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I've been offered a position in Luxembourg (University) for one year and I'm in the process to find a house there. I've surfed from site to site and the prices for just one room in a shared apartment are incredibly high. Even tho I'll earn enough money to pay for that I'm not willing to do so.

I'm also not willing to share an apartment for various reasons so what I'd like to know is if there are solutions I didn't think of (like the obvious "move far away from downtown") that could make me save some money. For example, given that Luxembourg is fairly small and borders with many different countries, can I find cheaper apartments in border town in France / Belgium / Germany?

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With a few notable exceptions like cars, petrol and tobacco, most things are more expensive in Luxembourg than in neighbouring countries, there is no way around that. Wages tend to match the cost of living, the minimum wage is the highest in the EU and your salary is also probably higher than what you would get in most other universities (except perhaps Swiss universities, for the same reason). Your income might therefore simply not be as high, relative to the local cost of living, as it might have seemed from abroad.

Accommodation is indeed cheaper in France or Belgium (although not as cheap as you would expect for small towns in this part of the country, as there are tens of thousands of border commuters driving real estate prices up in the whole region) but the commute is probably worse than if you would live somewhere on the outskirts of a large city like London or Paris because public transportation options are limited and the motorway is completely overloaded (especially the A31/A3 from France but also the links with Germany and Belgium).

In Belgium, Arlon is the closest town, in France that would be Thionville and in Germany, Trier. Metz is further away (60 km, one hour to Luxembourg central station by train) but even cheaper and, unlike Thionville, Arlon or even Luxembourg itself, it's beginning to feel like a “real” city (although it's obviously not an international metropolis).

Do note that cross-border commuting brings some complications. For example, depending on your citizenship, arranging a French, Belgian or German visa/residence permit with no local employer could be difficult (but if you don't need a visa, e.g. because you are an EU citizen, that's moot). None of it is unsurmountable and it might not matter all that much for you at the moment but things like unemployment benefits, health insurance, incapacity benefits, child benefits, etc. are also slightly more complicated to deal with.

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    Consider an average of one hour of blocked traffic both ways if commuting from thionville to Luxembourg. – JoErNanO Jul 19 '15 at 17:55
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I'm living here since January and I found prices high too, at least when I compare to my home country (Rio de Janeiro).

Do a careful research, although high, prices can vary a lot. You can find good options for small 1 bedroom apartment (called studio in french), have a look at www.athome.lu. As Gala said before, you will notice that outside city center you will not find big differences in price. I heard that the cheapest option is Trier.

Public transportation here is wonderful, by bus or train (take in consideration that my reference point was public transportation in Rio, which is awful). Unfortunately, buses get stucked in traffic jams on the road, but inside the city they have priority lanes and move faster.

I would like to add some things you may take in consideration:

  • living in the city will allow you to have a better quality life, and also "feel" more in a city, less "lonely", as you will note that this country seems a little bit "empty", comparing to big cities.

  • there is more than rent. Agencies here charge a fee, and there's also a guarantee deposit, varying from 2-3 months (called caution in french). Sometimes also a house/fire insurance (can vary, I pay 20 euros per month)

  • if you come for just a year, furnished apartments are harder to find

  • University of Luxembourg has an old plan to move to Belvaux, with some departments already moved. Check this, because Belvaux is closer to french border

  • if you can shift your working hours, traffic changes a lot. Most people here begins really early and roads can have heavy traffic since 6am, but if you go by 9am-10am, it's much easier. Same thing in the evening.

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