Housing Viennese-style

Vienna effortlessly tops the world’s most liveable city surveys, and for good reason. Its citizens – 1.8 million at the last count – enjoy affordable public transport, abundant greenery and rents UK citizens could only dream of. In fact, acccommodation in Vienna is plentiful and cheap, making it one of the most affordable places to live.

In this compact city, dominated by four- and five-storey, walk-up mansion blocks, tenants have been known to snag flats with palace views, free heating and Alps mineral water on tap. More than 80% of residents rent, and two-thirds of Viennese citizens live in municipal or publicly subsidised housing.

Eight out of ten flats built in the city today are financed by Vienna’s housing subsidy scheme. This quality and range helps push down rental prices, meaning low-paid workers can afford to live in the Austrian capital, even in the city centre. They often live centrally and enjoy its cheap amenities, short commutes and, thanks to a sound economy, jobs – even when renting on the partially regulated private market. …

…Vienna spends more than €570m a year on subsidising, constructing and preserving public housing despite having a population nearly eight times smaller than the UK capital. Annual government funding for affordable housing in London, with a population of around 8.7m, is only around £500m, less than half the amount spent in 2009/10 and London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, says this needs to increase to 2.7bn a year to prevent the housing crisis from getting worse. Vienna also wants to do more, last year committing to increasing annual housing production by 30% in order to meet demand.

… “It’s been so very important to be close to my working place and that is possible in Vienna (especially after the night shift),” says Hammer.

“Tenancy regulations are so important for living sanely, so, yes, I’m a big fan of rent controls and of Vienna. If I had to spend 79% of my income [on rent, like in London] then I think I’d have to leave Vienna because that’s insanely expensive,” she says.”