Best Cities To Live and Work in Austria: Relocation Guide
Despite the country’s small size, Austria attracts many foreigners each year. Only in 2019 alone, 20.8 million tourists visited this place. Besides, many thousands of people move to Austria in the long term.
If you plan to live and work in the country with the highest quality of life, the issue is choosing the place that’s best for you. After reading this article, you will see which city fits your lifestyle and expectations more.
Here are the top 7 cities to live and work in Austria:
- Vienna, Vienna
- Graz, Styria
- Linz, Upper Austria
- Innsbruck, Tyrol
- Salzburg, Salzburg
- Bregenz, Vorarlberg
- Villach, Carinthia
Choosing where to live in Austria isn’t easy – the country’s cities and nine states are diverse, and each has its positives and negatives. That said, the two biggest regions are Lower Austria and Styria; Vienna is the smallest one.
Each state has its differences, like bordering countries, culture, dialects, and food. Let’s focus on the city itself and what they have to offer. Are you looking for a job in Austria? Check out our guides on in-demand jobs in Austria and how to get a job in this beautiful country.
According to a new survey, Vienna has been named the best city in the world for quality of living. As a city with the highest quality of life in the world, it’s no wonder why you would think about going there in the first place.
The capital of Austria ranks high in terms of income, jobs, health, access to services, environment, education, safety, engagement of locals, and housing.
What are the pros and cons of moving to Austria?
While living in Vienna, you don’t need a car since public transportation is excellent: buses, trams, and the subway will bring you anywhere anytime (24-hour services on weekends). You can buy an annual card for 365 EUR and pay 1 EUR per day for the usage of all kinds of transportation.
First, the rich history is represented in the architectural wonders of this capital city. It was influenced by many other European counties such as Italy, Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia.
Vienna had been a home for many important people in history, so it was a place of residence for Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, and Mozart – among other famous intellectuals.
Accommodation in Vienna is famous for its parquet floors and high ceilings. You probably will live in the historic building and at an affordable price.
- The biggest city in Austria with a population of 2 ml. people
- The abundance of culture: museums, music, opera, concerts, festivals, art galleries, nightclubs, etc.
- Great connection to other capitals: Prague, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest
- Hipster city with the youngest population in the country
- Various free time activities from Opera to Viennese coffee houses
- Very bicycle-friendly city
By far, the biggest opportunities a foreigner can find in the capital of Vienna. If you love big city life, going out, visiting events, and shopping, then it is the best place.
Vienna is also the most popular city for tourism; hence there are many things to do and see. It also has the best clubbing culture and many trendy bars for younger ones.
Vienna has originated many prominent foods, like schnitzel, tafelspitz, and various cakes. Also, a croissant came from Austria, not France, as anyone thinks. The food culture here also has a unique heritage, as Vienna is the epicenter of Austrian gastronomy.
Additionally, the region of Vienna produces the most Austrian wine, so that you can enjoy it right from the winery.
Highlight: the city has incredible museums and some fantastic music venues – including the world-famous Vienna State Opera House, where thousands of visitors flock each year to see world-class musical performances.
Another key feature contributing to the city’s well-being is the incredibly strong coffee culture. If you don’t drink coffee, you probably won’t taste Vienna fully.
Locals and tourists alike love Viennese coffee houses for providing a space to discuss the day’s events in a relaxed and chilled environment.
Together with classic coffee houses, you will see many hipster coffee shops everywhere in Vienna; they usually have younger and more international customers.
Vienna is the most international place in Austria, which might be obvious since it’s the biggest city. The Austrian capital is foreigners’ favorite and had been for many dozens of years before.
Vienna first became a place for immigrants from Balkan, Yugoslavic countries, and Turkey. Nowadays, expats and international students from all over the world come to find their luck there.
Vienna is a great city to live in, either working or studying. Many regional and international companies are located there, as well as the best universities in the country.
What salary can you expect in the Austrian capital? Read in our guide.
In general, Austria tends to focus more on the local and DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) market. Hence, speaking German will do you a big favor.
Learn more about studying in Vienna.
Vienna is a beautiful, bold, and fun city that ensures 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, but it’s also 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 wealthiest and most culturally important heritages in Europe, then Vienna is definitely the best place for you.
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 738 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 859 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,600 EUR
Graz is the second biggest city in Austria, with a population of 440,000. This city is loved by students for its excellent education and convenient size; it has a high number of students living there.
Due to its southern location, the overall temperature is higher than in other Austrian cities. Summer in Graz feels like in Italy, and winter brings only a little snow.
Graz has more reasonable prices than Vienna. You have good public transport in the form of trams and busses, however, no subway. Cultural events, good food, and museums – you will find it all in Graz.
This city has everything you could need (shops, schools, universities, bars, restaurants) and a just-right size so you won’t need to spend hours on transportation.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site old town of Graz provides great entertainment in the form of stunning architecture, cafes, shops, bars, and restaurants.
There are many historic buildings to enjoy as well as museums, palaces, and markets. Speaking about markets, Graz is known as the Austrian culinary capital. This is because the city is surrounded by farmland that supplies it with the freshest ingredients.
Graz’s social life is also bustling, of course, not to the same extent as in Vienna, but still, there are plenty of events going on almost every day. You can relax with after-work beer/wine in cozy bars and go dance afterward.
Graz’s international community includes people predominantly from Slovenia, Croatia, and northern Italy, since they are so close located.
Besides foreigners who come to search for job opportunities, there are hundreds of exchange students studying at 6 different universities each year which adds to its multicultural vibe.
Most Austrians in Graz speak English, but also Italian and Slovenian since they learn it in school.
Graz is the IT hub in Austria, including many start-ups. Besides, more and more IT companies open locations there.
So, if you are working in the IT field, there is a wide choice of jobs for you. This is also contributing to the growth of the city. Apart from IT, jobs almost in all industries are available.
- Graz is the second biggest Austrian city, with a population of 440,000 people
- In 2003, Graz was named the “Cultural Capital of Europe” due to its culture, churches, historical museums, contemporary art, and architecture
- Glaz is very close to the borders with Slovenia, Italy, and Hungary
- It’s a riverside city
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 843 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 568 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,411 EUR
Linz is another Austrian riverside city and the third biggest city with a population of 203,000 people. It’s a very comfortable and walkable place. The city is located close to the Czech Republic and Germany. So, you can spend your weekends drinking the best beer in the world.
Linz has well-structured public transportation. Within the city, you can take a bus or tram, and for intercity transfer, take a train. Excellent Austrian trains depart regularly to Vienna, Salzburg, and Graz, but also to other cities in neighboring countries.
Cycling is another popular way of transportation; in fact, you can use bicycle service stations for free.
Furthermore, the Blue Danube Airport, 20 minutes from the city center, has direct flights to and from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Salzburg, and Vienna.
If you worry about the education of your children, there is no need to: Linz is home to 57 schools, four universities, two colleges of higher education, and two teacher training colleges.
- Linz is the third biggest Austrian city with a population of 203,000 people
- Situated close to the Czech Republic
As an expat living in Linz, you will be spoiled with choices regarding culture and leisure. The old town of Linz has a large number of shops, bars, and cafes, where you can taste the famous Linzer Torte, known to be the oldest cake in the world.
For a night out, head to Old Quarter, where everything happens; for education, check out museums. Lastly, don’t forget about festivals and open-air concerts. In the summertime, you can enjoy the food truck festival.
For cultural entertainment and to learn more about Upper Austria, you should visit The Linzer Schloss Museum. Linz also was the European Capital of Culture in 2009.
In summer or early autumn, we recommend taking a beautiful cruise on the river Danube to see the area around the Linz. Moreover, the city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, so you can enjoy the outdoors without traveling far.
Tourists come all year round to visit the medieval city of Linz. Besides that, there are some communities of expats in Linz. You can find them in Facebook groups or in Irish pubs. Remember that you might need to learn German to live and work in Linz.
There are many regional and international-based companies. Software developers will have good chances of receiving a job in English; most other positions require knowledge of German.
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 860 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 662 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,522 EUR
The mountainous background of Innsbruck will impress you from the first second. After that, you will realize how beautiful the city’s architecture is. Yet, Innsbruck is known as an international winter sports center.
Innsbruck is easy to navigate, traffic-free, and most of the time, you can go everywhere on foot. If you need a lift, take a bus or tram. It’s also a university town, so there are many activities for young people who like the excitement of a vibrant nightlife scene.
Important: With 30,000 students competing for rented apartments and the popular winter skiing season, finding suitable accommodation may be difficult.
- The fifth-largest city in Austria, with a population of 310,000 people
- It’s an alpine city that’s known as the winter sports capital of Austria
- Innsbruck held the Olimpic Games for 3 times
- Rent is higher than in other cities in Austria
- Major Industries: tourism, textiles, shoes, musical instruments, metal products, processed food, beer
With the mountains on the doorstep, Innsbruck is a famous outdoor place where you can go skiing or snowboard all year round. Mountain biking, paragliding, and, of course, hiking are other popular activities. The city itself has a few parks to relax on a sunny day.
The natural environment is at the next level in Innsbruck; you can also spot wildlife in the mountains. There are many different hiking trails with a length of one hour to one week.
Innsbruck is a riverside city. Mountain river Inn isn’t great for a swim, but you can enjoy its freshness by sitting nearby.
After enjoying activities, visiting various mountain restaurants is a must; grab some fantastic beer and Knödel (Austrian dumplings).
If you prefer entertainment over the outdoors, Innsbruck has it as well. There are many bars and some nightclubs to visit, as well as open-air concerts and festivals. Check out cafes in the main square to enjoy coffee and cake on the weekend afternoon.
You also don’t want to miss out on the city’s cultural heritage, such as Ambras castle, Hofkirche, and Imperial Palace.
Innsbruck has five excellent universities with international and exchange students, which adds to the city’s somewhat young and relaxed vibe.
There are some expats and immigrants from neighboring countries, and you will see many tourists from all over the world (especially from China).
Innsbruck has abundant jobs in the tourism sector, where the lack of German isn’t a problem. Engineers and IT specialists have the best chances of getting a high-paid job.
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 845 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 770 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,615 EUR
Innsbruck has even higher prices than Vienna due to its popularity among tourists, students, and international workers.
Located just on the border with Germany, Salzburg is the most budget-friendly city on our list. Known as the city of Mozart, Salzburg is famed for its love of art and music.
For this reason, there are 4,000 cultural events taking place across the city each year. Salzburg’s old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Baroque churches and picturesque clifftop fortresses.
The city is very popular for all-year-round sightseeing tourism, especially among the older generations seeking peace and cultural beauty. Outdoor tourism is also booming (skiing in the south, some hiking).
This is a place to come to if you’re looking for culture and cheaper rents but still a relatively reasonably sized city. With 3 big universities, Salzburg’s population is dominated by students; hence prices tend to be lower.
Salzburg transportation includes busses and trolleybuses, powered by overhead electrical cables. Although, due to its small size and accessibility, many people get around the city by bicycle rather than a car or public transport.
Smaller Austrian cities have everything that the bigger cities have, except noise, pollution, and overwhelmingness. In our experience, people are typically more friendly, and you will see a greater sense of community.
- Fourth-largest city in Austria, with a population of 152,000
- Salzburg is a very popular tourist destination
- Home of the world-renowned composer Mozart and the most popular energy drink Red Bull
- Major industries are tourism, metals, and associated high-tech businesses, beer, fashion (traditional clothing), and luxury items
Known as the city of Mozart, Salzburg is famed for its love of art and music. It has over 50 galleries and numerous theaters to visit once you’ve set up a home.
Every summer, the city hosts Salzburg Festival with internationally famed musicians, actors, and opera stars for a several-week-long arts and culture celebration.
Just walking through exceptionally well-preserved Medieval and Baroque old town is an experience you will enjoy again and again.
Speaking about the outdoors, Salzburg is located in a beautiful part of Austria, where the Alps meet the flatter hill region to their north, with lots of lakes. You can go for a hike, go skiing or just relax by the lake.
There are numerous ski resorts in the area that can be reached within an hour from the city center.
Thanks to its location, trips to Germany are incredibly easy; you can be in Munich and explore beautiful Bavaria within 1,5 hours.
Our conclusion is that Salzburg is a perfect place for international students and young professionals who want to be surrounded by historical arts and culture while still living in a modern and young European city.
Besides its beauty, it is also an affordable place to live as a student.
You will definitely see a lot of tourists and some exchange students as well. Germans are dominating the international vibe of Salzburg. To meet other expats, check out Facebook groups.
Salzburg is home to some world-known brands (Red Bull and Porsche). Your chances of getting a job in tourism are high, but Red Bull offers most English-speaking jobs.
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 826 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 606 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,432 EUR
Beautiful but small Bregenz is a lakeside city perfect for someone missing nature and quiet village alike life.
The city has a few museums, an art gallery, the Bregenzer Festspiele (Operas performed on a stage on the lake) that take place each year, attracting thousands of visitors, and a really pretty city center.
Bregenz has a strategic location in a few minutes you can go shopping in Germany and the other 10 min you are in the Swiss mountains. This will allow you to travel and expand your chances of getting a job in one of these three countries.
While Bregenz is a fantastic place for the outdoors (the Alps, lake, hills, rivers, etc.), foreigners can feel a bit lonely since it’s a very regional focussed place. People who live here are from the surroundings, and they never leave due to the region’s beauty.
Lake Constance alone is a paradise for relaxing and enjoying nature; you can swim, sunbathe, take a boat ride or just chill in one of the cafes on the lakeside. Like anywhere in Austria, the Alps is where people spend most of their free time.
Rent a bike and go on the tour since there is an incredible system of bike trails leading in all directions, or put on hiking boots and go explore; you won’t be disappointed.
Bregenz might look like a village for the first time, you will notice few tourists, but overall, there are almost no international students (hence no university) or workers from abroad.
Bregenz doesn’t have many international companies that will suit an expat, but Switzerland is just 20 min away and has an enormous job market for someone like you.
- Smallest city on our list, with a population of 30,000
- The city is located on Lake Constance, which is a summer destination for sailing, windsurfing, and swimming
- Lake Constance has a few islands
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 700 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 700 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,400 EUR
Villach is the last and second smallest city on our list. You might wonder why we even mention this, but it’s worth your time. The location of Villach is unique – situated just on the borders with Italy and Slovenia, it’s a charming riverside city with a stunning mix of nature.
Villach is a riverside city with all the romance of Austrian architecture mixed with nearby mountain adventures.
To travel within the city take a bus, for longer journeys train connection will spoil you, apart from the Austrian network, there are direct rail connections to many major European cities, such as Rome, Belgrade, Zurich, and Munich.
Because of its location and size, rents are also cheaper, so you can get a one-bedroom apartment for just 500 EUR. The best place to live in Villach is near to the city center.
You will have easy access to the city’s railway connections, but also shopping, cafes, and restaurants will be within minutes’ reach. Therefore, you will live a great life and don’t need a car.
- 7th largest in Austria with a population of 60,000 people
- Great connection to neighboring Italy and Slovenia
- Mountains and lakes on the doorstep
- Great location for someone willing to travel
Life is simple and quiet in Villach. Enjoy the chilled atmosphere, the safe living, and the clean air of the warm and welcoming small town.
As you read above, Villach is an excellent place for nature activities or visiting neighboring Italy and Slovenia.
It’s surprising, but Villach has an international community; check out the platform www.welcome2villach.at for newbies in town. Facebook groups also will help to find like-minded people.
Despite this size, Villach has a solid amount of jobs, and it has a lower unemployment rate (4.1%) than the Austrian average (4.9%).
It sounds like a good deal, work in economically booming Austria and spend your weekends in cheaper and nevertheless beautiful Italy or Slovenia.
Cost of living:
- A single person’s monthly costs without rent – 700 EUR
- Rent for an apartment with one bedroom – 558 EUR
Total costs for one person per month: 1,258 EUR
Austria always is an immigrant and tourist country, not without reason. Most foreigners are happy with their choice and live fulfilling and comfortable life. Why? Here is the summary.
1. A very high standard of living
Austrian capital Vienna ranked several times as the best city to live in the world, and there are many factors for that. Economic conditions, infrastructure, social security, entertainment, and free-time activities are some of them. No other city can beat Vienna in these measures.
Austria is located right in the middle of Europe, bordering 8 countries.
The possibilities for travel are immense. Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, or Hungary are all easily accessible; hence, you can travel to new counties and cities every weekend. Excellent bus and train connections will make it an easy and cheap experience. My personal favorites are any place in Italy, Budapest, and Prague.
If your soul desires, the Mediterranean sea can be easily reached by a relatively short car or train journey.
3. Well-paid jobs
Austrian companies are world players. Have you heard about Redbull? They hire international professionals by offering a decent salary for their expertise. Don’t miss out on the chance to earn good money and live dreamlike life in Austria.
Austria is the 14th-richest country in the world due to its well-developed social market economy. It also has one of the highest GDPs (Gross Domestic Product) per head, indicating a very high standard of living for citizens. In fact, in GDP ranking Austria placed in position 14 above Germany and the UK.
Additionally, Austria has over 18,500 organic farms, another contributing factor to its flourishing economy.
5. Social security
Social security is crucial for all Austrians; maybe you haven’t even heard about it if your country of origin is Russia or other places from the bottom of the ranking.
In Austria, all workers are secured with several insurances; both the employer and the employee are required to pay contributions. It includes health insurance, long-term care insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and accident insurance.
6. Affordable living
Only imagine Austria offers you the best quality of living and working and all this for affordable living costs! Rent costs are much lower than in other big cities with a high quality of life like Paris or London.
In Vienna, you can easily get an apartment for under 1,000 EUR, which will be nearly impossible in other megapolises.