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Living in Austria - A Guide for PhD Students

Austria has plenty to recommend it to travellers and tourists, but students who stay to study for a PhD will have even more time to appreciate its historic landmarks and striking landscapes. And if that's not enough, a country with eight borders offers plenty of opportunities to travel further afield in Europe.

This page provides useful information for students thinking of moving to Austria for doctoral study. We've covered accommodation options, work permits, transport and banking.

On this page

Student life

The birthplace of Mozart and Schubert (not to mention two Strausses) isn't hard to recommend if you're looking for a bit of culture during your PhD. Especially if you happen to like classical music. But what else does Austria have to offer international students?

Culture and tourism

The Austrian capital, Vienna, is home to baroque palaces and venues that have seen (and heard) performances by some of Europe's most famous composers. Other university cities include Innsbruck, nestled amidst the Alps and Graz, which combines beautiful medieval shopping districts with vibrant nightlife.

Austria's landscape also presents striking contrasts, from spectacular river views along the Danube to lofty Alpine resorts.

Sport and leisure

Life in Austria is relatively relaxed, with numerous cafes and bars providing opportunities for leisurely lunch breaks as well as venues for social drinks after a day in the office (or on campus).

Cycling and hiking are popular, or, if you're looking for a more adventurous break from your studies, you can try your hands (and feet) at mountain-climbing or skiing.

The country's historic concert halls and opera houses also offer a spectacular break from your research. Unless your research is on the history of classical music, in which case you can combine work and study.

Food and drink

Austrian dining offers a fusion of Italian, German and Balkan cooking. Viennese cuisine is particularly famous, including traditional dishes such as Apfelstrudel (a pastry filled with apple) and Gulasch (a variant of the popular Hungarian hotpot).

Accommodation

Austrian universities don't normally provide their own student housing 'on campus'. Instead, you'll probably find yourself renting property in the city.

There are three main sources of housing available:

  • Halls of residence may be provided by your university. They won't necessarily be based at the university, but should be in a suitable location nearby. This type of housing is often communal, with several students living together and sharing some facilities. Check with your university to see what kinds of accommodation it offers.
  • OeAD Housing is designed for international students and provided by the Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD). Accommodation is available for around 12,000 students a year, with much of it based in and around major student cities like Vienna. Prices range from €250-750 per month. Check the OeAD Housing website for more information.
  • Private rentals - A range of independent landlords provide student accommodation in the neighbourhood of Austrian universities. Most of this housing takes the form of shared flats ( Wohngemeinschaften ) rented by groups of students. Your university may be able to provide a list of recommended landlords, or point you to a forum for students seeking housemates. The Austrian Students Union also maintains a database of shared accommodation.

It's a good idea to start looking into accommodation quite early in your search for an Austrian PhD. Finding housing can take time and non EU / EEA students will need to have something confirmed before they can apply for an Austrian student visa.

Living costs

The cost of living in Austria is comparable to other countries in Western Europe.

Students are recommended to have at least €950 available per month (including roughly €400 for accommodation, €250 for food and €300 for study expenses and recreational activities).

Financial thresholds also apply to residence permit applications for all students in Austria. You'll need to be able to demonstrate access to the following amounts for at least 12 months of your course:

  • €502.24 per month for students aged 24 and under
  • €909.42 per month for students aged 24 and over

Prices in Austria

The following table gives an indication of prices for some common expenses during a PhD in Austria:


Student Cost of Living in Austria - 2018
Restaurant Meal €10.00
Cinema Ticket €10.00
Monthly Travel Pass €44.00
Monthly Utilities €184.00
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

Working during your PhD

Your right to work during a PhD in Austria depends on your nationality:

  • EU and EEA students can work without permits or restrictions
  • Croatian students may need a work permit for employment that does not consist of teaching, research or other jobs directly related to their PhD programme
  • Other international students may work for up to 20 hours per week, subject to a contract with their employer

The Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD) provides further information on working in Austria.

Employment contracts with your university

Some Austrian PhD programmes offer employment contracts (or 'fellowships') to their students. These provide you with a salary and other benefits, in exchange for carrying out teaching and other work as a member of university staff.

All students are potentially eligible for employment contracts, but holding one may affect your right to carry out additional work. Check with your university if you aren't sure.

Banking

The Austrian currency is the Euro (€). This makes it relatively easy for students from other European countries to organise their finances in Austria (or visit neighbouring countries during their PhD).

Opening an Austrian bank account isn't compulsory, but having access to one will be useful during the three (or more) years of your programme. This is particularly true if you're working, or receiving a regular stipend as part of your PhD funding (employers and funders may prefer not to pay money into a foreign account).

You should be able to open a bank account by providing proof of your identity and address. Student accounts are available for applicants under 27. These tend include benefits such as lower administrative charges.

Transport

Austria is a landlocked country with good road and rail connections to other parts of Europe, as well as several airports.

Rail travel

Austria has a national railway network: the Austrian Federal Railways (OBB). Services connect major cities within the country to each other and to international destinations.

Students and other groups can purchase an annual Vorteilscard offering discounted tickets.

Air travel

The largest and busiest airport in Austria is Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) offering connections to countries around the world. Other cities such as Salzburg, Innsbruck and Graz are also home to large airports providing international and domestic services.

Inner-city travel

Austrian university cities offer their own metropolitan transport options including light railway and tram services. Most provide discounted tickets and monthly passes to students.

Cycling is also a popular mode of transport, with cycle lanes offering affordable (and healthy) travel options for commuters and students within most Austrian cities.

Find a PhD in Austria

Ready to start browsing some current PhD opportunities in Austria? Alternatively, you can look at our other guides to PhD study abroad.

Last updated - 28/03/2018

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