Seeking Inspiration in Austrian Properties
The same magical mix of crisp mountain air, urban vitality, timeless architecture and countless other charming things about Austria that inspired composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss still inspires Austrian residents today, including thousands of foreigners who have bought homes in the country. Have you thought of joining them?
Right Conditions for Living and Investment
Most likely you have, because Austria is widely considered an ideal place to live. Breathtaking mountains covering 70% of the nation’s territory cradle its cosmopolitan cities and quaint towns that brim with history and culture. Ranked the 3rd most peaceful nation in the world in the Global Peace Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Austria is stable and safe with universal high quality of life enjoyed by all citizens. It is also part of the Schengen Area, which means residency allows you to travel just about anywhere in Europe.
The jewels of Austria’s luxury property market include historical castles, opulent villas in world famous spa resorts, chic penthouse apartments in exciting Vienna and, of course, mountain châteaux with direct access to the slopes. Homes in Austria can also make great investments, although like everywhere choosing the right time and place is essential.
Perfect Blend of Alpine and Urban
The Austrian Alps are the birthplace of the sport of skiing, and each year some 3,000 cable lifts ferry hundreds of thousands of skiers up slopes rivaled only by those of Switzerland. Après-ski, or post-skiing activities, are an essential part of the lifestyle and can range from soaks in natural hot springs to sumptuous dining and boisterous nightlife.
Known as “Europe’s meeting place”, multicultural Vienna is a city of architectural marvels that has ranked #1 in the world in the Mercer Quality of Life Survey since 2010. It has a uniquely vibrant atmosphere, thanks in part to such venerable social institutions as the democratic Viennese coffee houses that are enjoyed by social elites and commoners alike, and Viennese balls that range from traditional high society galas to wild carnival parties and number about 450 per year.
Close-Knit Chinese Community
According to a 2012 Chinese media report, there were 15,700 Chinese who had official residence in Austria in 2012, but the actual number was believed to possibly be as high as 30,000.
Judging by online resources for Chinese living in Austria, the Chinese community in the country has reached a fairly mature level of development with many of its own institutions and associations. In Vienna there are also at least two schools where Chinese children can study Chinese language and culture.
On the international level, China is becoming increasingly important to the Austrian economy. Up to 2009, total Chinese investment in Austria amounted to only several million US dollars, yet by March 2014, the amount had soared to $480 million. Chinese tourists have become a major revenue source for the Austrian tourism industry, their importance underscored by the fact that not only the Austria Tourism Bureau but even the tourism bureaus of Salzberg and Innsbruck maintain active WeChat accounts.
The Austrian property market is generally considered very resilient, with price volatility somewhat buffered by generous social housing policies. Demand is consistently strong, much of it coming from citizens of other EU nations who have unfettered rights to own a home in the country. Foreigners account for about 40% of luxury home transactions, with Eastern Europeans being the biggest buying group.
As the provinces rather than the national government determine real estate regulations, restrictions on sales to foreigners vary across the country. For example, non-EU citizens are currently not allowed to buy holiday homes in the provinces of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and the Tyrol (unless they happen to own an EU company). If you are able to purchase a holiday home elsewhere, then local laws usually require that you rent out the property either during the periods that you are not using it, or for a certain number of months per year.
Available homes in ski resorts are limited because local governments in these areas are often averse to selling to non-Austrians. More choices may be found in the nation’s famous spa towns that have evolved around Austria’s more than 100 natural hot spring sites. The spa towns usually offer proximity to ski slopes as well as many other lifestyle attractions, and many are also historically important with splendid period architecture.
Vienna of course is the first choice for the cosmopolitan lifestyle, and the capital’s most exclusive luxury homes are found in the historic First District which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A home in Vienna will generally cost far more than a similar home anywhere else in the country.