Moving to a new city can be daunting, so we’ve assembled some words from the wise to help you avoid potential screw-ups and face-palms of nesting in the Austrian capital
1. Getting stuck in the expat bubble
With its thriving international scene, Vienna has an abundance of clubs and Facebook groups for sorts of expats. While these resources can be invaluable, it’s important to put yourself out there. Get in the thick of it with the locals. Doing this will make “culture shock” a thing of the past.
2. Thinking all German courses are created equal
While learning German is no piece of Sachertorte, you can find a Deutschkurs at any time of year, for different levels and budgets. Choosing a course can be tricky, but this is where asking makes a difference. Sure, it may be more pricey, but if you really get your money’s worth, you can graduate to “conversational classes,” otherwise known as after-work spritzers.
3. Fleeing the city for your nature fix
Let’s face it, with 850 parks and gardens to choose from within the city limits, Viennese tree-huggers are spoilt for choice. The Vienna Woods, the forest on the foothills of the Northern Limestone Alps is where Hollywood starlet Hedi Lamarr had her ashes scattered. Today, hikers and nature lovers flock here to collect mushrooms and roam the tree-covered hillsides. Bike along the Danube or hike up Kahlenberg. The Lainzer Tiergarten is a less touristy choice for a day hike or picnic, you might even spot one of the area’s fabled wild boar!
4. Avoiding opera
You moved here, knowing Vienna is a city full of music and art. But who can afford to get dressed to the nines, sitting in a box, behind snazzy opera glasses? You! Almost every performance venue has Restkarten (day-of tickets) for between €10 and €20, and standing room for as little as €3! Just remember to bring a scarf to mark your spot in the standing area!
If opera isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of plays, concerts and musicals that offer discounted tickets. Check out Metropole’s Events Calendar for tips!
5. Sucking at the supermarket
Despite globalization, grocery stores – in fact, food shopping in general – are different from country to county; even city-specific. So, before you spend all your money at Billa or Spar (Austria’s top supermarket chains), consider some of the discount options. Hofer and Penny offer a lot of the same products at a lower price. If you run your own business you can even shop in bulk at Metro. For spices and fresh produce, consider one of the many open-air markets around Vienna. Vienna’s not known for one-stop-shopping, but locals agree, once you have your routine, your wallet and waistline will thank you. Also, don’t forget to bring a bag.
Tip: Some supermarket chains have customer-loyalty programs that can save you a lot of money with weekly discounts and monthly rebates.
6. Letting dinner break the bank
Even outside of the first district, Vienna boasts an enviable restaurant scene. Price tags certainly spike the more central the location, however the inner districts are home to a wide range of cuisine, at workaday prices. For a change of scenery, take a trip out to a Heuriger (Viennese wine garden and restaurant) and enjoy a traditional meal with this year’s Viennese vintage.
7. Settling for subtitles
Seeing movies in their original language is a comfort that many expats cherish. Thankfully Vienna has plenty of movie theaters that offer Original Version (OV) films. The Haydn Kino on Mariahilfer Straße or the Artis International Kino between Stephansplatz and Schwedenplatz are both beloved options for OV cinefiles.
8. Getting sentimental – it’s a rental
Moving to a foreign country means giving up many of your personal belongings – at least for now. Before buying new furniture, check out the peer-to-peer online classifieds website willhaben.at. It’s Austria’s craigslist, minus the creepy scammy stalkers. The site has everything from couches to cars to collectables, both new and used. Save money and have fun hunting for the perfect coffee table to match your new digs! Plus if you decide to move –because you’re “all grown-up” now or just relocating – just whack the stuff back up on willhaben. Easy.
9. Hangry Sundays
If you leave your food shopping for Sunday, you’re in for a rude shock: 98% of Vienna is closed. Save yourself waiting in the long lines at the train station grocery stores (exceptions to the rule) and plan ahead. It may take some getting used to, but it’s only an inconvenience if you’re unprepared. Alternatives include several bakeries, Wein & Co (the branches with bars), and mini-marts at several filling stations around town. Oh, and Bratislava.
After a while, you’ll get used to the inconvenience on Sundays and might even come to appreciate the rest and relaxation that comes with a shopping-free day!
10. Thinking that there’s no place like home
Give yourself time and keep an open mind. Vienna is famous for being a honey pot for expats and with life being so sweet, it can be easy to find yourself settling down for an extended period or even for life. The Viennese often get a bad rap for being cold or unfriendly, but remember, it takes two to tango. Be patient and understand that good things take time – or, to impress your new friends: Gut Ding, braucht Weile.