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‘I feel ripped off’: What it’s really like living in Austria right now

It’s no secret that life is stressful and expensive, but how is the situation affecting international residents in Austria? We asked readers of The Local how they feel about it.

'I feel ripped off': What it’s really like living in Austria right now
The high cost of living is the biggest concern for international residents in Austria right now, according to the latest survey by The Local. (Photo by Markus Spiske / Pexels)

A quick glance at the latest news headlines is enough to give anyone anxiety right now, with crises in Austria ranging from inflation to war and climate change.

There is also the possibility of an energy shortage this winter as the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia continue to impact gas supplies to Austria.

Plus, this is all taking place against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is not completely over yet.

FOR MEMBERS: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

So how are these issues impacting international residents? And how do they feel about living in Austria?

Here’s what readers of The Local had to say.

‘It takes away optimism’

The biggest concern in Austria right now is the rising cost of living, according to the results from our latest reader survey. Almost half of all respondents (49 percent) said this was the most pressing issue for the country.

In second place was the energy crisis (27 percent), followed by climate change (18 percent) and the war in Ukraine (6 percent). No one said they are worried about Covid-19.

When asked why they are concerned about the cost of living, several readers said Austria was already an expensive country and inflation was making the situation worse.

READ ALSO: ‘Mission 11’: Austrian government reveals tips on how to save energy and fuel

But others were more specific, like Masha from Slovenia who said: “It affects me as a 33-year old. It takes away optimism to be able to afford my own apartment.”

Whereas Max Mustermann from Romania said: “Earning a decent salary does not seem to be enough anymore.” 

For those mostly concerned about the energy crisis, rising costs are also a factor, which ties in with the overall high cost of living in Austria.

Kenneth in Klagenfurt said: “The cost of energy has become unaffordable.”

Vineet Deshpande from India said he is worried about “heating being less powerful, and electricity and gas prices increasing a lot”.

And Patrick in Villach said the energy crisis is the biggest concern “because it is an essential part of living”.

READ ALSO: Why are Austrians so pessimistic right now and is there any reason to be positive?

However, Jimi in Vienna said he is most concerned about climate change, describing it as having the “greatest irreversible consequences”.

A respondent in Vienna, who is also worried about climate change, said: “The change in weather patterns is having a direct effect on nature (trees, water, etc.). In turn, this affects our lives in uncertain ways and the future of our children and grandchildren.”

READ NEXT: Austria to add €0.25 deposit to price of cans and plastic bottles

Most people are still happy to be living in Austria despite the current challenges. (Photo by Frank J on Pexels)

‘Living here is amazing’

Despite some big issues to deal with, 55 percent of respondents said they are happy living in Austria, followed by 30 percent who said “somewhat happy” and 15 percent who are unhappy.

Similarly, 65 percent said they don’t have any plans to leave the country. But out of those that do want to leave Austria, 22 percent said they will move to somewhere else and 13 percent said they plan to move back to their home country.

Joseph Abi Haidar, who is happy with life in Austria, said: “I come from Lebanon and we have a big economic crisis. Living here with all basic needs provided in such a beautiful country with history, architecture, nature and night life is amazing.”

Patrick in Villach said he is happy in Austria due to the “relative peace”.

Vineet in Vienna praised the city’s public transport system and “affordable rent prices”.

READ ALSO: ‘Stressful learning German’: How a Ukrainian family is adapting to life in Austria

But one respondent, who asked to remain anonymous, commented: “There’s a hidden aggressiveness and discomfort in people. It may become obvious soon.”

Meanwhile, Max in Vienna, who is not happy in Austria, said: “I feel ripped off at every corner.”

And one reader from Ukraine, who plans to move to another country, said: “Completely no possibility to integrate into society.”

Another respondent, who is somewhat happy in Austria, went a bit further and said: “It’s a beautiful country that offers a good standard of living for families (overall). 

“But the pandemic and now the energy crisis really illustrates the incompetence of the political leadership and the country’s two-faced approach to green energy and social assistance.  

“I am concerned that Austria will slide down the charts of being a desirable place to live. The language is also challenging, and frankly, it’s just tough trying to interact with Austrians.” 

Finally, one Austrian citizen who is currently living in the US but hoping to return to Austria to retire, simply said the cost of energy is a big concern. As a result, they are planning to move to another country instead.

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ENERGY

Energy costs: Vienna to support 200,000 households with up to €500

The City of Vienna is expanding its group of homes that can receive an energy cost voucher by the end of the year. Here's what you need to know.

Energy costs: Vienna to support 200,000 households with up to €500

Austria’s capital Vienna is expanding a program to subsidise part of the energy bills of around 200,000 eligible households, the City said in a press release.

“Energy costs are difficult for many Viennese to cope with in the current situation. We are helping those who need the support most urgently – and we are doing so in a targeted manner by settling outstanding bills with energy providers”, City Councillor for Social Affairs Peter Hacker said.

The City has already agreed with state-run energy company Wien Energie that, from December 2022 to February 2023, no electricity, gas or heat shutdowns will happen – regardless of any payment issues.

READ ALSO: From lighting to ice skating: How Vienna plans to save energy

Now, a group of more vulnerable people can apply for Energy Support Plus to get up to €500 in aid with their energy bills.

The following people can apply online at wien.gv.at for Energy Support Plus: Recipients of Vienna minimum income (Bezieher*innen von Wiener Mindestsicherung), housing assistance (Wohnbeihilfe), AIVG benefits (AIVGLeistungen), a compensatory or supplementary allowance (einer Ausgleichs- oder Ergänzungszulage), GIS-exempt persons and low-income earners (GIS-Befreite und Geringverdienende) who are covered by the cost cap of the Renewable Expansion Act, those entitled to sickness benefit (Krankengeld), rehabilitation benefit (Rehabilitationsgeld), reintegration benefit (Wiedereingliederungsgeld) or transitional allowance (Übergangsgeld).

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria

Applications can be submitted until December 31st, 2022. The maximum subsidy amount is €500 per household.

The service telephone of the Department for Social Affairs, Social and Health Law, is available at 01/4000-8040 for information and assistance with applications. Wien Energie’s customer service also offers personal assistance with the application process at Spittelau.

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