Retirement in Austria For Members

'I can't be old and not speak German': Would you retire in Austria?

Michael Stuchbery
Michael Stuchbery - [email protected]
'I can't be old and not speak German': Would you retire in Austria?
Retired Austrians walk in Vienna's Prater park. Photo: Joe Klamar / AFP

Austria is a great country for retirement, with a high quality of living. But do foreigners living here actually plan on staying in their old age? Here's what readers of The Local had to say.


Do you intend to stay in Austria when you retire? This was the question we asked readers of The Local recently.

The results paint an interesting picture of the perceptions that many have towards Austrian society, and the social safety net in place. 

Cold, expensive and German

Roughly twenty percent of those surveyed said that they did not intend to retire in Austria, citing a number of factors. 

Language difficulties presented one hurdle. Jennifer, 56, who works in Vienna in the tourism sector, told The Local Austria: “I don’t speak German, and I can’t imagine being in an old age home with only German speakers.”

In terms of English proficiency, Statista determined in 2020 that Austria trailed behind the Nordics and the Netherlands.

Renan, a software developer also living in Vienna, felt that there was a lack of warmth and friendliness from Austrians - in addition to a high cost of living, stating: “Too expensive, and people here are not nice compared to my home country. Good country to work, not to live and retire.”

READ ALSO: Why do foreigners find Austria such a difficult country to settle in?

He has a point on both counts if studies are to be believed.

In 2023 an InterNations survey determined Austria to be the second-worst country for ‘Settling In’, placing 52 out of 53 nations. 

Additionally, according to Eurostat, prices for consumer goods in Austria are almost ten percent higher than the European average. 

For Paul, a Warehouse Worker from Vienna, the climate was the decisive factor: “Because of the cold.”

In this sentiment, Paul may also be justified. The coldest temperature recorded in Austria over the last 74 years came as recently as 2021. A weather station on the Feuerkogel, in Upper Austria recorded -18.0C in February of that year. 

‘Quality of life’ 

In contrast, the most readers - 50 percent - told The Local Austria that they sought to stay in Austria following their retirement. 

While some cited family links as the reason that they planned on staying, two factors beyond 'quality of life' soon became apparent as playing a large role in the decision for others to stay.

Both Cassandra Van Gelder and Vineet Deshpande identified ‘Good public transportation’ as helping them decide to stay. 

Austria has around 6,123 kilometres of rail track, at last count, and since 2018, state-owned rail operator ÖBB has sat among the three top rail operators in Europe, ranked by commuter perception and punctuality. 


The other recurring theme among readers, including University Professor Marie-Pierre Granger was “A good health system.”

This sentiment aligns with the data. In the InterNations 2021 Expat Insider Report, Austria took second place in the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ portion of the Quality of Life Index. The country also ranked number 19 in the top 20 nations identified by the 2021 World Index of Healthcare Innovation

EXPLAINED: How the Austrian healthcare system works

Do you agree with the results of the survey? Tell us if you’re planning to retire in Austria - and why - in our comments section.


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].
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