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PROPERTY

Renting in Austria: The vocab you need to understand apartment ads

Carrying out the Austrian apartment search without knowing German can be tough, but understanding these words and phrases will help you navigate the ads and find your future home.

Apartment kitchen
Even if you don't speak German, understanding just a few key phrases will simplify the apartment search significantly. Photo: Dmitry Zvolskiy/Pexels

The key details:

First, look out for apartments labelled as a Gemeindewohnnung or Genossenschaftswohnung. The former are social housing and the latter are co-operative apartments, and you can only rent these places if you have gone through the specific processes and fit the eligibility criteria. The monthly rents are often significantly cheaper than average, but there’s a reason.

When you find a place that catches your eye, take a look at the Mietdauer (duration of the rental period), which will either be befristet (time-limited, usually to either three or five years) or unbefristet (unlimited). If it’s time-limited, it may say Verlängerung möglich (extension possible). Make sure you check when it’s verfügbar (available). 

The Bautyp (type of building) will be listed as either an Altbau (built before 1955) or a Neubau (built after 1955). This detail isn’t just relevant to how the apartment looks, but also the rental law and costs that apply.

Occasionally, and particularly for short-term rentals, the apartment might note Anmeldung der Hauptwohnsitz nicht möglich (meaning it is not possible for the tenant to register the property as their main place of residence). This could cause you problems, because registration of residence is compulsory in Austria.

Apartment features

Apartments will often be classified based on how many rooms they contain, excluding the bathroom, so a 2-Zwimmer Wohnung (two-room apartment) has a bathroom, bedroom, and a living-dining room.

You should see which Stockwerk (floor) the apartment is on. Austria counts floors starting with 0 for the Erdgeschoss (ground floor), so Stockwerk 1 means you have one flight of stairs to climb.

Here are some other terms to look out for:

Balkon – balcony
Dachterrasse – roof terrace
mit Aufzug – with a lift/elevator
Einbauküche – built-in kitchen
Parkplatz – car parking space
Keller – cellar 
Waschmaschine – washing machine
Waschmachineanschluss – connection for a washing machine (this means you don’t get the appliance itself, but you should be able to have one installed easily)
Geschirrspüler – dishwasher
Elektrische Rollläden – electric blinds
Klimatisiert – with air conditioning

Some apartments may even be teilweise möbliert (partially furnished) or vollmöbliert (fully furnished), in which case it should either say precisely which items are included, or you need to ask the landlord. 

Rent:

The rental cost should be broken down into the Nettomiete (net rent), MWSt (Mehrwertsteuer or VAT) and Betriebskosten (service charges, which covers things like upkeep of the building and common areas, garbage disposal and so on), with these three costs giving you the Gesamtmiete (total rent), sometimes called Bruttomiete (gross rent).

The ad should tell you if Strom (electricity), Heizung (heating) and Gas (gas) are included.

Many landlords will also ask you to take out your own Haushaltsversicherung (household insurance).

Extra costs:

On top of your rent, expect extra costs including a Kaution (deposit), Ablöse (compulsory one-off fee to buy any furniture that you’re required to take over), and a Provision (estate agent fee) if the rental is being arranged through an agency. If you rent privately, you may be able to find an apartment that’s provisionsfrei (free of the agent’s commission).

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Austria is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in some other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under €100k.

Where to find property in Austria for under €100k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe, and Austria is no exception.

The graph below from the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat shows the sharp upwards trajectory over the past few years with property price increases in Austria outpacing those in the European Union  as a whole.

And a new survey found that the average price per square metre for new apartments in Austria rose by 11 percent last year, making the country Europe’s second-most expensive market.

It’s no surprise, then, that property ownership in Austria remains low.

According to Eurostat, 55.2 percent of people owned their home in Austria in 2021 – well below the 70 percent European average. That’s the third lowest percentage in Europe after Switzerland (41.6 percent) and Germany (51.1 percent).

READ ALSO: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Austria – either properties that are move-in ready or those that could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Austria (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at €100,000 (while our colleagues in even-more-expensive Switzerland had theirs set at a much heftier CHF 500k, around €515k).

As of August 2022, we found 25 houses and 34 apartments meeting these criteria on sale.

As you might expect, many of these need (a lot of) work, but the good news is you can definitely still nab a home for under €100,000 with gorgeous views, small plots of land or lake access.

austria map
Houses below €100k are mainly in the south and east of the country. Property map from Wlllhaben.at.

What types of properties are there?
Looking at houses first (see the map above, which also shows the average purchase price across Austria’s different regions), a few things stand out:

The vast majority of the immediately liveable properties are on the tiny side – most are around the 40 square metres mark and billed as holiday homes – but many come fully furnished, a bonus if you’re working to a tight budget.

You will find bigger ones (the largest we saw was 124 square metres), but then they are likely to be complete renovation projects.

If you head for the border, you’ll get more house for your euro in southern and eastern Austria. Many of the properties we saw were in peaceful Burgenland, Austria’s least populous state.

And if you’re happy to buy just over the border in Hungary, Slovakia or even cross into Croatia, you’ll get more space – and less work – for your money.

You might think cities would be a complete no-no for snapping up bargain properties, but when we looked, we actually found a few properties a short drive from Vienna that were below our top price.

House or apartment?
When it comes to apartments, you’ll get more square metres  – we found flats within this price bracket were around 70 square metres on average – and a slightly greater choice of location for your money

READ ALSO: ‘Concrete gold’: Austria ranks as Europe’s second most expensive property market

Plus, the apartments we found were generally in much better condition – some are even newly renovated and fabulous – so you wouldn’t have so much, if any, work to do.

But there is, inevitably, a compromise: you might get a terrace or a balcony, but most won’t have a proper garden, and certainly no land or outbuildings, which many of the houses we found did have.

If you opt for an apartment over a house, you’ll usually have a slightly greater choice of location. Property map from Willhaben.at.

Even when you do find cheap properties, though, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. Some may require completely gutting, others may not be connected to the grid or might need costly lease renegotiations.

So, whether you go for a house or an apartment, you need to make sure you do your homework and carry out a thorough inspection first.

While renovation projects can be great investments, they’re time-consuming and can be very costly.

Before you take the huge step of purchasing, be honest with yourself about your own skill levels and how much time you have for a project – it’s easy to get caught up in the romantic idea of the end result of a gorgeous renovation – and get estimates for any work that needs to be done.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Austria’s rising property prices are causing alarm

If you’re looking at buying somewhere to rent out, check average monthly rents for that area to be sure it’s worth you putting all the hard work in and that you’ll get a good return on your investment.

Whatever your reason for buying, check the property’s location carefully – some have poor access or no connection to basic services.

And it’s important to be mindful of extra costs, too: besides renovation costs, you’ll also have to fork out for property taxes, monthly charges, as well as any lease renewal costs and other living expenses.

These can all vary depending on the type of property and where it is.

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