By Alion Çaçi - Current Vienna Expat
Why should you consider retiring in Vienna? Well, you've probably heard in the recent years that Vienna is ranked number one on the Economist’s annual city ranking. Considering its stability, culture, health care, education, infrastructure and environment, Vienna will not just make you want to work there, but also retire in this great city.
Why Did I Choose to Live in Vienna?
Moving to Vienna was the second-best decision of my life...after enrolling in The University of Vienna. The university is 650 years old which is the oldest university in the German speaking world.
Pros of Retiring in Vienna
Cons of Retiring in Vienna
Honestly, this is something very hard for me to think of, but if really needed, I would say that the only two cons are:
What is the Culture Like in Vienna?
One thing you will never regret once you retire in Vienna is the variety of culture you will find here. If you are a classics person that prefers to go to one of the top five opera houses in the world, then Vienna is your place. You can also go and visit various concerts, festivals, wine tastings, movie theaters, museums and typical Austrian restaurants.
One thing to note about the local culture is that Austrians are not seen as the most warm and open group of people. It can take a while to make friends with the locals. Learning some German can definitely help.
PEZ candy, the delicious and fun candy of our childhoods, was invented in Vienna in 1927. PEZ is an abbreviation of the German word, pfefferminz, which means peppermint.
What Languages are Spoken in Vienna? Can You Get by with English Only?
Even though Austria’s main language is German, as a retired person, you will be able get by with English only. Most of the people who need to learn German are those who will study or work in Vienna. The Austrians will speak to you in English everywhere you go.
But, if you’d prefer to order your own drink or pay in the supermarkets in German, then you may want to learn the language. There are many learning options, like social platforms, that introduce you to other people with whom you can exchange your language knowledge. You can also join one of the free German classes in the park during summer time. YES, this is a thing!
What is the Climate Like in Vienna?
Vienna is a city with all 4 seasons. Winter starts in late September until late March, and then the sun comes out. Spring brings some some rainy days in April, but only for a short period. Summer time is hot but never too hot. One good thing about summer in Vienna is that as soon as it starts to be very hot (around 35°C / 95°F), you know that the cooler temperatures of fall are on the way.
Is it Safe to Live in Vienna?
I would consider Vienna one of the safest cities in the world. You can go out by yourself in every district, no matter the time of the day or night, and be relatively safe. But it's always smart to be cautious, no matter where you are in the world.
Some people ask me if Vienna is safe since they don’t see many police officers around. Don't worry! Just because you don’t see them, it doesn’t mean that they are not there. If something happens, they will show up in seconds!
Crime rate in Vienna is so low that there’s a joke going around the city: when we see a helicopter in the sky, we say that “somebody might have lost his subway card and now they are looking for it.”
How to Get Around Vienna? Do You Need a Car?
Another major reason to retire in Vienna is that you absolutely don’t need and will not want a car. As long as you live in the city – which is very affordable – the public transportation can take you everywhere.
With 1 EUR per day, you can use the tram, the train, the subway and the buses. The annual card costs just 356 EUR, which is one of cheapest in Europe. Public transportation systems are heated in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer and are very clean. There are always night buses and on weekends there are also night subways.
Attention wine lovers! Vienna has over 1,700 acres of vineyards and over 300 vintners.
Popular Activities in Vienna
One thing is for sure if you retire in Vienna: you will never get bored! This city abounds with activities. You can enjoy operas, movies, restaurants, indoor festivals, concerts, social gatherings, game nights, weekend trips, and also lots of vineyards where you can enjoy different brands of authentic, Austrian wines.
In the winter time, you can walk around the colorful and cozy Christmas markets where you will find a lovely atmosphere, full of happy people, surrounded by quality food and vin Brulé (hot wine). The snow won’t be an issue as the whole area is warmed up by heaters. If you want more, just jump up in the next train and head south of Austria to the ski resorts, where skiers come from all around the world.
In the summer, you can relax by the river during the day and at night have a cocktail by the canal, where you'll find the real Viennese spirit. Remember that there’s also the Film Festival at Vienna's Rathausplatz that takes place in different locations in Vienna for 64 days, where you don’t just watch movies, but you get to know new people and have a drink or two.
Another very popular activity in Vienna is going hiking. Since the city developed many hiking trails, you can find just the right trail online and then go out for a relaxing or more vigorous hike. This is one of my favorite activities in Vienna so far.
But if you just want to chill because you are retired, you will find others just like you. Many retirees love to spend time in the famous Viennese coffeehouses and have a late breakfast or a lunch made of traditional schnitzel after visiting one of the many world-famous museums.
If this is still too much for you, you can choose to take a walk or just lay around in one of the many parks. After all, Vienna is 50% green.
What are Popular Local Food Dishes in Vienna?
Let’s begin with our pride: the Wiener Schnitzel. It might look like a normal filet, but trust me; it’s more than that. The way that the schnitzel is cooked in Vienna and the way it’s served with a sauce and potato salad or fries, is one of a kind.
After a delicious schnitzel, you definitely have to try the famous Sacher Torte (cake). It has a traditional, secret recipe, but its taste is no secret if you live in Vienna.
After my weekend coffee at the coffeehouses, I really love to eat a fresh Apfel strudel (apple strudel) or a delicious Kaiserschmarren. Both of them are sweet, but to me, they are pure happiness.
Retiring in Vienna Cost of Living Chart
1 Bdr Apartment in City
$1050 per month
1 Bdr Apartment Outside City
$805 per month
Average Utilities: 1 Bdr Apt
$214 per month
Inexpensive Meal for One
3-Course Meal for Two, Mid-Range
Does Austria Have a Retirement Visa?
No, Austria doesn't specifically have a retirement visa. If you are staying up to 6 months, you'll need to get a visa. For visits over 6 months, they have a settlement permit where you'll need to prove a regular monthly income. Here are the income requirements:
- Singles: $1176.84 (€1000.48)
- Couples: $1856.59 (€1578.36)
- Additional for Each Child: $181.58 (€154.37)
Retiring in Vienna Bottom Line
Retiring in Vienna is an excellent option once you hit retirement age. The quality of life, the social policies, the wonderful healthcare, the sport activities, the endless choices of culture and art activities, will definitely fulfill your life and bring you much passion and joy.
If you're interested in a central European location but would like a lower cost of living, you may want to check out Prague.
Vienna, Austria Quick Facts
541 ft (165m)
Warm summers but cold, windy winters. Average temps are from 27°F to 79°F (-3°C and 26°C).
Flight time to U.S.
9.5 hours by plane to New York
No - Need a settlement permit
One of the best in the world