A Week In Vienna On A $35,936 Salary

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Today: a PhD candidate who makes $35,936 per year and spends some of her money on apples.
Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: University Assistant / Phd Candidate
Industry: Higher Education / Law
Age: 28
Location: Vienna, Austria
Salary: $35,936.48
Paycheck Amount (1x month): $2,494.19
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Monthly Rent: $823 for a 90 square meter apartment. My parents own the building and live in the attic, so I pay rent to them. (I just moved, and my former apartment was $507 for a 52 square meter apartment. I plan on getting a flatmate, since this new apartment is too big for me by myself.)
Loans: $0 (Higher education is still free in Austria)
Gas/Electricity: $80
Internet: $34
Cell Phone: $11.27
Netflix: $0 (I used my best friend's father's account)
Transportation: $37 (covers all public transport in Vienna)
Climbing Gym: $25
Boxing: $60/semester
Musical Instrument Insurance: $400/year
Household Insurance: $83/year
Women's Association Memebership: $11
Austrian Alpine Association: $70/year
Austrian Automobile Association: $20/year (for my father's motorcycle, which I almost never ride, but always forget to cancel my membership)
Savings: $536-$1,127 (depending on the month)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up in my new apartment, which I just moved into on Saturday, and turn on the radio to listen to the news. My boyfriend, F., is sleeping next to me and wants to cuddle, but I'm pretty distracted, because there are workers in the garden and on the roof and I have no curtains yet, so I feel a bit exposed.
8 a.m. — We get up and have coffee and leftover carrot cake my mom made over the weekend. I also manage to assemble lunch to take to work with me, which consists of green beans, cherry tomatoes and orzo. I leave F. money to buy filler because he's going to start fixing the holes in my old apartment while I'm at work. $22.46
9:15 a.m. — I arrive at work. On Mondays, I work for the in-house legal department at my university. I get to work on a draft for some new internal regulations.
12 p.m. — It's time for lunch, and I meet my co-workers in the kitchen. My salad thingy is nice, but it doesn't fill me up. I know I'll be hungry later. Someone brews a pot of (workplace provided) coffee for everybody, so I have some of that.
1:30 p.m. — I have a meeting with my boss at the legal department. We discuss the draft and make some changes.
2:30 p.m. — The afternoon drags. My colleague suggests going for a run, but I ran nine miles yesterday, and my knee says no. I also chat on the phone with F. who says he finished filling some of the holes and will be out tonight for a beer with friends. He asks if I want to come along, but I decline because I really want to spend time in my new apartment.
6 p.m. — Because no one is expecting me home and because my productivity was seriously lacking today, I stay longer in the office. On my way to my old apartment, I go to the drugstore to buy skin cream, various mothproofing agents, dishwasher salt, dishwashing detergent, chewing gum, and panty liners. $25.83
6:30 p.m. — I arrive at my old apartment and get to work on filling holes. The filler F. bought is supposed to be white but looks rather grey. I'm a bit alarmed because I went crazy with installing shelves in this apartment, and don't want them all to be visible when I give back the apartment.
7:45 p.m. — On my way home, I stop at the supermarket and buy gnocchi, two cucumbers, broccoli, salad, sauerkraut, toothpaste, and supposedly eco-friendly dishwashing sponges (they are way more expensive than normal dishwashing sponges, but I buy them anyway because I'm a slave to "green" products). $12.59
8:15 p.m. — At home I chop up the broccoli and fry it with lots of wild garlic (which I picked last year and preserved in oil and salt). I mix this with pecorino cheese and the gnocchi. It tastes okay, but the broccoli is a bit mushy. After dinner I remember that a new apartment is the opportunity to form new habits, so I clean the kitchen surfaces and wash all the dishes instead of leaving them in my sink until there's no more space. I then proceed to fold laundry, clean up, and repot some plants that are in desperate need of care. I am not good with plants, and one Oleander seems to be dead. I feel sorry for him; he was a fighter and even bloomed last year. I stick the brittle and dry plant in some water to see if there's any trace of life left, but my hopes are small.
10 p.m. — This new me is amazing! After cleaning up, I sit down to read Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. I only manage to read the introduction, but still feel great about my adult ways and myself. Around 11, I text F. to tell him that I am about to go to bed; he responds that he will be on his way soon. When he arrives I am fast asleep and barely notice him.
Daily Total: $60.88

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and we turn on the radio only to sleep through the morning news. This happens a lot, and makes me wake up with a slightly confused mush of the news mixed with whatever I was dreaming about that night.
7:45 a.m. — F. makes coffee and we have the last of leftover cake for breakfast. We chat about our plans for today and arrange to meet each other for lunch. I pack the leftovers from yesterday in a big Tupperware for us to share.
8:45 a.m. — I'm running late! I'm never efficient in the mornings, and am even more confused in my new apartment. I get to work using public transport and read a bit of Catcher in the Rye. I encounter a woman asking for money on my way, and want to give her a 2 Euro coin. But when I drop it into her cup, I realize it isn't a 2 Euro coin but some foreign coin that was in my pocket for some reason. I apologize and then fumble around awkwardly in my backpack until I finally retrieve my purse and thankfully find real money in there. $2.24
9:15 a.m. — I arrive at work, finish some of the projects for the legal department and submit my draft for the regulations. After that, I work on an exam for first year students and chat with my colleagues.
12 p.m. — F. picks me up for lunch. He just had an interview for an internship and it went well; it's unpaid, though, so he will have to find some job on the side. We wander into the park behind the campus and settle on a bench to eat our lunch. Afterwards, we take a short walk before I head back to the office.
4:30 p.m. — My productivity is seriously lacking today, so I go for a run with a colleague. She tells me she just finished her thesis. I congratulate her, but on the inside I'm beating myself up, because everybody else seems to be able to actually sit down and write that damn thing.
5:20 p.m. — We ran around five miles and I take a quick shower in the office. When I come out, my other colleague tells me we just got the proofs for a study textbook my boss wrote, and have to correct and proofread them before Monday. Happy times! I aim to work a bit before I meet F. at 6:30 at the train station but get lost in the depths of an online sale. I settle on two sweaters, a pair of pants and a linen tablecloth (which I aim to use as a bed cover), but due to some error, I can't complete my purchase. Anyhow, I'm late now and have to call F. that I won't make it for the 6:30 train.
6:45 p.m. — I make it to the train station and we get on the next train. My brother and his girlfriend invited us to dinner, and they live in a different part of the city.
7:30 p.m. — I have never been to my brother's apartment before, so I'm excited. We each have a beer and a shot of vodka before dinner. Dinner is cold cuts, vegetables, cheese, olives, and dried meat I brought my brother back from South Korea when I went there in June. He has a thing for weird food and dried meat, so I brought him horse jerky and octopus jerky (which looks like an octopus that's been run over by a car). Both are really good. We talk and drink more vodka and beer. My brother's girlfriend tells us she quit her job to become self-employed, which I think is really brave. I offer to help with any legal issues.
10.30 p.m. — My sister also stops by and we have more vodka. It's a lot of fun, but I'm getting tired.
11:20 p.m. — I check tram times and see that we should get going since the last tram leaves at 11:50. We have one more vodka and then leave. We arrive home an 12:30 and go straight to bed.
Daily Total: $2.24

Day Three

6 a.m. — I get up. I recently started going to boxing classes twice a week and they start at 6:45 a.m. I thought I would quit after a few classes, but I actually really like them. It also helps that four friends are in the same class. I make some coffee and pack my things. I am a bit hungover, but I cycle to the sports center and make it on time.
7:30 a.m. — This boxing class is no joke. Today I'm paired up with a girl who takes her punches seriously. I enjoy it, and since the classes are so short, it doesn't feel overwhelming. We usually finish the class with 100 push-ups, but I am dead after 30.
7:45 a.m. — I say goodbye to my friends. Usually we would go have a quick breakfast together, but I have a day off, so I cycle back home without showering. I stop at a bakery to get rolls for breakfast. $2.25
8 a.m. — I'm back home wanting to shower, but F. who is still asleep, senses my presence and pulls me into bed. We cuddle for a long time. I almost fall back asleep.
9:30 a.m. — F. finally wakes up and is in the mood for some morning sex, but since there are workers on the terrace and in the garden, I just know I won't be able to enjoy it. We plan to take a shower together for some privacy, but then my father calls, saying he needs to move some things from my flat, so sex is cancelled altogether.
10 a.m. — F. gets to packing and I shower and eat breakfast (rolls with butter and jam). I attempt to buy something from that online shop again. I will probably regret spending money on linen table cloths, but they're organic and reduced, and I convince myself that I need them. I buy one blue and one white, but hold off on all other purchases. $86.46
11 a.m. — I accompany F. to the metro and say goodbye, as he's on his way to the airport. He studies abroad, and we have been doing this long distance relationship for around two years now. I am sick of it, but can't think of an alternative. After saying goodbye, I walk to my old apartment to finish the walls and clean everything. On my way I stop at my favorite neighborhood thrift store. I buy a check patterned silk blouse and a pair of weird polyester Levi's. $5.61
11:30 a.m. — The filler has dried white, and the walls look mostly okay! I sand a few places and apply new plaster to holes that are not completely covered yet. I also screw a few things back into place, like the hood for the oven and a toothbrush holder. I'm a bit nervous about giving back this apartment. I took down a couple of ugly kitchen cupboards and replaced them with a ventilation hood. In my book that's an improvement, but I'm not sure the landlord agrees. I also can't find one of my spare keys.
3 p.m. — I pack up some random things that are still in the apartment and transport them on a flat-tired bike that I meant to repair for ages. I wobble home (luckily my old apartment is only a 10 minute walk from my new one). At home, I unpack my stuff and cook some orzo. I make myself a salad with nutritional yeast on top.
3:45 p.m. — I make a few calls, first to a renters aid organization to ask about possible problems arising from the “taking down cupboards” situation. The man on the other line is really unpleasant to talk to and hangs up on me without giving me any valuable information. I then call a locksmith to find out how much it would be to get the keys replaced. He tells me it would be around $60 — which is okay, but I still hope to find them. I then call F., who just arrived in Sweden. We chat a bit. A while later I get a text from my best friend saying that she has my spare key. What a relief!
4:30 p.m. — I warm up some coffee from this morning and aim to work on some proofs, but get very distracted and watch a bunch of YouTube videos instead (there goes the new me…).
6 p.m. — My sister drops by and searches for something in my father's old workshop that she can use to make dramatic poi for her upcoming shows in the summer seasons (in the summer she often has gigs as a circus artist). She finds some curtain rails that work, and I help her saw them to the correct length. While we're at it, my parents come home and we all chat a bit.
7 p.m. — I realize that I have to leave. I volunteer with an organization that provides legal aid to migrants, and I scheduled an appointment for 7:30. I cycle like crazy and make it almost on time only to find out that my client has not arrived yet.
7:50 p.m. — Still no client. It isn't a time sensitive matter, so I leave it up to the client to schedule a new appointment.
8:10 p.m. — On my way out, I decide to stop by the place where we conduct out initial consultations. When I arrive, I see that the waiting space is still full, so I decide to do a few consultations myself.
8:45 p.m. — After finishing my two consultations, I hang around a bit and contemplate going back to the office, but then decide to cycle back to my old apartment to finish those walls. I sand the rest of the walls and then vacuum and mop everything. The walls are looking good!
10 p.m. — I arrive home and clean up, because tomorrow the carpenters are coming inside to fix a few doors. I go to sleep around 11.
Daily Total: $94.32

Day Four

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hit snooze numerous times.
7:45 a.m. — I finally get up; I make some coffee and assemble lunch out of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, salad, and orzo.
9:15 a.m. — I arrive at work and continue working on those proofs. It's really boring, and my mind wanders.
12 p.m. — I have lunch with my colleagues and eat the salad I prepared.
4 p.m. — My attention span is like five minutes today. I surrender and go for a run with two of my colleagues — we run around five miles. Afterwards, I take a quick shower and then leave work. I take the train to meet a woman from Willhaben, which is the Austrian equivalent of Craigslist. I buy an enamel casserole from her, which I plan to gift to my best friend. I've let her borrow my casserole dish for the last two years because it wouldn't fit in the oven of my old apartment; now that I have a bigger oven, I want it back. Since she got very attached to that particular casserole, I buy her a similar model in a different design. $28
6 p.m. — After meeting the seller, I take public transport to go pick up a carpet I had repaired (for $392 - already paid). When I pick it up, I decide to be diligent and check if it was done properly, since I paid so much for the repair. A small hole has not been mended, and the woman offers to mend it on the spot. I agree and go to the supermarket next door while she works. I get eggs, mushrooms, sour cream, and apples. $10.96
6:40 p.m. — I pick up the carpet and leave. It's quite heavy to drag home, but luckily it's just a short tram ride. I call my best friend to tell her I am on my way, because I will be babysitting her son at my place tonight. When I get home, my father is in my apartment making some repairs. My friend and her son, L., arrive five minutes after I get home, and we briefly chat before she heads out for the night.
7:10 p.m. — I start preparing dinner (homemade noodles with mushroom paprikash). L. is disappointed at the lack of internet in my apartment (I usually let him listen to children's detective audio books when he is at my place), but he eventually starts to help with the cooking and gets really enthusiastic about frying mushrooms. We invite my father to eat with us, and he offers me a beer, which I happily accept. We chat a bit over dinner and afterwards L. manages to convince my father to go upstairs to their flat to find something sweet for dessert. We all have some sweets and then L. and I play with Beyblades until he gets picked up.
9:10 p.m. — L. gets picked up and I give my friend the casserole. Afterwards I clean up a bit to honor the new me and then start mindlessly scrolling on my phone... I go to sleep around 11.
Daily Total: $38.96

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — After hitting snooze twice, I finally get up and make some coffee. I didn't pack my things for boxing class last night, so I'm running late.
6:50 a.m. — I cycle to my boxing class and am only five minutes late. The instructor makes me pay for being late by making me to do 30 extra burpees.
7:45 a.m. — After class, I take a quick shower, go for a coffee with two former colleagues. I get a Melange (like a cappuccino but with a little less milk) and tip around 10%. $3.30
9 a.m. — I am at work on time. I make myself porridge and celebrate being on time by losing myself in the depths of the internet before I manage to finalize the proofs. It is very dull work. Throughout the day, I eat the remains of yesterday's dinner, two apples, some more porridge, and a protein chocolate bar. My linen tablecloths arrive at my office — they are nice, but I still know it was an unnecessary purchase.
5:30 p.m. — I leave the office and head home. It's my friend's birthday today, and I told her she could have the party at my old, already empty flat. I call her and she and another friend are on their way to the supermarket. I decide to head home first to unload some stuff before joining them for preparations. At home, I eat the leftover paprikash from yesterday. I change my clothes, wash my face, and put on some tinted moisturizer before heading out.
6:30 p.m. — I meet my friends at the supermarket next to my apartment. I buy seven boxes of chocolate for my neighbors because I forgot to tell them we were having a party. At my old apartment, I write some notes to my neighbors and add my phone number in case it gets too loud. $19
7 p.m. — My friends arrive and we prep the empty apartment. We drag up some garden furniture from the cellar and decorate with what we still have on hand. We use cardboard beer cases as lampshades to dim the lights a bit, which works surprisingly well. I also put out all the empty jam jars that have accumulated in the last two years for the guests to use as drinking glasses. The party starts around 8, and I eat sour worms, pizza buns, and chips. I drink a white wine spritzer as well as beer, aperol spritz, and at some point, an averna sour. I regret not having had more parties in this flat while I was actually living here.
3:47 a.m. — I finally leave after wanting to do so for the last two hours — people are still dancing but so far no complaints from my neighbors. I walk home and immediately fall asleep.
Daily Total: $22.30

Day Six

10 a.m. — My father is working in the yard and I wake up to drilling sounds. I am still sleepy, but force myself out of bed because we arranged to work on my kitchen today. Since moving back into the same house as my parents, I've noticed how freakishly productive people are who are not slaves to their computers/cell phones.
10:30 a.m. — I pack some totes in a basket and walk to the farmers market which is right around the corner. I get some spinach, scallions, parsley, potatoes, and apples. Back home, I put my groceries away and walk upstairs, because my parents invited me for breakfast. $11
12 p.m. — I arranged to work with my father on my kitchen cupboards later, but he tells me he needs to finish something first. While I wait, I tidy up a bit. I realize I am out of toilet paper, so I walk to the drugstore. I get the toilet paper and also a cleansing milk I don't need, and two bottles of body oil (I couldn't resist the “buy one get one free" promotion). $13.53
1:30 p.m. — When I get home, my father is still drilling something. I feel slightly hungover and lie down, but do not manage to sleep. Eventually I get up and decide to wash my windows — I do a terrible job and leave streaks all over, so I stop again.
5 p.m. — My father and I finally start working. I'm still tired and slightly hungover, so I am not a big help. We cut the first cabinet with the wrong measurements. My friend who celebrated her birthday yesterday comes over to give me the keys back. The party went on until five in the morning, but nobody ever complained. They cleaned the whole apartment today. We have a quick coffee together and then she is off again and I vow to focus on the kitchen cabinets.
7 p.m. — I am doing better — we finish a second cabinet, which is only slightly lopsided and then attach wooden strips to the countertops.
9 p.m. — We have to stop working. My father, my sister, and I all head upstairs. We make a quick dinner of homemade pesto (with wild garlic instead of basil), pasta, and a salad.
10 p.m. — I am back in my own apartment without plans for the evening. I decide to take my bike trailer over to my old apartment to see if I can haul all my stuff out. When I arrive, I notice that there is a lot more stuff here than I realized. I left some chairs, a carpet, and the stereo equipment for my friend's party as well as some tools and other random stuff. In addition, my friends left me all their leftover alcohol, which is nice of them, but now I have to transport it somehow. No way is this going to fit in the trailer. I pack the stereo, the carpet, and some curtains, and make my way back. It's only a 10-minute walk, but it's really annoying because I have to haul the trailer by hand. I was supposed to go on a hike with my brother and parents tomorrow, but realize this is going to take longer than anticipated, so I call my parents and cancel.
12:30 a.m. — After three trips I finally got most of my stuff out. I am dead tired. I fall asleep around 1AM.
Daily Total: $24.53

Day Seven

12 p.m. — I wake up and am very happy I did not join my family on that hike. For breakfast, I make myself coffee and a huge pancake with plum jam. It's pretty warm outside, so I have breakfast on my terrace. A friend texts to ask if I want to go climbing tonight, and I reply with a maybe. I usually go bouldering at least twice a week with a group of friends, but the last few weeks our schedules haven't matched up, and I miss spending time with them.
1:30 p.m. — I vacuum my whole apartment, which takes forever. Then, I sort and wash some laundry.
2:30 p.m. — I text a friend of mine to see if he wants to go for a run, but he replies that he has already been. I slowly get ready and realize I left my headphones at the office. I usually listen to podcasts while running. I think about running by my office to get there, but decide to just run without them.
2:45 p.m. — I stop by my old apartment to get the recycling and end staying to clean the surfaces again as well as fix some last things. I am nervous about giving back the apartment and want it to look right.
3:50 p.m. — I am finally running. I run to the Viennese forest and then circle around there until I get in enough miles to run back.
5:45 p.m. — I managed to run 13 miles and am pretty worn out. In the forest, I found a blue sweater someone lost and after running by it four times, took it home with me. On my way back, I also find a pair of white leather slippers in an open trashcan filled with perfectly in-shape leather shoes and take those home, too. At home, I meet my parents in the yard and we chat briefly.
6:30 p.m. — After showering, I cancel climbing and cook myself dinner, which is potato mash with scallions, parsley, spinach, and lots of butter. I eat that with an egg and a salad and put the rest in boxes to take to work with me.
8:30 — After dinner I clean up, call F. and call it a night. I read a bit in Catcher in the Rye before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0
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