Moving to Austria For Members

Why are Brits moving to Austria post-Brexit?

The Local Austria
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Why are Brits moving to Austria post-Brexit?
A person hikes in Kaprun, Austria. Why do Brits move to Austria? Photo by Alejandro Islas on Unsplash

Brexit has made it harder for Brits to move to the EU but not impossible. The latest immigration data sheds some light on the reasons that Brits are choosing to settle in Austria.


The most recent data from the EU data agency Eurostat is out, and it gives an insight into how many Brits moved to Austria in 2022 - and what they're all doing here.

The Eurostat data compares first-time residency permits granted to UK nationals across different EU countries.

Pre-Brexit, Brits in Austria did not need any kind of visa or residency permit - but those arriving in the country since 2021 to live need to complete immigration documents which, among other things, requires them to state their purpose for coming to Austria. 


How many Brits moved to Austria in 2022?

Eurostat breaks this down into four categories; work, study, family reunification or 'other' - which includes retirees and others who don't intend to work or study abroad. 

In total, 698 UK nationals were granted a first-time residency permit in Austria in 2022 - up from 305 in 2021. That just reflects the pandemic period when it was harder to move abroad in general. 

To provide some context, in total around 55,258 first-time residency permits were issued to non-EU nationals in Austria in 2022, according to Eurostat figures. 

Why do Brits move to Austria?

Of the Brits who got a residency permit in Austria last year, the majority - 241 - moved for 'other' reasons. It is true that the fresh Alpine air makes Austria a desirable destination for people wanting to retire and live the quiet life. 

Unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a specific retirement visa.

Instead, it has a residence permit that can be applied for by people that don't intend to work in Austria - like retirees.

Immigration lawyer Patrick Kainz previously told The Local that the most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live in Austria is to apply for a settlement permit. 

A person pulls a suitcase.

A person pulls a suitcase. (Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi / Pexels)

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “residence permit - gainful employment excepted” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants have to prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.


However, there is also a limit on how many settlement permits are issued to retirees each year.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria 

The next biggest group is people who came from Britain via family reunification - ie. joining a spouse, partner or parents already resident in Austria. A total of 201 Brits made that move to get back together with family in 2022. 

A total of 182 people came to Austria from the UK for work reasons in 2022. That figure includes both employees and those who came to either set up their own business or work as a freelancer or contractor. 

Austria is dealing with a worker shortage at the moment and is hoping that more immigration will help ease the problems.

Yet there are several hurdles for non-EU nationals to overcome - not least a web of bureaucracy - so this may put Brits off. 

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits


Lastly, just 74 students arrived in Austria from the UK in 2022 to study. 

Unlike many other places, in Austria even non-EU students can generally expect to pay tuition fees amounting to hundreds – rather than several thousands – of euros per year.

The education is high quality and some programmes are even offered in English, especially at the graduate level. Meanwhile, Vienna in particular is consistently ranked in many surveys as among the best cities globally to be a student.

So perhaps this number will increase in the coming years. 

READ ALSO: How do I get a student visa in Austria - and what does it let me do?

Prior to the end of the Brexit transition period, Brits were not required to have residency documents in Austria, so data on how many moved here and what they were all doing is a lot less detailed.

The fresh date shows - perhaps surprisingly - that Austria does seem to be a place that retirees in the UK are choosing often (at least compared to other reasons) to live out their golden years. 

This data only reflects a single year so it will be interesting to track the moving behaviour of Brits in the coming years. 

As we mentioned above, Eurostat data from 2020 and 2021 carries the caveat that it is likely to be atypical due to Covid-19 and ensuing travel restrictions - so the data from 2022 provides the first detailed snapshot of why Brits moved to Austria. 

With reporting by Rachel Loxton


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