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How can I move into affordable cooperative housing in Vienna?

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
How can I move into affordable cooperative housing in Vienna?
Skyline of Vienna, Austria, seen from a penthouse apartment (Credit: Scharvik GettyImages)

If you are looking for affordable, high-quality housing with a community feeling in Vienna, applying for a Genossenschaftswohnung, cooperative housing, is a great idea.


Vienna is considered the most liveable city in the world, and one of the reasons why is its affordable rents, which stand out when compared to rental prices in other European capital cities. Even though the concept of social housing is present all over Austria, its presence is strongest in the capital city.

In Vienna, it is not uncommon to hear about people living in gorgeous and spacious flats while paying less than the monthly rent of a room in cities like London or Paris. However, to be one of the fortunate tenants, you need to know the conditions.

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Genossenschaftswohnungen (cooperative housing) is one of the forms of social housing in the city, aiming to create affordable and high-quality housing for its residents.

The concept of Genossenschaftswohnungen

Cooperatives are spread all over the city and receive housing subsidies from the Austrian state, making affordable living for tenants possible. Cooperative flats are an option for anyone who wants to avoid privately financed rental flats, wishes to belong to a community, be part of decision-making, and cannot or does not want to buy a property.

A strong idea behind the concept of cooperative housing is to create social communities where members engage with each other and develop a sustainable living situation where everyone is involved in making decisions regarding the property.

Decisions are typically made collectively through voting, ensuring all residents have their voices heard.

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As a member of cooperative housing, you live at lower running costs but have to pay a significant entry fee as a financial contribution (Genossenschaftsanteil) at the start of the tenancy. 

This payment serves as a form of membership fee and helps with funding the cooperative's construction, land use, maintenance, and other related costs. The fee is usually reimbursed if the tenant decides to move out.


Requirements needed

To be eligible for cooperative housing, you need to fulfil specific requirements:

  • Depending on the number of people in the household, the annual net income can not exceed the following maximum limits:

One person: € 57,600

Two persons: € 85,830

Three people: € 97,130

Four people: € 108,420

Each additional person: plus € 6,330

  • You need to be over 18 years old when the contract starts.
  • It is necessary to be an Austrian citizen, EU citizen, EEA citizen or non-EU citizen who either has a residence permit or is a refugee under the Geneva Convention.
  • You need to have lived in Vienna for two years when you apply.
  • The financial contribution (Genossenschaftsanteil) needs to be paid. The amount varies but is typically around € 50-500 per square meter. If necessary, you can apply for a loan at MA 50, the municipal department that deals with housing in the city. 


How to apply

If you want to live in a cooperative flat, you need to make a reservation for the specific housing project you are interested in. You can do this online, but since the waiting lists could be long, your chances may increase if you remain persistent and express your interest in the community - knowing people who already live in the building you are interested in may also help as some contracts allow apartments to be "passed on" to a person chosen by the renter.

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Usually, you have to fill out a form when you register before applying to a residence. Many cooperatives consider your income and living situation. They might prioritize your application if they find that you are in particular need of a flat, such as if you have a family, low income, or a disability.

Various websites offer cooperative flats in Vienna and Wohnservice Wien are two of them.


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