By in Latest News July 29, 2013

If you’re moving to Luxembourg soon, it would be smart to get familiar with everything this tiny but amazing European country has to offer. Take other people’s experiences with the so-called “Gibraltar of the North” with a grain of salt and do a little research of your own before leaving the US and relocating abroad. Every fresh start has its advantages and drawbacks, especially if it requires going overseas and understanding a new culture and tradition and meeting different people. Luckily, we’re here to help.

With our short guide to relocating to one of the smallest sovereign nations in the world, we’ll help you get a bigger picture of the requirements you have to meet for a legal stay and work, and the things to expect once you arrive.

Forests cover more than a third of the country's territory

Essential Things to Know Before Moving to Luxembourg as an Expat

Being a citizen of the US has lots of perks, such as more work opportunities, the possibility to meet like-minded people, having no special requirements and restrictions when moving from state to state, and speaking your native language essentially wherever you go. However, if you get tired of the current lifestyle, the hustle and bustle of the big city, and start longing for a laid-back atmosphere steeped in breathtaking nature and history that goes back to the Medieval times, then relocating to the heart of Western Europe could be your best bet.

Expensive but Attractive

This tiny landlocked country dates back to the 10th century AD and is the only independent duchy remaining in the world. Luxembourg is a romantic land with a rich history of wars and victories, kings and castles. It can provide you with a laid-back lifestyle, well-paid jobs, world-class food, and a good connection with the rest of Europe.

As one of the six nations that founded the European Union, it plays a significant role within the EU, given its relative size. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the four official capitals of the Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest judicial body. Besides, it is a part of the Benelux, a political and economic union that also includes the Netherlands and Belgium.

The country is relatively expensive compared to its neighbors. But the high cost of living is mostly offset by the fact that it is a highly developed nation with one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world.

Almost Half of the Population in Luxembourg Is Foreign

Featuring dozens of different cultures and languages, Luxembourg is a true European melting pot. Nearly 46% of the entire population are foreigners – the Portuguese nation is predominant, followed by the French and the Italians. An interesting fact is that 170 different nationalities inhabit the Grand Duchy, of which 86% are European.

Questions Related to Visas, Citizenship and Other Legal Matters

To legally reside in the Dutchy for more than 90 days as and obtain a residence permit, US citizens have to go through a complex process that usually starts with finding a job and securing an employment contract before the international relocation.

In that respect, the so-called “salaried workers” first have to prove that there wasn’t a suitable EU or Luxembourgish candidate for the position they are interested in. Only after you secure an employment contract, you are eligible to apply for the so-called Temporary Authorization to Stay (AST), which is actually a type of a valid entry visa.

However, this bureaucratic adventure doesn’t end there. After you’ve moved to the country, you have three days to make a “declaration of arrival” to your local authorities. Next, you’ll have 90 days to apply for a residence permit, which lasts for one year and can be extended once it expires.

If you’re interested in citizenship, it’s not easy to acquire one. According to the current naturalization law, people born in Luxembourg to non-citizen parents can obtain citizenship when they turn 18. However, under the condition that they had lived in the country for five consecutive years in a row prior to that.

There are several other criteria to apply for citizenship:

  • You have to have lived here for seven years
  • You have to pass a language test (A2 level in oral expression and B1 level in oral comprehension)
  • You have to pass the course called “Living together in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg”

One additional tip if you’re planning on using overseas vehicle shipping services: insurance can be obtained if your driving license was issued by a country in the EU. If not, you can still insure your car, but only for a year.

The capital was the first to be listed twice as the European hometown of culture

As an Expat, You’ll Like This Location and Become Its Fan

The country is divided into two natural regions: the mountainous Oesling in the north and the romantic Guttland in south and east, which is full of vineyards, forests and breathtaking valleys.

Thanks to its great location, this is a very attractive destination for individuals all over the globe. It is bordered by Germany, France, and Belgium, and is well connected with Paris, London, Brussels, and even Berlin. Being one to three hours away from some of the most amazing European capitals makes this romantic nation a highly desirable expat destination.

And that’s not all. The rich culture and heritage of the Grand Duchy are its main selling points, in addition to a low crime rate and high standard of life.

Oesling and Guttland are the two natural regions

Culture, Heritage Site, and Languages

As the second most prosperous country on the planet (after Qatar), Luxembourg can pride itself on a GDP per capita of over $92,000. In addition to its financial stability, a few more things could impact your final decision to find a home in the capital city (or somewhere else), such as:

  • Grand Duchy is one of the safest countries in the world
  • The restaurant with the largest wine list is located here
  • Its motto “We want to remain the way we are” speaks volumes about the nation’s sense of independence and strength
  • Its capital city is a certified world heritage site by UNESCO
  • Locals like to mingle and have fun
  • German and French are primary administrative languages, as well as Luxembourgish, which was proclaimed a national language in 1984

Speaking English Should be Enough for an Expat

As an American, you’ll probably get by with English for a while. But if you want to really fit in and feel like a local, you should invest some time and energy into breaking the language barrier and learning French or German. Keep in mind, however, that Luxembourgers heartily welcome anyone who puts in the effort to learn their national language – Luxembourgish. The truth is that it has only about 300,000 speakers. Don’t be surprised to hear Portuguese around you – it’s widely spoken since a lot of people from Portugal live here.

The Grand Duchy is a tax haven

Join the International Community and Share Your Experiences

Besides different communities and various spoken languages, more than 192,000 resident workers cross German, French, and Belgian borders every day due to work in the Grand Duchy. If you’re looking for a great job opportunity, this place is jammed with international companies, and more and more of them are setting up their headquarters here.

If you’re an expat with a family, there’s another essential factor – the growing selection of international schools provides you with the possibility to pick the proper educational institution easily. Besides, if you are concerned about the health system, you should know it’s expensive but highly efficient. The state health insurance covers almost all treatments, but you can expect your reimbursement after paying for the services.

Besides some of the great websites for house hunting (atHome.Iu, Habiter.Iu, Immostar.Iu), an excellent solution is to contact other expats already living here. Some of them may be looking for a roommate or may have useful information and words of advice that can help you to find what you’re looking for.

Grand Duchy is the least populated of all the EU countries, but some of the most important EU institutions are located here

Ready to Move?

Moving to Luxembourg as an American might be a long and complicated process, but it’s definitely worth the trouble considering the kind of life you can have here. By choosing this tiny European state for your future home, you can become a part of a friendly environment where peace of mind and easygoing ambiance are a way of living.

Contact an international moving company ahead of time, pack your belongings, work out your budget and figure out how you can live and work in Europe as an American. Don’t sit on the fence – hit the road, gain new experiences, and find your perfect home.