Searching for the Best Places to Live in Austria? These 5 Cities Will Capture Your Heart
In the movie “Predator,” Austrian-born movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger screams at the top of his lungs, “Get to the chopper!”
He was in such a rush to get out of the jungle that he didn’t have the chance to finish what he was saying. So let me finish for him.
He was going to say, “Get to the chopper… so you can fly to Austria!”
I’m sure that’s what he meant… right?
While Arnold may be one of the more memorable Austrians of the current age, Austria has given the world a slew of other famous people, one of the most notable arts scenes in history and a rich past that spans thousands of years.
If you’re itching to be part of that history and live in one of the most interesting countries in the world, then you need to get yourself on a chopper—or some other accessible mode of transportation—and get yourself to one of these five best places to live in Austria.
Why Should You Live in Austria?
Austria is an amazing place, from its thrilling historic legacy to its bustling, modern cities.
It’s a country with gorgeous scenery surrounding each world-class Alpine ski resort and every lively city center.
The quality of life in Austria has been regarded as one of the highest in the world, with low crime rates, high levels of social welfare, increasing levels of plurality, a thriving economy and a wide range of cultural and historical offerings.
InterNations’s annual Expat Insider for 2018 reports Austria as being first in Health and Well-Being, second in Family Life and fifth in overall Quality of Life.
Austria is an important member of the European Union and comes with all the benefits of living in a safe and happy Alpine environment.
Being landlocked right in the middle of the European continent, Austria is a perfect launching point for further European travel in all directions.
How to Prepare for a Move to Austria
- Learn German. While many cities in Austria are highly modern and international, Austrians’ English levels aren’t always the best, especially in rural areas and smaller towns. It’s best to be able to speak conversational German. This way, you can get around the country with ease and make local friends.
- Organize your visa. If you’re a European Union citizen, you don’t need a special visa to enter, work or live in Austria. However, you do need to register with local authorities if you’re staying longer than three months. Non-EU citizens may or may not need to obtain a visa to enter as a tourist, but will definitely need one to stay as a resident. Check with your local embassy for specific visa requirements.
- Learn the history. Austria has one of the richest and most vibrant historic legacies in Europe. Before you move to Austria, make sure you learn about the history of the country, all the way from the Stone Age to the Habsburg Empire to the modern era. Austria has played a vital role in the founding and development of Europe over the course of contemporary Western Civilization.
- Dress appropriately. The country is located in the middle of Europe and, while warm in the summer, is often not as warm as people think. Especially high up in the mountains! Make sure to research the part of the country you’re going to and what kind of dress is appropriate for the weather.
Searching for the Best Places to Live in Austria? These 5 Cities Will Capture Your Heart
Why live in Vienna?
Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria.
Sitting on the banks of the Danube River in the eastern part of the country, Vienna has a long history and is of great cultural importance, serving as the once capital of Austria-Hungary.
This rich history is represented in the architectural wonders found throughout this capital city. From Baroque-era castles to Celtic settlements, the visual depiction of ancient architecture is on full display everywhere you look.
Vienna also played a major role in the European music scene starting around the 1500s, hosting musical elites like Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. This musical legacy helped the city earn such titles as the “The World’s Music Capital” and “The City of Music.”
This recognition of “outstanding universal value” earned the city center UNESCO Heritage status in 2001.
Apart from the cultural history, Vienna has been voted as the city with the “Best Quality of Life” for nine consecutive years by the Mercer Quality of Living survey.
Vienna manages to seamlessly blend its historical legacy within a modern, European lifestyle.
The city still boasts a large musical scene, from classical to modern rock, and the modern architecture reflects a unique kind of contemporary design that can’t be found elsewhere in the world.
There are many great universities and higher-learning institutions in Vienna, each coming with its own long and vibrant history.
The food culture here also comes with a unique heritage, as Vienna is the epicenter of Austrian gastronomy.
Vienna has an international vibe to it, hosting many global organizations such as the United Nations. This makes it particularly easy for expatriates who haven’t yet mastered the local language. It’s pretty easy to get around Vienna only speaking English, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try speaking German!
Who should live in Vienna?
Vienna is a beautiful, bold and fun city that manages to make sure you have the highest quality of life possible. It’s easy to navigate, culturally diverse and highly modern.
Not only is Vienna one of the most important cities in Europe, it’s one of the most important cities in the world.
If you want to live in a thriving and bustling city of almost 2 million people but still surround yourself with one of the richest and most culturally important heritages in Europe, then Vienna is definitely the best place for you.
Vienna is also gaining popularity as a place for digital nomads, being ranked in the top 100 on NomadList. This is in large part due to the abundance of high-speed internet, great safety levels, ease of getting around, cultural plurality and overall lifestyle of living in a modern, vibrant European capital city.
Why live in Innsbruck?
Innsbruck, like most places in Austria, is nothing short of beautiful.
Situated high up in the Alps in the western state of Tyrol and containing numerous city parks and gardens, people feel a sense of ease living here.
There’s a lot of history based around Innsbruck, as many old emperors and famous statesmen were either from here or lived here. As such, plenty of historical relics still exist from these time periods.
Renaissance castles and Gothic churches litter the already beautiful landscape. You can even find relics dating as far back as the Stone Age.
But aside from the old architecture, Innsbruck boasts some marvelous modern building designs, as well. Structures like the modern BTV Stadtforum offer the city a distinct contrast to the 14th century churches like the Spitalskirche.
But Innsbruck is probably most famous for being a winter sports mecca.
It’s frequented by tourists looking to experience the thrill of winter sports in the Alps. From skiing to luge, Innsbruck boasts some of the most impressive Alpine slopes in the world.
Who should live in Innsbruck?
Innsbruck is a great place for people who love winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
It’s also a university town, so there are lots of activities for young people who like the excitement of a vibrant nightlife scene.
Being the fifth largest city in Austria with a population of around 132,000, this mid-sized city has all the frills of a metropolis while still maintaining a sense of small town peace.
Why live in Salzburg?
Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its status as a UNESCO site is largely due to its impressive baroque-style architecture and litany of stunningly gorgeous cathedrals.
The human history aspect of Salzburg is also distinct, with many famous people either being born here or having lived here at one point in their lives.
For instance, Salzburg was the birthplace of and home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the famous prolific 18th century composer who got his professional start as a musician working for the royal court.
Continuing the city’s musical legacy, Salzburg also served as the setting for the famous movie production of the musical “The Sound of Music.” Fans of the movie can tour the various shooting locations in this gorgeous Austrian town as they follow in the footsteps of the Von Trapp family.
And every summer, the city transforms into a stage as the Salzburg Festival brings in internationally famed musicians, actors, and opera stars for a several-weeks-long arts and culture celebration.
But Salzburg isn’t just for the artistic types. It also holds many well-known colleges and universities, some of which are particularly esteemed for their research in the fields of science and technology.
There are also a few well-known sports teams. The city has two football (soccer) teams, FC Red Bull Salzburg and SV Austria Salzburg, and one ice hockey team, the EC Salzburg Red Bulls.
It’s pretty easy to get around as Salzburg has one of the largest trolleybus system in Western Europe. Getting from one side of the city to the other is fast, easy and convenient.
Who should live in Salzburg?
If you’re a fan of the arts and like being in a place that frequently celebrates its artistic heritage, you’ll love living in Salzburg.
With a population of around 150,000, Salzburg has all the amenities of a major city while still being able to manage its quaint, small-town vibe.
It’s a perfect place for students and young professionals who want to be surrounded by historical arts and culture while still living in a modern and thriving European city.
Why live in Graz?
After Vienna, Graz is the second largest city in Austria.
Sitting on the Mur River in the southeastern part of the country, this large city has six university systems complete with a large population of students and university faculty.
Graz is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: The old town in the center of the city and the castle of Eggenberg.
In 2003, Graz was named the “Cultural Capital of Europe” largely due to its famous cultural relics, churches, historic museums and contemporary art and architecture that invigorate the now modern city.
In 2011, Graz was given the designation of UNESCO City of Design for its urban culture and attitude that place emphasis on the advancement of creativity throughout the city with things like private-sector innovation and international collaboration.
And Graz is indeed an innovative and artistic city. This is due in large part to the young population it maintains through its numerous universities. Referring to this creative edge, The Guardian called the city of Graz, “…like Vienna without the pomposity.”
And like all other cities with a large student population, Graz is filled with entertainment and nightlife. From bass-thumping dance clubs to avant-garde performance festivals, Austria’s second most populous city seems to revel in all forms of entertainment.
Graz also manages to be a geographically important city due its close proximity to Slovenia. Many Slovenians regard Graz as a place of cultural importance, and they often choose to study abroad at one of their universities.
Who should live in Graz?
People who love being on the cutting-edge of design and technology inside of a major world city will love living in Graz.
With a population of just under 300,000, this beautiful riverside city is big enough to support all the needs of a city life but small enough to still feel cozy.
Graz’s young vibe acts as a good hub for startups and innovative companies, and the youth helps maintain an active arts and culture scene that’s envied across Europe.
Why live in St. Gilgen?
St. Gilgen is a beautiful village delicately situated along the coastline of Lake Wolfgang.
Surrounded by mountains, this tiny and relatively quiet Austrian town is a popular summer retreat for many city-dwelling Austrians.
And, like everywhere else in Austria, this idyllic village is not without its bursts of cultural heritage.
St. Gilgen was promoted as the “Mozart Village” due to its connections with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. While he never even visited the city, many of his relatives were either born or lived here at one point.
St. Gilgen also has other historical relics on display in three other museums—one showcasing the historic legacy of the town on the lake, one exhibiting the painted works of an early 20th century “colony of painters”and one showcasing over 2,000 different musical instruments from various countries, cultures and time periods.
Since the town is located directly on one of the most picturesque lakes in Europe, residents can always go swimming or engage in water sports like kayaking and fishing.
During winter, the surrounding mountains flanking the town fill up with snow and turn into world-class skiing and snowboarding spots.
Who should live in St. Gilgen?
People who want to live in a tiny, picturesque village will do well in St. Gilgen.
With a population of just under 4,000, the town has been crafted to achieve a sense of peace and ease as it sits in a lakeside crevice surrounded by big, beautiful mountains.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to get away from it all and surround yourself with amazing nature while still maintaining a modern lifestyle, St. Gilgen is your perfect Austrian paradise.
Austria has it all. You can live in a modern town that also has a rich cultural heritage, all while gazing at stunning scenery!
And because it’s such a great place to live, it’s not surprising that around 20% of the population are immigrants.
So if you’ve been itching to move to this European powerhouse, then you need to study some German, get your passport ready and check out one of these five best places to live in Austria!
Eric Michelson is a nomadic, philosophizing, peace-minded pluralist. He hopes to help bridge the divide between the diverse factions of the world by exploring various perspectives brought on by personal experience. You can follow Perspective Earth to learn more about him and his work.