Austria, you are the worst relationship I have ever been in and I’m breaking up with you

I’m not supposed to let people treat me badly, so why should I let my country treat me this way?

Welcome to Austria, where the social security system is so excellent that they don’t let us do joint taxes, but they still count my income towards my wife’s benefits.

However, they only do this in retrospect and then ask for 2.600 Euro back a year AFTER she received those “benefits.”

Speaking of “benefits”.

Nevermind that we handed in all the information about my income every single month while she was unemployed. Nevermind that they told us if we did this properly nothing would come to bite us in the ass. Ha fucking ha!

Welcome to Austria, a country that methodically screws over small and medium earners while rewarding rich people—as well as those who rely completely on the state and don’t even try to get a job. If you want to drink your wits away at the next “Beisl” you’re golden in this country: they’ll pay for your flat and insurance and, fortunately, beer ain’t expensive.

The venn diagram of “people actually in need” and “people receiving benefits” is depressing.

Welcome to Austria, a country that does its level best to prevent people from becoming successful entrepreneurs. They take half your earnings, but they don’t give you half as much as countries like Denmark give you in return for your taxes.

Founding a company here is a pain in the ass. If you don’t scale within three years the back payments are going to be more like back-breaking payments.

You got a letter from SVA/AMS/tax office.

Furthermore, the air here is stifling. New ideas and new ventures go against the grain of everything inherently Austrian which is: do not change, and do not incite change.

Welcome to Austria, where the excellent social security system [/sarcasm] we’re paying so much for isn’t actually social at all. If you suffer from mental health problems the state insurance will have you show up every three weeks for a “checkup” by an unqualified doctor who has not gotten any further education in the past 10 years and whose views on mental health problems are that “they’re all in your head.”

Your appointment will consist of a combination of the following parts:

  • putting you down for being ill
  • telling you you don’t look so bad so, surely, it can’t be that bad
  • shaking their heads saying “I don’t know what to do with you” as if you are a disappointment to them
  • telling you that you have to get better faster
  • telling you you’re faking it
  • telling you that “others are really, actually sick”
  • telling you they can’t do anything for you
  • telling you they don’t accept your doctor’s diagnosis and they’re sending you back to work anyhow

People keep telling me I shouldn’t be so keen to leave Austria. That I should be happy it’s so quaint here. That I should be grateful for the social security system here.

Let me tell you something: In all my 16 years of working in this country its “legendary” social security system has done nothing for me. Not. A. Thing. And most definitely never when I needed it to.

Whenever they’ve given me support in form of money, they’ve taken it away again afterwards by having me repay insane amounts under completely intransparent rules. Rules I asked about earlier and repeatedly. Rules that somehow no one can ever explain clearly.

You want those benefits back?

Whenever I was sick and actually needed support they’ve told me my illness doesn’t qualify because you can’t see it. And I’ve heard these stories from far too many other people as well.

Austria, you have done nothing for me except putting me down for striving for something more and better and telling me to shut up and be happy with what I have here. That’s the Austrian way.

Well, I’m not happy. And I’m not shutting up. And I am going to fucking leave you as soon as I can because you are the worst relationship I have ever been in—if anyone else had treated me the way you have I would have kicked them out of my life ages ago and everyone would have congratulated me. Austria is and always has been a dead end for me. I’ve always known this; it just took me a while too long to act on that knowledge.

I understand that for a lot of people Austria is a good relationship, getting into the country is a goal for them. And I realise I can afford to hate this country because I was privileged enough to grow up in it. But I can gladly hand in my Austrian citizenship and still respect that for others this country works and has saved their lives. I do understand and I’m grateful it has done what’s necessary for others.

For years, I let the attitude in this country suck the life force out of me, but I am done. I want to change the world again! But Austria won’t ever let me, so I’m off to greener pastures.

In case you’re now wondering, “well, why are you still here then?” → Things still keeping me from moving away:

  • My partner needs to finish her master’s thesis and graduate uni.
  • We need to figure out where in the UK to move to exactly. This depends, in part, on where we should ideally found our company and/or where my partner will get a job (while I stay self-employed). Any job offerings or advice in regards to where we should relocate are most welcome, by the way. :)
  • Saving up some money which, technically, we have done, but now we’re going to have to give that money back to the state for the “benefits” we received last year.
  • Taking a trip to our target location to scout it all out. Again, a matter of saving up some money…man, this is getting old, isn’t it?
  • Selling off and giving away all the shit we don’t need and want to bring with us.

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