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Renting in Austria: The vocab you need to understand apartment ads

Apartment kitchen
Even if you don't speak German, understanding just a few key phrases will simplify the apartment search significantly. Photo: Dmitry Zvolskiy/Pexels
Carrying out the Austrian apartment search without knowing German can be tough, but understanding these words and phrases will help you navigate the ads and find your future home.

The key details:

First, look out for apartments labelled as a Gemeindewohnnung or Genossenschaftswohnung. The former are social housing and the latter are co-operative apartments, and you can only rent these places if you have gone through the specific processes and fit the eligibility criteria. The monthly rents are often significantly cheaper than average, but there’s a reason.

When you find a place that catches your eye, take a look at the Mietdauer (duration of the rental period), which will either be befristet (time-limited, usually to either three or five years) or unbefristet (unlimited). If it’s time-limited, it may say Verlängerung möglich (extension possible). Make sure you check when it’s verfügbar (available). 

The Bautyp (type of building) will be listed as either an Altbau (built before 1955) or a Neubau (built after 1955). This detail isn’t just relevant to how the apartment looks, but also the rental law and costs that apply.

Occasionally, and particularly for short-term rentals, the apartment might note Anmeldung der Hauptwohnsitz nicht möglich (meaning it is not possible for the tenant to register the property as their main place of residence). This could cause you problems, because registration of residence is compulsory in Austria.

Apartment features

Apartments will often be classified based on how many rooms they contain, excluding the bathroom, so a 2-Zwimmer Wohnung (two-room apartment) has a bathroom, bedroom, and a living-dining room.

You should see which Stockwerk (floor) the apartment is on. Austria counts floors starting with 0 for the Erdgeschoss (ground floor), so Stockwerk 1 means you have one flight of stairs to climb.

Here are some other terms to look out for:

Balkon – balcony
Dachterrasse – roof terrace
mit Aufzug – with a lift/elevator
Einbauküche – built-in kitchen
Parkplatz – car parking space
Keller – cellar 
Waschmaschine – washing machine
Waschmachineanschluss – connection for a washing machine (this means you don’t get the appliance itself, but you should be able to have one installed easily)
Geschirrspüler – dishwasher
Elektrische Rollläden – electric blinds
Klimatisiert – with air conditioning

Some apartments may even be teilweise möbliert (partially furnished) or vollmöbliert (fully furnished), in which case it should either say precisely which items are included, or you need to ask the landlord. 

Rent:

The rental cost should be broken down into the Nettomiete (net rent), MWSt (Mehrwertsteuer or VAT) and Betriebskosten (service charges, which covers things like upkeep of the building and common areas, garbage disposal and so on), with these three costs giving you the Gesamtmiete (total rent), sometimes called Bruttomiete (gross rent).

The ad should tell you if Strom (electricity), Heizung (heating) and Gas (gas) are included.

Many landlords will also ask you to take out your own Haushaltsversicherung (household insurance).

Extra costs:

On top of your rent, expect extra costs including a Kaution (deposit), Ablöse (compulsory one-off fee to buy any furniture that you’re required to take over), and a Provision (estate agent fee) if the rental is being arranged through an agency. If you rent privately, you may be able to find an apartment that’s provisionsfrei (free of the agent’s commission).


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