Vienna ranked top for quality of life... but 'world's least friendly city'

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Vienna ranked top for quality of life... but 'world's least friendly city'
Vienna offers a great quality of life, but poses challenges for foreigners trying to settle there, according to the survey. Photo: Pierre Blaché/Unsplash

Vienna regularly tops global surveys for quality of life, but a new ranking based on what foreign residents think of their cities reveals it as one of the hardest places in the world to feel at home and make friends.


The Expat City Ranking by InterNations, based on a survey with more than 12,000 respondents in 57 cities around the world, saw Vienna ranked as the 14th best city for expats. 

In particular, its quality of transportation, local leisure options, and affordability and quality of healthcare received high scores, earning it a number 1 rating for Quality of Urban Living, keeping up a five-year streak of being in the top ten for this category.

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"In terms of aspects like green spaces, noise levels, and eco-friendly architecture, Vienna is hard to beat," said the survey, noting that 94 percent of those surveyed were positive about the urban environment, compared to 71 percent globally.

One Swedish expat told the survey: "Vienna is a fantastic place. The streets and air are clean. People are friendly and polite. It’s historical, safe for women (and everyone), with lots of things to do after work."

Respondents were asked about five areas: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, Finance & Housing, and Local Cost of Living. Only cities with at least 50 responses were included in the survey ranking.

Vienna also scored positively on working life, receiving top ten scores for job security and work-life balance, and ranking 12th out of 57 for local cost of living.

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High rankings for quality of life are par for the course in Vienna, which spent three years in the top spot of the Global Liveability Index by the British Economist group, only tumbling down to 12th spot last year due to the impact of the pandemic on both healthcare access and cultural offerings.

It was the area of 'Getting Settled' that pulled down Vienna's ranking in the InterNations survey. In this category, it ranked 50th out of 57 countries. That ranking came from a score of 44th in 'Feeling Welcome', 45th for 'Friends and Socialising', 44 for 'Local Language' and 57th -- the worst of every country included in the survey -- for 'Local Friendliness'. Almost half of people surveyed said it was hard to make new friends in the city, a total of 44 percent compared to 32 percent globally.

Vienna joined four other German-speaking cities in the bottom ten for Getting Settled: Hamburg, Munich, Zurich and Dusseldorf. The majority of Viennese expats (54 percent) said they struggled with learning German and 28 percent said it was difficult to get by without it.

Overall,  around two in five foreign residents in Vienna (43 percent, compared to 16 percent globally) said locals were generally unfriendly and the figure was almost as high when asked if locals were generally friendly to foreign residents (39 percent, compared to 18 percent globally).



Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2021/12/01 16:16
You may want to update your article to say Austria instead of Vienna, since the survey on Internations mentions the country and not the city.
  • Anonymous 2021/12/02 08:42
    Hi Katherine, there are a couple of different surveys by InterNations. This article is focusing on the Expat City Ranking (linked in the top sentence: which is about specific cities

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