I have been living in Graz for about 6 years now and every time someone from Graz meets me, they are always surprised that I love living here so much. I think that this is due to the fact that when you live in one place all your life, you tend to stop seeing the positive side of it. This has definitely happened to me, coming from Rome, where millions of tourists come every year!
Nevertheless, I believe that Graz has a greater potential as liveable city than Rome or other European capitals. Here is a list of reasons why it is great to live in Graz.
1. The size of Graz
Graz is the second-largest city in Austria, with nearly 300.000 permanent residents. This is just the right amount of people to make the city full of life, but at the same time the area of the city is not that big that you would need hours to travel from one side to the other. Simultaneously, the city has everything you could need (shops, schools, university, jobs, restaurants…). This makes the size of Graz “just right” and definitely a great place to live in.
2. UNESCO world heritage city
The whole city centre is under UNESCO protection and you really understand it when you see how beautiful it is. This makes going shopping or for a coffee in the centre even more worthwile. Find more info about what to see in Graz in my previous article. Even though the city is very beautiful, Graz is still not as overcrowded with tourists as other places in Austria, like Vienna or Salzburg.
3. The weather
Austria is well-known for its mountains and winter sports, but Graz marches to the beat of a different drum. With its southern position, in the middle of a valley, Graz can boast temperatures that are on average higher than in other Austrian cities. Furthermore, the summer sun gives Graz a very Italian flair, and winter brings little snow.
4. Bicycle-friendly city
The city centre is reachable from any corner of Graz by bike and there are bike lanes taking you nearly everywhere in the city. Austrian drivers are accustomed to cyclists so there is no danger for cyclists on the road. Parents even bring their kids to school by bike! A bike is a great option if you are living in Graz as a student. Public transport can be quite expensive.
5. Reliable services
This might astound me personally, coming from southern Italy, but the public services here work without any issues. Some Austrians complain of over-bureaucracy, but I don’t mind that if everything works as it should. I have never had any issues with unreliable public transport, getting doctor appointments, health insurance when I was in hospital or doing general bureaucracy.
6. Something is always going on
There are plenty of events every month, every weekend and nearly every evening all over Graz. Many Stammtisches (regular tables) you can join to meet new people or workshops or courses to join. In summer there are dancing evenings or yoga in the park. In winter you have Christma markets. Just have a look on Facebook and you will find something that suits you.
7. It is very multicultural
Besides the hundreds of Erasmus students coming to Graz every year, there are also many that come for the job opportunities, especially from Slovenia, Croatia and northern Italy. 40% of Austrians speak English and many learn Italian and Slovenian in school (Carinthians in particular).
8. It is a safe place
73% of people feel safe on the streets at daytime and 40% at night, but criminality is low compared to Vienna and it is in decline. Many joke that nothing really happens in Graz most of the time. Only bicycles are in danger of getting stolen, so get a good padlock and chain! So it is generally quite safe to live in Graz.
9. The Silicon Valley of Austria
Graz is the capital of IT companies in Austria, many Startups have started here and more and more IT companies are opening locations here. Especially if you are working in this field, there is a large choice of jobs for you. This is also contributing to the growth of the city. More jobs means that more people are coming to live in Graz and more houses are being built on the outskirts.
10. Wide range of universities
There are 6 different universities in Graz, making it a real student city (about 20% of the overall population is made up of students). Anything you might want to study, can be studied in Graz. As a student, it is really great to live in Graz. You get discounts for public transport, in cinemas, theatres and in shops.
11. Nature is a stone’s throw away
If you want to get out of the city and enjoy some nature, you can go out to the countryside or the mountains really easily. Go cycling along the Mur towards the south to see the hills of the Styrian wineland. Or take the train to go hiking in the Alps (Bärenschutzklamm, Hochschwab… you name it). There are also many parks inside the city itself and the Mur promenade makes it feel like you are in nature without leaving the city at all.
12. City of culinary delights
Graz has a wide range of restaurants, cafés, bars and bakeries to please all types of palates. Besides the higher-class restaurants like Landhauskeller, El Gaucho or El Pescador, which are advertised by the local tourist boards, there are many great affordable options too. The vegan/vegetarian scene is quite big, there are a lot of restaurants like Café Erde catering in particular to that. And there are many places selling authentic food from abroad, like Pizzaiolo, owned by Italians from Naples, or Pierogi, from Poland. The tourist office also offers culinary tours in Graz.