Happy Nations #11: Austria

Here is how Austria compares to the United States in each of the six factors for Happiness:

  • GDP: 1.931 v 1.982
  • Social Support: 1.165 v 1.182
  • Healthy Life Expectancy: 0.774 v 0.628
  • Freedom to Make Life Choices: 0.623 v 0.574
  • Generosity: 0.193 v 0.220
  • Perceptions of Corruption: 0.329 v 0.177

Austrians are not very generous. But, at least they live long without much corruption.

Other Scoring Systems

I was surprised to see Austria so low on both the HDI and US News. However, their prosperity score gives some hope for improvement over the United States.

Health Care

Public healthcare is available to all Austrian citizens and EU/EEA citizens. According to CEOWorld, Austria is the fourth best healthcare system in the world and #1 among the top 15 happiest countries.

Here is a thorough journal article documenting the differences between the Austrian and American healthcare systems.

Self-employed people are covered under the Act on Social Insurance for the Self-Employed (GSVG) and pay between 10 and 20% of the tariff for outpatient visits.

Taxes fund 75% of the system. Health is not only a “cost factor” but also a significant component of the national economy.


Two-thirds of the country lives in or around Vienna.

Vienna is similar to St. Louis, except it does not get nearly as hot in the summers and has less rain. It is about five degrees lower for a high most of the year and ten degrees cooler in the summer. The winter lows are slightly higher.

If I can live in St. Louis, I can handle Austria.

Cost of Living

Austria is cheaper to live in than the United States.

Comparing Saint Louis, MO, to Vienna, we see it will cost 12% less to live in Vienna—the most affordable large city yet.


German is the official language of Austria. However, 73% of Austrians do speak English. English is also commonly taught throughout higher levels of education. Therefore, someone would understand us in a major city like Vienna while we learned the language.

Acceptance of Others

Austria has a reputation for not being accepting of immigrants. They did, however, recently accept Ukrainian refugees.

Austria was 49th out of 52 countries in “Ease of Settling In.” And known as the second least friendly country

Forty-one percent of the Austrians surveyed say the local population is unfriendly towards foreign residents—over twice the global average.

Nearly half of ex-pats find it challenging to find friends.

Moving Feasibility

Austria is similar to other European countries, making it easy for Europeans to migrate but harder for foreigners. I did not see any retirement-orientated visa options.

There is an open for highly-skilled self-employed workers if they help improve or maintain the Austrian economy. But, of course, you also need to invest $100K.


Austria is the first hard pass. It barely edges out America in many categories and doesn’t sound accommodating to foreigners. It’s a worse Germany, and I wasn’t that excited about Germany.

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