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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Five things you will find in (almost) every Austrian home

From handy things that you will no longer live without to some head-scratching devices (not literally), here are a few things you will almost always find in Austrian homes.

Austrian breakfast with bread, boiled eggs and coffee
A simple and traditional Austrian breakfast with bread, boiled eggs, coffee and some very specific tools. (Photo: Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

For its size, Austria is a highly diverse country, with regions having their own dialects and traditions. However, certain things make an Austrian home very typically Austrian.

Of course, you might not find all of them in every single home, but take a closer look at your Austrian friend’s Wohnung. It might surprise you how many of these sometimes weird, sometimes extremely useful things you might find.

House shoes

This is a staple. Austria is one of the countries where people take their shoes off once entering their homes. It might seem strange for foreigners at first, but definitely a hygienic habit to have and one that many expats adopt in time.

Taking off your shoes also means that almost all households in Austria will have a pile of “house shoes”, slippers and comfortable socks that people wear once they are inside their homes. Many Austrians even have special guest house shoes for visitors.

READ ALSO: Eight signs you’ve settled into life in Austria

And since you can’t be expected to balance on one foot while removing or putting your shoes back on, they will always have schuhlöffel, the “shoe spoons”, to help you out.

Similarly, there will always be an area of the house by the entrance where people can leave their coats and jackets, though that might be a surprise only for immigrants coming from warmer countries.

House shoes are essential in Austria and should not be confused with shoe houses. 

A separate bathroom and toilet

Austrian homes will typically have a WC, with a toilet, and a Bad, where there is a washbasin and the shower or bathtub, and sometimes a washing machine. A typical (let’s say what we mean: a grandma home) might even have a peculiar decor piece: themed toilet seat covers.

You might find that the walls of Austrian bathrooms can keep you busy while you’re doing your business. They can hang calendars, funny paintings, and even family pictures on the WC walls.

READ ALSO: Six ways you might be annoying your neighbours (and not realising it) in Austria

No, those are not separate beds

Another thing that surprises many foreigners is the habit of having individual blankets in a couple’s bed, making it look like separate beds pushed together. It’s a convenient Germanic thing, and it helps with late-night blanket wars.

Although you can find many styles of architecture and decoration in Austrian homes, the very traditional one – one that you will find in huts and Austrian hotels too – will be heavy and good quality wood, perhaps a carpeted floor and some paper walls.

READ ALSO: Seven weird things about life in Austria you need to get used to

And if you open a closet, you’ll be sure to find traditional garments in German-speaking countries and regions, the Trachten, including Lederhosen and Dirndls. So, no, it’s not a myth that Austrians wear the clothes so much associated with the Oktoberfest – not all the time, but certainly for special occasions, including some weddings.

A bookcase full of binders

Austrians take their laws and regulations very seriously. Therefore, tax returns, invoices, and expense slips need to be saved for years, and they will have binders and binders full of all types of strange papers.

Sometimes, it might not even have to do with tax obligations. Still, you never know when you absolutely will need the guarantee for that table you bought six years ago, oder?

As most of the country still uses paper for everything (we mean everything: from getting access to important websites to sending passive-aggressive notes to a loud neighbour), you’re sure to find stamps and envelopes in some of those binders and shelves as well.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about paying tax in Austria

Eggs and water things

An Austrian kitchen will have many particular things, not the least traditional food, lots of glasses for jams, or even many different types of bread (really, there are so many that you will quickly forget the joy of learning the word Brot).

You will find devices that you never knew you needed. Austrian tap water is one of the best in the world, and they will drink it with pride. However, you might see devices to carbonate the water, as sparkling water is preferred by many people in the country.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Austria’s world-class drinking water

There will also always be a kettle – not so much for tea purposes, as Austrians are big coffee drinkers. Still, they refuse to waste energy boiling water on the stove for cooking.

And then: the egg devices. A typical breakfast could contain bread and boiled eggs, and the preparation is methodic. There might be an egg boiler, for instance. And a separate egg cup with space around it to keep the shells.

However, my personal favourite is the (*inhales deeply*) Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher. It’s an absolutely crazy-looking device with the single purpose of helping you crack the egg with a perfectly clean cut.

We have two of them.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge, or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Vienna.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

If you find yourself with a large piece of furniture or big household appliance that has seen its prime and is not bound to the trashcan, then you might be wondering where to dispose of them – legally, that is.

Even if it is not uncommon to see furniture or appliances next to the big trashcans often placed near households and apartment complexes, it is illegal to leave them there.

Different cities have different methods – some will even pick up trash at specific times and places. To know how your city deals with bulky waste (Sperrmüll), you can google “Sperrmüll + the name of your city”.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Vienna has several waste collection points where you can leave bulky waste, electrical appliances, hazardous waste (in household quantities) and other old goods for no charge.

The use of the Wiener Mistplätze is subject to certain quantity limits and requirements, but they are to avoid industrial use. Therefore, most households will have no problem with the limitations.

Here you can find several collection points in Vienna.

It is worth pointing out that delivery to those sites can only be made by cars with Viennese license plates, on foot or by bicycle. Furthermore, no trailers or company cars are allowed to leave trash at these collection points.

What can you bring to the collection centres?

This is the place to bring large sheets of plastic foil, bulky or large metal parts and electrical appliances, for example.

Additionally, you can bring small amounts of bulky waste, wood, styrofoam, large cardboard boxes, green waste and used tires to any waste collection centres.

Depending on what you are disposing of, you might need to go to the Rinter centre, one of the larger ones.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

The centres also have a separate division where it is possible to donate old items still in good condition, the so-called 48er-Tandler-Box.

Tableware, small furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, toys and other items can be reused and bought at a low price at the 48er-Tandler reuse shop.

Most centres are open only from Monday to Friday during business hours, but others are also available on Saturdays.

What to do if I don’t have a car?

If you don’t need a car but still need to dispose of a large appliance, the Viennese solution varies.

Some will take public transport with a couple of friends trying to help them carry an old sofa via the u-bahn, although that can get a little tough at peak hour. 

Alternatively, you can borrow or rent a vehicle to try and save costs.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

But Vienna City also has a service that will pick up the trash for a low fee – even if it is located in the attic, a basement or a courtyard.

It’s the Entrümpelungsdienst und Sperrmüllabfuhr der MA 48. You can also ask for the “dump service” when the city of Vienna brings a trough (the smallest can fit 12 cubic meters).

Once you fill it up, they will remove it and take it to the appropriate place.

Costs will depend on the amount of trash, the size of the appliance, and where in the household it is located.

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