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MOVING TO AUSTRIA

‘I’ll probably return to the UK’: Moving to Austria as a Brit post-Brexit

Moving to Austria as a British citizen is not as easy as it was a couple of years ago, but it is still possible if you’re willing to jump through a few more bureaucratic hoops.

Schönbrunn Park and Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Moving to Austria has become harder for British people since Brexit became a reality. (Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash)

For British people that were living in Austria by the end of December 2020, nothing much has changed to everyday life when it comes to their status and rights (apart from losing voting rights in local elections and freedom of movement across the EU).

But for any Brits arriving since January 1st 2021, they have been considered as third country nationals and subject to the immigration rules for non-EU or EEA citizens.

This has been a shock to some British people that are not used to navigating EU immigration systems – and a stark reminder of how different moving to an EU country was before Brexit.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

To find out how the process now works, The Local spoke to two people who have done it (or tried to). 

Here’s what they have to say about their experiences.

Navigating Austrian immigration during Covid

Helen Murray, 30, moved to Austria in 2021 after first being granted a Visa D to enter the country and then securing a settlement permit (researcher) to take up a PhD position in Vienna.

Visa D allows third country nationals to enter Austria for up to six months, but as Helen applied for the visa at the height of Covid-19 lockdowns in early 2021, it was a complicated process.

Helen told The Local: “To get the visa I had to organise everything without going to Austria. This meant that I had to sort out renting somewhere (visa required rental contract) over the internet without seeing any apartments, and needing somewhere that was furnished – not easy in Vienna – so I could see out the quarantine.”

Additionally, Helen had to book a flight to Austria to secure the visa, even though flights from the UK were banned from landing in Austria at the time due to Covid-19 restrictions.

READ MORE: Reader question: Are Brits in Austria still banned from giving blood?

Since arriving in Austria, Helen has also noticed the difference in rights between British people that have the Article 50 card (a post-Brexit residency permit for Brits that were living in Austria before December 31st 2020), and those that don’t.

Helen said: “Nearly all of my British friends here have Article 50 cards, and so have all these rights that I don’t have. 

“It’s particularly galling because I know exactly how easy it was to come here before Brexit. I think now to stay in Austria you have to want it because it’s a lot of work, time and money.”

But when asked if Helen would still make the move to Austria post-Brexit with the benefit of hindsight, it was a question she initially found hard to answer. 

She said: “It’s a tricky question to answer because I have mixed feelings about moving here, but it’s mostly personal and professional reasons which would probably still be there regardless of Brexit.

“I would definitely say though that Brexit has made it too difficult for me to want to stay once my current contract is up, and I’ll most probably be returning to the UK. 

“This is because there are an increasing number of hurdles to pass with every visa extension and, because of Austria’s policy of not allowing dual citizenship, there’s no reward for staying here and doing all that as I wouldn’t be willing to give up my UK citizenship.”

READ ALSO: ‘Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed’ – How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

Dreams of retirement in the Austrian Alps

Gerry Stapleton, a retired property developer from the UK, has owned a second home in Zell am See in Salzburg since 2008. He was hoping to gain residency in Austria to bypass the rule that states third country nationals can only spend 90 days in every 180 days in the EU.

Earlier this year, Gerry and his partner were granted temporary residence permits but came across difficulties when trying to secure health insurance – something that is mandatory for all residents in Austria.

Gerry told The Local: “What we were required to show was not that we had travel insurance but that we had proper, full medical insurance cover, similar to that provided by the Austrian and UK health care systems. 

Zell am See, in Austria (Photo by Markus Lederer on Unsplash)

“The authorities in Zell am See tried to be helpful and suggested at least six insurance companies whose cover would have been satisfactory. I tried them all, and some UK and international companies as well, but with no luck. 

“The major stumbling block was our ages – I am 74 and my partner is 77 – and none of the companies would offer cover for someone aged 75 or older.”

The solution would have been for Gerry and his partner to transfer their healthcare from the UK system to Austria. However, this would have left them without any coverage in their home country, which wasn’t suitable as they still want to spend part of the year in the UK.

Gerry added: “We have, therefore, reluctantly withdrawn our applications, although I keep trying to find something that might help.”

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

Brits in Austria

So, what are the options for British people who want to move to Austria post-Brexit? Here are a few possibilities.

First, there is the Red-White-Red Card for qualified or skilled workers from non-EU countries that want to live and work in Austria. If granted, the visa is valid for 24 months and allows visa holders to bring family members with them.

However, there are different types of visas issued under the umbrella of the Red-White-Red Card, depending on the applicant’s professional background.

For example, those with advanced degrees and management experience in the fields of mathematics, informatics, natural sciences or technology are considered as very highly qualified workers. They can initially enter Austria with a Job Seeker Visa, which can later be transferred to a Red-White-Red Card following a job offer.

Alternatively, there is a category for skilled workers in shortage occupations, such as engineers, carpenters, physicians, chefs and accountants. For this category, applicants must score a minimum of 50 points in the eligibility criteria (including elementary level German and English language skills), show proof of relevant qualifications and have a valid job offer.

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy a second home in Austria?

Additionally, there are several other categories for the Red-White-Red Card, including one for recent graduates from an Austrian education institution (which Helen Murray would be eligible for) and family reunification. Each category has its own eligibility criteria. 

And there is the EU Blue Card, which is available for non-EU citizens with a job offer in Austria with a salary of at least €66,593.

Then there is the Austrian residency option.

Austria is a great place to live, but getting a residence permit can be tricky. (Photo by Frank J on Pexels)

Applying for residency in Austria is a big commitment and involves giving up residency in the UK (but not citizenship).

It also usually means losing access to the NHS because you will be required to contribute to the social security system in Austria, unless you have private medical insurance (an issue encountered by Gerry Stapleton).

In the case of retired people, Patrick Kainz, a Vienna-based immigration lawyer, told The Local in a previous article that the best approach is to apply for a “gainful employment excepted” residents permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) that allows for income through a pension or private funds. There are limits on how many permits can be issued in Austria each year.

For this category of Austrian residency, single people need a minimum monthly income of €2,060.98 and couples need to earn at least €3,251.42 a month to be eligible. An additional amount of €318 for each child also applies. These figures are twice the standard amount of the General Social Insurance Act (ASVG).

However, immigration lawyer Osai Amiri advises any British people wanting to pursue an immigration route to Austria to inform themselves about the necessary requirements and prepare for a long application process.

Amiri told The Local: “Once they have determined which permit best suits their plans, they should start collecting and preparing the documents that they would have to submit to the Austrian authorities.

“Only after that should they travel to Austria and submit their application for the respective permit in Austria.

“Since the visa-free stay of British citizens is limited, they can in that way save themselves a lot of time and would not have to travel back and forth in order to obtain the decision of the Austrian authorities during the visa-free stay.”

Additionally, Amiri suggested British people can pursue other pathways to Austria, such as permits for students, artists and scientists. 

Useful links

Federal government official migration website

British in Austria

Vienna Business Agency

This article originally referenced the standard rate for the minimum monthly income for the gainful employment excepted residency permit, as stated on the Austrian migration website. It has now been updated to include the rate for third country nationals (twice the standard rate).

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For members

VIENNA

REVEALED: The most affordable districts to live in Vienna

Vienna is known for being an affordable city to live in, but buying or renting property can be expensive. Luckily, some districts are more budget-friendly than others. We list the city's 8 most affordable districts for renting or buying property.

REVEALED: The most affordable districts to live in Vienna

The most popular districts for living in Vienna are not always the best for your wallet. Luckily, many of Vienna’s more affordable ones also offer charm, cultural happenings, vibrant markets, necessary facilities, and closeness to nature.

Here, we list 8 of Vienna’s more affordable districts.

Simmering

Simmering, located in the southeast of Vienna, is one of the city’s most affordable districts for living.

If you want to buy an apartment, you will pay an average of €4,317 per square meter, which is currently the lowest price in Vienna. If you plan to rent, you will also pay one of the lower prices in the city, with an average of €17.97 per square meter.

The district offers a mix of industry and green spaces, with many parks spread out within the district. One of the most famous parks in the area is Kurpark Oberlaa, a large park with small lakes and a spa facility, Therme Wien.

The district is also home to the famous Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s central cemetery, where many famous people are buried, such as the composers Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. The large cemetery is also a popular place to visit for walks and to enjoy nature in its greener areas.

READ ALSO: The essential guide to Vienna’s ten outer districts

The district’s main street is Simmering Hauptstraße, and along the street, you find everything you need in terms of grocery shops, restaurants, cafes, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, and other stores for whatever you may need. There are also many schools, sports areas, and parks in the neighbourhood.

If you want to experience culture, you can visit the Simmering Cultural Centre (Kulturverein Simmering), where different workshops, art exhibitions, and performances take place.

Simmering is well-connected, and the city centre can be reached in only 10-15 minutes with the U3 subway line.

Zentralfriedhof in Semmering. Photo by Martin Lostak on Unsplash

Hernals

Hernals is another district in Vienna that offers affordable living. It is currently the district where you can get the lowest rents possible, paying an average of €17.16 per square meter. If you plan to buy, the average price is €6,732 per square meter.

The district is characterised by its many residential buildings, parks, swimming halls, libraries, and proximity to the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald). Hernals is known for its relaxed atmosphere and is popular among families and those who enjoy a calm lifestyle while still living relatively close to the city centre.

The district offers a mix of different housing options, with traditional Viennese buildings (Altbau) and newer developments. If you live in the area, you will have everything you need close by, such as schools, shops, and healthcare facilities.

The Jörgerbad swimming hall, the beautiful Schwarzenbergpark, and Stadtwanderweg 3 (one of the city’s hiking paths) are all popular places within the district of Hernals.

 
 
 
 
 
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Favoriten

Favoriten is one of the largest districts in Vienna and offers a diverse range of affordable housing options, including apartments and smaller houses. If you want you want to rent in the area, you pay an average of €20.08 per square meter. If you plan to buy, the average price is €5,493 per square meter.

The district is known for its multicultural atmosphere and offers a mix of shops, markets, and restaurants. If you want to try Vienna’s probably most famous döner, you should visit Ferhat Döner, on Favoritenstraße, in the centre of the district.

Favoriten also offers many large parks and green spaces where you can go for walks and do sports. One of the most popular ones is Erholungsgebiet Wienerberg, a large leisure area with lakes and different trails for cycling and walking. It is a popular place to relax, have a picnic, or just walk around.

Recently, a new and more modern living area of Favoriten has opened up and expanded. It is close to Vienna’s main station and offers modern buildings for renting and buying, surrounded by many parks and green areas, such as Motorikpark which also offers a playground for children.

Brigittenau

Brigittenau is located in the northwestern part of Vienna, near the Danube River. Here, you can enjoy walking and cycling surrounded by water and greenery.

If you are thinking about renting in the area, you pay an average of €19.11 per square meter. If you want to buy, the average price is €5,345 per square meter.

The district offers both old and new apartments at decent prices, as well as many parks and closeness to green spaces.

The famous park Augarten is partly located in the district. It is a great place to visit if you want to spend some time among trees, plants, and flowers or if you want to go to a concert, exhibition, or other type of performance since both Augarten Palace and Augarten Art Studios are in the park.

If you prefer to experience more nature, you are also close to Donauinsel, where you can enjoy some sporty activities, a swim, or maybe a picnic.

If you live in Brigittenau, you are near the city centre and have easy access to shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and other necessities.

Bench in Augarten. Photo by Viola Kovács on Unsplash

READ ALSO: Why buying property in Austria remains unaffordable for most

Ottakring 

Ottakring is a diverse district located in the western part of Vienna. It is known for its multicultural atmosphere and its many restaurants, shops, and markets. The average rental price in the area is €18.65 per square meter, while the average buying price is €5,677 per square meter.

The district is famous for its lively Ottakringer Straße, with plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as the famous Yppenplatz. Yppenplatz is a beautiful square in Ottakring where you can go to enjoy some coffee or food or to check out the popular multicultural market “Brunnenmarkt” open in the evenings and on Saturdays. Here, you can find everything from homemade falafel to living room carpets.

Ottakring is also home to the historic Ottakringer Brewery, which has been producing Ottakringer beer since the 19th century. The brewery is constantly open to visitors due to different festivals, events and fairs.

The district is also home to the historical Wilhelminenberg Palace, situated on a hill on the outskirts of Ottakring and offering great views of Vienna.

Living in Ottakring gives you easy access to the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald), where you can enjoy nature, go hiking or cycling, or simply just relax while admiring the views of the city in the distance.

 
 
 
 
 
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Rudolfsheim Funfhaus

Rudolfsheim is a residential and quite affordable district located in the western part of Vienna. It is an upcoming area, and its popularity has increased during the last couple of years, probably due to its many markets, alternative shops, cultural happenings, and green areas.

The average price for renting in the area is €18.94 per square meter, and the price for buying is €5,329 per square meter.

Rudolfsheim is a multicultural district where you can enjoy some great coffee places, restaurants, and markets. It is also easy to find great local Turkish bakeries and Balkan supermarkets.

One of the most popular places in the district is the famous Meiselmarkt, a market offering a wide range of fresh products, meats, cheeses, vegetables, and other things. This market is a gathering point for many locals in the area.

While living in Rudolfsheim, you are also close to many green spaces, such as the large park Auer-Welsbach Park and, of course, Vienna Woods (Wienerwald), which is only a bike ride or short tram ride away from the district’s most populated areas.

Many festivals and markets are being organised in Rudolfsheim, such as smaller food festivals, district festivals and literature festivals.

 
 
 
 
 
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Meidling 

If you are searching for a home in an affordable and quiet area, Meidling might be just right for you. Located in the southwest of central Vienna, Meidling offers many green spaces, historical spots, and easy public transport connections to Vienna’s more central parts.

The average price for renting in Meidling is €17.59 per square meter, and the price for buying is €5,609 per square meter.

Living in Meidling is convenient for many; you have everything you need in terms of shops, pharmacies, healthcare facilities, restaurants, and markets. You can also get fresh vegetables and other groceries and bargains from Meidlinger Markt, a traditional market in the area where many locals tend to meet.

The district is home to the famous Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can go for walks, picnics, or just admire the palaces and gardens.

Meidling is also close to Vienna Woods, where you can enjoy nature and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride.

Schönbrunn in the evening. Photo by Nathalie Stimpfl on Unsplash

Liesing 

Liesing is an affordable and calm district in the southern part of Vienna. It is a great place to live if you like to be close to nature.

The district has many green areas, such as Eichwiese Gutenbach and Maurerwald, where you can enjoy time in pure nature. Liesing is also close to Lainzer Tiergarten, a famous and large nature reserve and wildlife park.

Living in the district is convenient, with easy access to shops, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and other essential services.

Every spring, Liesing invites locals and visitors to its annual cultural festival. It celebrates the district’s cultural diversity and community spirit and offers many activities, events, music, and food.

Even though it is slightly further away from Vienna than the districts mentioned above, public transport works very well. It only takes around 25 minutes to reach Vienna Central Station from Liesing’s central parts.

READ MORE: What you need to do when you first move to Vienna

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