Austria ranked world’s ‘second least friendly country’

Foreigners in Austria say the country offers an exceptional quality of life, but with an exceptionally unfriendly population.

people streets vienna
Austria ranks high in quality of living, but foreigners don't feel too welcome, according to a survey. (Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash).

Austria has ranked 24th out of 52 destinations in the Expat Insider 2022 survey published by InterNations. The alpine country lands in the third spot regarding the quality of life but falls behind when foreigners were asked about ease of settling and how friendly the local population is towards immigrants.

Overall, 70 percent of those surveyed are happy with their life in Austria, compared to 71 percent globally.

READ ALSO: What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

“I love Austria’s history, architecture, and culture, as well as the ease of travel and the excellent public transportation”, one Australian said. In addition, the country ranked well in quality of life mainly due to its excellent results in three subcategories: Travel and Transport (second place), Health and Well-Being (third place), and Environment and Climate (fifth place).

One of the unfriendliest destinations

Despite the positive points, according to the survey, Austria placed 49th (out of 52nd) in the “Ease of Settling In Index”, one of the worst-rated worldwide.

The country is in the bottom 10 in two subcategories, coming in 51st for Local Friendliness and 47th for Culture and Welcome. “It takes such a long time to make local friends here”, one respondent from Chile said.

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

Foreigners in Austria, about 41 percent of the respondents, say the local population is unfriendly towards foreign residents. In comparison, a global average of 18 percent of immigrants say the same about the countries where they live.

Additionally, 34 percent find it hard to get used to the local culture (compared to 19 percent globally) and 28 percent do not feel welcome (versus 16 percent worldwide).

Clean, affordable, and full of opportunities

On the other hand, immigrants have positive ratings for both the natural (96 percent were happy) and urban (85 percent were happy) environments. And 84 percent say there is good availability of green goods and services – compared to 64 percent globally.

Vienna is filled with green areas. (Photo by HyoSun Rosy Ko on Unsplash)

The results for leisure options are also above average, with 88 percent saying they are happy with the opportunities for recreational sports, for example.

READ ALSO: Vienna vs Graz: Which city is better for foreign residents?

Austria also ranked high when it comes to affordability – it came in 16th out of 52 on the “Personal Finance Index”. However, more than half (53 percent) of the respondents rated the cost of living positively (compared to 45 percent globally) and 64 percent were happy with their financial situation (60 percent worldwide).

The high quality of living is also influenced by ample leisure time, with 72 percent happy with their work hours – though immigrants are unhappy with their career prospects (26 percent compared to 22 percent globally).

“The international job market is very small and limited to specific positions”, said an Italian.

READ ALSO: The downsides of moving to the Austrian mountains

Housing is also affordable, according to the survey, and Austria also did exceptionally well in “unrestricted access to online services”. However, 14 percent of the expats find it hard to pay without cash (compared to 8 percent globally).

Another issue was with the local language – German is famously a complicated language to learn and immigrants also found it challenging to live in Austria without speaking it.

“Fluent German would be a huge benefit, but I do not see myself achieving this”, a British immigrant said.

READ ALSO: 13 ways to make your life in Austria easier without really trying

The best and worst destinations in 2022

According to the survey results, the best destinations for expats are Mexico, Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, Spain, the UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and Singapore. In addition, they are among the best regarding ease of settling in and personal finance and perform well in essential indexes.

The worst destinations are Kuwait, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Italy, and Malta – most of them suffer from the Working Abroad criteria and Personal Finance.

This means they are considered places where it is hard to find good jobs and the cost of living is too high.

READ ALSO: Tips for how to make friends in Austria from those who have done it

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How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

Austria is known as a country with a high standard of living, but it also comes with a high cost of living. Here’s an overview of what you can expect to earn in Austria.

How much do you need to earn for a good life in Austria?

As with most things in Austria, the question of ‘what is a good salary?’ is difficult to answer as the cost of living (and wages) can vary between states and cities.

For example, the east of Austria is typically much cheaper than the west for housing (with the exception of Vienna). And those living in cities often have easier – and cheaper – access to public transport when compared with people living in rural areas. 

READ ALSO: ‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

Childcare is also something to consider with huge differences between Vienna, where there is access to heavily subsidised services, and places like Tyrol where childcare costs more.

To delve a bit deeper, we looked at the data to find out the average salary in Austria and how it differs between professions and locations.

What is the average salary in Austria?

In 2021, the average gross annual salary in Austria was €44,395, according to the latest data from Statistics Austria

However, in the latest survey by online job platform Step Stone, the average gross annual salary in Austria is €49,609.

The Step Stone survey then broke it down further by industry with those working in pharma earning the most at €60,504. This was followed by energy at €60,345, medical technology at €59,106 and banking at €58,711.

The industry with the lowest average annual salary is hotels/gastronomy at €37,546, followed by agriculture at €39,779 and tourism at €43,965.

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Occupation also plays a part with people working in management earning the most – on average €66,768. Consulting came second at €53,721.

And like many other European countries, the gender pay gap in Austria prevails. The average annual salary for a man is €52,633 and for a woman it is €44,330.

Furthermore, the top earning city in Austria is Bregenz in Vorarlberg with an average annual salary of €54,620. When comparing the west of Austria with the east, the median salary in Vorarlberg is €46,450, whereas in Burgenland it is just €39,100.

What is the average cost of living in Austria?

Many international residents will find everyday living costs in Austria to be expensive, especially for those that come from countries with a much lower cost of living.

Inflation has also been rising steadily in Austria throughout 2022, leading to some steep rises in prices for groceries, housing costs and energy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: 10 ways to save money on your groceries in Austria

However, the average cost of living varies across the country, depending on the location. For example, Vienna and Innsbruck in Tyrol are two of Austria’s most expensive cities, but more affordable places to live are Graz in Styria and Klagenfurt in Carinthia.

In Vienna, the average price for a one bedroom apartment in the city centre is €915, going up to €2,000 for a three bedroom apartment, according to Expat Arrivals.

Whereas in Graz, the average cost of a one bedroom city centre apartment is around €609, and a three bedroom apartment is €1,170.