and destinations, including metro stations, reachable by a 15-minute walk.

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