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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Renting in Austria: How to find a furnished apartment

In Austria, most rental apartments are unfurnished, which is not always convenient for new arrivals, students, or those on short-term contracts. But there are alternatives if you know where to look.

Furnished apartment
There are lots of factors to consider in your Austrian apartment hunt: price, location, and furnished vs unfurnished. Photo: Patrick Perkins/Unsplash

The typical situation in Austria is that your apartment won’t come with any of the furniture. You can expect to have the bathroom and kitchen fittings including in many cases a built-in kitchen, but often not a washing machine.

Additional furnishings such as the bed, tables and chairs, storage, light fittings, and curtains are rarely included.

Serviced apartments

One option for those who prefer a furnished rental is to look for a serviced apartment. These are a popular choice for new arrivals during their first few months, or for people on short-term work contracts. 

In this type of housing, you can typically expect a small kitchenette (think a hob and microwave, but no oven and limited preparation space). Extra services like a weekly clean and WiFi will usually be included in your monthly cost. Some buildings may have communal areas like co-working spaces or even a gym or pool.

However, rent tends to be quite a lot higher than a usual one-bedroom apartment, particularly since serviced apartments are typically small and compact.

Companies that specialise in furnished apartments

As well as serviced apartments, several companies offer furnished apartments, often targeting the expat or international community. These include Housing Anywhere, The Homelike, TempoFlat, and AirBnb for example.

However, be aware that in many cases the price you pay for the convenience with these companies is, well, a higher price; when The Local checked rates for the above sites in Vienna, they were significantly above what you would expect to pay on the private market, even taking into account extra costs for furniture rental. 

Tap into your network

Beyond browsing the usual property sites and checking out serviced apartments, you also have the option of using informal routes for finding a new home.

Even if you don’t yet have local friends and colleagues to speak to, Facebook groups for foreigners in your city, for example, might be a good place to find people who are leaving their apartment and need to hand over the contract to someone else. If you can take on the furniture as well as the contract, that could be a win-win situation.

The private rental market

You can also search for long-term furnished rentals, which like unfurnished apartments may be rented privately or (more often) via an estate agent. Look for apartments labelled as ‘möbliert’ on the usual rental services such as Willhaben, Immoscout and Der Standard. 

Make sure to check the description carefully, or speak to the landlord, to find out exactly what is included. You can’t assume that everything in the pictures will be left for you; some unfurnished apartments will be illustrated with photos of the current tenant’s furniture.

If you do rent a furnished place privately, it’s good to know that there are two different ways the costs might be worked out. 

The first is that sometimes it is possible to ‘take over’ the furniture when you rent the property. This means that you pay a one-time fee (called an Ablöse) to buy the furniture, which is then yours to use, maintain, and keep or sell on when you leave.

In other cases, you rent the furniture. This usually means that your rent includes a Möbelmiete (literally ‘furniture rental’), which you pay as part of your monthly fee — the landlord should provide you a breakdown of the different costs including basic rent, VAT, service charges, and this furniture rental.

There are pros and cons to each option, including the fact that the Ablöse is often a significant upfront cost. With Möbelmiete, you’re paying more each month but if any of the items break and it’s not your fault, the landlord is responsible for their repair or replacement, whereas if you paid an Ablöse for them, you own them and have to pay for their upkeep. The disadvantage of Möbelmiete is that you can’t get rid of the items, so could be stuck with furniture that’s not to your taste. 

While there are options out there for furnished rentals, it does mean limiting your options — the vast majority of rentals in Austria are furnished. If you’d rather focus on finding a perfect apartment, it might make more sense to just factor the cost of furniture into your budget, particularly if looking for a long-term home, but it’s an individual decision. There are always options for making your new place a home without spending a fortune upfront, such as browsing secondhand shops or joining a ‘buy nothing’ group in your area.

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For members

PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: The rules for buying property in Graz as a foreigner

Buying property as an international resident in Austria is not a standard process across the country, and there is a key difference in the Styrian city of Graz.

EXPLAINED: The rules for buying property in Graz as a foreigner

Graz is Austria’s second largest city (after the capital, Vienna) and attracts people from all over the world to live and work.

But what about buying property as a foreigner in Graz? What are the rules?

Here’s what you need to know before jumping into the property market in the Styrian capital city. 

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Property buying rules for international residents in Austria

Who is classed as a foreigner in Austria?

Foreign nationals are defined by the Austrian Federal Government as those that do not have Austrian citizenship.

However, when it comes to buying property, there are varying rules for different foreigners, mostly depending on whether someone is from an EU country or not (rather than whether they have an Austrian passport). 

Property buying rules for EU and EEA citizens in Austria

In Austria, it’s relatively easy for citizens from EU and EEA countries and Switzerland to buy property as a foreigner.

This is because these citizens are granted the same rights as Austrian nationals under EU law.

So this means whether you are an EU citizen already living in Graz as a resident, or you simply want to purchase an investment property in the city, it is possible.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new property buying rules could impact you

Austrian rules for third country nationals

In Austria, the term ‘third country nationals’ refers to anyone who is not from an EU member state, an EEA (European Economic Area) country (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland. 

For this group it usually becomes more difficult to buy a home in Austria – even for permanent residents – due to strict property buying rules.

In principle, any permanent residents from a third country in Austria have to go through an authorisation process to gain a special permit that will allow them to buy property. 

The reason for the special permit is to ensure there is sufficient housing available for Austrian citizens and to avoid surging property and land prices from interest by non-EU buyers.

But in Graz, the rules are more relaxed than the national laws, making the process much easier for foreigners wanting to invest in property in the city.

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

What is different in Graz?

The biggest difference in the rules for foreigners in Graz is that there is no requirement to gain the special permit to buy property, unlike in other provinces and cities across Austria.

This means, as long as someone is a permanent resident in Graz (and they have the funds), they can buy property – no matter where they are from.

Brits with an Article 50 card

Since Brexit became a reality in January 2021, there has been some confusion in Austria about the rights of British people to buy property in the Alpine Republic, so here’s a brief explainer.

For those in possession of an Article 50 Card – a post-Brexit residency permit that grants British people living in Austria before December 31st 2020 pre-Brexit rights – they are still treated the same as those from EU member states.

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

This should apply across Austria and was confirmed to The Local by the British Embassy in Vienna. It was also highlighted by the UK government in its official Living in Austria guide.

As a result, there is no need for British people with an Article 50 card to apply for the special permit to purchase property in Graz, or anywhere else in Austria. 

But for any British people that have moved to Austria in post-Brexit times, they will be considered as third country nationals and subject to the rules detailed above (although not in Graz where the permit is not required).

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