They can be taught – A guide to Austria’s Education System

 After completing my education in South Africa and starting my journey into the world of job seeking in London, I remember constantly hearing the phrase “I am sorry but you do not have enough experience in this job field”. I would turn away wondering how on earth I am supposed to get any experience if no one will hire someone with no experience? A slight catch 22 if you ask me, which is why I think that Austrians definitely hit the proverbial nail on the head when they decided to opt for a more practice orientated education system


Children start school when they are six years old and go to “Volksschule” or primary school. After four years they continue onto “Gymnasium” or secondary school for another eight years. This is the general compulsory education in Austria, with secondary schools focusing on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Secondary schooling is broken down into two stages from the age of to 4 and from 5 to 8 years old. The latter includes the high school exit exam, or Matura. 

 

This type of education dates way back to medieval craftsmen days and is still used as a labour based method of teaching today. Using a theoretical and practical training system, Austria’s youth are professionally trained in companies (about 80% of training takes place in the organisation), where experience is gained on the job and where careers have been tailored to the business world.

Whether you decide to send your young whippersnappers to a €20 000 a year private international school or to give them a more cultural experience in the public school system, the Austrian educated child will be accepted by foreign investors with open arms. Employers generally tend to favour the specialised skills adopted in this type of education system.

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Stay Connected – Internet Communications in Austria

Staying connected to friends and family on the other side of the globe is important when you first move to Austria. The easiest way to do this is via the Internet. There are a wide range of Internet providers and it’s relatively easy to get connected. In the meantime most hotels, restaurants and especially all McDonalds’ have free Wi-Fi, “Gratis WLAN” hotspots, so you just need to ask for the password if they are locked.  

The Telekom Austria Group is the largest telecommunications company in Austria and the umbrella company for all Internet service providers. I wouldn’t bother with out-dated dial up access as its slow and high-speed access (DSL) has dominated the broadband market.  However, if you decide to go with the dial up option, you just need a normal analogue phone-line and an account with an Internet service provider. If you have a fixed telephone line, you can plug your computer in and get online that way. Most dial-up ISPs offer either a pay-as-you-go service or a contract where you pay an amount per month for limited access.

 

 

It is advisable to go with the high-speed option (DSL), as it is faster and the cost is less. Many mobile phone providers have packages that include your Internet Wi-Fi and TV services. All you need is a computer, a linking element for the data line and a service provider. Simply book an appointment with the technician when you are in the phone shop, to arrange a time to come and install the router or modem. 

Flat rates are common but be careful when it states “unlimited”, as it might be unlimited up to a certain size. Read the small print to avoid a surprise bill.[...]

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How to Rent an Apartment in Austria

I was always told that looking online was the best way to find a property to rent in Austria, but from personal experience the properties are not always what they seem from the pictures and descriptions. It is advisable first to speak to friends who live in the area, as personal relationships have paired me with the best properties. You could even consider sharing on a temporary basis, as this is a great way to get acclimatized to a new environment and meet people who will advise you on the best and worst areas to rent in the country. As well as possibly translating for you if you are lucky.

 

 

Apartments generally start from around €400 per month plus utilities. It is helpful to research the average utility costs for the property to lower the risk of surprises. The majority of tenants rent properties through estate agents, but they can be very costly. Sometimes they can ask for up to 3 months rent in advance, so it is advisable you first look around yourself before considering this option. Your deposit will go into a savings account and is likely to earn interest (although interest is at a low in Austria at the moment). You will only get your deposit back subject to rent arrears or damage to the property.

Rental agreements are generally from – 3 years in duration and often the longer you rent for, the cheaper the price will be. Usually it is custom to provide 3 months notice prior to terminating a rental agreement. 

Remember that most properties are unfurnished unless specified and strangely sometimes without kitchens. Watch out for older properties that have old windows that may let drafts in and increase your heating costs.[...]

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Buying an Apartment in Austria

Austria is the land of rolling hills, Mozart and the Sound of Music and it is known for it’s exorbitant property prices. Currently it is one of the most expensive places to buy property in the world. Aside from its inflated costs, there are significant benefits to purchasing a home in Austria. The processes involved with buying a home are generally orderly, quick and there are no buying restrictions on foreigners. 

Properties in Austria are built to last and withstand severe weather conditions. This is why you will find homes that are still standing after generations. Fees associated with buying property in Austria are government regulated and valuations are not commonly required.

In brief the property purchasing strategy is as simple as; selecting a property, making an offer via your estate agent, the vendor has a fixed period to accept or reject your offer and then the date of completion is agreed upon. You will then need to pay about a 0% deposit into a trust account into which funds are transferred to cover purchase and fees. Fees include; legal fees, land registry costs, agency fees and stamp duty and once the contract is signed the notary will pass over the money to the vendor.

 

 

The average monthly cost of purchasing an apartment in Austria is dependant on the location. Rural properties are generally half the cost of flats in city centres, but ski resort areas have greater inflated costs as well. An apartment in the city centre will likely be around 4500 Euros per square metre, whereas the price outside cities usually cost about 2500 Euros. 

Registration costs are generally 4 – 5% of the property value and the entire process from start to finish can take up to 6 weeks before you finally have a foot on the property ladder in Austria.[...]

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Austria’s TV Guide

Over recent decades, television has seen incredible changes. In the age of technology there are now numerous options for viewing pleasure. Austria is no exception to these changes, with file sharing and streaming sites now taking over. Expats will likely find that TV in Austria is not the same as their home country, especially considering that most TV stations are entirely in German. However, watching television in German is a great way to pick up phrases and learn the language.  

The main Television provider in Austria is Osterreichischer Rudfunk (ORF), which is based in Vienna and consists of two main channels. Cable and satellite TV are available, as well as commercial and German channels. There is an annual fee for having a television licence and costs vary between areas. The average cost per year is around €250 for a standard license.  

If you are a sports enthusiast, Sky Austria has over 200 channels, but you will need a satellite dish for this option. Some apartment buildings come with this option, but you may need to buy the dish if not. The costs associated with satellite television can be pricey, depending on the package you choose and whether you need the dish.

Most expats utilize the World Wide Web for their Television needs and therefore, an internet connection is essential. Online streaming is the new wave of entertainment and websites like Netflix and Amazon Prime are some of the leading companies that provide this service. You can purchase devices such as an Apple TV or Chrome-cast, which allow you to view your streaming websites on your television via a wifi connection. These are a great option if you want to watch shows or movies on a screen larger then your computer and create a normal television viewing experience.[...]

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A guide to International Schools in Austria

When I first moved to Austria I had never heard about International schools. I was working in a bar and came across a group of 6 year olds hanging around in the back of the bar (yes you can drink certain types of alcohol in Austria when you are 6). I remember this young lady sitting apologizing for the behaviour of her friends and offering to help me clean up their mess. Later on, once the group had stumbled out of the bar, she came up to have a chat with me. It turned out that she attended an International School in Vienna and was visiting her friends, who all attended the public school in the area.  This was the first experience I had with someone who was in the private school system.

 

 

I found out that there are a number of International schools scattered around Austria, but the majority of them are in the capital city of Vienna. Education in Austria is compulsory from age 6 until 5 and International schools follow similar curriculum to most education systems. This may make it easier for expat children relocating to Austria, but it might also isolate new expats from the real experience of moving to abroad. Although private schools can be expensive, smaller classes with devoted teachers and more attention to detail may be highly beneficial.

Parents should note that when you move to Austria, you can negotiate an allowance for school fees into your employment contract. This can help considerably if you have multiple children to educate. Furthermore, it is recommended that parents bring school records and recommendations from previous teachers when applying to international schools.  [...]

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