Co-existence for me

What are house rules?

House rules are displayed in some buildings. They stipulate what is permitted and what is prohibited in the building and when quiet times are to be complied with. If there are no house rules, the statutory quiet time is from 10 pm until 6 am. Sometimes there are also quiet times from 12 noon until 3 pm and all day on Sundays and public holidays. That does not mean that you have to be totally silent. But loud noises (drilling, lawn mowing ...) are not permitted.

What should I do to ensure that I do not stand out in public for the wrong reasons?

In Austria, privacy is appreciated. Noise or even arguments in public are discouraged. In toilets, the used toilet paper is flushed away in the pan. However, women’s hygiene pro­ducts may not be thrown into the toilet. There are bins for these and also special bags in which you can dispose of used products.

There are public toilets in the cities. You often have to pay something to use them. Going to the toilet outdoors (e. g. in parks or on car parks) is prohibited.

What do I do if I come across an emergency?

In Austria, every adult is obligated to help in an emergency when another person is in danger. You only have to help if you do not put yourself in danger in doing so. It is a punishable offence not to help. This applies in road traffic and also in public life.

Am I allowed to spit on the road?

It is not forbidden but is seen as particularly bad behaviour (even when an Austrian does it). Nor do you clean your nose with only your hand – if you must clean your nose, you use a tissue. If you have to sneeze or cough, please put your arm in front of your face. This ensures that you do not annoy other people and you keep your hands clean.

Can I make telephone calls in public?

Yes, if you do not disturb anyone in the process. In rooms shared with others (e. g. waiting rooms), on the bus or on the train, it is impolite to conduct loud conversations – even if many Austrians do this as well. You speak or make a telephone call quietly so as not to disturb others.

How do I behave towards my neighbours?

That varies greatly. You greet people whom you live alongside and whom you meet frequently or even on a daily basis, even when they do not greet back. Many neighbours get on very well with each other and help one another. You take in the neighbour’s mail, look after their apartment when they are on holiday, and have a coffee with them. We wish you a pleasant co-existence with your neighbours! When you move into a new apartment, go to your new neighbours and introduce yourself!

Where can I participate?

Social life frequently takes place among work colleagues, in sports clubs and other associations. There are many associations and groups that welcome new members. The Red Cross is also always looking for volunteers. You will meet many new people and will improve your knowledge of German when you join an association.