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Old 10-22-2012, 02:27 PM
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So, now it has come down to these 2 cities. Which do you recommend and why?
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:29 PM
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
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Do you actually want to know anything in specific or just an overall comparison?
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:31 PM
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Just an overall comparison.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:19 AM
Location: Paris, France
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I have visited both as a tourist and have friends who live in both. However my impressions are based on quick visits there, plus what I have heard from my friends, so I would caveat what I am about to say by deferring to a local or long-term resident's opinion!

I am assuming you have secured a visa if you're not an EU citizen, and have valid offers of employment/study in each – hence the question. If you're just moving there to start afresh and will be seeking work – the huge disadvantage of Barcelona is that the Spanish economy is in such a poor state at the moment. Unemployment – at a whopping 25% of the workforce – is among the highest in the developed world (and the highest in Europe – east or west), whereas Austria has one the lowest unemployment rates in Europe (I believe it is under 5%) and has been relatively unscathed by the current economic crisis.

But purely from a quality of life perspective, I'd say Barcelona has the edge. It is probably my favourite city on earth, as it literally has everything: a beautiful historic centre that is now amazingly restored, an elegant 19th century new town which could be Paris, beaches, some of the world's best nightlife, food, and you're within driving distance of mountains and beautiful countryside. It's cosmopolitan and multicultural, liberal and diverse, Mediterranean and warm yet with a Catalan work ethic; like most Spanish cities it has the best public transport infrastructure (metro, buses, trams, trains) you'll get anywhere in the world. It's not too expensive. It's exactly the right size: not a monster like London or NYC, but big enough to contain dozens of contrasting neighbourhoods and several million inhabitants. It's super well-connected to the rest of Europe – with mega fast Ave high speed trains to other cities in Spain and soon up into France as well. The climate is perfect; the sun nearly always shines in the summer and winters are brief and mild... I could go on and on with Barcelona's plus points, and I don't believe any other medium sized world city fulfils quite so many tick boxes as Barcelona. Until 2008-09 I'd add to that list a vibrant strong economy. That's all changed now of course, but the Barcelona metro area remains probably the richest part of the whole Mediterranean region – with a GDP per capita comfortably above the European average.. for now.

The only minuses I can think of – aside from the now weak economy of Spain – would possibly be the relatively high crime rates (lots of bag snatching etc), and (if you're not a linguist) the fact that to live and integrate there you'd have to learn not one but two new languages (Spanish and Catalan).

Vienna is about the same size as Barcelona, but to me it lacks the buzz big time: even the centre seemed half dead when we visited. It is beautiful, and also has great public transport, tasty (and filling!) food, beer, and the famous cafés of course. We had a couple of wild nights out, so the party is there if you look for it. It was surprisingly affordable, possibly even more so than Barcelona. The economy is very strong, and unemployment super low. Apparently if you speak German well and have the right qualifications you are literally fighting off the job offers.

However, to me it feels provincial for a capital – and despite having apparently very large Turkish and E. European minorities, did not feel multicultural at all. English is not widely spoken – to integrate or settle long term there you'd have to get your German pretty good. It doesn't feel like the kind of place that is on most international people's radars... few expats... and few Viennese seem to leave their home city. Brutal winters – we visited in November and it was never above 0C all week, with freezing low fog blanketing the squares and streets. Summers are apparently quite pleasant and reliable, and you've got the Alps and skiing on your doorstep of course. There was something about Vienna I liked though – it seemed mysterious, and spooky – somewhere where you could have some adventures. It would probably suit a bookish, more private person well... whereas your extrovert would be more happy in Barcelona.

Anyway just some thoughts. Good luck in your move!
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:01 PM
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thank you for the input very much appreciated. but to all: another city I thought of was Milan how does it compare to Barcelona?
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by traveller123 View Post
So, now it has come down to these 2 cities. Which do you recommend and why?
My ancestry is Mediterranean, so I would pick Barcelona in a heartbeat, though I never found it to be a real "wow," like so many people do. I think I might like Vienna, but I don't think it would be a match. I would be interested in seeing that city's beautiful churches and indulging in their pastry shops, though, but that just requires a vacation, and not necessarily living there.
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:41 PM
Location: New York metropolitan area
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Vienna and Austria in general has much better economy and higher quality of life.
However, Barcelona is nicer, better and warmer weather, more beautiful landscape/scenery, and different culture/language.
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Old 10-25-2012, 01:28 AM
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
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Okay, same for me. Never lived in Barcelona, but went there a couple of times during summer.

Originally Posted by robertpolyglot View Post
I would be interested in seeing that city's beautiful churches and indulging in their pastry shops, though, but that just requires a vacation, and not necessarily living there.
That's quite funny, for me it's exactly the other way round. Barcelona is quite okay for vacation, but living there would be unimaginable for me. Besides that, I kind of like the other big cities in Spain a lot more than Barcelona, don't really know the reason for that. Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia are much more appealing to me.


As someone mentioned above, the cities are more or less the same size. For some reason Vienna feels a bit bigger, when you are walking on the streets. Probably because the city was remodeled as a capital for an empire of 50 million inhabitants around 1900. The architecture is just overwhelming for a capital of such a small country.

Geography and Climate

Okay, Vienna is located in eastern Austria, in the Vienna Basin. So, for Austrian means there are hardly any mountains nearby, except some 500m-ish hills. No skiing (5-6h on the train will bring you to one of the best skiing regions in the world, there are some basic ski resorts a couple of minutes outside of the city). But there are really beautiful vineyards within city limits.
Vienna has a perfect location for traveling through central Europe, you can get to pretty much every city within a couple of hours (Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, but also Munich or Venice).
Barcelona is located at the sea and has several beaches, but the water doesn't look that nice... it's pretty dirty. Also, I'm not that keen of sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Spain is also pretty isolated from the rest of Europe. It takes some time to get to other places outside of the country.

Rating the climate is a bit tricky. Personally, I like the climate of Austria and Vienna in particular. There is snow in winter (couldn't go without it), we have pleasant springs and falls and it can get pretty hot in summers, usually around 30°C. This summer was a bit extreme with highs of about 36°C.
Barcelona is too hot and humid for me during summer and they don't really have what I would call winter. Nice for vacation, but I wouldn't be able to get anything done during summer.


Short intersection... Go to wikipedia to read more about it. We have: Fancy churches, good theaters, a world-class opera, a world-class symphony orchestra, stunning architecture, lots of museums, balls (dancing and stuff), lots of palaces, christmas markets ... Over all, the city is packed with places to go, it can be a bit overwhelming. But after a while you adjust and just live with it. It get's normal. It's probably the same with Kyoto in Japan and the temples there. Still, Vienna wins this section.

The native cuisines of Vienna and Barcelona are also pretty different, but keep in mind, that we are talking about major cities. You can basically find every food you want in both of them. If it comes to Austrian against Spanish food, I would say that the Spanish one wins. It's just a bit more sophisticated. Reminds me of holidays. I still like Austrian food and especially our drinks. Love the Austrian wine and beer Again, check wikipedia.


I can't really compare the nightlife of Vienna and the one in Barcelona. I simply don't know anything about clubs/bars in Barcelona. We usually end up going to some random place.

All I can say is, that nightlife in Vienna is pretty awesome. The problem is, that there is no place where all the clubs are. They are pretty much distributed across all of the city.

The club scene got pretty awesome through the last years. Check out Pratersauna, Cafe Leopold, Grelle Forelle and Volksgarten or smaller places like Sass, Donau or Elektro Gönner. Besides that, there are also pretty good bars.

Public Transportation

From what I experienced, Vienna has easily one of the best systems in the world. Subway system is not the biggest one, but in connection with the trams and buses it's pretty sweet. A ticket for a year costs only 365€. You definitely don't need a car when you live here.

Can't really rate Barcelona. We basically alway stayed in the centre and used the subway only once... to the stadium.
Cost of living

As anywhere in the world: if you know where to go, every place can be affordable. Cost of living is lower in Spain, but Barcelona is a pretty expensive city. As is Vienna.
The cheap restaurants in Barcelona are probably cheaper than in Vienna, rent depends on where you want to live. 1st district in Vienna is different to the 20th district.

There are basically three big parts: 1st district in the centre enclosed by the "Ring", where all the big tourist attractions are. Nice architecture, lots of tourists and unaffordable rents.
The area between "Ring" and "Gürtel", which is filled with houses from 1850 to 1900. Probably the best area to live in, especially districts 6, 7, 8 and 9. The rent there is still pretty high.
The area outside of the Gürtel. That can be hit or miss. Depends on the exact place where you want to live.


I guess the probability to run into troubles is higher in Barcelona than in Vienna. Barcelona has problems with pickpockets, especially in the touristy center (Rambla, Sagrada Familia, ...). A couple of friends, who are doing their degree in Barcelona, also told me about some muggings, but personally, I never got mugged or got my pocket picked.

For Vienna, I wouldn't go as far as saying that crime is nonexistent, but under normal circumstances chances are really low that something happens to you or your valuables. The crime rate in Vienna is by far the highest in Austria, though. But one must keep in mind that we only have about 50 homicides a year in the whole country and the crime rate is low in general. There shouldn't be a problem with going home at 4am through shady areas or parks, but there can be problems in front of clubs in connection with alcohol.


In general, Austria is doing a lot better than Spain, but apparently Barcelona is doing quite okay. But you should definitely get a job before going to any of those two cities. Usually, you are required to speak good German/Spanish to find a decent job, but there are some exceptions (United Nations, ...).


English proficiency is higher in Austria than in Spain. But you have to learn the local language for your job anyway. It's up to you, if you prefer German or Spanish/Catalan

Anyway. I would say that quality of live is higher in Vienna. Barcelona is fine for my vacation, but I'm always glad, when I'm coming home again.

Last edited by viribusunitis; 10-25-2012 at 02:30 AM..
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Old 10-28-2012, 04:35 AM
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I live in Vienna; I love how people thus far have brought up the public transportation system is one of the best because it is. It is very efficient and extensive for the small geographic size of this city, even extending to regional transit. So I was seething with anger and disappointment when I found out car ownership is rampant here, and is now officially a problem according to the Viennese government. There are not enough parking spots for the increasing amount of cars here. It was last week when I found out that the parking permit have been extended in our district, and others that were not previously. My ex, who didn't want to pay for it, finally sold his car at the age of 29.

The majority of Viennese NEED to drive their cars. Here is a personal note I wrote earlier to explain, entitled "The Grass Is Not 'Greener'":

Despite Vienna's small geographic size and seriously extensive public transportation system, usage only accounts for 34% of daily trips: http://sydney.edu.au/business/__data...esentation.pdf.
Eco friendly and green is not so here and only a myth as the mentality of the people are the same as everywhere else: Public transportation usage is stigmatized to poor people who cannot afford cars. Car ownership is so rampant here that car sharing has been introduced. But it's not the kind where people face this problem in their community by sharing their personal vehicles. Tja, because poor people can use the extensive public transportation systems....
"You can't afford expensive things 'cos you don't have a lot of money
Ha-ha, you want these things, but you cannot afford them
That means that you're not cool, 'cos you're just a poor person
Stupid poor people, stupid poor people
I have more money than you
Stupid poor people, stupid poor people
You can't even afford food"
Rather, it's a business model of using the company's cars to deter people from buying more cars: http://www.carsharing.at/de/pub/standorte.cfm. Because let's fight cars with more cars.


These cars are tiny and won't help people who actually need cars in situations like moving. The Viennese are so much so car-centric that if they only needed a car occasionally there ought to be a service for it. That's how ridiculous it is. Because without this service then people would be too motivated to buy their own car. Or proposals that people without cars should only pay 100 Euros for a year ticket to cover an extremely expensive public transportation system. http://www.austriantimes.at/news/Gen...ets_say_greens.

With this mentality, the Wiener Linien will be bleeding in no time. I was raging when my ex thought it was a good idea. So, where does one live, in a mansion deep in the forest where public transportation can't take you??? NO. It is simply arrogant, selfish pricks who can't use public transportation. I mean, I can understand if you say well, I want to drive out in the country to visit Oma (though there are regional trains available, and buses that take you to the village you need to go, I've also used those), but in that case you would just borrow a family member's or friend's car (since so many of them have cars), and not have to have both when you LIVE in Vienna. My ex and his whole family have cars, and they are Austrian/Viennese.

And the ironic thing is, Viennese students I have spoken to bring up how when they visited the United States, they say Americans own so many cars, there is so much traffic, and do not participate in ride share (only 1 person per car). Then I respond: BECAUSE WE HAVE TO. It is so spread out and our public transportation systems are shi!t, with NYC being the exception and there 55% of people use it, still higher than in Vienna. List of U.S. cities with high transit ridership - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also, if you looked at the pdf I linked earlier, there are 2.6 million people living in Vienna but only 1 million jobs. Austria has more pensioners than young people. http://www.bmf.gv.at/WipoEUInt/Wirts..._v.2_clean.pdf

Essentially the social system pays for all the old people but there won't be enough money for when you get old. That's why people pay into private and start saving now. Medicine and being alive is expensive no matter where you go. The myth that Americans have is that social system = almost free.

If you have a job lined up, or you are in technical/engineering fields, there are jobs. Otherwise you need to be fluent in German (pref. additional 1 to 2 other Central European languages) with a lot of experience under your belt in 'business', 'banking', then there are 'professional' 'moneymaking' jobs, just like anywhere else. But if you don't and you aren't an Austrian or EU citizen, good luck. Jobs will always go first to Austrian, then EU, then "insert foreigner." There isn't a lot of of Americans who get jobs here, and the one I've met who did was a neurobiologist doing research. This country is hard to get into and so is the citizenship. If you really wanted it, you must revoke your current citizenship.

I hope this helps.

Last edited by peregrineu; 10-28-2012 at 04:44 AM..
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Old 10-28-2012, 04:40 AM
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Barcelona and Vienna have nothing in common. It depends, what are you looking for? Do you like pastries, palaces built by the Hapsburgs, high prices, a rather decadent city, bad weather, obnoxious English tourists peeing on the Ramblas?

Barcelona is cheaper, better weather, beaches, more fun, but Vienna is good for honeymooners, Strauus lovers, pastry lovers, but for short stays. It depends on you.

Last edited by Pizarro; 10-28-2012 at 04:53 AM..
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