I left the US to move to Vienna, the world's most livable city. Living here has been delightful and filled with surprises.
14.11.2023 - 11:39
In June 2021, I left the US and boarded a plane to Europe to look for a place to call home.
After trying out a bunch of spots, from Lisbon to Warsaw, I fell in love with Vienna after only spending six weeks there. In March 2022, I began to call it home.
Later that same year, Vienna reclaimed its title as the world's most livable city. And this year, it won that title again.
So far, I've loved living here and there have been many surprises. Here are some of the biggest ones I've encountered so far.
The first time someone told me they pay €500 (about $533) monthly for rent with one roommate in Vienna, I imagined some terrifying basement apartment with no windows. I was wrong.
In my last Vienna apartment, I had windows (European tilt-and-turn ones) and, at one point, I even had cherry blossoms just outside them.
Most of my friends here pay under €1,000 for their spacious apartments in buildings with elevators in the city center. That same rent budget wouldn't get you much in the heart of New York City.
The New York Times has even said Vienna is pretty close to "renters' utopia."
The coffee culture in Vienna is a big deal, so much so that UNESCO lists it as an "intangible cultural heritage" in Austria.
There are cafés on every corner and many will make you feel like you've been transported back in time with antique furniture, servers with silver platters, and marble tables.
Although to-go coffee is available around the city, the culture invites you to sit and slowly sip your coffee.
If you don't grocery shop by Saturday late afternoon, you're out of luck on Sunday.
In Austria, stores are required to close on Sundays. Some cafés, restaurants, and bakeries stay open, though.
Part of this stems from religious traditions of keeping Sundays a day of rest, but it's also about preserving the quality of life.
I'm still getting used to it.
I loved riding the subway and getting around on foot when I lived in New York City, so I was so pleased to discover that the public-transportation system in Vienna is even better.
With the metro, tram network, buses, and bike lanes, you can (mostly) get anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less.
Beyond being accessible inside the city, it's also easy to travel to other beautiful cities. You could be in Prague or Budapest by bus or train in three hours.
Or, you can take a train in the city center to the airport in 16 minutes, then fly to Krakow or Split in an hour.
Strolling home one night two years ago, I saw a line forming outside the Museum Quarter for a free symphony. Moments later, I joined hundreds of people enjoying the classical music concert.
But what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience turned out to be commonplace in Vienna.
Cultural activities are abundant and