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Interview with Tessa – a British expat living in Vienna

Updated 12 Jan 2017

Meet Tessa, a university student from the UK, who relocated to Vienna in September 2016 to pursue a job in marketing and sales as part of her studies. In her interview with Expat Arrivals, she tells us about the pros and cons of life in the Austrian capital. 

Read more about Vienna in the Expat Arrivals Austria country guide or read more expat experiences in Austria

About Tessa

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: England
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Vienna, Austria
Q: When did you move to Vienna?
A: September 2016
Q: Did you move to Austria alone or with a spouse/family?
A: Alone
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I am doing an internship here as part of my university course in German and Italian. I’m currently doing marketing and sales for a start-up called Feels Like Home.

Living in Vienna

Q: What do you enjoy most about Vienna? How would you rate the quality of life compared to the UK?
A: I love Vienna. It’s small enough that it’s so easy to get everywhere and really get to know the city, but also big enough that there’s always something going on, whatever your interests are.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: It took me a while to get used to the checkouts at supermarkets! I now know you have to pack your bags elsewhere to avoid disgruntling other customers – but I had to learn the hard way!
Q: What are the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life in Vienna? Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
A: The language I found particularly difficult at first. I’d studied German at university, but the Austrian accent is really different and I struggled to understand what anyone was saying initially.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Vienna compared to in the UK? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Vienna is generally considered quite expensive, but coming from England it’s all relative! Food costs roughly the same, but I’m always pleasantly surprised at the cost of a bottle of wine here!
Q: How would you rate the public transport in Vienna? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
A: Public transport is incredible in Vienna. There are so many options and it’s all so efficient! I feel like I can get to almost anywhere in the city in about half an hour – it’s amazing! And the cost of a monthly ticket is so much less than London. You really do get your money’s worth. There’s no need to own a car, unless you frequently travel outside of the city.
Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Vienna? Have you had any particularly good/bad experiences with regards to doctors and hospitals? Are there any hospitals you would recommend?
A: Fortunately I haven’t had to test out the healthcare system in Austria – and hopefully never will! But from what I’ve heard it all runs pretty efficiently.
Q: What are the biggest safety issues facing expats living in Vienna? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: I think Vienna is a relatively safe place – I’ve never felt particularly threatened. I’ve heard certain train stations at night can be dodgy areas – so perhaps only go there if you’re with someone.
Q: How do you rate the standard of housing in Vienna? What different options are available for expats?
A: It can be a bit difficult finding housing here. I was very lucky, as one of the first places I interviewed for took me on, but there’s a lot of competition. Housing here generally costs less than England – but I can imagine it’s a bit of a shock coming from other parts of Europe.
Q: Any areas/suburbs of Vienna you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: I live in the fifth district, which I love! It’s out of the centre so you feel immersed in a real Austrian lifestyle and avoid the touristic spots, but there’s still a lot to do round here – there’s loads of cinemas, bars, shops and restaurants. It’s also really easy to get to anywhere else in the city from here.

Meeting people and making friends

Q: How tolerant are the locals of foreigners? Is there any obvious discrimination against particular religions or women etc.?
A: I’ve heard Austrians can be a little harder to get to know, which may well be true. All the German speakers I’ve befriended here have come from elsewhere – Germany, Switzerland etc.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: I had one or two contacts from university who also came to Vienna so I’ve stayed good friends with them. I’ve also met some lovely people through work, and my housemates are wonderful! If you’re new to Vienna, I’d suggest joining some sort of expat group – there are loads around and everyone seems really friendly.
Q: Have you made friends with locals or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends? Any social/expat groups you can recommend?
A: I’ve mainly mixed with other expats, but that’s just how it worked out for me. My housemates happen to be from elsewhere, as do my colleagues, and my friends from home are obviously English! I work for a start-up called Feels Like Home, and they’ve been great at organising events to get to know other expats – I highly recommend using their services!                             

About working in Austria

Q: Did you have a problem getting a visa or work permit for Austria? Did you tackle the visa process yourself or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: This isn’t really relevant to me as I’m only here short-term as part of my university degree, and come from an EU country (for now!)
Q: What’s the economic climate like in Vienna? Do you have any tips for expats looking to find a job there? Which resources did you find most useful?
A: It can be difficult to find a job here – there aren’t many going. Feels Like Home also has advice with loads of links for people looking for work – so I’d recommend starting there!
Q: How does the work culture differ from home? Do you have any tips for expats doing business in Austria?

A: I’ve really enjoyed my work so far – though I can’t speak for everyone’s experience of work in Austria! I have a lot of autonomy, which suits me well.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: There are so many resources available to help you, you just have to find them! I’ve been lucky enough to work with an incredible resource – so settling in has been really easy. I’d highly recommend Feels Like Home as a starting point for any expat, and from there they can point you in the direction of anything else you might need help with.

► Interviewed January 2017

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