Beyond the stunning beauty of the Alps, Austria offers a high quality of life with excellent public transportation, a social health insurance system with universal coverage and top-notch healthcare services ranked 8th globally, and a world-class education system. This, combined with a relatively stable political environment and low crime rates, makes Austria a desirable destination for those seeking security and stability. While the cost of living is higher than in some neighboring countries, the local salaries match, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle with access to high-quality housing, cultural, and recreational experiences.

Acvian Austria relocation of expats

What are the benefits of relocating to Austria?

Austria boasts an exceptional standard of living. International researchers consistently rank it among the best places to live, with a 2023 study placing the country #1 in the EU. Vienna, the capital city, has held the number one spot on the list of Most Livable Cities for an impressive ten years running. Austria also holds a strong record on press freedom and human rights.

Moving countries always comes with pros and cons, and Austria is no exception. This comprehensive guide offers an overview of the most important factors to consider when planning your work-related relocation: the cost of living in Austria, visa and work permit requirements, job opportunities for non-German speakers, and social experiences that expats may go through. This will help potential newcomers to make informed decisions and possibly take a simplified path to work-related immigration via the EOR (Employer of Record) service.

What is the cost of living in Austria?

While the cost of living in Austria has risen slightly in 2024, it remains generally affordable compared to many Western European countries. On average, housing-related expenses take up from a quarter to one-third of income, but the quality of properties is great for the price. Here’s what you can generally expect:

Moderate Housing Costs: in Vienna, expect to pay a higher rent than the country’s average, but with many comfortable options available. In smaller Austrian towns, rent is significantly lower than in the capital, as well as in the major European cities. The rental price of a 1-bedroom apartment can range from 680 to 980 EUR a month (as of 2024).

Reasonable Food Costs: Austria is among European countries known for accessible and high-quality food, with plenty of fresh produce and healthy options. Groceries can be purchased at supermarkets and local stores for a fair price – around 20-25 EUR for the basic basket. Austria also has a strong cafe culture and casual dining venues. Enjoying meals out is a social experience that’s not too harsh on the wallet, with an average cost of 15 to 20 EUR per basic meal.

Education: Austria’s public education system is excellent, with options to enroll in all-German or bilingual programs. International schools offer a premium level of education, with fees generally lower compared to other parts of Europe and North America. For expats with young children, there are many options within the country’s universal child care program. Public and private kindergartens are open to all, with a number of international programs available for families who want their children to be educated in English.

Austria’s IT sector is on the rise. The local IT market is booming, with an estimated value of 7.22 billion USD by 2024. Fueled by outsourcing, the industry is predicted to experience further growth, reaching 9.21 billion USD by 2028. This translates to high resources invested per employee in the IT sector, making Austria a great destination for skilled tech specialists.

Austrian salaries in IT/tech are highly attractive, ranging from 3,351 EUR to 6,922 EUR gross per month plus bonuses, depending on experience, specialization, and location. All in all, Austria is a thriving IT hub where tech professionals can reach their full potential.

Do expats need a visa to work in Austria?

To work in Austria for longer than 90 days, foreigners need both a work permit and a visa. Employees coming from countries outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland who plan to work in Austria for over 90 days need to obtain a type D work visa prior to arrival.

Additionally, they will need a work and residence permit valid for more than 6 months. To qualify for an Austrian work permit, applicants must undergo a test and a labor market evaluation based on a points system. There are specific types of visas for stays of varying length and different professional fields:

Red-White-Red Card: This is the most common work visa in Austria, offering a residence permit for up to 2 years. It allows you to live and work in the country. An application for the Red-White-Red Card must include proof of adequate income (1217 EUR for singles, 1921 EUR for couples), health insurance coverage, and proof of accommodation. Processing times typically take 8-9 weeks.

You are eligible for a Red-White-Red Card if you belong to one of the following groups:

– Very Highly Qualified Workers
– Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations
– Other Key Workers
– Graduates of Austrian Universities and Colleges of Higher Education
– Regular Workers in Tourism, Agriculture and Forestry
– Self-employed Key Workers
– Start-up Founders

Shortcut advice: Individuals who seek highly qualified jobs in Austria and have a relevant job offer from a local employer can potentially apply for a Red-White-Red Card directly, without a separate residence permit.

EU/EEA Citizens: EU/EEA citizens can initially live and work in Austria visa-free for up to 90 days. However, to extend their stay beyond that, they will need to apply for a certificate of registration. This certificate confirms further rights to reside and work in Austria.

Do expats in Austria face a language barrier?

Austria is primarily a German-speaking country, and many find it challenging to master the language to the level that allows expats to integrate into the social and professional scene. Luckily, the amount of job opportunities for English speakers is increasing, particularly in multinational companies, tech startups, research institutions, and academia. Vienna and other big cities with a more diverse and international population typically offer more English-friendly jobs compared to rural areas. However, having some proficiency in German is always a benefit, as many employers look for candidates who can speak both German and English.

What is the level of job satisfaction in Austria?

Expats in Austria report a high level of job security (64% nationwide vs. 59% globally) and good salaries (with 84% of the country’s employees satisfied with their salaries vs. 62% globally). However, the level of job satisfaction in Austria is lower than average in other European countries. With a multitude of career opportunities (ranked 24th in Working Abroad Index), some expats feel their careers haven’t progressed as much as expected, with only 52% reporting improvement in career prospects after moving to Austria vs. 59% globally.

What is the social life like for expats in Austria?

Austria presents a contrasting experience for expats. While it excels in offering a high quality of life, making friends with locals can be challenging. Social isolation experienced by foreigners is a contributing factor to Austria’s consistently low ranking in ease of settling. Over half (58%) of expats find it hard to make friends, and many lack a strong support system (32% vs. 24% globally).

Is Vienna a good city for expats?

Predictably, the country’s capital is the most popular city among expats relocating to Austria. Seamlessly blending a rich, 2,000-year history with a thriving startup scene, this metropolis has been on the top of the Mercer Quality of Living ranking for a decade. Vienna’s growing tech scene has attracted the industry’s giants like Microsoft and Google. The city boasts a diverse international community and nearly 1 million residents with English proficiency, making it a more expat-friendly environment than smaller and more secluded Austrian towns. While the cost of living in Vienna is slightly higher than in other parts of Austria, the social experiences, vibrant cultural scene, and excellent public services make up for it, and the general standard of living is aspirational for foreigners.


Austria offers a compelling range of potential benefits to expats: a high standard of living, a stable environment, and excellent career opportunities, particularly for IT specialists and individuals in other highly skilled positions. The initial steps of integration might be challenging due to the language barrier and a reserved approach to socialization, but a high average income level, excellent public services, and stunning natural beauty make Austria an attractive destination for those seeking a safe and prosperous life abroad.

Ultimately, the decision to relocate depends on your individual priorities. If you value a strong social network above all else, Austria might require more effort to integrate (in Vienna, however, it may be easier). But if you prioritize a secure and comfortable lifestyle with access to nature and cultural experiences, Austria has a lot to offer.

Do your employees need help with relocation to Austria? Is your company planning to enter the Austrian market?

Save time, resources, and headspace – entrust work-related immigration to Austria to a competent third party. As your EOR provider, Acvian handles all administrative steps of relocation, including work permit acquisition, visa application, on-site support with registration, and visa renewal in case of a prolonged contract. We also manage taxes and payroll in Austria and ensure compliance with the local law at all stages of employment. To get in touch with us, submit your request here or schedule an immediate meeting.