The capital of Austria, Vienna, has just topped Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking for the 9th year in a row, suggesting it’s definitely doing something right in terms of pleasing the population. Unsurprisingly the top ranking UK city was London, but it still came in at a fairly pitiful 41st.
The index is based on the following 10 factors; consumer goods, economic environment, housing, medical and health considerations, natural environment, political and social environment, public services and transport, recreation, schools and education, and socio-cultural environment.
But does ‘liveable’ also make Vienna student-friendly? QS seems to think so, having given it 16th place in its ranking of best student cities in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to be living in Vienna on an Erasmus programme for 7 months now, so here are 4 things I think make the capital city of Austria a great destination for students.
Public Transport: In Vienna, the underground, trams, buses, and trains all run like clockwork, which is quite the novelty for somebody who grew up with Southern Rail as the local train service. The public transport is even better if you consider that a student Semester ticket only costs €78; an absolute steal compared to the price of similar tickets in England.
Education: The University of Vienna is the oldest university in the German-speaking world and one of the largest in Europe, with nearly 94,000 students. Almost a quarter of its student population comes from outside of Austria, with lots of bachelors and masters courses being offered in English (for those who haven’t quite mastered the German part yet). A humble €19.20 is all that Austrian and EU citizens are required to pay to go to university in Vienna, which covers annual membership to the Austrian National Union of Students (ӦH). If that isn’t enough to convince you, the staircases and the main library also have a very Hogwarts-y feel to them.
Culture: Vienna is a city steeped in tradition, and living on a student budget doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of the culture pie! Queuing up half an hour before a show with a student card gets you a €10 ticket to almost any theatre production in Vienna, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself in seats next to people who definitely paid a lot more than you did. Standing tickets for the State Opera House are usually €3-4, whilst you can bag a spot at the Musikverein, home to Vienna’s famous New Year’s concert, for €7. Avoiding the interval snacks is another tip for keeping the costs down, unless of course you can sleep at night after paying €2.40 for a single chocolate strawberry.
International: A huge 50% of people living in Vienna have a migration background, meaning that the bourgeois nature of the city is complemented by diverse cultures from all over the world. This is not only great in terms of the socialising opportunities, but it also means that there is an amazing array of authentic restaurants from every corner of the globe. Personal favourites of mine are a family-owned Pakistani buffet where you eat and pay as you like, and a British cafe that serves scones just like those you’d find on your grandma’s table.
I personally can’t recommend studying in Vienna enough, and whether you’re drawn in by Strauss, Strudel or the super speedy public transport, I think the capital of Austria should the top destination on every student’s bucket list, even if it’s just for the weekend!