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MOVING TO AUSTRIA

IN DETAIL: How to get your Meldezettel in Austria

Austria's Meldezettel is the first and most important piece of paperwork you need to do when you arrive. Here's how you get it sorted.

Moving boxes in a hallway new home
You've told your family, friends and Instagram followers about the big move, but in the chaos of moving don't forget to inform the Austrian authorities too. Photo: Ryu Orn/Unsplash

If you intend to stay in Austria long term, you need to register your address with local authorities within three days of your arrival. This process is called Anmeldung des Wohnsitzes (registration of residence).

Not only is it Austrian law and you could face a fine if you miss the three-day deadline, but you also need this form to access many basic services in Austria from setting up a bank account to joining a gym.

Luckily, the process is relatively simple and completely free.

You need to fill out the form in German (you can download a copy here), but there are English language translations available for your information (you can find one here), so you know exactly what you’re responding to.

READ ALSO: Meldezettel: Everything you need to know about Austria’s compulsory address registration

Most of the Meldezettel is basic biographical information, but there are a few things to be aware of.

You are asked your religion. The reason for this is that if you say you are a member of the Catholic or Protestant Church, you will then need to pay church tax, so it’s best only to note a religion that you practice. 

If you have dual nationality, it’s a good idea to state the nationality that is linked to your right to stay in Austria; for example, if you are a citizen of both an EU country and a non-EU country and are moving to Austria under EU freedom of movement, state your EU citizenship on the form.

You also need a stamp or signature confirming your current address.

This might be a signature from your landlord or from the person who owns the property if you are staying with family and friends. If you own the property you’ll be staying in, your own signature is sufficient.

Many new arrivals might be staying in a hotel or serviced apartment for the first few weeks they are in Austria. Depending on how long your stay is booked for, you should be able to register here and to ask reception or another representative to provide you with the stamp or signature. If they refuse, you should contact your local Meldeservice and ask what steps you should take.

With your completed form, you are ready to register.

If you have never been registered in Austria before, you need to go to the Resident Registration Service (Meldeservice) in person to register. 

Most towns and cities only have one registration office, but in Vienna there are 20 around the city located in its Municipal District Offices (Magistratische Bezirksämter).

You can usually turn up without an appointment, but to be seen more quickly, you can book a time slot by calling the office or checking online. For example, here are the booking pages for Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz and Linz. Note that many of these offices do not follow normal office hours, so check the opening times in advance.

The process itself should take no more than five to ten minutes, but it’s worth factoring in time for potential queues if you didn’t book a slot.

You’ll need to bring with you the completed registration form, as well as your passport confirming the details on your form (it should include your full name, nationality and place of birth). Even if you bring the original document, you may also need a photocopy of your passport, or to photocopy it at the office (which may cost a small fee). And during the Covid-19 pandemic, you need to bring an FFP2 face mask too.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation of your residence, called a Meldebestätigung. You should scan or copy this document, because it’s essential for so many aspects of Austrian life and it costs money (albeit under €20) to get an official replacement.

When you do future registrations, you can submit them by email rather than heading to the office in person.

READ ALSO: Just how good does your German have to be to gain residency and citizenship in Austria?

What do I do next?

While the Meldebestätigung is a crucial first step, it is not enough on its own to secure your long-term residence in Austria.

If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you will need to complete a permanent resident certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung) application within four months of arrival.

If you are a third country national, you need a residence permit if you are planning to stay for more than six months. In most cases, you will have started the application process for this before you arrive in Austria.

As well as these processes, you need to keep the authorities updated on your place of residence by registering each time you change address, again using the Meldezettel. When you do this, you also de-register from the place you are leaving (Abmeldung).

After the first registration which needs to be in person with your original documents, registering a change of address can be done online, but again you have a three-day deadline to register after each move.

How has Covid-19 affected registration?

During the Covid-19 pandemic it has often been possible to do even the first registration online instead, but as of September, this is generally no longer the case.

If you need to quarantine on arrival in Austria, you cannot leave your place of quarantine to register in person. If you cannot register within the three-day deadline due to Covid-19 restrictions, it’s a good idea to contact the office via phone or email and ask what you should do. In general, you will be able to register once you are out of quarantine and your registration can be backdated to the date you actually arrived.

There is no 3G rule (requirement for proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19, or a negative test) to enter the offices, however it is recommended that you follow 3G, which means testing negative if you’re unvaccinated. You should also wear an FFP2 mask while in the building, regardless of vaccination status.

READ ALSO: How can I buy a second home in Austria?

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Austria is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in some other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under €100k.

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe, and Austria is no exception.

The graph below from the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat shows the sharp upwards trajectory over the past few years with property price increases in Austria outpacing those in the European Union  as a whole.

And a new survey found that the average price per square metre for new apartments in Austria rose by 11 percent last year, making the country Europe’s second-most expensive market.

It’s no surprise, then, that property ownership in Austria remains low.

According to Eurostat, 55.2 percent of people owned their home in Austria in 2021 – well below the 70 percent European average. That’s the third lowest percentage in Europe after Switzerland (41.6 percent) and Germany (51.1 percent).

READ ALSO: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Austria – either properties that are move-in ready or those that could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Austria (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at €100,000 (while our colleagues in even-more-expensive Switzerland had theirs set at a much heftier CHF 500k, around €515k).

As of August 2022, we found 25 houses and 34 apartments meeting these criteria on sale.

As you might expect, many of these need (a lot of) work, but the good news is you can definitely still nab a home for under €100,000 with gorgeous views, small plots of land or lake access.

austria map
Houses below €100k are mainly in the south and east of the country. Property map from Wlllhaben.at.

What types of properties are there?
Looking at houses first (see the map above, which also shows the average purchase price across Austria’s different regions), a few things stand out:

The vast majority of the immediately liveable properties are on the tiny side – most are around the 40 square metres mark and billed as holiday homes – but many come fully furnished, a bonus if you’re working to a tight budget.

You will find bigger ones (the largest we saw was 124 square metres), but then they are likely to be complete renovation projects.

If you head for the border, you’ll get more house for your euro in southern and eastern Austria. Many of the properties we saw were in peaceful Burgenland, Austria’s least populous state.

And if you’re happy to buy just over the border in Hungary, Slovakia or even cross into Croatia, you’ll get more space – and less work – for your money.

You might think cities would be a complete no-no for snapping up bargain properties, but when we looked, we actually found a few properties a short drive from Vienna that were below our top price.

House or apartment?
When it comes to apartments, you’ll get more square metres  – we found flats within this price bracket were around 70 square metres on average – and a slightly greater choice of location for your money

READ ALSO: ‘Concrete gold’: Austria ranks as Europe’s second most expensive property market

Plus, the apartments we found were generally in much better condition – some are even newly renovated and fabulous – so you wouldn’t have so much, if any, work to do.

But there is, inevitably, a compromise: you might get a terrace or a balcony, but most won’t have a proper garden, and certainly no land or outbuildings, which many of the houses we found did have.

If you opt for an apartment over a house, you’ll usually have a slightly greater choice of location. Property map from Willhaben.at.

Even when you do find cheap properties, though, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. Some may require completely gutting, others may not be connected to the grid or might need costly lease renegotiations.

So, whether you go for a house or an apartment, you need to make sure you do your homework and carry out a thorough inspection first.

While renovation projects can be great investments, they’re time-consuming and can be very costly.

Before you take the huge step of purchasing, be honest with yourself about your own skill levels and how much time you have for a project – it’s easy to get caught up in the romantic idea of the end result of a gorgeous renovation – and get estimates for any work that needs to be done.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Austria’s rising property prices are causing alarm

If you’re looking at buying somewhere to rent out, check average monthly rents for that area to be sure it’s worth you putting all the hard work in and that you’ll get a good return on your investment.

Whatever your reason for buying, check the property’s location carefully – some have poor access or no connection to basic services.

And it’s important to be mindful of extra costs, too: besides renovation costs, you’ll also have to fork out for property taxes, monthly charges, as well as any lease renewal costs and other living expenses.

These can all vary depending on the type of property and where it is.

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