Two Gen Xers relocated to Austria from America, and they consider it one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Although it took some unpredictable turn of events and a mental shift to steer them to the German-speaking Central European country. Now, they’ve fallen in love with it and aren’t planning on looking back.
For former Michigan resident Michael Valentine, Austria had always been his preferred retirement location. He once studied at a University there, during which time he met his wife. Little did he know that retirement would come way earlier than expected.
The robotics company he worked at as a senior staff decided to get rid of his services. So, at the age of 53, he was jobless and torn between searching for a new job and embarking on early retirement. He chose the latter and set his sights on the landlocked country.
Together with his wife and daughter, Valentine settled in Innsbruck, Austria’s fifth-largest city, rich in architecture, history, and exciting gifts of nature. This was more of a familiar terrain for his wife, who had no issues settling down and setting up her business — a fashion store for women.
Austria’s value for mental health was one of the first things Valentine noticed. Asides the frequent holidays, Austria’s workforce enjoyed five weeks of compulsory paid leave. He could immediately draw a contrast between that and the work culture in the United States.
According to Valentine, Austrian work culture is woven around the belief that “vacation is something that you have to do for your own mental health to make you a better, more productive employee.” It is difficult to turn down a nation that combines greater opportunities and higher quality of life. This and many more are reasons why there is a recent exodus of Americans into Austria.
Vienna and Linz host a majority of American college graduates and experienced professionals who are moving in. The Austrian government is pleased to have these expatriates fill up urgently vacant slots in the country’s “shortage occupations,” such as nursing, engineering, and baking.
Valentine also hailed the fact that most Austrian stores didn’t open on Sundays, which provides more time to spend with family. Public transportation is fast and comfortable, and healthcare is more efficient and affordable. Plus, he has never had to bother about discrimination in their public schools for his daughter, who he adopted from China.
Rick Lewis has also had a taste of sweet Austrian life. The Ohio native had formerly visited the Bahamas, South Korea, Switzerland, and Russia, thanks to his career as an educator and school administrator. Yet, he chose Austria.
Lewis is living the life of his dreams in the serene environment of the Alps. There, he relishes the natural beauty and majesty of the mountains.
He also has great admiration for the liberal and health-conscious work approach in the country. He was happy to move from the 10 to 12-hour workdays he had been used to.
Now, there is more time to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. “It’s not that they don’t care about how much money they’re making; it’s about the quality of life in terms of how much they want to work,” he said.
Lewis can now spend quality time with his daughter and accommodate extra work engagements with schools in Africa. He has found his dream work environment and has vowed to pitch his tent there. “I’ll keep working here until I retire, no doubt.”