Just arrived in Luxembourg? Moien!
Expatriating to Luxembourg, how it came about!
I remember it was my case 14 years ago. I was living on the west coast of France and I got a call from a friend who was offering me a job in Luxembourg.
At first sight, I rejected his offer. It’s not uncommon for young people used to hectic lifestyles to find Luxembourg a bit dull after a few months: continental weather, no sea, no mountains, bars and clubs closing early and empty city streets at night and weekends. But the country has the reputation of being one of the safest and is actually perfect for family life and raising children. Even though I had visited the city of Luxembourg once and I found then it was a pretty place, it was really too far away from home and the seaside. But my friend insisted, so I finally came for the interview and on my way back to Brittany by train, my mind was made up: I would move to Luxembourg. And what a change it was then!
My first steps in Luxembourg!
Arriving on a Sunday evening in the hotel booked for me, my first surprise was at the restaurant where I had my first dinner: no tap water and huge portions. It is said that in Luxembourg people eat like in France but with German-size portions. I surely agree on the portion part of it but as regards the type of food, Luxembourg food appears more German to me.
In my first week, I had to settle various administrative issues such as registering as a resident or opening a bank account. I was surprised to see how well things are organised. But don’t forget to take your ticket if you are queuing, otherwise, even if you believe it’s your turn, you won’t be served. In Luxembourg, rules are rules and people are rather strict on that. The more organised and precise you are, the more helpful they will be. And remember that many registration processes can be done on the Web, even prior to your arrival.
Living and working in Luxembourg!
I was also impressed by my contacts’ ability to switch from a language to another. Now I know that this multicultural and multilingual aspect is a major asset of Luxembourg. Don’t feel upset as a friend of mine who misunderstood her first interactions with local people. When someone says “Moien”, this person is not rating you as average (“Moyenne” in French), it is just the standard way to say “Good morning”! If you don’t speak Luxembourgish, and if you don’t understand French or German, don’t worry, it’s natural to speak English over here or common to hear conversations in Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. A big advantage is that half of the residents in the country are foreigners, not to mention the cross-bordering workers who come every day. Your stay in Luxembourg is surely a great opportunity to develop your languages skills. Isn’t it time to get down to it?
After living in Paris and travelling to big cities a lot, I had got used to shopping after work and during weekends including Sundays. I had first thought that working in a European capital such as Luxembourg wouldn’t change my city life habits. So on my first Saturday here, I went for a walk downtown, enjoying the café terraces and combining this tour with small purchases. It was in July. The weather was great. I surely didn’t rush it. Imagine my confusion, when at 6 o clock, I realised that all the shops were closing. That early! I then went grocery shopping to the only big supermarket that I knew and found out it was closed too. Luckily, now, the country has come a long way and the supermarkets have adapted their opening times, some even being open on Sunday morning. I also learned very soon that you can always find what you need in oil stations. It’s odd to have to buy bread in such places but what else is one to do if the traditional bakeries and other food shops are closed?
What makes us different?
To find a place to live here, you need to be ready to either spend quite a lot of money or move away from the city. Housing conditions are generally excellent; the house building sector is very active so you can find many new buildings, with nice apartments and the individual houses. And you can be surprised by the size of some of them: they can get pretty large here. And if your living room is too small for you to organise a party, in Luxembourg, private garages are so nice that they can be used as an additional reception room.
Last but not least, be aware that finding a job in Luxembourg is very much based on networking. Luxembourg being a small place, you can easily get in touch with major local figures and decision makers. You will therefore soon build your own network which will be key for your career development. And if you choose to create your own business, Luxembourg is the ideal location in the heart of Europe.
Useful links for expats in Luxembourg
Non-exhaustive list of contacts to help you feel in Luxembourg like at home.
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