Anna: So Where's the Snow?
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Austria, etc.
Dave and I lived in Southern England in the New Forest for about 25 years. We were at the time of our lives with the kids grown up, and having holidayed in Austria, felt a pull to come here. Our original plan was to work as Missionaries with the church, but this fell through. So we came to a small but special area called the Lungau in Salzburgerland in 2007.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I have always kept a diary and am a compulsive writer, I have self published a novel and short stories. I felt a blog was a good way to share this new life, work, leisure and my faith starting in 2010.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I write about so many different aspects of life here, work, horses, gardening, photos that they all seem special to me!
Tell us about the ways your new life in Austria differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
No real culture shock for us, people here are friendly and welcoming. This is a rural community which is familiar to us too. The main difference is language. No amount of learning High German prepares you for local dialect. We never expected people to talk to us in English either. We had more of a problem being together 24/7 than being in Austria itself, we had budgeted for a year out and so had plenty of free time!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Austria? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Again, learning the language, we had lessons before we left the UK, maybe in hindsight we should have done some more intensive course, but German is not a popular course in the UK. I spent hours researching all areas and that paid off.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Ok, on the motorway in the middle of winter, we refilled the screen washers with pure water and wondered why it froze…
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Austria?
I can only speak as coming from the EU, where there are no barriers to entering the country.
- Research: You must check out your health care provision if you’re not paying for your own insurance. EU folks get two years care here, but you must complete the forms before you leave the UK. Other countries have no arrangements and you get nothing. Likewise, tax and Pensions, are there reciprocal schemes.
- Language: Learn it.
- Buying: There are no house surveys done here as in the UK, so find a reputable local builder who will check the property out – especially your roof if it is covered in snow when you view! The laws on buying holiday homes have just changed here, so make sure you know the implications if you are thinking of a re-sale, as you could have to pay up to 50% Capital gains. We had a great Austrian Estate agent, from a UK based company, they helped us with everything, and were amazing, beyond the call of duty so I’m giving them a plug: www.austrian-property.com
How is the expat community in Austria? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
They sort of found us. Our aim was always to work and integrate; we really had no desire to do the ex-pat stuff. But the guy we bought our flat through lives in our village, and so we do have some great get-togethers with the other Brits who live here.
How would you summarize your expat life in Austria in a single, catchy sentence?
Why live in the UK when you can live in Paradise?