Rent, own or share
If you’re completely settled and ready for your long-term stay, you might not want to share an apartment anymore and really have a place for your own. We don’t think that this topic needs more introduction on what private housing is, so we’ve just shared some good ways to find a private flat below.
Real Estate Agents
From our experience it can be a good investment to work with a real estate agent who not only shows you the flat, but also supports and guides you through the entire process – so make use of it! Use the experience of the agent to find your perfect flat, to help you set up and sign the contract and to avoid scams. Some landlords try to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know the local market and maybe don’t speak German.
We have successfully worked with the company Real Immo Wien. You can find more details and get in touch with them HERE . Just tell them that you are coming from FeelsLikeHome and they will match you with an English-speaking real estate agent who is specialized in working with international students.
Most flats in Vienna are rented through real estate agents, but you can always search for privately rented flats yourself. As mentioned above, searching without the help of a real estate agent or other trustworthy intermediary can be a little risky. However, there are some great privately rented flats on the market as well. If you are willing to suffer owners calling you to say that the apartment is already rented, and if you are careful, you can stumble upon some great finds!If you prefer a more modern searching style, you can look for an apartment on the internet. The previously mentioned newspapers also have searchable housing offers online. Furthermore, there are several platforms specialized in housing, as well as plenty of useful facebook groups. Go to the “links” section to see our selection.
Don’t forget to tell all of your friends about your search! Sometimes this will bring vacancies to your attention that are not advertised yet. It might take some time, but usually the best apartments are obtained through personal relations.You can look for apartments in the newspapers (and their online versions) or on the internet in general. For a newspaper search, we recommend Die Presse, Kurier and Der Standard, especially the Friday editions because they contain the largest selection of housing ads. If you don’t want to buy all of these newspapers, you can visit a typical Viennese café and combine business with pleasure by ordering a coffee and a piece of Sachertorte.
What are Wohngemeinschaften?
A very popular form of housing among students is the shared flat, also called Wohngemeinschaft (WG). This is probably a good option if you’d like to submerge into Austrian lifestyle (preferably with no other students of your country and mothers tongue :)). By renting a room in a shared apartment (WG) you:
- pay less (depending on where the apartment is, you should assume spending about €250 to €450 per month)
- usually you do not need to pay commission fees
- meet new people
- get the best of being with people and spending time by yourself
- have your own room, but share kitchen and bathroom
- can re-enact some of your favorite TV shows, such as Friends or New Girl
How to find a room at a WG?
In order to find a shared apartment in Vienna you should:
- Check our housing platform
- Search at Universities (many Universities have an official and unofficial online forums where students exchange their needs) Also check the blackboards at
- universities, but don’t stick solely to your own University. Be diverse – look around at other Universities as well
- Be social – ask other students. Most empty apartment spaces are filled by recommendations and word of mouth
- Facebookpages: like the FeelsLikeHome FB Group, pages of the different universities and specific WG facebookpages
3 things to be careful about
One person signs the tenancy agreement and becomes chief tenant. The other persons living in the apartments are subtenants only. Problems may arise when the chief tenant moves out and the subtenants cannot take over the agreement.
All persons living in the apartment sign the tenancy agreement and therefore have equal legal protection. The tenancy agreement does not change by any one of them moving out. Subsequent new occupants must be granted the same tenancy rights.
Separate tenancy agreements are signed between the landlord and each person living in the apartment for the room they are occupying.
Buying property in Vienna
First of all, we should mention that about 75% of the people living in Vienna are renting. Even for people in higher classes this is not uncommon and not at all something to be ashamed for. Austrian rental contracts follow tight tenant protection laws and affordable places can be found even in the most desired parts of the city. However, buying property can offer you security in the long term and it brings along some other clear advantages as well, like permanence or it being an excellent investment.
Bear in mind that once you’ve bought a house, you’ll want to stay put. Transaction costs of 10% or more are normal in Austria, so quick turnaround will end up very costly. The housing market is also not targeted at people who want to make money from renting out their flats, since income taxes on rent hover around 50%. But with all-time low interest rates, buying property still remains a good choice, if you’re planning on staying awhile.
Buying property in Vienna when you’re a foreigner
Until recently, only Austrians were allowed to buy property in Austria, without a lot of special restrictions. Nowadays, it has gotten a lot easier for foreigners to buy something in Austria. Since 2006, you actually even have the same rights as any other Austrian, if you’re a EU citizen. However, if you’re not from the EU, things are not as simple…
You would need permission from the local authority in the district you want to live in and go through a time-consuming and stressful review by the Ausländergrundverkehrskommission – the Foreigners Trafficking in Property Commission – before you’re allowed to buy property in this district. You should bear in mind that this will take about 4-6 months. Make sure that you have decided on the district you want to live in, since you don’t want to go through this process in multiple districts if it isn’t absolutely necessary.
Where do you want to live?
When deciding on where you want to live, you should take into account that although it is possible to buy a secondary residence in most parts of Austria, it is not always allowed. For example in border regions, such as Burgenland and Voralberg, you would have to register with the local authorities and you can only buy a house if it will be your main residence.
If you want to live in Vienna, you can choose from 23 districts described HERE.
Real estate agent or private?
Then, you will have to decide on whether or not you want to work with a real estate agent. Within Vienna, most properties are sold with the help of a real estate agent, but there is a private market as well. Making use of a real estate agent has clear advantages, such as an elaborate knowledge of the properties on the market and their true value, saving time, help with the paperwork, information about what is allowed in the environment and what not… but comes with an extra fee of 3-4% of the property costs. This fee usually gets charged to the buyer, but it can be split between buyer and seller as well. If you sign with a real estate agent to get all of the advantages, make sure that you pick a trustworthy one. They have proven valuable in negotiating you the best deals, however, it has happened before that real estate agents make deals with Austrian owners to sell an overpriced house to an ignorant foreigner.
If you want to look on your own, you should follow the same steps as described HERE.
Arranging your finances
It is possible for foreigners to get a mortgage in Austria. However, you need to be able to pay 30% of the property by yourself, before they give you a loan and closing costs are 1.2% of the total loan amount. Make sure that you get your offer in writing, because bankers can change the terms of your loan almost whenever they feel like it. The laws are full of loopholes they can use to change the conditions on a whim. Since you don’t want your offer to fall through when you have finally found your dream house, it might be a good idea to have two separate offers from different financial institutions.
What are the additional fees when buying property?
- 3.5% real estate transfer tax
- 3% fee for the contract installers excl. VAT
- 0.8% fee for credit bank loans in a single order or contract term 1-5 years, and the remainder 1.5%
- 1.2% lien registration fee
- 1% registration fee (land)
- Certification costs and disbursements (individual)
- Pro rata cost of the value opinion (when procuring of residential property)
Before you sign…
Pay attention to:
- the title of the property: if this is not taken care of properly, you might, for example, buy a house together with the debts of the previous owner. An independent lawyer or notary will warn you before you sign, if there’s a risk connected to the property.
- hidden structural flaws: be aware that renovations can be very, very expensive
- to avoid nasty surprises after buying, it can be a good idea to take an architect or builder with you, while visiting the property you really like.
- local rules about reconstruction: if you buy a protected historical house, for example, you cannot make any changes that affect the outside of the building.
- furniture arrangements: Austrian houses and flats are generally sold empty. If you want to keep some of the furniture, you will have to make a deal.
- price negotiation: Austrian purchase prices are usually open for negotiation, which often makes an offer that is 5-10% lower than the asking price acceptable.
Closing the deal
If your offer is accepted, you have to visit a renowned notary, who should protect both sides in the transaction. The first talk will last about two hours and then he will make up a contract in a week. They will give you two to three days to read through the contract and finally sign. It might be a good idea to ask a lawyer to check the contract for any pitfalls, if your feeling for the German language is not fully developed yet or if you don’t know anything about Austrian laws and/or real estate.
- – generally this all amounts to 10-11% of the property price