We moved to Vienna in July 2016. We had previously been living and working in Hong Kong and, before that, England. We're definitely not pros at setting up home, but we've done it a few times now and each time thought, 'wouldn't it be useful if there was a guide for this stuff?!' So here it is! I hope it helps!
Obviously I’m biased towards the 2nd district so I’ve asked some reliable friends to comment on their home districts!
No one lives here unless you have money to burn and love a tourist.
Pros- excellent transport and super close to the canals and the centre; Augarten park and Prater park; some nice new openings happening recently of bars and cafes. Also has the Saturday Karmeliterplatz market, which I love. My McFit gym is also here, which is E20 a month. Can't do much better than that!
Cons- can be a bit dodgy and the Praterstern main station isn’t recommended to walk around at night. However, this area can be avoided completely due to other stations and modes of transport close by. Quite a lot of building work going on at the moment.
Bars: Cafe Tachels, Der Garten
Cafes: Lunzers, Cake Tree Wien, Balthasar, Volkertstplatz market, Supersense- this one is the favourite from the 2nd district peeps
Restaurants: El Hans- Spanish restaurant, L’Orient- Moroccan restaurant, Figar- Asian restaurant, Restaurant Seoul- wonderful Korean food, Harvest- excellent Vegan brunches on a Sunday, Mochi- Japanese, Ansari- general, Pizza mari- Italian
Pros - The third district is quirky, lively and has excellent transport links for accessing the centre of Vienna. Wien Mitte also creates an excellent hub for travel outside of Vienna and has all the shops you need. Includes hot tourist spots like Hundertwasserhaus and Stadtpark. It's worth noting that the 3rd District is pretty huge!
Bars: Hermann Strandbar - Funky beach bar on the Danube Canal.
Cafes: Cafe Menta for coffee and breakfast, Josef Brot for Breakfast Brunch, Veganista - Vegan Ice Cream Parlour
Restaurants: Indus - one of Vienna's few Indian restaurant, Garage 01 - International Vegan Food, Wasabi - Excellent thai and sushi food
The 7th district (Neubau) is a relatively small district but encompasses some important areas: it starts at MuseumsQuartier to the east, Mariahilferstrasse to the south, Westbahnof (major train station) and the Gürtel (lots of bars and clubs, although some sketchy) to the west. Along the north, there are some great streets full of restaurants with pockets of nightlife. This area is also quite artsy and expressive with many music and camera shops scattered throughout as well as many health shops, lending itself to a pretty cool crowd.
If, like us, you find yourself moving into an apartment that has been newly renovated or is still being renovated, don’t expect to move in any time soon. Fortunately for us, we were allowed to move in with the kitchen still being done up around us. We were in a hotel before and didn’t want to stay there for too long, even if that meant that our kitchen was a bomb site for a week or so.
There are two types of Austrian buildings in Vienna- the Altbau and the Neubau (old building and new building). There are pros and cons to both. The Altbau will look beautiful with traditional features, high ceilings and spacious rooms. However, if they haven’t been renovated, they can be a bitch in the winter and dusting anything up high, fitting the windows with curtains, etc, can also be a pain. The Neubau will probably not be as an attractive building, but you can be rest assured that you will be kept warm in the winter. We went for an altbau that had been renovated. Our apartment is actually an extra add on to the original building, which means we have the beautiful entrance and the old fashioned staircase, but we don’t have ridiculously high ceilings, we have good heating, a lift in the building and two balconies.
We signed our contract for 10 years. This, to us, seemed like a crazy long time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stay here for 10 years, like it sometimes does in other places. It simply means that our rent won’t change for 10 years and we only have to actually stay for 13 months. Pretty good, I think. Because renting a property is more popular than owning in Vienna, the buildings can be made very personal. When we moved in, it was a blank canvas. We even had to get light fixtures to replace the loose wire hanging from the ceilings. I didn’t even know they existed! We are allowed to do anything, from banging nails in to the walls, painting the walls, changing fixtures on the cupboards, to getting new doors! The only condition is that it’s a blank canvas again when we move out. This suits us just fine, especially as we’re able to do a bit of decorating to the nursery.
The second thing that we discovered, that was a pain in the backside, was that in order to open a bank account, we needed a Meldezettel. This is a notification form of residence that you receive as soon as you have signed a contract for an apartment. Absolutely fine, except that in order to sign the contract for an apartment, you need a bank account. Also a phone number. Did I mention the phone number? What a palava! Luckily, now EU roaming calls don’t charge extra but when we first moved, we had to use our English SIM cards to make phone calls to the landlord, use this English number for the bank account, etc, and then change it all once we had the Meldezettel, bank account and could finally move into our apartment! It’s a bit of a frustrating cycle to say the least and many an hour was spent at various Austrian offices, grappling with the German language.
In any case, don’t downgrade your bank account to an online one until you have all of these documents/phone numbers sorted because you’ll have to make at least a couple of visits in to the bank and speak to someone. They will literally refuse to speak to you if you don’t have the particular account enabling you to access help.
The required documents for a Meldezettel are:
You can go to any of the offices listed here to register.
Download the app Qando Wien, which is a little confusing at first but will help you plan travel around the city. It includes times, problems on any lines, and the fastest ways to get from A to B.
Because you’ll usually need to set up home from scratch, you’ll need to buy a washing machine, TV, fridge/freezer, vacuum, games console, music system, etc etc. Saturn is the best place for this if you’re after new items. It’s located on MariaHilferStrasse and is 2 floors of everything. They do home delivery as well. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had quite a few seriously stressful experiences here, especially if appliances go wrong (which has only happened once to a camera), but they do all your typical brands and most of the people who work there speak English. Try not to go at peak shopping hours.
There are two Ikea stores, both unfortunately in annoying places to get to. The branch north of the city can take about an hour to get to. We tend to use Uber, which is a bit of a Godsend here. Recently, though, we have visited the branch south of the city. This is part of a massive shopping complex called Shopping City South (SCS) and has all the high-street shops you can think of (including the only Primark in Vienna) and some giant baby shops as well. Ikea do delivery and we’ve had furniture delivered on the day, which has been great. The only downside is that unless you have a car, it’s pretty difficult getting home with all your new purchases. The taxi ranks seem non existent and Uber is quite expensive from here- about €30-40. You can take public transport easily enough and there is a free shuttle bus that leaves from Siebenhirten station, which is right at the end of the U6 line. It’s very easy to find.
If you don’t fancy buying everything new when you move, Vienna has some great second hand websites and is famous for its flea-markets. The Carla flea-market in the 5th district is massive and you’re certain to find some random bits and pieces there. You can also get home delivery on furniture. The Saturday flea-market at Naschtmarkt is also an experience where you’re guaranteed some interesting finds.
*See the Apps guide below on how to get second-hand furniture/appliances.
The Expat Centre is in the 1st district and can be visited during the opening hours. They can provide you with any information you may need that friends/Facebook pages can’t help you with!
There are some really great blogs that focus on Vienna. Vienna Wurstelstand has weekly articles on what’s taking place during the week and also has a useful Facebook page. The Vienna Blog has some great ideas of where to eat/drink and events going on. Mike, from Travel and Destinations, has some great articles and beautiful photography on Vienna as well; he should know- he’s lived here for a while now!
The app Delinski is really useful for booking at restaurants. They give so much money off and some really lovely restaurants are on here. Highly recommended.
Order of things to do:
1) Make sure you have a phone number working in Austria
2) Find an apartment and have a credit card handy
3) Get the landlord/lady's signature on your apartment contract
4) Get Meddelzettel
5) Get bank account
6) Get phone contract (if you want one)
7) Apply for transport card
So, that about sums it up. I hope it helps and you’re planning on moving to Vienna anytime soon, good luck! It’s a beautiful city with masses to offer. It gets voted number 1 place to live year after year and with good reason. Just make sure you bring your snow boots for the winter and don’t expect snow days off work!
Updates from people in the know: Generally you have to be in a rented place for 15 months and we think it may be that you have to have been here 3 months before you can get a phone contract.
Vienna Wurstelstand have just posted this guide that's useful as well: