What is it like to move to Vienna? To start a new life in a foreign country?
In the Ask an Expat series I interview expats living all over the world. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for other (future) expats and share information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat now calls home.
Expat life in Vienna, Austria
Mike Clegg has been one of my favorite photographers on Instagram for quite a while now. So when he approached me to be interviewed about his life as an expat I felt honored. It’s been great to get to know more about the guy behind the camera and his interesting life abroad…
Location: Vienna, Austria
Hometown: London, England
“A couple of years ago I lived and work full time in London. I then met my girlfriend who is from Canada and who was in London on a two year visa.
Once her visa expired we decided to both move to Canada. I had a one year working visa for this. During my time in Canada, I worked part-time for a company similar to what I was doing in England. Unfortunately the job didn’t really work out so I left and then did freelance photography, working on various projects and with different clients. Then, similar to my girlfriend’s visa problem in London, my visa ended and we decided to move to Vienna, Austria.”
Why did you move to Vienna?
“My girlfriend is a teacher and got a job at an international school there. Me being European made it easy for me to also move to Vienna, so it seemed like a sensible choice.”
What do you like about Vienna?
“Vienna feels extremely safe, clean and well organized. There’s also lots to do in the city throughout the year. For example ice skating in the winter, film festivals, hiking trails, lots of outdoor swimming pools, festivals and various other events. Of course there are the well known things too like amazing palaces, gardens, churches and other tourist attractions.
As well as plenty of things to do in the city, it’s also easy to get the train or bus to neighboring cities and countries. I’ve been to Prague about four times because it’s only a 4-5 hour bus ride and it’s also cheap. And that’s just one example of a big range of places which are easily accessible.”
What do you dislike about Vienna?
“One of the main things is that you can’t always use your bank cards in places such as in many restaurants and it’s caught me out a few times, meaning I’ve had to go and get cash out after eating my dinner.
Moving here was also quite difficult in the sense of getting an apartment, phone and bankcard. If you are thinking of moving to Vienna the first thing you need to do is get your address registered with a Meldezettel office. Once you have that done things generally fall into place.
In terms of apartment hunting, it really wasn’t easy and can be quite expensive. We expected to find a place within two weeks, but it took over a month and we looked at a lot of places. You often get unfurnished apartments and have to pay quite a few fees upfront.”
What is your favorite thing to do in Vienna?
“Walking around Vienna’s Innere Stadt (the Old Town) is pretty amazing. Many of the palaces and landmarks can be found around this area and it’s really beautiful. At Christmas even more so when there are Christmas Markets everywhere combined with beautiful decorations along many of the streets.”
What is your favorite place to hang out (restaurant, bar, etc) in Vienna?
“Actually some of the nicest places in Vienna are coffee shops. One in particular I’m a big fan of is Cafe Central which I’ve been to many times now. It has true Viennese style and is a wonderful place for anyone visiting Vienna.”
What is the expat community like in Vienna?
“I mainly know people from the school that I was working for, which had people from all around the world. I found everyone extremely friendly and most people are well traveled and have similar interests in respect to a love of travel.
Any tips for moving to / living in Vienna?
“Unless you find a place before you move, I think it’s worth staying in an Airbnb for about a month, whilst you find somewhere and sort out the paperwork. It definitely takes longer than you think.
And another tip: when looking for a phone you can often get a sim only deal which is a lot cheaper than a contract. It may require you manually topping up your phone every month but for me I get 6GB of data, 1,000 text messages and 1,000 minutes for €20 with A1, whilst a contract with A1 is a lot more and has a large activation fee.”
Any resources you found useful during the process of moving to and/or building a new life in Vienna?
We found our apartment on Willhaben.at. We were lucky and managed to get it directly from the leaving tenants, therefore saving money on fees and we also bought some of their furniture. Although we were definitely lucky, there will be other deals like this. Also on this site you can buy and sell furniture and other products.
For help and advice about Austria, the rules of the country and other tips the Expat Center is very helpful (also called the Vienna Business Agency).
If you’re looking for English and American products head to Bobby’s Foodstore on Schleifmühlgasse 8, 1040.”
Is there something you just have to see or do when you are in Vienna?
“One of the things I highly recommend is to go up Stephansdom which has some of the best views of the city.
In the summer swim in the Alte Donau or take a walk around the Vineyards in Kahlenberg.
And definitely go to a heuriger (an Austrian establishment where wine from the latest harvest is served) for dinner. That is a true Viennese experience!”
Mike is a travel photographer and blogger originally from London, but in recent years he has lived in Toronto and now he is enjoying expat life in Vienna. He spends most of his time traveling, taking photographs and sharing his pictures and experiences with online communities. Visit his website Travelanddestinations.com for more information and check out his article about why Vienna is such a great place to live.
Vienna, capital of Austria, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. It is Austria’s cultural, economic, and political centre. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud.
As the former home of the Habsburg court and its various empires, the city, with famous imperial palaces, still has the trappings of the imperial capital it once was.
Vienna’s historic city center is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
For more information about Vienna check out Gorealeurope.com
Go Real Europe provides unique customized trip plans to Central Europe. Each of their itineraries is carefully designed to maximize your experience by allowing you to explore like a local in an independent and stress-free way.
Tip: if you are looking to explore Vienna, try the Big Bus sightseeing tour!
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All pictures used in this article are taken by Mike Clegg
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