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COST OF LIVING

Five reasons to retire in Austria

Retiring overseas is a dream for many of us, with Austria becoming a popular location for people searching for mountains and culture.

Five reasons to retire in Austria
A woman sits by a lake in Austria. Photo by Mateusz Sałaciak from Pexels

Austria is known for having a high standard of living, so it’s no surprise that it’s an attractive place to live for people from around the world – including retirees.

There is even a special visa for retirees known as a settlement permit, which offers financially independent people the opportunity to retire in Austria and live in the country on a long-term basis.

But what makes life in Austria so favourable for retirement?

It’s a mixture of safety, an affordable cost of living, access to nature and a vibrant cultural landscape.

Access to nature

Austria is renowned as the winter sports capital of Europe and enjoys some of the best skiing conditions in the world.

This is a big attraction for active retirees looking for somewhere to indulge in winter sports and other mountain activities – especially in the provinces of Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Salzburgerland.

Emma Barr lives in St. Johann, Tyrol, with her husband, but is originally from Reading in the UK where she used to work as a HR Manager.

Emma told The Local earlier this year: “We moved here over 10 years ago, and it was the best decision we ever made.

“Spending time walking or skiing in the mountains on a regular basis is life enhancing.”

Austria isn’t just about exploring the Alps though.

Residents in Vienna and other major cities are also within easy reach of nature, which makes the country ideal for hiking, swimming in lakes, visiting wine growing regions or just enjoying the fresh air.

Houses by the lake in Hallstatt, Austria. Photo by Joss Woodhead on Unsplash

Affordable housing

It’s no secret that Vienna has repeatedly been voted as the world’s most liveable city for many years.

The reason for this is the high quality of life that resident’s enjoy with affordable housing costs, a reliable transport network and low unemployment figures.

READ MORE: Eight weird and wonderful Austrian place names

But Vienna isn’t the only place in Austria where international residents can enjoy a high quality of life.

In many parts of the country, housing costs are affordable when compared with countries like the UK and the USA, and low unemployment rates are mostly reflected nationwide.

For example, the average rent for a three-bedroom city centre apartment in Austria is €1,357, while outside of the city centre it’s €1,030.

This makes rent in Austria, on average, 31.53 percent cheaper than the USA and 13.25 percent cheaper than the UK.

Safety

Austria has a global reputation as being a safe place to live and this is backed up by the Global Peace Index by Vision of Humanity which lists Austria at number six.

The Index considers societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the level of militarisation in its assessment of countries.

Austria also has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and violent crime is rare, making it a sought-after destination for international residents.

Healthcare

An important consideration for retirees is access to good healthcare, which is something that is widely available in Austria.

According to Expatica, Austria’s healthcare system is “excellent, affordable and accessible”.

However, insurance is needed to access healthcare in Austria (without a large fee). This is also a requirement for granting retirees a settlement permit.

But once insured, healthcare is universal for all legal residents in Austria, no matter a person’s age or income.

FOR MEMBERS: Where in Austria do all the British residents live?

Culture

Austria’s cultural and intellectual legacy was shaped by Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud, as well as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The latter brought grand palaces and architecture to Vienna such as Schönbrunn Palace, Schlosspark and The Hofburg. 

Whereas the country’s musical heritage led to a vibrant cultural scene with events like the Salzburg Festival and the famous New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic taking place every year.

In fact, Vienna is known as the capital of classical music and there is no shortage of concerts to enjoy with 15,000 events in the city’s concert diary (in non-pandemic times).

However, it’s not all about classical music in Austria and there is plenty of modern art and culture to sample, such as Ars Electronica Center and the OK Center for Contemporary Art Austria in Linz, Upper Austria.

Member comments

  1. Austria is also rated by expats as one of the most unfriendly countries in Europe. I can attest to that.

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WEATHER

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.

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