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PROPERTY

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

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.

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

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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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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