If you’ve been around Vienna long enough, you’ve seen them. Hanging in bars, disguising themselves amongst the locals… maybe you’ve even mistaken them as tourists when hearing them speak English, or whatever language they own. Yes, we’re talking about Expats. Those people from abroad who have adopted Vienna as their home.
Vienna is an international city full of people hailing from all over the globe and they come in many different forms. Below are 8 species of Expat you tend to meet in Vienna – do you have more to add?
The bar floater, the drifter
They’ve either come here for Erasmus, or ended up here and loved it so much and thought – ‘what the hell, I’ll study, it’s free.’ Ever since, they’ve been making it by on a student visa. The most common Expat student is the German Expat student who has fled their country to make the most out of Vienna’s free university (who can blame them!)
With Vienna being a city of culture and having produced a lot of artistic talent, it attracts artists (wannabe or otherwise) like flies to a light globe. Vienna is one of the last few cities in Western Europe where an artist can afford the life of an artist. And somehow, the artist expats got wind of this and have settled in numbers as the low-cost living expenses of the city allow them time to do their craft… of which they are persistently struggling to get started on. Viennese coffeehouses are their natural habitat.
The expat writer sees their alternative ways as something that keeps them removed from all the hundreds of other hopefuls who have come to the city before them with the ambition to write a novel. Vienna has inspired writers in the past and continues to. The Writer Expat has a rather large stockpile of leather-bound notebooks waiting to be written and can often be spotted in cafes like Kaffee Alt Wien and Kleines Café at midday, reading some roughed up paperback and scribbling notes down in one of those leather notebooks. This species of Expat can be identified by their dress code, which is mostly strictly sourced from the second hand store, Humana.
The most common answer an Expat will give you when you ask what brought them to Vienna will have something to do with falling in love, which makes ‘The Romantic,’ one of the most common Expat species. And what better reason to stick around, if you ask us! These romantics have chosen to live here so they can be with the person they love. They tend to integrate well, as sleeping with a native seems to be effective in Austrian-ising them. It is not unusual to meet a Romantic Expat that has split up with the person that brought them here, however, they’ve stayed on as they’ve fallen in love with the city in the meantime.
The UN & diplomat expat
This crowd lives grand lives in a tax-free bubble. And they’re also a common breed of Expat, with many international organisations and companies being based in Vienna. They are rarely seen in the inner city as their place of work is on the other side of the river where the UN and other international organisations are located. They don’t socialise much beyond their own kind. They’re often known as the dealers, or mules of cheap luxury foods and goods, which they can access tax-free at the commissary supermarkets. Expats working for big international corporations would also fit into this category, except they don’t get the sweet deals on Argentinian steak and the tax-free wages.
The ‘I got stuck here’ expat
This is the – not sure how I ended up staying for 10 years, but it’s too late to go home now – kind of expat. As we all know, Vienna has that sticky kind of effect when you come to live here. Scientists have put it down to Vienna fitting like a comfy old pair of slippers! The ‘I got stuck here’ expat will often be heard whispering to new Expats that have freshly just moved to the city – ‘welcome to the city you’ll never want to leave,’ in a creepy kind of way while smirking in a confident, self-assured way.
The proudly integrated expat
The ‘proudly integrated’ Expat wears lederhosen every chance they get and emphasise a strong Viennese dialect in their German. They’ll tell you they know Vienna like nobody else, and are often the ones you’ll hear speaking in English at some obscure wine festival on the outskirts of the city. They avoid contact with other Expats, and get excited about Spargel, Kurbis and Martinigansl season just like any local does.