Get PrePared for Renting in Vienna
When you think of Vienna, it might stir up images of good coffee, crime-free streets and beautiful historic buildings. Vienna effortlessly tops the world’s most liveable city surveys, and for good reason. It’s no surprise, considering its 1.8M citizens enjoy excellent food, fresh produce, exposure to culture, infrastructure, access to the countryside and other parts of Europe, and such factors as optimal work-life balance and a seriously affordable living compared to other European cities. In fact, renting a one-bedroom apartment around the center of the city could cost just above €800, a reflection of the city’s commitment to keep housing affordable.
In this compact city, dominated by four- and five-storey, walk-up mansion blocks, gorgeous views, and Alps mineral water on tap. More than 80% of residents rent, and two-thirds of Viennese citizens live in municipal or publicly subsidised housing. Eight out of ten flats built in the city today are financed by Vienna’s housing subsidy scheme. This quality and range helps pushing down rental prices, meaning low-paid workers can afford to live in the Austrian capital, even in the city centre. Residents often live in central areas and enjoy cheap amenities, short commutes and thanks to a sound economy, jobs – even when renting on a partially regulated private market.
Whether you’re heading to Vienna for a job, to start a business or just to enjoy all the city has to offer, the first and most important step is finding an apartment. At Home will walk you through what's to know as you begin your search.
What are the housing options in Vienna?
Typically one will only be able to find apartments or condominiums in central Vienna, but those who are willing to venture out to one of the city’s outskirt districts or suburbs can find identical Austrian detached houses with plenty of rooms and spacious gardens.
For the most part, long term rentals will come unfurnished, however, there are more and more apartments that come with partial or complete furniture intact. Rental companies covering the vast majority of the market and having better contacts can find their clients furnished places all over the city.
Where are the best locations to live?
Where to live in Vienna depends heavily on the lifestyle and budget you’re looking for. Each neighborhood has a name, but they’re more commonly referred to by their numbers. The following districts are popular among expats:
- District 1/Innere Stadt: Living in Innere Stadt comes with the most expensive prices when it comes to housing, but it’s a popular area thanks to its historic architecture, little shops, luxury apartments and high-end restaurants. The market is pretty small, and when apartments become available they go fast.
- District 2/Leopoldstadt: Known to be a little more bohemian (and a lot cheaper) than district 1, Leopoldstadt has a mix of apartment and building styles, coffee shops, bars and one of the city’s most beloved parks.
- District 4/Wieden: A little further out, rent prices drop significantly in Wieden. This neighborhood is great for foodies thanks to its famed, bustling outdoor market. The alternative bars, cafes and restaurants attract a hip urban crowd.
- Districts 8/Josefstadt: Popular among students and academics thanks to their close proximity to the University of Vienna, Josefstadt is known for a more laid back vibe despite the fact that their next door neighbor is district 1. Josefstadt has developed into a middle-class neighborhood. Most mayors of Vienna have lived here, as does Austria's former president..
- District 9/Alsergrund: The area is densely populated with a lot of government-built housing. The iconic Alte AKH, a 17th-century hospital complex, accommodates now several departments of the University of Vienna as well as lively beer gardens in its tree-lined courtyards. In the 9th district, also called French Quarter, you will find the Lycée Français de Vienne near Liechtensteinpark.
What terms and conditions should I be familiar with?
Searching for an apartment in any language is hard enough, let alone one you don’t speak well. Here are some key terms to keep in mind as you’re house hunting:
- Immobilienmakler: Real estate agent
- Maklergebühr: Broker’s fee
- Wohnung zu vermieten: Apartment for rent
- Atelierwohnung: Studio apartment
- Mitbewohner: Roommate
- Möbliert: Furnished
- Vertragslaufzeit: Lease term
Once you’ve actually found an apartment that you like, the next step will be signing a rental contract. If you’re going to try to negotiate your rent, make sure to do so before you sign your lease, otherwise you’ll have to meet the previously stated terms.
Make sure you and your landlord do a thorough walk through of the apartment before you agree to sign the lease, and take lots of pictures in case there is a dispute when you’re moving out. A standard deposit in Vienna is about three months rent, so it’s important to protect that investment up front. A licensed Real Estate agent can help you with both the administration, the negotiations or clarifying the deposit to you beforehand.
You might need to pay an Ablöse to the previous tenant, which is a fee that covers any non-removable upgrades (like new floors) as they move out. This usually should be covered by the landlord, but is sometimes reflected in a higher deposit or higher rent, or is simply included as a fee.
Most landlords in Vienna will ask you to make direct bank transfers when it comes to payments.
Brokers and agents? Are they worth it?
While it’s not impossible to find an apartment in Vienna without an agent, using one can help you seriously cut down on the time it takes to find a place to live. If you’re willing to pay a little more for the service in exchange for a more secure, less stressful move, using a broker may be the best route for you. The best place to start looking for a rental is undoubtedly online.
Anything else to know?
Renting in Austria is an exciting opportunity to take advantage of one of the world’s most popular cities. As anywhere else however, there can be people who will try to rip you off. Make sure you protect yourself while you’re looking. Don’t ever pay before a contract has been signed, avoid dealing in cash so you have an electronic trail, and don’t hand over any money without a legal contract or a working key to the apartment in hand. Most importantly, trust your gut. If something seems fishy, like a landlord asking for 6-8 months rent in deposit, that should raise a red flag even in Vienna.
With that, you’re all set to get started on your search. Good luck!