Austrian habits For Members

10 signs you’ve become more Austrian than the Austrians

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
10 signs you’ve become more Austrian than the Austrians
Hiking in the Austrian Alps. (Image: Sébastien Goldberg / Unsplash)

Do you find yourself valuing punctuality and appreciating a sunny day more than ever before? Have you taken out insurance for every possible scenario, no matter how unlikely? If so, you might be embracing the Austrian way of life.


A lack of punctuality gives you anxiety

In Austria, being on time is of utmost importance. 

The culture values punctuality, and lateness is considered impolite. Therefore, it is not uncommon to arrive early for appointments to avoid the social taboo of "Unpünktlichkeit." 

Even arriving two minutes late for a morning work meeting at 9 am can be seen as rude. In order to avoid that, it is common to arrive at least 15 minutes early to events. 

This practice is not limited to professional settings, as being late to meet friends for drinks or social events is also frowned upon. In Austria, not unlike our Germanic neighbours, punctuality is a sign of respect and reliability, and being on time is considered good manners.

READ ALSO: Aberglaube: Eight strange Austrian superstitions foreigners should know about

You embrace time off work – whatever it’s for

When it comes to taking sick leave, there are some cultural differences to keep in mind in Austria. Unlike in the US or UK, where it's common to try and "power through" being sick at work, Austrians tend to take time off to recover when they're unwell.

Regarding their leisure time, Austrians fully embrace the concept of Feierabend, or time after work. Rather than staying late to finish work or constantly checking emails after hours, Austrians prioritise their free time and enjoy activities like taking a stroll in the spring weather with a Spritzer or relaxing with a good film or book.

It's common for them to have a quick bite for lunch at work or arrive a bit early in order to be able to leave early on Friday and enjoy their weekends. You are also fully Austrian once you decline a work Zoom call invitation on Thursday at 4:30 pm because you often leave the office punctually at 5 pm to pick up your kids at the (free) public kindergarten.

READ ALSO: Austrian word of the day: Beisl

A cup of tea could be a very typical Austrian medicine (Photo by Yana on Unsplash)

When you get sick, you go for natural remedies

Austrians have a reputation for preferring natural remedies when it comes to their health. While they may visit a doctor for more severe ailments, they often turn to teas, herbal remedies, and other natural treatments for common illnesses like colds or headaches. 

If you are prescribing for yourself a weekend in the mountains or other outdoor activities to combat stress-related illnesses or burnout, you are surely turning Austrian.

This approach to health reflects the country's emphasis on nature and outdoor activities as an essential part of life. So, if many of your social activities involve being outside, that is also a sign that you are turning more Austrian.

READ ALSO: ‘Kur’: The alternative treatments you can get from a doctor in Austria


You follow the rules unless it involves your dog

Not unlike the Germans, Austrians will not dare to cross the street on a red light; waste separation is a very serious matter here, and if you are calling out your neighbour for leaving their porch light on all night, then you are becoming extremely Austrian. 

Still, the country's love of pets and of their dogs seems to make the four-legged ones immune to this sense of Ordnung. So if you follow every rule religiously but still will walk your dog off-leash (and without a muzzle) in any part of town you like because you genuinely believe dogs were meant to be free like that, then, yes, you can go to MA 35 and get your Austrian passport right now.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about owning a pet in Austria

Austria can be a fantastic summer destination. - (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

You know how to enjoy the four seasons 

Austrians have a true talent for enjoying each and every season to the fullest. You are part of the culture if you spend your winter holidays skiing, your springs biking by a river, your summers basking in the sun (or driving to Croatia, for that matter!), and your autumns hiking and drinking wine.

People in Austria are also very fond of their traditional events and celebrate them with intensity. This is why you will see hike days, Christmas (and Easter) markets, and holidays with people meeting and eating typical foods and beverages.

READ ALSO: The five signs that spring has really arrived in Austria


You complain - a lot

It's fair to say that the Austrian grumpiness is famous even amongst Austrians - especially the Viennese. 

They will complain about the weather (too hot, too cold, too snowy), about missing a tram (now I have to wait six minutes for the next one!), about the post office sending them the wrong package (true story: I have seen a package on the street in front of my building and noticed it was for a neighbour. In it, a disgruntled person wrote, in all caps, "Is the mailman an analphabet???". Apparently, the box went to the wrong address, and the concerned citizen returned it to the rightful owner - sort of).

Austrians will also complain about many things - but don't you dare complain if you are not from here. They will defend their country with teeth and nails and then complain about you.

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

You have a dry and misunderstood sense of humour

Something that gets mixed up with the irritability, or perhaps something that explains it, is the Austrian dry sense of humour, which sometimes comes across as rude. 

You will understand what we mean if you watch any interview of Viennese actor Christoph Waltz with any bright and bubbly American presenter. To be fair, Waltz is always polite and hilarious - at least if you understand his sense of humour. 

He has a typical Austrian sense of humour: very intelligent, subtle, sarcastic and, at the same time, quite charming or even cunning. In other words, the infamous Wiener Schmäh.

READ ALSO: READERS REVEAL: What do you wish you knew before moving to Austria?


You have a mixed attitude towards the concept of privacy

It's a well-known fact that Austrians are private people. You are becoming one of them if you refuse to share pictures of your kids on social media (or refuse to have social media accounts at all); the first piece of decoration you buy for your home is a Sichtschutz (privacy screen) for your balcony and even bonus points if you prefer to use cash because of arguments such as "banks shouldn't have access to what I spend my money on".

However, you are genuinely becoming more Austrian than the Austrians if this attitude towards privacy is actually more ambivalent. For example, if you look closely at one of those balconies covered by a privacy screen, you might notice your neighbourhood Opa keeping tabs on whatever is happening in the apartments around him.


If you don't see him, that might mean you are the neighbourhood Opa checking on everyone; just a heads up. 

Your neighbours will also be perfectly fine with going through your trash just to prove a point (usually, the point is that you are recycling wrong, and they will complain to you about it). It also extends to friends and family, who find it completely normal to ask you how much you spend on your rent or how much you earn at your job.

READ ALSO: Why is cash so important to Austrians?

Pictured is an ATM machine.

 Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash

You have insurance for everything 

When you move to Austria, you realise that you have to get several different types of insurance. Health insurance, for one, is mandatory, and so is home insurance. Do you have a dog? You will have to get insurance for Rex as well, and not health insurance, which is an extra, but a "liability insurance" in case your dog damages someone's property.

These are just a few of the many insurances Austrians will take to protect themselves. Another popular one, for example, is a Rechtsschutzversicherung, which you can take to protect yourself against lawsuits or to pay for your attorney fees if you ever decide to sue or just legally threaten your noisy neighbour (also a very Austrian thing to do).

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?


You involuntarily say 'Mahlzeit' around lunch and dinner time 

Did you catch yourself saying "Mahlzeit" at your parents' house in your home country just before mealtime and had to deal with the strange looks? Then you are definitely becoming Austrian.

In Germany and Austria, there's a greeting that's not just reserved for special occasions but is commonly used as a general greeting around lunchtime. It's called "Mahlzeit" You might hear it being used with colleagues when heading out or returning from a lunch break. 

Although it's colloquial, it will also be heard in restaurants or inns in more traditional parts of these countries. 

Even in public places like train stations or hiking trails, friendly strangers might shout this greeting at you as they walk past. 

While it doesn't actually matter whether someone is eating or not, "Mahlzeit" is usually used around the typical mealtime period. So, if you're in Austria around midday, don't be surprised if you often hear this greeting. And if you are becoming an Osterreicher, you might accidentally say this to your non-Austrian friends and family.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Mahlzeit

Did we forget any of your favourite (or least favourite) very Austrian habits? Let us know on the comments below of send us an email at [email protected].


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also