Expat Living: Carly Hulls in Vienna, Austria
We’re back with a brand new addition to my ongoing Expat Living interview series! The latest and greatest expat to be featured is Carly Hulls, an Australian who now lives in Vienna, Austria where she works as a writer and creative professional.
Expat Living: Carly Hulls in Vienna, Austria
I’m Carly, an Aussie writer and creative professional currently living in Vienna. I’m a book nerd and lover of history, so I regularly lose my shit at the excitement of living in the centre of Europe. Since moving to Austria, I’ve found I can be motivated to do almost any Austrian-style hike, so long as there’s promise of a castle and a coffee at the end of it. I’m on an endless search for the perfect brunch spot – I think they’re all in Melbourne, but you can never be too sure.
Austrian Adaptation is my travel and lifestyle blog, with a focus on unique city breaks and expat life in Vienna. I love hearing from other travellers and expats via my blog – especially sharing the “OMG, that happened to you too” moments.
Where are you from?
The coffee and artistic capital of Australia, Melbourne.
Where are you living now and how long have you been there? Do you plan on staying?
I’m in Vienna now and am coming up on my four year anniversary, which is pretty unbelievable. Vienna is a city that is very hard to leave, so for the immediate future I’m staying.
Did you move there alone or with family, friends, a significant other or even a pet?
I moved because my boyfriend already had an apartment here. He’s from the mountains in Tirol originally, which is where we met, but was living and working in Vienna at the time. I on the other hand, had only a backpack and seasonal job as a tour guide, so no home and not many possessions. He could cook and I was craving a wardrobe and stability. Simple decision really. And, I kind of liked him too!
What brought you to your new home? Tell us your story.
I was working as a European tour guide in the summer, and spent my winter as a ski rep in Tirol where I met my boyfriend at an Après-ski bar. We had a whirlwind romance, skiing and frolicking in the snow, right up until we hit my visa troubles. I’d overstayed my 90 days in Europe, was kicked out of Austria for three months, and from then on, we were together long distance trying to work out how to stay together in Europe, beyond the normal Australian tourist visa requirements.
Eight months later, we got married for a Visa in Vienna. I hadn’t actually ever thought to live in Vienna. I used to think it was the most boring city in Europe as a tour guide! But now I absolutely adore the city (apart from the long, grey winters). So I came to Vienna for love, but stayed for the amazing lifestyle opportunities.
What do you do work wise? Is finding work in your city easy? What are the visa requirements like?
I’m currently Head of Community for an Australian owned travel booking website, TourRadar.
My background in the tour and travel industry definitely helped in getting the job, but my boss actually found me via my blog. Finding English speaking work can be tough in the early days, but more and more startups are cropping up in Vienna and bringing more opportunities. It’s definitely a city where it helps to network at events to find jobs. So go to those startup and expat meetups!
Visa requirements can be quite tough, as you either need to be sponsored by a company with quite a high wage, be on a student visa or the family visa. We unfortunately don’t have the freelancer’s visa in Austria, like they do Germany, so it can be difficult.
How do you “blend in” and be accepted by locals?
Try and speak German. Even if it’s rubbish German, they really appreciate the effort.
Blending in in Vienna is also about attitude. The Viennese are sometimes known to be grumpy or rude and you can spot a tourist or non-Viennese a mile off from how they respond to grumpy Viennese waiters. The trick is to enjoy the grumpiness of the waiters – it’s part of their schtick – and once you know that it’s all a grand charade of being Viennese, their grumpiness becomes hilarious.
Adopting the laid-back Viennese attitude is the number one way to fit in.
How did you make friends? Are you friends with locals or with other expats?
Meet ups with different communities I found online definitely helped.
When I first arrived, Girl Gone International (GGI) was a lifesaver, because I hated being dependant on Stefan’s friends for socialising, especially as I only understood half their conversations and had to sit, mute, in a pub most of the time! GGI helped me make my first real friends in Vienna. Now there’s great places to make new friends, including Women in Vienna, another new and very active community.
I’m friends with two actual Viennese people, which is an above average amount I’m told. The Viennese are very cliquey, sticking with the same high school friends for life, which makes it hard to connect.
What has been the most shocking thing you learned about the local culture?
One of my most popular posts sums up the 28 Ways to be Austrian, which is essentially all the hilarious things I noticed Viennese do.
I think the thing that genuinely still shocks me is how extremely dedicated to cleanliness the whole country is. You can be out on the Danube Island music festival partying until 4 a.m. and by 6 a.m. the entire place will be spotlessly cleaned.
There’s even a woman on my street who will sweep the footpath of leaves religiously at 11 p.m. at night, and I’ll see her again at 7 a.m. in the morning, still sweeping!! They are seriously into cleanliness, but it makes for a lovely clean city.
Did you have to learn a language? What learning methods do you recommend?
Ugh, yes. German. Of all the languages!
I’ve tried a lot of different options, started with classes, tried out Duolingo, and watching Tatort (cheesy crime show) on a Sunday night. I’ve got a drawer full of untouched ‘Easy steps to Learn German’ books.
For me, I need the discipline of the classroom combined with the regularity of actually speaking. Only once I sucked up the courage to actually try speaking the language in social scenarios, did I make any progress.
Oh and funnily enough, reading some lifestyle & fashion blogs worked too, as I was actually interested in what they were saying so it motivated me to learn more.
What do you love the most about your new home?
The central location in Europe, the architecture, and the secret hidden cool spots the city keeps revealing. The affordability and the fact that you can really see where your tax money goes.
The work/life balance here in Austria is really something to be admired.
What do you “hate” the most about your new home?
You will always be the expat or the “auslander.”
No matter how much German I learn, or how integrated I become, the first question most Austrians begin a conversation with is “So, woher kommst du?” (Where do you come from?). Inevitably when I say Australia they raise their eyebrows and their voices go up a pitch to respond “Ahhh soo, Australian!” like I’m some sort of exotic wildlife.
You do get old grannies or overhear people in supermarkets talk about “Scheisse Auslanders” sometimes, as there are ongoing integration issues with all kinds of immigrants. Most of the time I have it easy because I’m white and coming from a first-world country, but there will always be that sense of “other-ness”. Unless you grew up in Vienna, living in the same suburb for over ten years, you will not ever be Viennese. It’s just something you have to accept.
Carly’s Favourite Things in Vienna
For excellent coffee and a relaxed hipster vibe, Zamm on Westbahnstrasse is the best. It’s filled with inspiring art, books and magazines and is a place really dedicated to good coffee. For a traditional coffee house experience, I really love Dommayer in the 13th district. It’s my local cafe and people watching there is the best – ladies in fur and pearls, young families, and the famously grumpy Viennese waiters.
Shakespeare & Co. in the first district. Not related to the Paris version but equally wonderful. A beautiful old-fashioned book shop with English novels piled on top of one another and an interesting mix of fiction, history, biographies and Austrian writers translated into English. It’s like an oasis.
The Edelstoff art markets held in the Ottakringer brewery are brilliant for discovering local artists, designers, jewellery makers, and indie fashion. Normally there’s food trucks and some cool live bands to go alongside all the pop-up stalls – I absolutely love going there. For fresh food, Brunnenmarkt in the 16th district is always exciting as it’s a super multi-cultural district so you get good food at a much much cheaper price than the flashier Naschmarket.
Kauf dich Glücklich in the seventh district has a great mix of affordable but cool clothes, homewares, shoes, and art books. A touch too hipster for some, I love going there for fashion inspiration and occasionally treating myself to ridiculous jewellery.
The best cocktail bar in Vienna is The Sign in the ninth district. Great for a big group of friends or a sexy date night, with cosy booths for flirting or long tables for partying in style. They do delicious creative cocktails; glasses cased in fairy floss, literal fishbowls of cocktail and all with such high quality spirits the hangover doesn’t hit. It’s my absolute favourite place for a Friday night out.
The best traditional food at a great price with a fantastic view overlooking Vienna is at Leitner Heuriger in the 16th district. You can get a decently priced Schweinhaxeln (Pork Knuckle) or Schnitzel, alongside wine that comes straight from the vineyards laid out below you. The best part is dessert, homemade by Oma in the small family kitchen. This place is a little out of town but well worth the trip for the views and delicious food.
Things to do?
I love jumping on a bicycle and roaming the city with a camera in hand. Vienna can be such a lively place if you head off the tourist trail of the Ringstrasse and first district (which are too rammed in summer anyway to be enjoyable.)
Rent out a Citybike for a few hours and start by exploring the seventh district shops and cafes for brunch. Then take a ride along the Danube canal, for cool street art and installation pieces by the water. If it’s hot, you can stop for a quick dip beside the Danube Island or on the Badeschiff boat which has a swimming pool right in the middle of the Danube! Round out the day at Prater Park, the famous and huge public garden area with a fairground inside, where you can ride a ferris wheel, play mini-golf or check out any live bands or festivals happening in the park.
Weird and offbeat attraction?
There’s an underground sewer tour of Vienna if you are so inclined. The sewers of Vienna became famous after the movie, The 3rd Man featured a climactic chase scene inside the sewers in post WWII Vienna. The paths and alleyways were also said to be used prior-to and during the wars.
For something slightly less creepy, there’s a dedicated cat cafe, Cafe Neko with 5 in-house cats roaming around that you can play with while enjoying your coffee.
Get Social With Carly
- Blog: http://austrianadaptation.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/austrianadaptation/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carlyhulls/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/carlyhulls/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlyhulls
Are you living abroad and would like to be included in the Expat Living interview series? Send an email to email@example.com and you could be featured just like Carly Hulls in Vienna, Austria.
If you like these interviews and my personal take on living abroad, check out my Expat Living section. You’ll find posts about how to send your bags around the world or tips for finding work in Berlin.
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