Starting up in Linz
inz is a city that embodies the perfect blend of tradition and innovation. Located in the heart of Upper Austria and occupying both margins of the Danube, the city is shaped by its rich history and forward-thinking vision for the future and digitalization. By embracing technology and innovation, it has become a hub for startups and entrepreneurs, driving growth and creativity in the region. With a strong focus on research and development, Linz has attracted some of the brightest minds in the world to create a thriving innovation ecosystem.
The people of Linz are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, and the city has a vibrant and diverse cultural scene reflected in its many museums, galleries and performance venues. The atmosphere is one of excitement and possibility, with a strong sense of community and collaboration among its residents. Despite its small size, Linz has a long and fascinating history, dating back to Roman times. Over the centuries, it has played a key role in the development of Central Europe, serving as an important trading hub and cultural center. Today, it is a modern and dynamic city that continues to evolve while honoring its rich cultural heritage.
Before You Come
Expats and entrepreneurs relocating to Linz should ensure enough savings to cover initial expenses, including housing, food and transportation. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three months’ worth of living expenses saved up before arriving. Additionally, secure the necessary paperwork to live and work in Austria, including a residence permit and work visa. Research these requirements well in advance and allow plenty of time for processing. To secure a place to stay in Linz, look for short-term rentals or serviced apartments while searching for a more permanent residence. Another option is using online rental platforms such as ImmobilienScout24 (immobilienscout24.at) or Willhaben (willhaben.at) to find long-term rentals. In addition to securing housing, familiarize yourself with the local language and culture to ease the transition. And don’t forget to connect with other expats and entrepreneurs to support you as you navigate your new home.
Visas and Work Permits
As an EU citizen, you don’t need to apply for a residence permit or a working visa, but you do need to register your address at the city council within three days of arrival. If you are a non-EU citizen, you need to apply for a residence permit within the first ninety days of your arrival. You can do so at the Settlement Law Department at the Linz City Hall. You will need to provide various documents, such as proof of health insurance, a tenancy agreement and proof of financial means. Non-EU citizens will also need a work permit, which your employer must apply for. The "Business Immigration Office Linz" (BIOL) is located at the New City Hall within the Settlement Law Department and provides companies and foreign professionals with advice and assistance in the processing of residence permits. With the BIOL, the Municipality has created a first point of contact for employers and employees for smooth service. The new BIOL makes the initial contact with Austrian authorities professional and service-oriented for both employers and foreign employees, so that newly arrived workers from abroad feel welcome in Linz. Alternatively, to be a freelancer in Linz, apply for a freelance visa (Aufenthaltsbewilligung für Selbständige). You must prove that you have sufficient income and insurance to support yourself and that your work is a recognized profession in Austria. For further information the website of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior (oesterreich.gv.at) provides more details on different visa processes.
Starting a Company
Starting a company in Linz is generally straightforward, and the city offers many resources for entrepreneurs. First, you need to choose the legal form of your business and register it with the Austrian Commercial Register. You must also obtain a business license from the local Trade Authority (Gewerbebehörde). The process can be done online or in person. You must also register for taxes with the local tax office (Finanzamt) and the social security office (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen) if you plan to hire employees. It’s essential to understand the tax requirements and obligations for your business, and it’s recommended to consult with a tax advisor or accountant. Linz offers several entrepreneurial resources, including the Business Service Center (aws.at), which provides information and support to startup companies, including help with funding, networking and business development. However, the first point of contact should be the Chamber of Commerce in Upper Austria (wko.at), which provides information and advice on legal, financial and administrative issues related to starting a business. If you’re looking for support in English, there are several resources available, including the English-speaking Business Support Center mentioned above and the Upper Austrian Business Agency (biz-up.at), which provides advice and support in multiple languages as well as Welcome2Upper Austria (welcome2upperaustria.com) that provides services for expats.
Cost of Living
Linz is relatively affordable compared to other European cities. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment can range from €500–€800 per month, depending on the location and the apartment’s condition. Groceries and dining out can be reasonably priced, with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costing between €10–€15, and Austrian beer in a bar costing around €3–€4.
Leisure activities in Linz can be affordable as well. For instance, a visit to the Ars Electronica Center, a popular museum of contemporary art, science and technology, costs €12 per person and cinema tickets cost around €10–€12 per person. The city also offers various parks and gardens that are free to the public, including the Donaupark. There are also several hiking trails and outdoor recreational areas within easy reach of the city.
Finding accommodation in Linz can be challenging, especially in the city center or during peak times (during Ars Electronica Festival). Start your search at least a few months before your desired move-in date. The most common types of accommodation are apartments, either shared or private, and houses for families in the surroundings of Linz. A good place to start your search is online platforms such as WILLHABEN (willhaben.at), ImmobilienScout24 (immobilienscout24.at) and WG-GESUCHT(wg-gesucht.at), which list available apartments and rooms in shared housing. Additionally, local newspapers, notice boards and social media groups can also provide useful information. When renting a property, you must register your address with the local authorities within three days of moving in. You must bring a valid ID or passport, the rental agreement and proof of insurance to the registration appointment. It is also recommended to take photos of the apartment's condition to avoid any disputes later.
Culture and Language
As a newcomer to Linz, expect to experience a blend of Austrian cultures.
People in Linz are generally friendly, polite and value punctuality. Respect their customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes when entering someone’s home or using formal titles when addressing someone you don’t know well. When attending social events, it is customary to bring a small gift such as flowers or chocolates.
Austrians value work-life balance, so it is important to respect their boundaries outside of working hours. Learn basic German phrases to help you navigate the city and communicate with locals. Joining local groups or clubs is also a great way to meet new people and immerse yourself in the culture.
Learning German can be challenging. To improve your skills, use language exchange programs or hire a tutor. Additionally, you can attend language cafes or events organized by language schools or community centers to practice speaking with native speakers. Some examples include Tandem Linz (tandem-linz.net) and My Language Exchange (mylanguageexchange.com/city/Linz__Austria.asp), both language exchange programs that match people who want to learn each other's languages. Alternatively, Volkshochschule Linz (wissensturm.linz.at) is a community center that offers language courses and language cafes, not to mention community events and activities. Practicing your German will help you become a more confident speaker! One recommended language school in Linz is the Berlitz Language Center (berlitz.at), which offers a variety of private lessons, group classes and online courses. Another excellent option is the Inlingua Language School (inlingua-linz.at), which has been providing language courses for over fifty years and offers a range of language courses, including German for business purposes.
In Linz, there are numerous opportunities for you to connect with communities and like-minded professionals, whether they are locals or other expats. The city has a vibrant cultural scene, with art galleries, museums and theaters hosting regular exhibitions, performances and shows. For those interested in outdoor activities, there are plenty of green spaces and parks perfect for jogging, cycling or picnicking.
To find out about events or meetups in Linz, the best place to start is online platforms such as Meetup, Eventbrite, Facebook and Linz Termine. These websites have dedicated groups for startups, entrepreneurs and professionals, where members can post events and connect with others in their industry. Linz also hosts several startup events and conferences throughout the year, including the Ars Electronica Festival, one of the world’s largest media art festivals. By attending these events, you can network with other entrepreneurs, learn from industry experts and gain valuable insights to grow your business.
With a thriving innovation hub, world-class infrastructure and government support, Linz is a prime destination for ambitious founders looking to conquer the market. Join the ranks of successful startups leaving their mark in Linz.
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Written by Yessica Klein