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‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

We asked readers of The Local to share their experiences of childcare in Austria. While the majority approve of the service, there is also room for improvement.

'Better and cheaper': What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria
Readers of The Local said childcare in Austria is mostly "good", but there is some room for improvement. (Photo by Kelli McClintock / Unsplash)

Austria is well-known for having affordable childcare – especially when compared with other countries like the US and the UK.

But is it really all it’s hyped up to be? 

We asked readers of The Local to find out, and this is what they said.

FOR MEMBERS: How does the cost of childcare in Austria compare to other countries?

‘Much better and cheaper than the US’

The majority of readers surveyed (50 percent) described childcare in Austria as “good”. This was followed by “very good” at 25 percent.

However, most of the people that say the service in Austria is good or very good come from countries where it’s expensive back home, or difficult to access.

For example, one respondent in Vienna who asked to remain anonymous said childcare in Austria is “much better and cheaper than the US”.

Similarly, Marie in Klosterneuburg, but from the US, described it as “amazing”.

Fabiana Thome from Brazil said: “I didn’t have a child back in my home country, but I have the impression that in Austria childcare is better and more affordable.”

Manuela Schnetzinger, also from from Brazil, said: “In Brazil you need to spend a ton of money. Here, I think it is good.”

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

And Shyam from India described childcare in Austria as “very good”, before adding: “My country doesn’t have any support for childcare.”

By comparison, 20 percent of respondents said childcare in Austria was “good, but could do better”. And five percent described it as “terrible”.

A British person in Vienna said: “The children in Austria don’t do any activities to prepare them for school. In the UK, most children can hold a pencil at 4 years old! Also kindergartens don’t work on their social skills – so many issues later in school.”

Likewise, another respondent in Vienna said: “I come from the US, where childcare for young kids is more normalised and professionalised.”

‘Grandparents as caretakers’

When asked how childcare in Austria could be improved, several respondents said services should be expanded to allow more parents to return to work. 

This was of particular importance for those located outside of Vienna (where government subsidised childcare is available for all children up to the age of six).

Manuela Schnetzinger in Wels, Upper Austria, said the childcare offer could be improved by “taking children under one year old.”

A respondent in Mödling, Lower Austria, said: “More places, longer hours from a younger age.”

And another respondent in Vienna said: “More availability of public facilities for younger kids to facilitate women working.”

READ NEXT: Where to find English-language books in Austria

Others also remarked on cultural differences in Austria about when women return to work on a full-time basis, and the expectation that grandparents will become childcare providers.

Klosterneuburg-based Marie from the US said: “It would be great if mothers would go back to work after a year. Honestly, watching kids get picked up at 3pm for the first 6 years is painful for those of us who return back to work.”

Valéria Queiroz from Brazil commented: “Many families have huge difficulties in finding a place for their children. It is still a country that lays a lot on grandparents as caretakers for parents to be able to work, and this is simply not an option for many families who live here.”

Whereas Ricardo from Portugal, who lives in Styria, said childcare could be improved by: “Preparing the kids for school. Compared to the UK, the Austrian childcare system is years behind.”

For others, like Robert Nyström from Sweden, language was an issue that could be improved.

Robert, who is based in Vienna, said: “Better explanation about the system in English. It is very hard to find good information that explains how everything works.”

But Rob Barratt from the UK simply said: “Pay childcare providers more salary.”

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READER INSIGHTS

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.

READ ALSO: Vienna Christmas Markets: Here are the dates and locations for 2022

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.”

READ ALSO: IN FIGURES: Everything you need to know about who lives in Vienna

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.

FOR MEMBERS: IN NUMBERS: The Vienna districts where most foreigners live

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”.

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

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.

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