American Expat Living in Austria - Interview with Bridget

Published: 6 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Austria
Bridget is a scientist/wife/dog momma from the South. She naively decided to follow her husband to Austria for his job and is now trying to make the most of it. Despite many of the challenges of living in a Germany speaking country Bridget and her husband are truly beginning to embrace life in the Austrian Alps. Bridget’s blog “Dragons and Rockets” focuses primarily on the experiences of living and traveling abroad as well as her “expert” opinions on holiday candies, wine, and beer. Bridget's expat blog is called Dragons & Rockets (see listing here)

Stubai Ski Area and Stubaital Valley near Innsbruck
Stubai Ski Area and Stubaital Valley near Innsbruck

Here's the interview with Bridget...


Where are you originally from?
I am from a small town in Southern Georgia, but I most recently lived in Tallahassee, Florida.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am currently living in Innsbruck, Austria the capital of the Austrian province of Tyrol.

How long have you lived in Austria and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been living in Innsbruck 15 months now and plan to stay at least for a few more years.

Höttinger Alm above Innsbruck
Höttinger Alm above Innsbruck
Why did you move to Austria and what do you do?
We originally moved so that my husband could pursue a Post-Doc in his academic field. For the first 9 months I was a stay-at-home wife and blogger. Now I am a Technical Assistant at the local University and blogger ;)

Did you bring family with you?
My husband and I moved to Innsbruck together and six months later brought our 10-year old Cairn Terrier to join us.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The first year was very difficult for us. Between the language barrier and unfamiliar culture the transition to living here was hard. Now that is has been over a year, we know the language much better, and I am also working, life is much easier.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Now that we are both working it has been easier to make friends. There is not much of an expat community in Innsbruck since it is not a very large city so most of our friends are Austrian, German, or Italian.

The Inn River in the city center
The Inn River in the city center
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
If you like outdoor activities you’ll be very happy in Innsbruck. Skiing and hiking are excellent. Our “old town” is also quite nice albeit it a little touristy. I would recommend hiking to a Mountain Hut and enjoying a beer and traditional food in the summer. In the fall there are many festivals with more beer ;). In winter we have wonderful skiing and Christmas markets. Spring, despite its erratic weather, is really beautiful.

What do you enjoy most about living in Austria?
I enjoy how environmentally friendly everyone is here. I also enjoy the mentality and approach towards working, that your entire life and value should not be your work. I appreciate that if my husband or I were to get very sick or injured we would not have to worry about extreme health care bills. I like when you visit a cafe or restaurant you can take your time, are not rushed, and many are dog friendly.

How does the cost of living in Austria compare to home?
Housing is a little more, however we were living in a low-cost area in the U.S. previously. Produce is much cheaper and normally local. However, meat is much more expensive. Since the public transportation is fantastic we do not need a car. Utilities, bars, cafes, restaurants, are comparable to the U.S.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Austria?
Primarily being away from friends and family is the largest negative. Occasionally we have a craving for some American-type food which you cannot get in Austria. Additionally watching our sports teams is very difficult with the six-hour time difference.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Austria, what would it be?
Learn some German before you arrive. It really is important for enjoying life here and making the transition easier. Also, don’t take anything too seriously for the first seven months or so.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
It’s been hard missing a lot of friends’ weddings back in the U.S. The language is difficult, and culturally it is quite different from the States.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I am sure I will be scandalized by the amount of garbage we produce. Here we have one garbage can for our entire apartment complex and it rarely gets full. I am sure it will be nice to be around other native English speakers again.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. If possible learn a year’s worth of the language before you move. After our second intensive German course day-to-day life became much easier. It is true that many people here speak English. However, due to translation issues you may not be 100% certain what people mean. While this is not normally an issue, when setting up your life abroad by doing things like getting a bank account and cell phone, additional uncertainty leads to additional stress.
  2. Moving abroad is highly romanticized. While there are definite perks, don’t be alarmed if life is not what you thought it would be. It doesn’t make you a failure to struggle at first. It’s not easy.
  3. Take advantage of technology. It’ll help you stay in touch with friends and family as well as find what you’re looking for in your new city. However, in Innsbruck be prepared to pay for food in cash!
  4. Keep an open mind. You will see and experience so many new things, both good and bad, it’s best to try not to have too many preconceived notions on life abroad.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We had to ask one of my husband’s coworkers to look at an apartment for us as well as have another help us get our bank account and residency permits. It was humbling and a little embarrassing for us, but everything went smoothly because of their help!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write about my experiences living and traveling abroad. My posts range from Easter candy reviews to describing a night at the Italian opera.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me by leaving a comment on my blog or getting in touch through social media. I would be happy to talk to anyone thinking about making the move to Austria, learning German, or traveling in Europe!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingBridget is an American expat living in Austria. Blog description: Daily life and musings from a girl raised in the Southern United States living in the Austrian Alpes!
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