Luxembourg areas to live and should we move there...

(28 Posts)
PalomaBlanca Fri 04-Apr-14 23:29:41

Just wondered if anybody had any recommendations of what areas would be good to live if working in Kirchberg? I have not spent much time in Luxembourg but potentially considering a move there and trying to get a feel for different areas. Would like to be somewhere within half an hour´s commute. Have had a quick look on athome.lu but not really sure what areas to start with. Prices (we are looking to rent) seem very high so any ideas of areas which are better value for money gratefully received.

More generally, having spent a couple of days in Luxembourg I did not really come away with much of a sense of what everyday life would be like there, other than seeing lots of traffic jams and ludicrously priced restaurants (I was stuck in meetings most of the time mind you so my fault not Luxembourg´s necessarily). If you have lived or lived there, what do you think is nice about the place (and what is annoying)?

Thank you.

Weta Sat 05-Apr-14 17:02:00

We moved to Lux 5 years ago and I work in Kirchberg. Although there are quite a few traffic jams, the city is small and half an hour's commute will get you to a fair bit of the country! We live out in the west near Belgium but it only takes just over half an hour (bus or car) in rush hour and 15-20 minutes other times.

It depends on lots of things really. Do you have kids, and if so what type of schooling would you choose for them? If the European School is an option (mainly for people working in the EU institutions) then that makes a difference to where you'd want to live.

Money is obviously a factor too, as the city is a lot more expensive than the villages, depending on the village. If you have plenty of money then Limpertsberg is very nice, close to town and close to Kirchberg. Another pricey but popular area is Belair. Merl has a lovely park. Bonnevoie (near the station, though you should avoid the areas right by the station) is more socially mixed and much more lively. I know lots of people who love it there. We initially lived in Gasperich, also near the station - it's a cheaper area too and we found it pretty good. Pretty much anywhere will be fine!

If you'd prefer a village, then the ones towards the east (Niederanven, Moutfort, Roodt-sur-Syre, Schuttrange etc) are fairly close to Kirchberg. But Luxembourgish villages can be very quiet, so it depends what you're looking for.

What I love about Luxembourg is the easy access to nature as the forest is always nearby. I find the 'city' very quiet but have got used to that, and you end up making friends and that provides the Entertainment anyway. There is a lot going on for a city this size, good concerts at the Philharmonie, good range of original-language (ie English) films at the cinemas, lots of street festivals during the year. You're also near to lots of interesting places to go for weekends (Strasbourg is 2 hours' drive, Paris 3 hours, Aachen and Maastricht 2 hours, Cologne 2 hours etc).

But the people are quite traditional and everything is closed on Sundays except for restaurants. On the upside that gives a bigger emphasis on family life, and it's an amazing place to bring up kids - beautiful parks and playgrounds, and more independence at a younger age than in other cities as it is all very safe.

There are loads of foreigners - half the population of Lux-Ville and 40% of the country, plus the border workers coming from France every day. This means you can choose to live your life in an expat environment if you want to, although personally to feel more integrated I think it's important to learn some or all of the languages. Do you speak any of them already? Again, schooling choices make a big difference here - some people are very put off by having their children schooled in Luxembourgish and then German and then French, but for others it's a great way to integrate.

Right, sorry for the novel but hope it's helpful!!

PalomaBlanca Sat 05-Apr-14 22:07:40

Thanks! This is incredibly helpful. We have a little boy who would have a free place at the European School, albeit he isn't a year old yet so that is a little way off. I speak passable French, pretty rusty but can understand 90% of what is said, just need to brush up spoken side of things.

I will start looking into those areas you suggest a little bit... I would have a decent salary but not awe inspiring and so got a bit nervous when looking at the price of rental property in the city centre as it seemed as though I would be spending a massive portion of my take home salary on rent. I guess perhaps the flip side of this vs the UK is I would not be spending lots on commuting.

Thanks again.

Weta Sat 05-Apr-14 22:26:00

The way the school works is that the country and Lux-Ville are divided up geographically and then children in the English, French and German sections are assigned either to the school in Mamer or the school in Kirchberg depending on where you live (there's a map on the school website). So if you desperately want the K'berg school it's better to live in the areas attached to it, or if you're happy with the Mamer school then you need to work out how close you'd want to be to it.

Have a look at Strassen too, it's fairly close to town and convenient for working in K'berg and the Mamer school... and feel free to ask again if you have any more questions smile

Onedegreenorth Sun 06-Apr-14 07:27:06

Paloma we are also potentially moving to Luxembourg later this year with dh's job. He's in financial services so the European School is not an option for us. We have a ds in yr1 and dd who is nearly 3. Weta - I also have questions on where to live but don't want to hijack Paloma's thread. If you do go though Paloma would be great to hear how you get on as we might be arriving at roughly the same time.

Not much to add to what Weta says.

It's a slower pace of living but plenty to do. Rents are ridiculous but houses / flats are good sized.

Don't know about geographic location for the school but the Moselle valley is an easy commute to Kirchberg (Remich, Grevenmacher etc)

This is the most detailed guide book on Lux - it is pretty good: www.amazon.co.uk/Luxembourg-Bradt-Travel-Guides-Skelton/dp/1841624241

Timetoask Sun 06-Apr-14 07:58:43

I am so envious! We lived there for 6 years and loved it. Bringing up small children there is absolute heaven.
We lived in Contern. It is 20 minutes from the town centre but in the country side with lovely neighbours and a fantastic local school if you want to use it rather than an international school.

cheeseandcrackers Sun 06-Apr-14 08:08:16

It's a wonderful place for kids to grow up with a good community feel and the European schools are great (not restricted to only EU institution workers onedegreenorth if there are spaces in the appropriate class and you're willing to pay, your kids can get in).

I would live in a more villagey location but no more than 20mins or so from the city as there isn't a lot going on anywhere else.

The health system is pretty good here too. In fact apart from rent and traffic I can't fault the place.

Weta Sun 06-Apr-14 08:33:30

Onedegreenorth - feel free to 'hijack' the thread, your questions are on exactly the same subject so I think that's fine...

Just to add to what cheeseandcrackers said, it's true that non-EU people can use the European schools, but it can be very hard to get a place. The enrolment period is now, so if you are interested in that option for September it might be worth putting in an application.

Actually my biggest advice for anyone moving here is to think through the schooling issue very carefully. We use the European school and have been very happy with it so far, but there is a definite loss in terms of integration. Our kids can't communicate easily with the neighbours (although they have now started private Luxembourgish lessons) and their friends live all over the place, many quite far away, so it's more complicated to arrange things and less spontaneous. On the other hand, the Luxembourgish system can be difficult for foreigners because of the languages (ie the parents can't help the kids much), and it's a very traditional teaching approach. The kids also get divided quite early (age 12 ish) as to whether they are 'academic' or not.

We came when our eldest was already 6 and he was shy and struggled with change, so it just seemed too hard to put him in a school where he wouldn't be able to communicate, especially when we had another good option for free. It was the right choice for us (he still cried every day for the first year!) but it's worth thinking through the pros and cons of each system.

Schooling is the one thing which is stopping us from moving into Lux weta . We are fairly setlled on staying in France and putting the DC through the French system. We are literally on the border, the French side. Convenient for Parc Merveilleux hmm

Those of you moving here with toddlers/small kids will get to know Parc Merveilleux very well.

Onedegreenorth Sun 06-Apr-14 11:39:47

Thanks Weta - I feel a bit the same re ds and local system but his year is highly subscribed elsewhere (St George's is already full with a long list apparently). My french is ok and I speak some German although both are quite rusty due to lack of use. Will look into the European School some more then in case we have a chance. Hopefully dh will get the final package details next week then we can decide! What about traveling back to the UK do you fly or is train/driving a possibility? What about cars are they cheap/expensive is petrol cheaper outside Lux? Do you shop outside Lux too?

We're 4ish hours from Calais. It's easy to fly to London from Lux but you'd need to go to other airports (up to 3grs drive) for other UK cities.

Petrol is cheaper in Lux than the surrounding countries. Not sure about the UK. Cars are also slightly cheaper in Lux than in France, I think.

Shopping is good in Lux but there are some excellent shopping opportunities in Germany, where lots is cheaper (nappies etc). Trier is great for shopping as is Metz. But you can get most things in Lux.

About 4hrs from Zeebrugge for ferries to Hull and Scotland too btw.

Bonsoir Sun 06-Apr-14 15:58:49

I grew up in Luxembourg from the age of 12. Obviously that was a while ago now but my understanding is that the school choice between Luxembourgish and European still resides on the same criteria. I know families who chose Luxembourgish school for their DC even though they had automatic places at the European School. DC do indeed integrate with the local population if they go to Luxembourgish school but IME they are then lost forever to Luxembourg and grow up to make Luxembourg their permanent home and culture. As parents, is that what you want?

PalomaBlanca Sun 06-Apr-14 22:40:07

Thanks so much everyone (and no problem to join the thread Onedegreenorth). My main concern is still the astronomical rental costs, once you add on the "charges" it seems as though I could end up spending a little short of half of take home pay on rent to get a 3 bedroom place.

Perhaps Lux is only feasible if both parents work (or one is very well paid indeed), my DP would be looking after DS (lucky sod) so I am quite nervous that we would end up being a bit broke living there. Hm, need to do a bit more digging on flats etc.

Very useful comments re the schools, I wasn't aware re the different locations for the European School.

Weta Mon 07-Apr-14 11:13:24

Definitely have a closer look at rents - obviously will depend on salary but the salaries are higher here. Lux-Ville is the most expensive (though, as I said, worth looking at Bonnevoie and Gasperich as cheaper areas), but villages can be quite a bit cheaper. To give you a more concrete idea, we rented a 3-bedroom house with a small garden in Gasperich for 1800, though I think it's now rented for 2000 with the attic converted.

Good luck with your research.

PalomaBlanca Fri 11-Apr-14 00:10:53

Thanks again to everyone for the helpful suggestions and advice. Another question which I'm not sure whether I should start a new thread for - just also looking into maternity leave in Lux as we are potentially plotting another DC in the mid term.

I gather it is 20 weeks with 8 weeks before birth. Does anybody know if you are obliged to take the 8 weeks before birth? Or can you work later and add the time on at the end? I see something in my potential employer's regulations re adding time on in the event the birth is just earlier than expected but can't see anything about having the option to choose to work later.

What about taking further unpaid leave? Do many people do this? Again, I see something about the theoretical ability to take up to 3 years unpaid leave.

Yes you have to stop 8 weeks before the due date. No choice. You can then take after the 12 weeks post birth a 6 month parental leave at approx min wage. The 20 wk ml is on full pay. To get the full 12 wk post birth you need to see your ob gyn at 6wks and get a certifiacte to say you are still breastfeeding. They don't actually check.

No idea re unpaid leave.

PalomaBlanca Fri 11-Apr-14 22:56:38

Thank you PetiteRaleuse, I didn't know about the 6 month parental leave so that's very helpful to know.

I think you need to have been in the job for 6mo or a year by the time you go on maternity leave to get the parental leave.

If you pm me an email address I can forward you a detailed summary in English of the maternity/parental leave rights. I haven't needed to look it up for a while.

Otherwise this site is in English (and more and more of it is being translated) and should help:

www.guichet.public.lu/entreprises/en/ressources-humaines/conges/situation-perso/grossesse-maternite/

homeaway Sun 13-Apr-14 17:51:31

The rents are cheaper the further away from town you go. The bus service has improved greatly in the last few years and it is cheap to travel by bus. 220 Euros for a yearly pass for a short trip and I think around 450 Euros that covers the whole of Luxemborug for trains and buses. Quite a few people live in Belgium, France and Germany .

The local school system is hard and they have made some changes to it in the recent years. The children have two years of kindergarten and they speak luxembourgish , then in first year primary they switch to German and then start learning French. Once they are in secondary the maths lessons and possibly some other classes are in French. Not every child can cope with this.

In the European School they do two years of kindergarten in their mother tongue and then in primary they start with another language . It is only when they get to secondary school that they start to add other languages and the history and geography are taught in their second language from 3rd Secondary. All my kids loved the kindergarten and primary but it is a tough system. My ds just got into uni last year ,but I can say that it has given him a good grounding for uni and he has had a wide education. Have a look at the curriculum,( I think they are chaning this ) they do 12 subjects and are competing for uni places with students who are doing 3 or 4 A levels. Not every child can manage this.

There is another option the French school but the French system is quite rigid.

It is a great place to bring up children and my kids now recognise how lucky they have been to have been born here.

Good luck with your decision.

There is also the British school, St Georges, but I have heard some not so great things about it. It is also expensive but not sure how would compare with other private schools. It goes from Kindergarten -A Level.

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