Life in Vienna, Austria

My husband and I have had the privilege of living in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria for over a year with another year, or possibly more, ahead of us. Our decision to move to Vienna was an easy one to make when the opportunity was offered to us. Who wouldn’t want to spend their days sitting in the coffee house Sigmund Freud used to frequent (also Hitler, but we try not to think about him), or roaming the same streets Emperor Franz Josef once roamed? We sold all of our furniture, stored boxes of possessions in my in-law’s attic, made the move to Vienna and fell in love with this place that we now call our home.

Life in Vienna is relaxing if you let it relax you. If you’re like us and moving from a city life that’s nothing but “go go go”, the slowness and patience of Vienna may take you by surprise. In the beginning months of our time here, a friend and I were doing some window shopping downtown and at one point she tugged on my arm and said, “Holly! You can slow down here. We’re in no hurry. Just relax.” Her words to me were like a much needed medicine, and ever since that day I have let the city’s peacefulness and unhurried attitude take me over. Vienna’s waiters and waitresses follow this silent rule of thumb by taking your order, delivering your food, and letting you sit and chat as long as you’d like until you’re ready to pay. Vienna’s residents spill outdoors to find rest in parks and cafes and palace gardens. Austria’s work force is even given 5 weeks of a paid vacation! Rejuvenation and relaxation are important to the people of Vienna, and it can serve you well especially after welcoming in your retirement.

The slow paced life of Vienna is not to say that there’s nothing to do in this grand city. In fact Vienna is filled with activities and events of all kinds ranging from concerts to festivals to palace balls. Just a walk around Vienna’s famed “Ring Street” and you’re sure to find something going on. Last year alone, my husband and I attended Europe’s largest open-air music fest by the Danube, sampled various cuisines from around the world as we watched anything from documentaries to orchestras at Vienna’s Summer Film Festival, toured Vienna’s most famous palaces, and enjoyed our spots on the sideline as cyclists and runners raced by in the numerous marathons Vienna holds each year.

Vienna’s overall beauty is a kind that will leave you breathless time and time again. The streets are clean, the gardens are luscious and well-kept, centuries-old cathedrals and palaces tower over the city’s skyline. The importance of nature is heavily emphasized and can be witnessed simply by walking through Franz Josef’s “Volksgarten” (People’s Garden), or taking a long stroll through the Prater, Vienna’s largest public park. The city’s architecture speaks for itself and never ceases to impress.

Now to talk a little bit about the details. Most Viennese live in apartments, but a few districts are a little more house friendly. Apartment prices vary depending on the district you choose – naturally the apartments in the city center are much more expensive than most. Another important note: the higher the apartment floor, the higher the rent. At first I didn’t understand this concept because, why would anyone want to carry a sofa up 10 flights of stairs? Quite a lot of people, actually. The views are costly but worth it. Due to the increasing amount of people moving into Vienna, finding an apartment can take time. It took my husband and me close to two months to find the one we live in now.

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  1. I am living in Vienna, love it, and hope to spend the rest of my career here. My parents in the US are not happy about this; they are alone (I’m an only child), and missing their grandkids. Have you any idea of the cost of assisted living facilities for expats?

  2. Glad you love Vienna! We’re of the same opinion – we want to live here forever. Unfortunately at this time, I’m not sure of any expat specific assisted living facilities. Are you able to speak German? If so, I’d do some checking around for the word “Pflegeheim”. That’s the term for an assisted living facility. Again, I’m unsure about cost as well as expat specific facilities, but I have been to a newer model in the last few months and know that these places are well run and very nice. I’m sure your parents would be well taken care of. Sorry I can’t be of a much help!

  3. What a dream come true! I live for conversation and history. I wonder if i could manage a retirement on my US social security checks – not likely I suppose. What does a small apartment go for in the surrounding area?

  4. Vienna is the dream place to retire! As far as apartment prices are concerned, it depends on the district you choose to live in. If you’re more of a city person, studio or 2-person apartments can run surprisingly high (above 1,000 euro/month) as you’re typically paying for the old, famous architecture, nearby public transportation and overall location. The further away from the city you go, the less expensive the apartment (usually). A single friend of ours lives in an inner district and pays 600 a month which is considered a great price.

  5. What are the visa and/or residency requirements for retiring in Austria for the long term for a US citizen? And what about the tax situation for a retiree? And healthcare and insurance? I realize a book could be written to answer all that, but I’m just looking for a general idea of how easy or difficult those things might make retiring there.

  6. As much as I wish I had answers for you, these questions would actually be best answered by an immigration lawyer. My husband and I have been working to get the proper visa – not even a long term one – and that alone is difficult. I know the system has been recently changed which has made things more complicated, even for Austrians (I’m told) who are nearing their own retirement and are still unsure about taxes. Therefore I would highly recommend contacting an immigration lawyer for all of your future retiree needs. I’m sure he/she will be able to help!

  7. Hello Holly,
    I am considering retirement in Vienna. I have been a regular visitor for about 15 years. I have no problem living in areas of the city like the 10th or 11th district. I assume the rents in these districs may be a bit more reasonable.
    What I am wondering about is how Austria taxes US social security, pensions and IRA Required Minimum Distributions. These, along with some dividend income will be my primary source of income.
    Also, my combined social security and pension payments will be around 60,000.00 Euros per year. How comfortable can one live in Vienna on this amount?

    • very comfortable! more than most average people here earn in a year working full time!! Probably twice as much!

  8. Holly, We fell in love with Tyrol in the Alto Adige provence in Italy. We spent 4 wonderful years there. It seems like us many have questions about the taxes on Social Security for Americans. Can the Austrian embassy help?

  9. This agency,, may be able to at least point you in the right direction!

  10. I would like to know about occupation for retire people in Vienna. Is there any occupation after retirement or what do you do after retirement?
    I must do report for my thesis of my study course.Can you give me information or any comment for me, please? Once what do you think about home care for senior? Is it popular for senior people in Vienna?

  11. I am a British Citizen of Indian origin. I am 80 years old and a Chartered
    Engineer by Profession. I am still working in Calcutta as a Consulting

    I am unable to work any more and wish to retire.

    I know Austria since 1970 or so and used to travel from England.

    I have a property in Dist 18, I have two pensions/annuity or income
    from FDI ( Fixed Direct Income ) one from UK and the other from
    India. I have to furnish the flat, buy crockery etc. Please advise.

  12. I am learning colloquial German

  13. I have considered moving to Austria in retirement. I will have some 31, 200 Euros in annual income. Are there districts of Vienna where I could live reasonably and buy health insurance from Austria.

  14. Absolutely great place to migrate, paperwork might be a bit complex but in the end it is definetly worth it!

  15. Can one retire there, coming from the US, and join the Public Health Care System? Or is one excluded from that system when one is no longer emplyed even if one has the means to pay for it?

  16. Where does one start, as far as getting specific answers to questions regarding health insurance, taxes, visas, rent, etc.? Is there a compendium of such information anywhere that someone could direct me to? I speak German fluently and would like to research the possibility of retiring in Austria within the next ten years. Thank you.

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