Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Report of what it's like to live there - 03/22/16

Personal Experiences from Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 03/22/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've lived in London, Kosovo, Bosnia, Brazil, Colombia, and Spain.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC. I think it is about a 6 hour flight to Paris or Amsterdam, then a layover of 1-2 hours, then 1 hour on to Luxembourg. Although on personal travel people often fly in or out of Frankfurt or Brussels, which are close and have lots more flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We arrived in 2013 and are leaving in 2016.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am posted here as a diplomat.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Our housing is average to great. We live an 8-minute walk from work. No place is far from downtown and work. I think the farthest house in the pool is 9 miles from work. The housing is generally very good and some of it is amazing. Luxembourg is quite small so nothing is really far. It is a small housing pool and what people get is heavily determined by who is moving out around the same time. It is a very tough housing market for everyone in Luxembourg.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive!

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Life cereal.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Restaurants are very expensive here. A normal meal in a sit-down restaurant for lunch would be about US$15 (min); dinner US$25 min.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None. Well, OK, lots of bees in the summer.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO/military post.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

expensive!

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, probably expensive. I just love to walk here. It is so beautiful in Luxembourg city. THere are so many trails to explore, and the views are stunning from so many places.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problem.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Catholic for sure.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

French is extremely helpful for getting by in regular life. It is easy to pick up a few words of Luxembourgish which are helpful. French is extremely helpful to know. I use French all the time outside of work and occasionally for work. Most of the people we encounter working in doctor's offices and and in restaurants, etc. are French people who commute here from France to work. Most of the people at our children's school are francophone Belgians many of whom don't speak English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. Lots of cobblestones, lots of steep hills. We pushed a double stroller around for two years and that was tough; I can only imagine with a wheelchair.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transport is excellent and cheap. A 4 euro pass and you can travel the entire country for one day. Taxis are expensive.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

No special issues here. We drive a Honda pilot which is enormous by local standards and can be tricky to get in and out of garages. Mainly we walk everywhere. It is tricky to drive it in the neighborhoods with very small streets.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Our internet and phone package is about US$75 per month. I don't think it is very fast even though we paid for the fastest package. It could be because our house is big and has thick walls and my home office is in the attic. We need a relay station thing to ping the signal up to the attic. Installation cost US$900, but we ended up working out a reduction and sharing the cost with the landlord. They charged by the hour to install.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No. Vets and kennels are good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes if you speak fluent French or German.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Red Cross is keeping volunteers busy at the refugee centers.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire at work. Public is "nice European."

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

It is very safe here. No security concerns, other than the regular stuff one would watch out for in any medium sized town in the U.S. They do warn a lot about home break-ins, but they are rarely violent. I've never felt any gender discrimination.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

For major health issues, you might need to turn to specialists in the larger border towns like Trier (45 minutes away). Lux is so small that it doesn't have all the specialists.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There are definitely seasonal allergens here.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Often cloudy. Often a very light rain. But not as bad as everyone says. Often gorgeous.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Schools are great and there are lots of options. Many use the International School of Luxembourg. We use the Ecole Maria Montessori (bilingual French/German) and love it. There is also the European Union school with sections in all EU languages, a British school, and others. I have American friends who send their children to the local Luxembourgish schools and love those too. Luxembourg city has a population of about 75% foreigners so all of the schools here are extremely international.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There is also an amazing daycare system subsidized by the government for everyone (including diplomats) for kids up to age 12. They calculate your family price based on your income. The price is the highest for the first child, lower for #2, very cheap for #3 and free for #4 and beyond. Our children went to a wonderful full-time, 5 days a week Luxembourgish creche and they loved it. They learned to speak Luxembourgish along with other kids from at least 20 countries. The staff all spoke fluent English and French and German (and Luxembourgish). It was a public creche. The public creches turned out to be better (in our experience) than the private ones (which was the opposite of what we expected). We started with a private French-language creche (Arche Noe) and hated it. It was well worth the switch to Luxembourgish.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Tons but lots seem to be in French or Luxembourgish.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge expat community in Luxembourg city. About 75% of the population of the city is foreigners. I think it about 40% of the entire country's population is foreigners. Luxembourg has embraced this diversity overall.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hiking, theatre, symphony, museums, travel around the country and beyond, lots and lots of festivals for all seasons all over the country.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Awesome for families. Luxembourg is heaven for kids, in general. This country loves kids and there are scores and scores of activities for kids and all sorts of things set up for them. Maybe could get boring for singles/couples.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Very open environment here. PM and Deputy PM are openly gay.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There doesn't seem to be.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Luxembourg has scores of beautiful castles and villages and there are festivals all year round giving you a a reason to visit them when they are at their best. The wine region is lovely: Remich and Grevenmacher, esp. boat trips on the Moselle. We loved visiting Bernkastel in Germany, especially for the St. Nicholas weekend which is quite amazing. Esch sur Sure is amazing: little village with a castle in a river loop: atmospheric. The Mullerthal region for hiking: "little Switzerland" has amazing rock formations. The list goes on and on.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Mullerthal trails. Herringer Millen restaurant. All the castles. The trail across from Borscheid castle, by the lake. Mondorf les Bains for the antique car show and walking around. Zoli Poney in Mergelange, Belgium: rent a shetland pony for your child for 5 euro per 30 minutes, then head off on your own self-guided tour across the fields and forests. The amazing WWII museum at Bastogne : best museum I ever visited. The museum of the city of Luxembourg: ask to ride in the "big" elevator - as big as a room, made of glass, goes down into the ramparts. The casemates. The petrusse express green tourist train. The Christmas Market by the golden lady. The kids in the City festival in the summer. etc. etc. Endless!

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wine, cremant, cheese.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Luxembourg is a heavenly place to live, especially for families with children. Luxembourg is a wonderful place to live. I can't begin to describe all of the wonderful things about it. I love living here and hate to leave, even after almost 3 years. It is no wonder so many internationals move here and never leave. And it is not just its proximity to its more famous neighbors. Luxembourg itself is wonderful.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you work at it.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the local creches are way better than the private ones. Even if it means your kids will learn Luxembourgish, it is worth it.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

ABSOLUTELY!!!

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Wine and cheese. Local selections are amazing.

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4. But don't forget your:

Clothes. Clothes here are very expensive, we don't buy anything locally.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0873387023/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0873387023&linkCode=as2&tag=talesmagcom0e-20&linkId=AE62K2MTWRELI6HC

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