We share the most popular and liveable cities in Austria to help you choose your next home in the beautiful Alpine country.
Unsurprisingly, Vienna is one of the most popular cities in Austria among expats. The illustrious capital city offers truly world-class living, including some of Austria’s most captivating museums. That said, there are plenty of other beautiful cities in Austria to consider calling home. So, depending on what you are looking for, you may want to explore other options. From university towns to cheaper riverside villages, the country really has it all – and that includes different styles of housing.
The best cities in Austria
Vienna always ranks among the top cities in the world for quality of living. In fact, in 2019, Vienna was named the world’s most livable city for the tenth time in the Mercer ranking. This is hardly surprising given that the city has so much to offer. As well as great culture and leisure facilities, Vienna has a great public transport network and world-class healthcare. Additionally, the capital has a very low crime rate, high-quality housing, and is fairly eco-friendly. It is also the most welcoming and progressive city in Austria, with people from all walks of life living there.
Vienna is famous for its cultural gems, which include museums, historical landmarks, and musical pursuits. From the masterpieces at the Künsthistoriches Museum and the grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace to the many coffee houses and churches, there is plenty to keep you busy. Then, there are the many events the city hosts throughout the year. The ball season, for example, is an annual highlight – especially the glamorous Vienna Opera Ball. Additionally, there are many musical, cultural, and foodie festivals, such as the Genuss Food and Drink Festival and the Vienna Jazz Festival. The city’s annual Christmas markets, however, are perhaps the most anticipated event of all.
The Austrian capital is famous for its historic buildings. Because of this, homes here often have parquet floors, period details, and high ceilings. And, with so many neighborhoods on offer, you’ll be able to find a stunning home in an area that suits you.
For expats with families, for instance, Währing and Döbling are popular neighborhoods. That is because they are near the city’s international schools and offer plenty of parks. Of course, there are many other areas to consider. Hipster Neubau, cultural (and LGBTQ-friendly) Mariahilf, or refined Josefstadt, for example, are all desirable districts. Just take your time when looking at where to live in Vienna.
Of all the cities in Austria, Salzburg is the only one to hold the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. In fact, the city boasts stunning Baroque architecture at every turn. It is also the birthplace of Mozart, the prolific 18th-century composer, and famous as the filming location of The Sound of Music. Additionally, the city hosts a series of exciting events every year, including Mozart Week, the Salzburg Festival, and Winterfest. For this reason, Salzburg is a great city for creatives and artistic types.
Salzburg offers a bit of something for everyone. There are many high-quality schools and universities, popular sports teams, and famous brands (including Red Bull and Porsche). Salzburg is also one of the greenest cities in Austria. In fact, the city’s renewable energy use makes up 70% of the country’s total energy consumption. It is also home to Austria’s most eco-friendly public transport system.
If you are looking to live in Salzburg, there are a few neighborhoods to look into. Both Mülln and Nonntal combine a quiet atmosphere with Salzburg’s historic and grand architecture. Similarly, the residential district of Gneis boasts beautiful 19th-century villas. Another popular choice is Taxham, a family-friendly district that offers rural charm and easy access to the city center.
The second-largest of the cities in Austria, Graz is home to over 440,000 residents. Because the city also has so many great universities, it is popular with students. Its location towards the south of Austria also means it has a more temperate climate. Nevertheless, expats will find that the biggest drawback of Graz is that it is less international and touristy than places like Vienna.
Despite this, Graz is still a lovely place to live. In fact, it offers an annual roster of lively cultural events, good (if not quite diverse) food, and a plethora of museums. While here, be sure to check out the charming UNESCO-listed Old Town, the splendid Kunsthaus Graz, and Schloss Eggenberg, a 17th-century Baroque palace. There are also plenty of lively annual events, such as the Spring Festival, a tribute to electronica music; and La Strada, a festival of music, magic, comedy, and circus acts that take over the city streets. In addition, Graz is the IT hub of Austria, and therefore a top choice if you work in this field.
If you plan to live in Graz, you should pay attention to the various neighborhoods. Students tend to live near the universities, so areas like Geidorf, St. Leonhard, and Eggenberg are popular student districts. However, the Innere Stadt is a great option for single expats. Conversely, families should look at the city outskirts – like Straßgang, Liebenau, and Puntigam for quieter areas with access to supermarkets, schools, and detached houses. That said, Mariatrost and Ries are also popular as they are classical middle to high-class neighborhoods with beautiful villas.
One of the most picturesque cities in Austria, Linz offers a charming riverside location. It is also the country’s third-biggest urban area and is home to 203,000 people. Although there is great public transport, the city is very walkable. Notably, living in Linz is far easier if you speak German, even though there are many international companies there. Along with all of this, the city offers good education and healthcare and access to the stunning natural surrounds of Upper Austria.
The Linz skyline
In addition, Linz is home to a number of lovely attractions that are worth checking out while you’re there. This includes Pöstlingberg, the local mountain that features a zoo, photo gallery, fairy grotto, and Basilica; the Linzer Schloss castle; and the OÖ Kulturquartier that houses art collections, an arthouse cinema, and dining options.
If you are planning to move to Linz, there are a few neighborhoods you can consider living in. Urfahr, for instance, is considered one of the prettier areas, while Ebelsberg and Pöstlingberg are solid choices, too.
This mountain city is best known as a winter destination. However, it can be a good place to live year-round. As well as the stunning natural surrounds, Innsbruck has everything the bigger cities have, including great infrastructure and architecture. While there, it’s worth exploring the pedestrian-friendly Old Town and its incredible architecture, Nordkette mountain, and the 16th-century Schloss Ambras.
Innsbruck sits between the mountains and lakes
Additionally, because of its smaller size, there is a sense of community in Innsbruck. It is also reasonably eco-friendly since you can walk almost everywhere. Because of its status as a tourist center, Innsbruck is also particularly attractive to expats working in tourism and hospitality.
Despite its charm, you will probably want to avoid the Old Town, though, which is often overrun by tourists and students. Instead, the surrounding suburbs and villages are an attractive choice. For example, you could look at the small – but charming – village of Axams, the residential suburb of Hotting, or the more upmarket district of Pradl.
Where to live in Austria
Despite Vienna being the top choice for expats in Austria, there are plenty of other beautiful places to live in the country. Whether you want to live in the heart of a city as a single person, an upscale suburb with your family, or a picturesque village in the mountains as a retiree, there’s something for everyone.
Where to live in Austria as a family
As a family, you would probably be looking for certain things when choosing a place to live in Austria. For example, you might need access to good healthcare and education, convenient shopping and groceries, and a high level of safety. You may also want family-friendly activities and facilities to keep the kids busy on weekends.
Taking this into account, Vienna and Salzburg are probably the best cities in Austria for families. Both offer family-friendly neighborhoods that combine international schools, healthcare, and access to city sights like museums. In addition, you will be able to find housing in your budget. Of course, Vienna is the most popular choice due to its ranking as one of the best places to live in the world.
Where to live in Austria when you retire
Looking to retire in Austria? Then you are probably looking to live somewhere reasonably affordable. You may also want a quieter pace of life; that said, even Vienna offers this to an extent.
If you can afford it, you could easily retire happily in Vienna, Salzburg, or Linz. However, if you are looking for somewhere quieter and cheaper, there are other options to consider. Near the southern border – across from Italy and Slovenia – Villach is a charming town with a diverse, pristine environment of clean air and lakes. Similarly, Klagenfurt – the capital of the Carinthia province – offers easy living in picturesque surroundings.
Where to live in Austria when you are single
Single? Then you will want to live in one of the bigger cities in Austria where you are able to meet people (and potential dates) easily, enjoy a thriving nightlife, and travel easily. Therefore, you should consider living in Vienna, Salzburg, and Graz.
Where to live in Austria on a budget
The unfortunate reality is that cities in Austria are expensive. And, even rural areas are comparatively more expensive than other places in Europe. That said, no matter where you are in the country, it is possible to find reasonably priced accommodation. In general, the closer to the city center you are, the higher the house prices and cost of living will be. Therefore, if you are on a budget, you might want to consider living in the suburbs or a smaller town.
Where to live in Austria if you’re looking for work
If you are an expat in Austria, Vienna will be the best place to find a job. This is because there are more job opportunities there, as well as better salaries and more economic growth compared to the rest of the country. Additionally, English is most widely spoken in the capital.
However, major cities in Austria are generally a good choice for expats looking for work. It just depends on exactly what you want to do. For example, Graz is good for IT workers while Innsbruck is better for hospitality jobs. And, because it is home to international companies like Porsche and Red Bull, Salzburg can offer good work opportunities for expats, too.
Where to live in Austria for business
In general, Austria is not as open to new technologies and services as some other countries. Therefore, if your company deals with very innovative products, you might find it challenging. Nevertheless, if you want to start a business in Austria, then you should make sure to choose the right place to live.
In general, Vienna is a great spot to start a company. In fact, the city topped the 2019 Startup Cities Index due to its robust startup infrastructure and low development costs. Furthermore, Vienna has cheap office space and plenty of co-working spaces; it also offers easy travel to Europe’s capitals.
Places to avoid in Austria
In general, Austria is a very safe country. Because of a strong social system, there is little incentive for crime. Nevertheless, petty crime – such as pickpocketing – can be a concern. And, of course, this is more prevalent in big cities and tourist centers. Below are a few places to avoid if you want to stay away from crime:
- Vienna’s Ringstrasse has many tourist hotspots and attracts pickpockets
- Also in Vienna, Karlplatz, a busy square, attracts drug addicts in the evenings
- Pickpockets also operate on Salzburg’s Getreidegasse
The Austrian Alps are prone to avalanches. Therefore, you should be wary of being in remote areas of the mountains. Additionally, there is growing – but still minimal – anti-immigrant sentiment in Austria. For this reason, it is easier to live in Austria’s bigger cities, which tend to see more foreigners. It is always prudent to have Austria’s emergency numbers at hand, in case you need urgent help.