Vienna Circle: The Expat Center

A haven for newcomers in this month's Vienna Circle

Services | Catharine Eibl | February 2012

The inviting lobby of the Expat centre’s office on Schmerlingplatz (Photo: Expat Centre)

Starting off in a foreign country has its quirks. It is not only a matter of getting through all the paperwork for visas, insurance and residency and work permits.  Wrapping one’s head around the strange new ways of life in Vienna and finding a way into its social community can be daunting.

The Vienna Expat Center is there to help newcomers with all of the above. Founded in September 2010, in a combined effort by the City of Vienna and the Vienna Business Agency, it advises the city’s many expatriates on settling down in Austria.

The agency’s statistics suggest that the expatriate population has bee growing rapidly and continues to grow. Between 2004 and 2009, 540 multi-national corporations moved their headquarters to Vienna, and in 2010, over 20,000 expatriates worked in high skilled jobs. By improving the support network available to international employees through initiatives like the Expat Center, the City of Vienna hopes to become an even-more attractive location for international companies.

The idea is not new. For the past 30 years, the Vienna Business Agency has been offering consulting support to entrepreneurs and firms trying to enter the Austrian market.

In fact, over time the project’s scope has broadened considerably. At the center itself you will be met with a warm welcome and find information not only on key services to ease your working life but also on living in Vienna.

Conveniently located on Schmerlingplatz in the 1st District, just a short walk from the Rathaus station on the U2 U-Bahn line, the place resembles a large funky living room. The comfortable chairs against the backdrop of Vienna’s skyline provide a relaxing setting in which to unwind, get advice or find out about a growing list of services and leisure Vienna has to offer, from outdoor recreation to tickets for exhibitions and concerts.

The center advertises events and activities in and around Vienna. It hosts interactive presentations and discussions on the daily challenges expatriates face: language barriers and intercultural differences, on the one hand, and Austrian bureaucracy, childcare and schooling, on the other.  Help and information is offered to parents about regular children’s workshops in English.

The site and staff promote a variety of occasions to socialise in a more casual environment. Check the center’s website for details about the coffee mornings in the 13th district, excursions to Heuriger (wine taverns) in the 19th district and pub-crawls around the city center. These types of low-stress events are a great way to get useful advice, meet people and get in touch with the international community.

 

The Expat Center Vienna

Mon.–Thurs., 9:00–16:00 and

Fri., 9:00–12:00

1., Schmerlingplatz 3

(01) 4000-86949

www.expatcenter.at

info@expatcenter.at

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    the vienna review February 2012

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