In this blog I spend a lot of time praising Graz and showing the good side of this wonderful city I live in. However, like any other place in the world, Graz is far from perfect. When I moved here in 2012, I saw the city through rose-tinted glasses. I was always surprised when people I met truly wondered what I saw in Graz. After so many years of living here, I still think this city is great to live in. Nevertheless, I know now that there are many things that should be changed or done better if Graz.
This blog post may come as a surprise, as I am usually full of positive energy in this blog, but I think it’s time to show the other side of the coin: what is frustrating about Graz (and how it could be better).
Before anybody starts saying that “if I don’t like it then I should just leave“, I want to open a discussion with this post about what can be improved in Graz. This is all based on my opinion. If you have a different opinion, I would be happy to hear it.
I love living in Graz and I have learned to accept these things or adapt to them. If at some point I can’t handle it anymore, I will leave and start a new life somewhere. But as a blogger about life in Graz I think it is my duty to show that not everything here is rosy. If you want to know, here are the reasons why I think Graz is great to live in.
Public transport in general
A one-hour ticket in Graz costs €2,50 if bought at the ticketing machine and €2,30 if bought on the GrazMobil phone app (as of 2019). In comparison, a ticket in Vienna costs €2,40 (which is the capital of Austria and nearly 4x bigger than Graz in size).
Yes, buying the yearly ticket is cheaper, especially if you have Graz as your main residence (€281). But for people like me, who only takes the tram once in a while, it is much more convenient to buy tickets as you go.
Reasons why this frustrates me:
- first of all, it makes it much harder to keep cars out of the centre of Graz.
- If you want to just pop into the centre for 2 hours, you need to spend €5 for two 1-hour tickets or a 24-hour ticket.
- Parking in the blue zone costs €4 for two hours.
- Imagine then if you are going to the centre with a partner or your family, the costs of public transport double or triple whilst parking stays the same.
- the price of the tickets is does not match the service offered.
- the trams do not take you to every part of the city;
- buses get stuck in traffic and hardly have any priority lanes;
- the connections are good if you want to travel from South to North and vice-versa. If you want to commute from the East (residential areas) to the West (where most companies are) you should just give up and take a car. It takes on average 20 minutes by car whilst at least 40 minutes by bus (without traffic).
What could be done better? Well, reduce the price of the hourly ticket to max €1,50 and make it by trip and not by hour. One hour is not enough to do anything in Graz and come back where you came from. Also allow non-residents in Graz to have the cheaper yearly ticket as well.
When I moved to Graz, a one-hour ticket cost €1,20!! Now it has increased to €2,50 and I just avoid taking public transport when I can because of this.
Everything is safe but your bike
In 2015, Graz was named the capital of bike thieves, with 10,5 bicycles stolen per 1000 residents. That was twice the amount than in Vienna!
If you plan on moving around on a bike in Graz, make sure to invest in a very good chain and padlock. Alternatively, you can also just buy an old bike that nobody would want to steal.
Always park your bike where a lot of other bikes are. If you have a courtyard, park it there instead of on the street. Be wary of isolated places or anywhere near party locations where drunk people may go by.
The progressive uglification of the old town centre
The heart of Graz, Sporgasse, Herrengasse and Hauptplatz, is progressively becoming the home of modern shops and cheap eateries with bright, neon signs. In my opinion, this is making the city centre more and more ugly with time.
What we would need is a regulation that prohibits shop-owners or new businesses from defacing the old town. I am amazed that it is allowed anyway since the whole centre is protected by Unesco. (The colour of the rooftops is regulated, why not the facade of buildings?) I wish for a Sporgasse that looks like the Getreidegasse in Salburg, where all the shop signs are in iron (even the Mcdonald’s one!).
Quiet hours from 10 p.m.
It is a huge pet peeve of mine that at 10 p.m. every bar and restaurant in Graz needs to close their outdoor garden seating and husher everybody inside. This happens in Summer as well as in Winter, as the Christmas Markets also have to shut down at 10 p.m.
Many people living in the centre and near the university party street complain about the noise at nighttime and this has brought a couple of discos and bars to shut down completely.
For this reason, many see Graz as the city of bans and a city for old people, instead of the vibrant, young student city it actually is. I understand that noise is annoying but I think a better compromise can be reached. Maybe that at weekends or for festivals and concerts the quiet hours can start at midnight instead of 10 p.m.
Houses, houses, houses…
Graz always seemed like a very green place to me and I am saddened by the fact that lately every single patch of green in Graz is being built on. Not only that, but in many areas, huge, multi-floor “commuter boxes” are being built (like Brauquartier, Reininghaus, ORF Park…). (By commuter boxes I mean buildings with hundreds of apartments where only 1-2 people can live).
Graz was always a great city because you can have a good standard of living without having to live in a big city like Vienna. But I think the city is going into the wrong direction. It feels like nobody is really regulating what and how much is being built. Do we really need so many new apartments? Especially so many apartments that are only for rent and not to buy? Do we just want people to work here or do we want families to live in Graz?
This actually brings me to another related topic:
The price of housing
It’s not news that price of housing is skyrocketing everywhere in the world. Graz is not an exception. If you want to buy a detached house with garden in Graz you need to plan with spending at least half a million euro. Even a small, 30 square metre apartment can cost you already €100.000. If you are alone, it makes it nearly impossible to even think about buying a house. Even if you work full-time and have a decent salary.
The airport serves mostly business-people
The airport has mostly flights from Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa taking you to Germany, Vienna and, until recently, Amsterdam with KLM. If you want to travel anywhere else on holiday, you might as well go to Vienna.
With the amount of foreign students coming to Graz every year and the number of cheap airlines in the world, I am amazed that the airport of Graz does not offer more choice.
Summer road works
With the cold winters and rainy side-seasons, obviously summer is the perfect time of the year to do maintenance works in Graz and on the motorways. There is no getting around it, really. But it is kinda annoying that if you want to go somewhere in Graz by public transport in summer you have to plan with changing bus and trams 3 times before getting to your destination, as your usual direct line is probably under works.
The same goes for the motorway. If you want to go to the south to Itlay or Croatia, good luck with all the road works you will encounter, slowing down your trip.
Do you also live in Graz? What do you find frustrating about living here? Let me know in the comments! Or reach out to me for an interview. I would love to hear what you think!