Living in Austria: Is Vienna a family-friendly city?

Vienna is often named as the world's most liveable city, but is it a good place for international families in Austria? We put this question to readers of The Local to find out more.

Living in Austria: Is Vienna a family-friendly city?
Is Vienna a family-friendly city? We asked readers of The Local to have their say. (Photo by Anton Uniqueton / Pexels)

Vienna has more international residents than anywhere else in Austria, which means many foreigners choose to bring up their kids in the city.

But does this mean that Vienna is a family-friendly place to live?

Here’s what we found out from The Local’s latest survey about life in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: Property buying rules for international residents in Vienna

Green spaces and affordable childcare

Vienna already ticks all the right boxes when it comes to safety, affordability and infrastructure, but it’s also good for families with 62 percent of respondents saying Austria’s capital is family-friendly.

The main reasons why families enjoy living in Vienna are easy access to parks and affordable childcare – the latter being something that people from many English-speaking countries can’t get back home.

John in Vienna said the city is family-friendly because there are “cheap kindergartens, fantastic playgrounds everywhere, activities for children of all ages and [thermal] baths just for families.”

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Similarly, Goran Mitrovic, in the city’s 10th District, said: “Beautiful and maintained playgrounds, lots of greenery, free services or no entry fees for kids, and great public transport. It’s a safe city considering its size.”

However, 23 percent of those surveyed said Vienna is only “somewhat” family-friendly and could do better, while 15 percent said the city is not good for families.

Marian MacLennan said: “I am from Canada and visit my grandson in Vienna often. The Austrians, while honest and respectful people, are not warm socially.”

Top family-friendly spots in Vienna

Parks, landmarks and cultural attractions top the list of the best family-friendly activities and locations in Vienna. 

Vienna-resident John said his family enjoys “climbing at the Kletterhalle Marswiese, walking in the parks, swimming at the swimming pools, and all the playgrounds”.

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Another respondent said they like going to the Prater (Vienna’s amusement park), walking through the countryside on the city’s outskirts, and visiting cafes and restaurants.

Whereas Richard, who is currently based in Abu Dhabi, said his favourite family-friendly spot is Vienna’s Ringstrasse, which is home to some of the city’s most famous sights and museums.

How could Vienna do better?

While most respondents said Vienna is a family-friendly place to live, some gave suggestions as to how the city could improve.

Richard, who described Vienna as “artistic and open”, also said there could be “more places for children to learn and explore”.

Goran Mitrovic called for more kindergartens and paediatricians, and Jakub in Vienna said there could be more indoor playgrounds for children.

But John said: “Maybe it could be a bit more international-friendly. It’s tough for a non-native speaker to live in Vienna without knowing the language.”

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REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Vienna is popular with international residents in Austria, but where is the best place to live in the city? And where should foreigners avoid? Here are the results from our latest survey.

REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Vienna is home to the majority of foreigners living in Austria, so we thought they must have some opinions on the best and worst districts to live. 

To find out, we asked readers of The Local to tell us about their favourite and least favourite places in Austria’s capital city.

Here’s what they had to say.

READ MORE: Property buying rules for international residents in Vienna

The best districts in Vienna

Unsurprisingly, the central 1st to 9th districts in Vienna came out on top as the best places to live as an international resident.

Lejla from Bosnia said: “We live in 8th and it’s central, but not too central. It’s vivid and lively, and I feel history everywhere.”

Similarly, Ella said: “Districts 1 to 9 have close proximity to amenities and there is no need to have a car, but they are lacking greener areas and parks.”

Leopoldstadt (2nd district) was named several times by respondents as their favourite district, alongside Alsergrund (9th district), Innere Stadt (1st) and Favoriten (10th).

The latter – Favoriten – is one of Vienna’s most populated districts, according to Stadt Wien. It is also popular with foreigners with more than half of the district’s residents born outside of Austria.

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Favoriten resident Vivian, from the USA, said: “It’s affordable, there is a real sense of community, it is very diverse and neighbours are welcoming.”

Meanwhile, Andrew DiGiovanni from the US said his favourite district is Alsergrund for the “green spaces and the canal”, as well as “wide, airy streets – some of which are getting facelifts”. 

Andrew added: “[Alsergrund is] close enough to the centre to have some of its old character. Surrounded by three U-Bahn lines, with key trams running through the centre. The 9th will be the hot spot when the U5 comes in.”

Mariahilf (6th district) was also recommended as a good place to live for single people or couples without children, most notably for the close proximity to the Naschmarkt – one of Vienna’s biggest markets and home to many food stalls and restaurants.

Melissa from California, who voted for Mariahilf, said: “[The district is] easy to reach by U4 and fresh food and goods are easy to come by at the Naschmarkt.”

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What makes a district good?

We didn’t just want readers of The Local to tell us their favourite place to live in Vienna – we also wanted to know why they feel that way.

In a multiple choice question, good access to transport came out on top with almost 87 percent of respondents citing this as the main reason they liked a particular district.

This was followed by amenities (shops, cafes, libraries etc.) at almost 67 percent and community at 60 percent.

Cost, including affordable housing, and access to international schools were the least important reasons for a district to be a good place to live, with respondents voting for them at 43 percent and 30 percent respectively.

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People walk in front of the Hofburg palace during a sunset on a sunny day in Vienna, Austria on November 6, 2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The worst districts in Vienna

Despite several respondents saying Favoriten is one of the best places to live in Vienna, 33 percent named it as the worst.

Paul, from Romania, said Favoriten has “a lot of garbage, old buildings and loud people”.

Ella, who declined to reveal where she is from, said she “did not feel good walking around there”.

But Favoriten wasn’t the only district that was labelled as an undesirable place for foreigners to live, with several respondents citing Ottakring (16th) as the worst district in Vienna.

Referring to Ottakring, Vivian from the US said: “It’s uppity, lonely, there are very limited amenities and the connections aren’t great.”

However, Paul Young from London said Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus – another district heavily populated with international residents – is the worst place to live in the city.

Paul said: “It’s relatively densely built and away from the Gürtel [outer ring road] with little infrastructure.”

Whereas one respondent from Bulgaria voted for Innere Stadt (1st district) as the worst place to live because it is “loud and grey”.

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What makes a district bad?

While easy access to transport was the main reason for readers of The Local to like a district, community was the most common reason (56 percent) for international residents to dislike a place.

This was followed by limited amenities at 52 percent and selection of schools and childcare facilities at 39 percent.

Just 35 percent said poor access to transport was the reason why a district was a bad place to live and almost 22 percent named cost as a deciding factor.

This section of the survey allowed for multiple choice answers.