Before we moved here, we asked people who lived here already what we should make sure to bring — not the obvious stuff, but the things we wouldn’t think of on our own but would kick ourselves that we hadn’t brought along. One of the top answers was clothes, especially for kids. This made no sense to us — we weren’t moving to the north slope of Everest — surely there would be plentiful clothing in Vienna? Even not totally understanding, we stocked up anyway — we tried to anticipate which things we would need the most and bought some extras. I went crazy at the end-of-winter sales last spring. But, of course, there were things we couldn’t get.
Now that we’re here, we understand. Of course there are lots of clothes to be purchased in Vienna, but most of them are outrageously expensive by our standards. There are lots of expensive dressy clothes, but even the jeans, the t-shirts, the every day kid clothes that you don’t want to spend a ton on because they’re either going to get stained, ripped or lost, or they’re going to be outgrown in about a week (think: Old Navy) are significantly more expensive than at home — and that’s BEFORE you do the dollar/Euro conversion.
I’ve just started doing some Christmas shopping online, and I’m running into the same problem — a lot of what I could buy relatively inexpensively and easily online at home is either two to three times as much purchased here (again, that’s before the currency conversion) or it just isn’t available here. There are also very few US retailers that ship to Austria — at least when it comes to toys.
It’s adding a frustrating wrinkle to shopping. We’re having our family mail some things over, but that’s an imposition and a pain for them, and for some things (a few items I really want to get the boys for Christmas) just impractical because of what it would cost to ship them. (And that doesn’t even mention the fact that we’ve had things take nearly a month in transit from the US to here, so I’ve almost used up my window to ship things from the States for Christmas.)
I’m just going to have to be creative for the rest of our winter clothes, and for Christmas shopping. I’m so glad we stocked up as much as we did before we moved, and I’ll have to bring an empty suitcase and plan for some shopping when we go home. And if someone asked me what they should bring when they move here, I’d say lots of clothes, especially for kids. Go to Old Navy and buy it all.