Austria ranked as one of the 'unfriendliest countries in the world'

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Austria ranked as one of the 'unfriendliest countries in the world'
People at a cafe in Vienna. Photo by Rick Govic on Unsplash

Austria has been ranked as the second worst country for foreigners to get settled in while also being praised for its high quality of life, according to the 2023 survey from InterNations.


Every year, InterNations conducts the Expat Insider Survey, questioning more than 12,000 respondents about their experiences of living and working abroad in 53 destinations.

The survey is divided into five sections helping to show the respondents' experiences in their countries of residence: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the Expat Essentials Index.

And in 2023, Austria ranked overall 42nd out of 53 destinations in the survey, making it into both the top and bottom 10 worldwide.

The Alpine nation is among the top countries for offering the best Quality of Life, landing in 5th position. This chimes in with several other surveys that have praised Austria for its high quality of life and liveability. 

READ ALSO: Vienna tops ranking of world’s most liveable cities – again

But it landed in 52nd out of 53 places in the Ease of Settling In as a foreign resident category - only ahead of Kuwait. In fact, Austria has been in the bottom 10 of this category in nine out of the past 10 years. 

Hard to make friends

So what makes Austria so hard for foreigners to settle into?

According to the survey, it's difficult for internationals to make Austrian friends. 

"Austrians are considered the unfriendliest locals worldwide, both in general and towards foreign residents in particular (it ranks 53rd for both)," said InterNations in a statement. 

More than two in five international residents (43 percent) find that the locals are particularly unfriendly towards foreign residents, compared to 18 percent globally.

credit: InterNations

This might explain why 58 percent of residents said they find it hard to make local friends in Austria (compared to 36 percent globally), the survey found. 

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A Canadian resident in Austria told InterNations: "I am finding it very hard to make friends and to create long-lasting friendships. I also find it very difficult to meet people."

Meanwhile, 32 percent said they have no personal support network, which can feel isolating. 

"It is then hardly surprising that 33 percent do not feel welcome in Austria, more than twice the global average (15 percent)," said InterNations. 


Transport given the thumbs up

Things look a little better in some of the other categories, not least for Quality of Life.

The country ranks particularly well in Travel & Transit (4th), Environment & Climate (6th), and Healthcare (8th).

Around 80 percent of foreign residents said they were happy with the affordable public transport, according to the survey.

A total of 93 percent of respondents said they find it easy and safe to get around on foot and/or bicycle - that's compared to 77 percent globally. 

International residents in Austria also praised the opportunities for recreational sports.

READ ALSO: What international border towns can you travel to on Austria’s KlimaTicket?

What about work life?

When it comes to professional life, Austria ranks 24th in the Working Abroad Index.

It even scooped the 10th spot in the Salary and Job Security subcategory. Foreign residents were generally positive about the state of the economy and their own job security.

But according to the survey, 29 of foreigners in Austria are unhappy with their personal career opportunities - and just 52 percent said that moving to Austria had improved their career prospects. 

That might explain why overall job satisfaction is fairly low, with 19 percent of respondents saying they are generally unhappy with their job. 

The language barrier proved to be a particular issue for foreigners living in Austria, with 56 percent of those questioned saying they found it difficult to learn - but necessary to live in Austria. 


Where are the best (and worst) places for foreigners to live?

According to the survey, Mexico is the top destination for international residents, followed by Spain, Panama, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Bahrain, and Portugal.

At the other end of the scale, Kuwait was ranked as the worst destination for foreigners to live, followed by Norway, Türkiye, South Korea, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, and Japan.


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