Moving to Luxembourg City - Need Advice (Family of 3 w/2yo)(20 Posts)
My family and I will be moving to Luxembourg City for work in Kirchberg this Spring 2017.
My family consists of 3 people - myself, wife and 2 year old son (currently not enrolled in daycare). We are Americans although have experience living in Europe (Sweden) and are familiar with government support for families, high living costs, etc.
We are looking for advice on the "feel" of life living in Luxembourg especially given we have a 2 year old who will need to be enrolled in pre-school (crèche).
Our situation and constraints will be:
- looking for a ~100sqm unfurnished rental, ideally within a 2k€/mo budget
- desire to live in a "self contained" neighborhood, should have shops, groceries, possibly: maybe a mall, kids playground, kids indoor playland which is easily accesible and nearby
- walkability/proximity to an English-speaking crèche... is this important, do most people walk to crèches, do they take buses?.. is that convenient?, drive? etc.
- 1 car (expected to be used for work most of the day), so proximity to good (without changing buses 10 times) public transport is important
As you can see there is alot of emphasis on easy commuting for my wife while she's at home (she will eventually goto work, but for the first months settling in, getting around will be very important). I've already read quite a bit on Luxembourg and the lifestyle, but what I don't have is an on the ground "feel" of what it's really like to get around.
E.g. being near a bus stop sounds good, but it could be that bus only connects to areas we want to visit by changing twice, so instead of a 10 minute bus ride it's 10 mins + 20 minutes waiting + 2x 10 minutes travel time again - stuff like that we want to avoid.
I understand that there are queues for crèches and that we have little control over which one we will get accepted into and when, but ideally the crèche would be close to our home for an easy commute - unless again I have the complete wrong idea and it's super easy to get to anywhere in Lux city by bus regardless of which street you live on.
As a comparison, we're used to living in Vasastan in Stockholm City; living a few blocks left or right of a "good" public transport hub means huge differences in time (especially in the snow season) and that is reflected by the rental prices. Each neighborhood (couple of square blocks) invariably has its own cafes, supermarket, post office, etc. There are no major roads that separates neighborhoods, only distance, so it's not a matter of difficulty of crossing street to e.g. get to downtown, only a matter of time.
I know it's not a 1:1 comparison, nor am I expecting Lux to be anything like Stockholm, I just want to try and get an understanding of what I (and more importantly my family) should expect and where some good areas to live might be - for example, I heard that Limpertsberg is nice but that it's huge so when looking at athome.lu, I need to ask which part of Limpertsberg the place is located in.
TIA and any advice (especially on the kids stuff) would be really appreciated!
English is not one of the official languages of Luxembourg. Therefore by looking only at schooling in English will isolate your child and will mean you have less money and will mean you will be restricted in choice.
I do not know Luxembourg that well, but if you choose instead a local school, you can walk there, it is free from 3/4 years old, by the age of 6 your child will be exposed to Luxembourgish and French, 2 more languages, will be able to access all the activities that other children can access. Do consider this.
You can check out public transport by looking at the info on the internet.
I worked as a nanny in Luxembourg a couple of years ago. Just to give you an idea of neighbourhoods etc, the family lived in a suburb called walferdange, which was approx 20 mins drive from the city centre. The mum worked in kirchberg and drove in every day, however there were regular buses into the city then another short bus ride up to kirchberg. Walferdange (there are lots of similar suburban areas) is much greener and spacious than limpertsberg, which has quite a city feel to it.
In walferdange there was a French speaking creche very close to where they lived, the staff spoke excellent English but spoke French to the children. There were playgrounds, a sports centre, a supermarket and small shopping centre within walking distance. A short drive away was bambesch forest - lots of child friendly walks and great playgrounds. The airport was about twenty minutes drive away.
There are English speaking schools, the children I looked after went to the European school in kirchberg, but the local schools are very high standard and if you are planning on staying there long term I would seriously think about putting your child into the luxembourgish system, at 2yrs they would pick up the language easily and learn German and French too eventually.
The entire bus system is on this map for ville de Luxembourg. You can see the areas you've mentioned on it and see the buses and where changes would need to be made.
Starting near to work is always a good choice when house hunting..........
I'm pretty sure there is a MNer or two in Luxembourg. I'll ask on the Benelux FB page.
I'm in NL so can't help unfortunately.
I've been to Luxembourg. DH and I are now frantically trying to remember anything about the place other than that we enjoyed it, and that we had a particularly good chilled Pinot Noir.
thanks for all the replies so far! the transit map is really useful!
i expect (similar to Stockholm) that even a short commute distance wise could end up being time-consuming if we have to change more than once and each change adds 10-15 minutes, hence why i was asking about getting around.
regarding the local Luxembourgish crèches - i know our child will pick up languages fast, we are just concerned as we already speak 3+ languages with him at home so an international school just seemed like a more natural choice. we'll consider local schooling, but we're also not sure how long our stay will be so that's also another consideration.
does anyone have an opinion about where to take children? are there specific parks or playlands (indoor children centers, i.e. ball pits, padded climbing structures, etc) or malls/cafes that are particularly popular with stay-at-home parents? where does a typical parent go on a daily basis with their young child?
From what I can remember there isn't very much to do with children e.g. soft play places. There are lots of parks, forests and outdoor stuff with great playgrounds.
There were British and American ladies clubs that arranged social events and they arranged local mums and tots meet ups. You are pretty close to Germany and Belgium which gives you other entertainment shopping options.
Luxembourg has fantastic parks. My kids' favorite are Le parc de la ville for the pirate ship petitweb.lu/sorties_type/parc-municipal/, on the same page you can have a taste of all the playgrounds petitweb.lu/sorties_cat/plaines-de-jeux/ . Bambesch is a forest on the outskirt of the city with an amazing all wood playground www.vdl.lu/vdl_multimedia/Publications/Culture+et+Loisirs/Promenades+Bambësch+(FR_DE).pdf.
We lived in Limperstberg which would tick all your boxes. And I can't understand how you can say it is huge. Nothing in Luxembourg is huge! We lived on the top of Limperstberg, but any part of it is actually very nice and pleasant. If you look at apartments it will be further down. Just avoid allee schaeffer and maybe the bottom of avenue Victor Hugo, after the Lycée des Garcons, it is fine, but near the police station, not so much.
Limperstberg is close to the city center, kirchberg (you could even cycle there), buses, with shops, cafes . post office and supermarkets. Not sure about your budget. Another place to avoid in LImperstberg is anything near the cafe des tramways. Very popular and trendy bar and I wouldn't want my bedroom window near it but you must go there for a Bofferding (one of the many beers produced in Luxembourg),
If you are thinking about the international school, think Merl or Belair. Bonnevoie would certainly be more in your budget and some part are getting way better . Luxembourg Prime Minister, Bettel, lives there. But Bonnevoie is behind the train station and hum.... so and so.
I wouldn't go outside the city if possible. Traffic in Lxbg is madness. When you live in the city, it is very easy to walk everywhere. And the city is so much nicer. Walferdange isn't bad, there is even a pool PIDAL, but days would be long for your wife, whereas in the city be it Limperstberg, or Merl, she can just stroll in the Old City.
Forget the Malls in the neighbourhood. This is not something you have ein Luxembourg. Of course you have massive shopping centers (la Belle Etoilde, Concorde, ...) but the type of mall I think you mean is the type we have here in Australia, where you go and spend the day sometimes. Nope again for covered play centre . Maybe someone has opened one, but kids go to open air playground with waterproof covers over their clothes.
I spent 18 years in Luxembourg and hardly speak Luxembourgish . You don't need it. French will take you everywhere, more than German. You learn both in any school. In a local school, your child would have to deal with 3 more languages and Luxembourgish schools are failing, proof is money doesn't solve educational problems. Too many languages is a struggle. This applies to Luxembourg, Catalunya, yes you learn many languages and you can even get good at them, but you fail in Maths, science, etc.... and to be honest, many of my Luxembourgish friends have not a great French, far from it. (it is not me saying the schools are failing but all official documents. Just google Luxembourg +ecole +echec)
And the argument that you would;t blend in the local culture and be isolated is rubbish as there are far more foreigners than locals in Luxembourg ville and the suburbs surrounding it. Yes it would make sense if you lived in the North of the country , like in Vianden, otherwise no.
There are tons of things to do in Luxembourg. Start with requesting the city magazine city.vdl.lu/en/ and you then can pick your activity.
Well ask me more questions and I will try to guide you.
We live in Strassen. Just check the maps.
The 222 bus that come through Strassen goes directly to the Kirchberg. With bus lanes it is quite a rapid journey. Public transport here is cheap, clean and quite reliable.
Property is not so cheap €2000 per month including charges might be tight and probably impossible in Limpertsberg, Merl or Belair.
Have at look at atHome.lu
I believe there is an indoor play place somewhere, can't quite remember at the moment.
I have the impression but no knowledge that many of the crèches are full.
I would be happy to try and answer any other questions you may have.
Thank you for the replies! We've just been put in touch with the Lux relocation company and they've also been filling us in on alot of the practicalities - but it's always good to hear more viewpoints to get a fuller picture.
Sounds like there isn't much in the way of indoor children playgrounds (just as reference, this is what I was thinking about: www.andyslekland.se/lekland/bromma/), which is fine, it's just good to set expectations (and get more rain/outdoor clothing!). Is there any children's art or library center? My toddler also likes to look at books (keyword look, not read) and paint; is there a small children's library or something in Lux that would have that?
For the mall - so there's no mall to just leisurely walk around and spend a few hours at? Then I guess there's some street(s) or areas that fill that purpose? Where to stay-at-home parents go to socialize with other stay-at-home parents, have a croissant, coffee, etc?
We're getting a much better idea about the living situation now with the relo company and they are helping us check on crèche availability - any tips or advice here, like what to look out for or request or avoid?
And for some even more practical issues - where do people go grocery shopping? I've read folks tend to goto France and Germany on the weekends to buy food for the week as it's cheaper? We're not super health nuts, but we try to eat as much organic and local seasonal food as possible, where would we go for that? We are also big meat eaters,any advice here?
Also, regarding electronics and kitchen stuff, since much of our belongings operate on US 110v voltage, it looks like we'll need to buy washing machine/dryer, clothes iron, toaster, etc. Where's a good inexpensive place to get those? Online?
The city centre is nice for strolling around but not that big. There is a mall type place in Kirchberg, with some clothes shops and a big Auchan supermarket and just over the road there is a multi screen cinema that shows films in English with French subtitles. There are lots of other supermarkets around too, I used to go to Delhaize, and there is an organic, health food type supermarket just outside the city (naturata, I think).
I quite often got the train to Trier in Germany, a much bigger, livelier city centre, more shops.
There are supermarkets in Luxembourg!
Will you be working with one of the European institutions? Because they have access to their very own "supermarket" inside the BAK building with reduced prices. Otherwise the main supermarket chain is Cactus.
The two biggest shopping centres are la Belle Etoile www.belle-etoile.lu and Le Concorde www.concorde.lu. Then there are several smaller shopping centres. One in Kirchberg the PP was mentioning, which is mainly a very big Auchan with 3 floors of shops and then offices in the last floors.
Other French chain are coming, Monoprix, Delhaize, but quite small.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays , there is the farmers ' market on Place Guillaume, with mainly local farmers, quite expensive to be honest .
Naturata is a big organic shop, right at the other side of Limperstberg, in Rollingergrund, www.naturata.lu/de/home/, again a bit expensive, but not excessively so.
Co-labor is a social centre and organic farmer , they also have s hop www.co-labor.com/online/www/nav_content/FRE/index.html.
Some people do their groceries shopping in Thionville (F) or Arlon (B), but I wouldn't say there is a massive difference that justifies going there to buy carrots.
The best butcher is Kaiffer at the end of the Grand Rue towards boulevard Royal , this one is yes $$$$ . There is also a butcher on the market.
In Place D'Armes, the old cinema has been converted in a library www.tuffi.lu.
I have to go now, but will come back later with more
I am pretty sure people do not travel to France, Belgium or Germany Grocery shopping.
As already mentioned there are quite a lot of supermarkets in Luxembourg.
They are also quite competitive on white goods and other electrical products.
There is a German chain DM who are worth a visit when visiting. They sell personal grooming products, makeup and the prices are much lower the in Luxembourg. This has a lot to do with their business model.
Amazon (FRANCE, Germany or U.K.) of course can be your online friend.
The British Ladies Club BLC.LU I notice have a mother and toddlers group.
Try browsing Meet Up
www.meetup.com/fr-FR/find/?allMeetups=true&radius=3&userFreeform=Luxembourg%252C+Luxembourg&mcId=c1025433&mcName=Luxembourg%2C+LU&sort=default there is an expat group, you never know.
For your big white goods, I would go to Auchan, for small appliances, Amazon. Compare Amazon UK and De and sometimes the difference is massive, you will only have to remember to include an Uk adaptor with your order.
Online shopping is not yet very diffuse when it comes to your grocery shopping. Cactus doesn't do it and for Auchan you have to pick it up.
The parc de Merl is very popular for young kids and it has a nice cafe (was closed in June for renovation), not sure now. Another cafe has its terrace facing the parc, so you might see some other parents there.
To find out about parc and meet ups or groups, the best way would be to go on a Saturday /Sunday and ask the mums directly. Or ask at the English bookshop in Belair, rue Astrid www.facebook.com/chapter1bookstore/.
As you have now a reloc agent, mention Limpertsberg, because yes it is probably the most expensive area, but some street not so much. But beware, what is Limperstberg on Google map might actually be the Rollingergrund or the Pfaffenthal and those are not so nice.
Limpertsberg is a hill. If the reloc agents takes you in a valley, you are out (except the beginning of rue des Glacis) . If you look at the map, start to draw the borders: on the left, Avenue de la Faiencerie, on the right Avenue Du Bois. That’s Limperstberg, and it goes up in a straight line for Avenue de la Faiencerie up to the old Uni, and from Du Bois extending on the right in Schneider et Cerisiers on the right.
On the right, you have more houses than apartments (except Bellevue which is mainly flats) , on the left, far more flats. Rue de l’Avenir at the very top would mark the line and is also mainly flats. When the hill goes down again towards Bambesch, you are too far. There might be more apartments availability since they moved the Uni to Belval. The Limpertsberg Campus will close soon (if it is not done yet).
I have looked up indoor playground for you and this blog came up expatmuminluxembourg.wordpress.com/category/parcs-and-playgrounds/indoor-activities/. From a very superficial reading, it seems you have nothing because it mentions several place in Foetz, an industrial area quite far from Luxbg (and very ugly, that's where everybody goes to have the car serviced).
For meeting other parents, I would highly recommend joining the American Women's Club and the British Ladies' Club and checking out their activities for mums and toddlers (the BLC definitely has loads going on).
For indoor playgrounds, there is Zigzag in Bertrange, Yoyo in Howald,
Atomic Kids in Arlon, Kidsville in Beggen.
Some people do go to France and Germany for groceryshopping but more once a month to stock up on dry goods I think. There are plenty of good supermarkets in Luxembourg (Cactus is the Luxembourgish chain but tends to be a bit pricy, otherwise Auchan, Delhaize, Cora, Match). They are all a bit different, shop around to see which one has the products you like most. You can also order online shopping from auchandrive.lu which you then pick up at one of their 3-4 depots.
For organics, there is Naturata which has several shops around the country, or co-labor as someone else mentioned, or we use biobus.de which delivers from Germany once a week and is great for fruit and veg but also stocks yoghurt, meat etc. You will also find organic sections in the supermarkets (Cactus and Auchan are good for this, probably Delhaize also).
I'm not sure about rental prices as it has gone up a lot - Limpertsberg would be a great place to live but is very expensive. I would also consider Strassen, especially with the 222 bus to Kirchberg (we now live in a village a bit further out along that bus line). Bonnevoie is lively, can be slightly dodgy in parts but it depends what you're looking for (the Kaltreis area is very residential but not too far from town). I would live there no problem We lived in Gasperich to start with, it's a bit cheaper than some parts of the city but still close to the centre and has good bus connections. Bonnevoie and Strassen both have swimming pools (see Les Thermes in Strassen, expensive but lovely!).
Also check out the City Savvy website (or Facebook page), it has loads of good info on stuff to do with kids and places to go. Petitweb.lu also has info on things to do with kids.
There is a beautiful central library in town (on the vdl.lu website), it has a small selection of books in English. And www.iletaitunefois.lu/ is a small intercultural library in Gasperich with books and workshops in different languages.
This is the English version of the National Newspaper.
So we've been in a bit of a holding pattern getting all the paperwork done for our visa as well as the relocation assistance company bringing us up to speed on what the first few months will look like with registering with the commune, driver's license, etc.
Speaking of driving - so our plan is to have 1 car, and I have been researching around to see what options there are in Lux.
I'm already familiar with the pro's and con's of leasing v. buying, and looking that we'll definitely be in Luxembourg for the next 2-3 years (but maybe somewhere else after that), I'm considering either buying second-hand or leasing a car.
Does anyone have any experience with either? Any good resources, or experiences/stories?
@wilcafe you're probably here already.
it depends what kind of car you want. Its almost impossible ot find a small second hand car in Lux. You need to go to germany, most of the garages in trier are organised for this and will do all the luxembourgish paperwork for a fee. If you can lease through work that makes things very easy and can be cost effective.
PS i'm fascinated to hear Xavier Bettel lives in Bonnevoie. I thought all the real luxembourgers lived in the country?
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