We’ve been living in Vienna for a year now and I can’t believe I never really touched on the whole process of obtaining an apartment/flat here. Why now? Hubs and I moved into our flat on Valentine’s day last year and thought that this would be the perfect time to reflect. According to other expats, we: found, signed our lease, and obtained our keys in lightening speed. To give you an idea, last year we arrived on Jan 22nd and the lease was done on Jan 26th. Our lease commenced on Feb 1st, but it did take an additional two weeks after getting the keys to actually move in. Thank goodness we still had our temporary place.
1) Be organized and aggressive
About one month before our arrival, I started to contact the landlords of places we’d like to tour. Two weeks out, I kept getting emails of cancellations due to the places already being rented. I started to panic, and actually worried out loud that we would be “living on the street”. However, by the time we were getting on the plane- we had six places lined up. The first place scheduled for the day after our arrival- crazy huh? We knew how competitive the market could be and verbally agreed to sign a lease after the first place we saw, a few days later. We did go forward with seeing the other places and didn’t regret our first instinct. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The first place was the one we ultimately went with and is where we call home, now.
2) Don’t count on having your air shipment
Both our shipments arrived at the same time. It makes you wonder what was the whole point of the air portion? We had lugged eight suitcases (6 full size + 2 carry-on) and a small dog across the Atlantic. We had to order two taxis to transport all of our luggage(+ dog) from the temporary place to our permanent place. I couldn’t imagine having to move more than what we already had with us.
3) Make sure you know which side of the Danube you’d like to live
I can’t stress this enough: do your research before moving. I read up on everything I could find about all the different districts and it gave me ideas of where I wanted us to live. The city center is on the “old” side and where everything happens. Depending on where you are on the old side, it may take a little longer to get to work (especially those who work at the UN), but who wants to live that close to their workplace? All the charm, history, coffee houses, museums, and sights are on the old side. The closer you can live to the 1st district, the better.
4) Read/Translate your contract carefully
We lucked out and found a place on the provided list from the UN; translation and review of the lease is provided in this case. Thank goodness for that. There were slight adjustments needed before we would sign on the dotted line.
5) Try to be minimal, but also bring the essentials.
We brought all of our “essential” gigantic American sized furniture with us. Things are ridiculously expensive here, and you may not even get the quality or style you necessarily want. Our furniture was what made our house a home back stateside, and I wanted the same feeling here. I’ve heard of other expats leaving all their furniture behind, or selling it; then having to buy the same items all over again. Since we chose not to do that, I do have some bias that our approach was the best choice.
6) “I wish I had brought more ______ with us before we left”
Before embarking on this journey, we prepared by purchasing a few items which we thought we would need to get us through the first 6 months until we were accustomed to the transition. During that process, we asked friends of ours (who were already living in Vienna) to fill in the blank “I wish I had brought more ______ with us before we left”. The answer was clothes. Our friends were 100% right. You cannot get the same quality or selection of clothing for the price you pay in dollars. Before you come, stock up.