Woman who left New York to move to ‘the world’s most livable city’ of Vienna reveals the things that surprised her most about the European lifestyle
- Sonja Matejko, 32, moved from New York City to Vienna in March 2022
- The yoga teacher and freelance writer loves her new life abroad
- She said business being closed on Sundays and many being cash only as hard
A woman who quit her life in New York City to move to ‘the world’s most livable city’ has opened up about the most surprising things she found upon arriving in Vienna.
Sonja Matejko, 32, fell in love with the Austrian capital after spending six weeks there in 2021, and moved full time in March 2022.
The writer and yoga teacher listed low rent, café culture and accessibility as just a few reasons why she loves her new home, which has been voted the world’s most livable city.
Although Sonja has well and truly fallen in love with Vienna, she admits there have been some aspects of her European lifestyle she’s had to get used to.
When Sonja Matejko (pictured) moved from the New York City in 2021 to live in Europe, she was determined to find her home away from home – falling in love with Vienna
Although the 32-year-old has well and truly fallen in love with Vienna, she admits there have been some aspects of her European lifestyle she’s had to get used to
In a first person piece for Insider, Sonja outlined what has surprised her about moving to Vienna.
The first things the US-native noticed was that rent was considerably lower than the rental prices in New York, where she lived before moving.
‘The first time someone told me they pay about $533 monthly for rent with one roommate in Vienna,’ she said. ‘I imagined some terrifying basement apartment with no windows. I was wrong.’
Sonja added that most her of friends pay under $1,000 for their apartments, describing them as ‘spacious’ and having amenities such as a lift.
‘That same rent budget wouldn’t get you much in the heart of New York City,’ she added.
Sonja added the café culture in Vienna is amazing, with over 2,000 cafes in gorgeous buildings ‘on every corner.’
‘[The cafes] will make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time with antique furniture, servers with silver platters, and marble tables,’ she gushed.
A pleasant surprise for Sonja was how accessible she finds Vienna -saying to European city boasts a transit system ‘even better’ then New York’s.
Sonja added that most her of friends pay under $1,000 for their apartments, describing them as ‘spacious’ and having amenities such as a lift
Sonja added the café culture in Vienna is amazing, with over 2,000 cafes in gorgeous buildings ‘on every corner’
Sonja loves her life in Vienna
‘With the metro, tram network, buses, and bike lanes, you can (mostly) get anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less,’ she marveled.
She added it’s location also makes it easy to travel to other cities.
‘You could be in Prague or Budapest by bus or train in three hours,’ she said.
Lastly, Sonja gushed over the cultural events available, reminiscing over a free symphony she stumbled over a couple of years ago.
She continued: ‘I saw a line forming outside the Museum Quarter for a free symphony. Moments later, I joined hundreds of people enjoying the classical music concert,’ she recalled.
‘But what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience turned out to be commonplace in Vienna.’
Sonja was also surprised at how many green space there is in the city, listing the urban vineyards that are within a 30-minute train ride from the city
‘I’ve also since learned that about 50% of Vienna is covered by green space,’ she added. ‘Beyond the parks, you have the wine hills, hiking trails, and water activities. I took my first ski lessons in a decade just an hour outside Vienna.’
Despite the idyllic lifestyle, there are a few things that was a shock to Sonja when she first moved.
The first thing she needed to adjust too was stores being closed on Sunday – which she says is partly for religious reasons and partly to ‘preserve quality of life.’
‘If you don’t grocery shop by Saturday late afternoon, you’re out of luck on Sunday,’ Sonja advised.
All is not lost though, with some cafés, restaurants, and bakeries still open – although according to Sonja, you’d better make sure you always have cash on hand.
‘It constantly surprises me how many restaurants, cafés, and even some stores are cash-only in this city,’ she said.
However, the cutest surprise may be that even the furry Austrian residents get a passport.
‘These passports are available for cats, dogs, and ferrets in the EU,’ she shared. ‘Last December, the guy at TSA couldn’t help laughing when he saw my cat’s passport when we returned to the US for the holidays last year.’
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