What is it like to live in Luxembourg? Is it an expat-friendly city?
In this Expat Interview, Rebecca shares her expat life in Luxembourg, along with tips for moving to this city, the cost of living in Luxembourg and more.
Situated in between France, Germany, and Belgium, Luxembourg is a small landlocked European country. Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world and is known for its finance industry.
Currently, Google tells me that 47.9% of the Luxembourg population is foreigners/expats. This is very believable.
How did you move to Luxembourg?
This isn’t the shortest of stories, at no point did I expect to be living in Luxembourg. Originally my boyfriend and I finished travelling and decided to settle in London (my favourite city).
The plan was for him to get work in London as he has worked there before, he is British and works in Finance… this should be super easy! What could go wrong?!
I wasn’t legally allowed to work in London so I would continue my graphic design freelancing and creating my She Roams Solo platform on the side.
Things didn’t quite work out as we expected. Perhaps we underestimated how hard this would be, or perhaps it was fate pushing us in a different direction. No matter how much my boyfriend tried, and the vast amount of experience and connections he had, he could not seem to secure any work. So my freelance kept us afloat but we were in a very tough situation.
Slowly our savings had all been used and we were living on cereal most days until freelance payment came in. (Somehow, always just in time). Eventually, I told my boyfriend he needed to just apply to any work since I couldn’t work and we needed more stability.
He joked saying he would apply for a job in Germany, to which we both laughed at how much of a funny joke it seemed at the time and how sadly desperate we were becoming. Then he saw a job in Luxembourg… applied and got it!
Neither of us thought we would be living in Luxembourg. But we were both very grateful for the idea of a stable income, as well as a new and exciting adventure and location.
Why did you choose to live in Luxembourg?
When we realised living in Luxembourg was real, it became reality and not a joke, It was embraced! As much as I loved London I had “been there and done that’. Luxembourg was something different.
A new place. Fate chose us to live in Luxembourg, we didn’t choose it. But I’m sure glad it worked out that way.
How did you prepare for moving to Luxembourg?
I am not the best planner, in fact – I am the worst. It wasn’t until I was standing in line at passport control that I realised, I couldn’t legally work or live in Luxembourg. I’m Australian, not European.
But my planning did get us so far – To try and understand the city I did a brief google. Until then, I knew nothing of Luxembourg. I didn’t know how expensive it was. Also, I didn’t know it was an expat country…. I knew nothing!
I joined some Facebook groups to know what else to expect and googled a lot about the city and asked people questions. More-so. I believe in finding out for myself.. so that’s what I did.
I had arranged a potential Airbnb for us when we got there and a hotel until the Airbnb came through.
The most important plan to me was “what will we do for NYE” – this may sound silly but we arrived 2 days before NYE, which just happens to be my favourite day of the year.
This worked in our favour as the people we met on NYE set us up for a great time in Luxembourg in general
What is the cost of living in Luxembourg?
Luxembourg is a very expensive city. This was a shock to me and a big disappointment as I was just starting out my freelancing.
Some things were not too expensive but overall – you need to be earning in this city! The good thing is that the minimum wage is very high.
Accommodation in Luxembourg
we were paying just under 900 euros a month for a one bedroom, furnished apartment outside of Luxembourg city (Esch Alzette) this was inconvenient as it was 30 minutes to the city.
However, to live in the city, it’s about the same price for a room in a share house. A one bedroom apartment will set you back over 1400 euros a month.
Transportation in Luxembourg
It’s nice and cheap. You will pay max 50 euros a month for the whole country. If you live in the city, you barely need it. Its 4 euros a day for the whole country – recently, the news has been talking about making all public transport free.
Grocery bills are very expensive. Certain things like peppercorns and tea bags are outrageous. I believe this is all due to the high minimum wage. A lot of people travel into Germany or Belgium to avoid this.
Taxi is one of the most expensive in the world. There is no Uber in Luxembourg. Speeding fines and so on are also quite expensive.
Because it is a rich country you don’t find many “crappy” or “cheap” cars like in other countries. So buying a used car was more expensive than in other countries.
I also found that because it is a small country, the choices are limited, therefore not as many cheap or “low quality” options on things.
How to overcome difficulties in Luxembourg?
When first arriving in Luxembourg we were struggling with money due to the London situation. However, we made it through that okay.
On top of this, because I am Australian, I could not legally work in this country either. Nor could I stay for much longer than 3 months.
We worked our way around this by me applying for a “Pacs visa” which is much like a de-facto visa.
There were some language difficulties and a small culture shock but nothing massive.
Did you experience any discrimination from the locals?
In general, Luxembourg is an expat-heavy country so there isn’t too much discrimination.
Although you do hear from some people, that the locals are not happy about their country being turned into a “long-term holiday” for expats but I never had anything from anyone to my face.
Did you have culture shock? How did you overcome that?
It wasn’t so much culture shock – Luxembourg is a conservative country. Which simply doesn’t suit my personality as much as other countries. I overcame it with the friends and people I surrounded myself with.
When I started working, I found it no fun to work for a French company. People were less friendly and often just spoke French around me, despite knowing English.
I overcame that by excepting it for what it is. I spent lunch breaks working on my She Roams Solo platform so it worked in my favor.
What are your favorite things to do in Luxembourg?
Picnics in the parks are wonderful in the summer. Getting out and about into neighbouring countries was always fun if you had a car.
Simply going on walks was always good. The lake in Upper Sûre Lake was wonderful in the summer. As well as the hikes in Mullerthal.
Where do you recommend to visit in Luxembourg?
I always take guests for a stroll along the cities walls, admiring the views. We generally end up in the Grunnd area where a Kwak beer at the Scotts pub sitting by the river is key to relaxing.
The casemates are another really cool thing to see. There is also the MOMA art museum which is quite nice.
If you have enough time, I suggest a day trip to Trier, Nancy, Metz or various others.
Luxembourg has some great things to see in the north like the Mozelle (wine region) and the little Switzerland hiking areas as well as the lakes but they are hard to get to without a car.
How to make new friends in Luxembourg?
I found it super easy to make friends in the city. I joined Facebook groups, attend some meetups and try to keep in touch with people. You’ll have friends in no time!
Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?
The beauty of Luxembourg was that I knew no other Australians. There are not too many in Luxembourg and all of my friends were foreigners/expats.
There was a time I held a football game/bbq and we had 30 people attend with 19 different nationalities.
Where is your favorite place in Luxembourg to hang out?
I personally really loved the small Portuguese bars. The staff barely spoke English and they could feel a bit intimidating at first but the drinks were cheaper and normally came with peanuts, chips or snacks.
Once you showed a smile and some politeness, the English and intimidation wasn’t an issue.
Did you change your perspective about Luxembourg after living here?
Eventually, we left. It got too cold in the winters and as being a landlocked country, I missed having many swimming options.
I also started to miss home and felt like 2 years in Luxembourg was too much for me. I wanted to try different countries and new experiences.
What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Luxembourg?
Try and obtain housing from Facebook groups or friends so you can find a way to not pay for “agency fees”
If you are looking to save on the cost of groceries, think about shopping in Germany or Belgium. This would mean getting a car.
If you are a married couple, you pay less tax (perhaps think about getting married) ;)
If you are looking to make friends, join expat groups, Facebook groups or meetups. People are friendly as they are all expats but you have to make the effort.
Avoid Taxis at all cost – public transport is cheap
Whilst flying out of Luxembourg is not as cheap as other European countries, you can make the most of being in mainland Europe with some great road trips.
Consider France, Belgium and Germany, even the Netherlands but get to see some of their off the beaten track places.
Would you recommend others to live in Luxembourg?
I would – but only if you have a good job opportunity first. There are much cheaper and more creative countries in Europe.
What have you learned from living abroad?
I learned a lot about European culture, living in mainland Europe was a very different experience to Australia or London. I also realised how much I enjoyed expat living and meeting other expats.
Very importantly, I learned that living in a cold country really does affect you in comparison to a sunny country.
Rebecca is a travel-loving Australian who left Australia to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle working on her social networking platform for women who travel – She Roams Solo.
She enjoys being immersed in different cultures and challenges and loves meeting locals whilst learning on the go.