What are the grocery stores like in Luxembourg?
There are two large grocery store chains that are similar to the ones in America. There are also smaller chains like Lidl, Aldi, Delhaize, etc. The biggest difference with the food is that there are no preservatives, so foods go bad quickly. Our refrigerator/freezer is super small, so I can’t really stock up on anything. I go to the store two to three times a week for meats and produce. Luckily, we live 5 minutes from a major supermarket, so I can walk there.
Americans would be surprised to find that milk and eggs are sold at room temperature. A lot of the specialty food items you have in America are not available here. Things like ground turkey, the plethora of meat substitutes, candies and snacks. I was vegetarian when we moved here, but after a month I went back to eating meat because there weren’t as many vegan/vegetarian options, and the ones I tried were TERRIBLE. You also might be surprised to hear that fresh produce is only available here when in season. So, I can’t buy peaches, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, etc. at any time of year. I was frustrated at first, but I’ve grown to love the fact that everything we eat is fresh.
How has your lifestyle changed since moving to Luxembourg?
We moved here in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, so things were changing for everyone, all over the world. I closed my dream business, we sold our house, cars and most of our belongings and set out on this journey.
I have worked since I was 16, so becoming a housewife is the biggest lifestyle change I’ve made. I love it most of the time, but there are times when I miss making my own money. 🤑 In the public schools, the kids get a 2 hour lunch break on Mon/Wed/Fri so I pick Cora up at 12:00 and then I take her back at 2:00 and pick her up again at 4:00. It’s quite strange really, and something I don’t think I’ll ever understand. It makes it very difficult for both parents to work. They do have something called the Foyer where the kids can stay during the lunch break but they can only allow so many kids because they don’t have enough staff to look after them. And the waiting list to get into the Foyer is ridiculously long.
One change that I love is that we spend a lot more time outdoors. The kids get a ton of outdoor time at school year round, rain, snow or shine. They both are in team sports and there have been a few practices and games in the rain. There are tons of forests in Luxembourg, with walking and biking trails through many of them. I like to walk with my girlfriend and soak up all of the beauty that surrounds me. Being in the forest is a peaceful experience and I try to share pictures often so the people back home can see what it’s like here.
Another lifestyle change since moving here is that we travel…A LOT! Instead of one-off holidays throughout the year, we have week-long holidays here. The girls get out of school for a week in February, two weeks in April, a week in May, a week in November, and two weeks in December. The trade-off is that the summer break is only two months long. We try to travel during each of those breaks to take advantage of the time we have here. Plane rides are so short and fairly inexpensive traveling throughout Europe. Some of the places we’ve been to already are: Malta, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Paris, Barcelona, Brussels, Trier (Germany), Greece and we are currently in Lake Como, Italy with a quick trip to Milan. 😊 You can follow me on IG at luv_from_lux if you’d like to follow along on my journey.
Are holidays different there?
Holidays are very different! Of course we celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve/Day, and Easter. But if you think about it, so many of “our” holidays are American holidays. We miss getting together with friends for Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Halloween is acknowledged here but I wouldn’t say it is celebrated. You can find a few costumes at the grocery store and some good decorations, but I have never seen Halloween decorations in our neighborhood. Last year I posted on an Expats Facebook page asking if I could take my kids trick-or-treating. I was advised that I would be met with very upset neighbors if I showed up at their door looking for candy. 🥴 Neither of the girls’ schools did anything for Halloween so we didn’t even bother making costumes. This year my parents sent us a care package with lots of American candy, and it made the girls so happy! We miss our candy. 😂
What is the housing like in Luxembourg?
Housing is extremely expensive in Luxembourg. I thought living in Naperville was costly, but that was nothing compared to Luxembourg! The apartment we are renting would easily cost 1 million euros or more to buy. And it’s nothing fancy. Apartment living is the most common here, until you get to the “countryside.” Once you get closer to the German/French/Belgium borders, you will find more houses and a little more affordable (maybe only 800,000 euros).
How are the schools different from the USA?
The biggest hurdle we faced when moving to Luxembourg was the school system. I could go into a lot of detail, but I’ll try to keep it short for you. There are public schools in each commune, just like in the U.S.. Those schools teach in their native language, Luxembourgish. At age 6 they begin teaching German and French, which the kids are expected to be fluent in by age 9. Because languages are so important, the public schools are behind in other subjects (at least that was our experience). After a few months, we realized we needed to move our 9 year old to an International School. There are private International Schools and a few free International Schools in Luxembourg. Getting into any of them is difficult because there are so many expats here and spaces fill up very quickly. We were fortunate enough to get our daughter into a private school that follows the National Curriculum for England. It’s very comparable to American schools, except they teach Luxembourgish and French as a secondary language. We have applied at over half a dozen schools for our 6 year old, but as of right now she is still in the public school. She is already fluent in Luxembourgish and I expect she will be fluent in German within a year. I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now. 🙂 Leave a comment below if you have any specific questions and I’d be happy to answer them!