live in vienna

Could I Live Here? Vienna Edition

Vienna is one of the most unique cities in Europe in that it’s the most beautiful and also the most boring, and it’s hard to understand how both of those things could be true simultaneously. It has good food and not-so-great people, and while it’s pretty to look it, very little of the city has anything by way of character. So would I want to live in Vienna? Not likely. Here’s why.

Atmosphere

Central Vienna is like a decadent chocolate dessert with elaborate trimmings and goldleaf accents that tastes like absolutely nothing when you take a bite. Everything looks stunning and well-maintained, from the massive museums and churches to the gorgeous fountain-covered parks. But it has the personality of paint drying. For being one of the most popular European capitals, there is nothing charming about walking around its center.

Of course, it’s unfair to judge any city by the heart of its tourist districts. But having spent a considerable amount of time in some of the more hip parts of the city including its very large gay neighborhood, the personality that Vienna does have is actually not that pleasant. There are a ton of cutesy bistros and shops, but everything is either kind of pretentious or obnoxiously crowded. There’s nothing that doesn’t feel forced, even in its laid-back haunts.

People

Perhaps I could overlook the general blandness of Vienna if the people were at least warm and sweet. But Vienna has some of the worst people in Austria. There are just too many Proud Boy-looking motherfuckers with slicked back hair and polos tucked into their khakis who are leery of visitors. These people are either all miserable as fuck or they really hate outsiders – but I suspect the latter. There are simply too many people complaining about casual racism in bars and restaurants. I get the same feeling when interacting with their border patrol agents at the airport. It’s either unpleasant or downright hostile.

live in vienna
Vienna is very gay-friendly, but I wish it should work on simply being friendly.

Sometimes the attitude makes you just want to tell them, “Get off your high horse, Adolf, you work at a bakery.” Coming from Prague where people are not necessarily nice but at least they’re kind, I have a pretty high tolerance for cold social interactions. But the people of Vienna are more often than not neither nice nor kind. This is also evident in how the city’s infrastructure treats dogs.

Food

live in vienna

One of the best things about Vienna is the food scene. Even if going out to eat is kind of a drag because everyone is such an asshole, at least you’ll be eating pretty amazing food whether you like Italian or Thai or you want traditional Austrian food. One thing I noticed is that it’s hard to find excellent restaurants according to reviews. Almost everything has less than 4.5 stars on popular review sites, but on closer inspection, that’s because the service is usually so terrible. The food itself is actually great. Certainly not great enough to subject myself to the rest of Vienna as a home, but it’s good nonetheless.

Convenience

Getting around Vienna is pretty convenient even if the public transportation system isn’t perfect and sometimes gets uncomfortably busy. Things tend to run a couple of minutes delayed, and buses and trams overshoot their stop and then everyone has to cram into the rear compartment. It’s certainly a better/cleaner/more efficient system than anything the US has to offer, but it probably ranks as average for European standards.

live in vienna

Perhaps the biggest inconvenience about Vienna is that it’s kind of dead on certain days of the week. All malls and stores are closed on Sundays. I don’t know what kind of puritanical shit that is but if I work Monday through Friday, I would like the option to go buy shoes or a new lamp on Saturdays and Sundays. Many restaurants and bars are also closed on Sundays and Mondays. So it just seems like my ability to have a life would be limited by their arbitrary hours.

Total livability score 3/10

Despite how much I sort of loathe Vienna, I can acknowledge that it has its positives. But certainly not enough for me to ever consider living there.

Comments

2 responses to “Could I Live Here? Vienna Edition”

  1. EdG Avatar
    EdG

    Ooh, this is very sad. Vienna has won awards for over 10 years in a row now as the best city in the world to live in. Having been here for 18 months (as an American who has been to all 50 states, then lived in the UK for 12 years, and has traveled to over 50 countries) I have to say your description does not fit the Vienna I know. Maybe you were unlucky. Maybe you only scratched the surface. Maybe we have different priorities. I have not idea how unlucky you were with the public transport. It’s ridiculously connected, fast, frequent and on-time here. Come again some time and ask me for my list of things to do here. Trying the heurigen wine shacks in the hills is magical. Trying other heurigen at the other end of the city is like stepping back in time to a village with dozens of small wineries. Riding a bike along the 25km long manmade Donau island is a relaxing wonder. Swimming in the Alte Donau or Neue Donau is a serene public luxury. Trying the nude sauna culture in an art deco masterpiece like Amalienbad is like discovering a species of super grown ups. Renting a paddle boat on the Alte Donau with unicorns on the front of it is getting back to your childhood. Anyway, 9.5/10 for me.

    1. ana@gnometrotting.com Avatar
      ana@gnometrotting.com

      Haha I’m definitely at odds with a lot of people about Vienna. Which is odd because I love other cities in Austria like Salzburg.

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