Best city: Graz beats Vienna in expat study – Wien Aktuell


Life is good in Graz too.

Graz and Vienna rank 11th and 16th in the 66 cities “Expat City Ranking 2020”. Graz scores with cheap living, Vienna loses due to the unfriendly “charm” of the city dwellers.

The two largest Austrian cities are in the opinion of expats – specialists or executives sent abroad by companies – very livable, but it is difficult to get used to here. Graz came in 11th and Vienna in 16th place of the 66 cities in the “Expat City Ranking 2020” with more than 15,000 people surveyed. First place went to Valencia. Iberian cities also complete the podium with Alicante and Lisbon.

Cost of living in Graz cheaper

The expats surveyed rated Vienna better than Graz in terms of the two indices quality of life and settling in, but the Styrian capital does better in terms of cost of living, the housing market and professional life. Graz ranks 5th in the “Safe Workplaces” category and 10th place in “Work-Life-Balance”. Four out of five expats surveyed in Graz consider their job to be secure and almost as many consider their working hours to be positive. In the “Quality of Life” index (5th place), Graz impresses with its local public transport, which is rated positively by 96 percent of expats. The respondents also highly value the quality of the environment (92 percent).

In the “Expat City Ranking” of the Munich-based network InterNations, Vienna impresses with its particularly high quality of life (2nd place). In this regard, the federal capital only has to admit defeat to the overall winner, Valencia. As in Graz, local public transport is rated extremely positively (96 percent). But the environment (89 percent) and medical care (86 percent) are also valued by the expats.

Viennese don’t like friendliness

As in the previous year’s ranking, Vienna has to be one of the worst cities in terms of friendliness. Only Salmiya in Kuwait and Prague are more disastrous. 37 percent of those questioned rate the friendliness of the population in Vienna generally negative. In comparison, the global average is 17 percent. Even more expats (42 percent) consider Viennese to be unfriendly to foreigners.

But even in Graz, foreign specialists find it difficult to get used to it. Although the population is rated a bit more friendly than in Vienna (50th place), it is particularly difficult to make friendships and social contacts here (60th place). So it happens that four out of ten expats surveyed in Graz are dissatisfied with their social life. “It’s not easy to make friends. Austrians tend to stay with Austrians and neither speak much nor enjoy English,” said an expat from South Africa.

Valencia in 1st place

Experts and managers posted to the Iberian Peninsula are likely to be very satisfied. After all, five of the ten best-rated cities are there. In the previous year’s ranking, East Asian cities still dominated. Valencia secured first place due to its excellent quality of life and the relatively low cost of living (1st place each). But the local climate (2nd place) and the leisure activities (4th place) are also valued. In the second-placed city of Alicante, however, respondents quickly feel at home and make new friends easily.

Life is particularly bad for expats in Salmiya in Kuwait. Regardless of whether it is quality of life, settling in or job satisfaction: the city does not do well. The search for an apartment is a ray of hope for those posted there. Here Salmiya occupies 44th place and thus escapes the bottom third by a hair’s breadth. But also Rome (65th place), Seoul (64th place) and Milan (63rd place) are not showered with praise from the survey participants.

In order to be included in InterNations’ “Expat City Ranking”, a city had to have a minimum sample size of 50 participants. In the end, 66 cities were included in the ranking. Last year, 82 cities were compared with one another on the basis of the thematic blocks of quality of life, settling in, working life and finances, and the housing market. The data was collected in March 2020, shortly before numerous countries imposed lockdowns due to the corona pandemic. A total of more than 15,000 expats, who live in 181 countries and territories worldwide and represent 173 nationalities, took part in the survey, according to the Munich-based network InterNations, which has been part of the Xing operating company New Work SE since 2017.

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