9 September 2016

Bridget Davis - Expat Innsbruck, Austria

Bridget Davis - Expat Innsbruck, Austria

We’ve had the chance to talk to Bridget Davis, 28, an American expat who has moved to Austria with her husband. Mrs. Davis who has been living there for two years, now works as a biological scientist/technical assist.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: A small town in Southeastern Georgia.


Q: What made you move out of USA?

A: My husband got a post-doc position a University in Innsbruck, Austria. And we decided it was a good opportunity for us to see what life was like outside of the US.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Innsbruck, Austria.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Husband was offered a job here.


Q: How long have you been living in Austria?

A: Two years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: With my husband and our dog. It has been a difficult transition and every day has its struggles, but overall we are optimistic about our time here.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Yes, of course. We try to Skype with people, text, and email on a regular basis.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: They’re polite and generally not very friendly or open. However, we have made friends here


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Austria? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: After I had started working it was much easier to make friends. Unfortunately, there is not a large expat community in Innsbruck.  I found a circle of friends here from my job and my husband’s job.


Q: How does the cost of living in Austria compared to your home?

A: Comparable but different. Some things are cheaper, and some things are more expensive. Produce is much cheaper, and meat is much more expensive. Having a car is more expensive, but if you live in the city, you don’t need one. Housing is all-around smaller compared to most of the US (except New York City, etc.), so if you are looking to get the same size apartment you had in the states this would be much more expensive. Housing units are just smaller here. Getting a little lunch out can be really cheap for less than 5€, but generally, there is less convenient food and fast food, but this is slowly changing. Nice restaurants are probably about the same price.


  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Cappuccino is between 2 – 2, 80€.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Around 10-12€.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 30-50€.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine prices range quite a bit. There is a large selection of good Austrian and Italian wine from 5-10€. We don’t smoke, but I think cigarettes are 6-7€ for a pack.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Austria?

A: If possible have someone you know who speaks German set up an appointment for you with someone who can speak English. Sometimes this is difficult since the Banks will have to fill out more paperwork for American customers. You pretty much need a job to be able to open a bank account, and you will use the bank account for most everything here.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: It can be intimidating especially in another language. However, the Austrian Government Website has instructions in English for how these things work. If you follow these instructions, there should not be any problems.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Austria is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Yes it is fine. Most doctors, nurses, and their receptionist speak at least some English. It will be important to get recommendations from other English speakers in the area for doctors whom they see. The cost of health care is extremely affordable. The most intimidating thing can be the language barrier; however, this is generally not an issue.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or Austria? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A:  We get insurance through our employer (as most everyone in Austria does). It is a social health care system so the majority of costs are paid for from your taxes which is higher (but only marginally so) however you do not need to worry about getting a specific health care plan. If you are ill, they will treat you, and the bill will not be astronomically high (which includes hospitals, specialists, eye doctors, dentists). Expats should not worry about out-of-pocket costs for health care.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Austria? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: We did it ourselves and did not bring much. It was not a memorable experience was rather taxing, to be honest.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Finding a job in a country where you don’t speak the language. However, I took intensive language classes and was able to find a job in 8 months. The language barrier and being away from family are the biggest challenges expats will face in Austria.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Austria?

A: Austria is absolutely beautiful and is lots of activities for people who love the outdoors. The health care system is very nice. Negatives are that you definitely need to learn German to live here comfortably. Many people here speak a dialect which is not similar to standard German, and even native German speakers from different areas do not always understand each other.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Skiing, hiking, lots of nearby travel opportunities. Munich and Verona are less than 3 hours from here.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Probably move back home in the future.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in Austria?

A: Don’t take anything too seriously for six months. It’s a big adjustment.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Austria?

A: HELP.gv.at is a great resource from the Austrian Government (in English) for moving, paperwork, resident permits, etc. Most blogs about Austria are about Vienna which is very different from Innsbruck.