Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Preview Trip: Part 2

Reality Checks from Day 1 of Looking for a Place to Live in Luxembourg:

1.  The cost of living in Luxembourg, specifically Luxembourg City, is HIGH.   We must embrace this fact and adjust housing expectations accordingly.
2.  If we are committed to our budget, we can barely afford anything in the city and will be lucky to find something within what we've budgeted at all.
3.  We will have to make many sacrifices in apartment "features" if our main priorities are price, 3 bedrooms, and proximity to work/city.
4.  We should not let our agent show us properties outside of our budget.  They tell you they do it "just to get an idea of what's out there" - but ultimately we don't want to know "what's out there" since that just sets us up for disappointment.  (Should have stuck to our guns a little better on that one!)
5.  Bonus reality check - we have still not yet met, or even heard of, another American family who has their kids in local Luxembourgish schools.

So yes, not complaining, just stating the pros and cons, and doing reality checks.  I hope I don't come across as complaining or too picky.  I feel very fortunate that we have this amazing opportunity!

On Monday we were able to look at about 5 apartments/townhomes.   Complicating matters was the fact that many of the agencies were closed - Tuesday is a national holiday and many agencies took Monday off and called it a 4 day weekend.  So our selection was very limited, and our consultant/agent filled out our search with several properties that were too expensive or too far away.  We found one attached house that was relatively close to the city center but still in sort of it's own little neighborhood.  It had a nice backyard, and that backed to a common green space which led to a playground.  On top of that, the house was right across the street from the primary school, it had 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms - plenty of space, light, and room for guests.

We loved it!  Of course we loved it - it was way out of our league!!!

We might be able swing it, but even if we managed to negotiate down 100 Euros, it would still cut deeply into our monthly cushion we've tried to leave in the budget for all the unexpected/higher costs associated with living here.

However, we also found an apartment within the city (west of the center in "Belair") that actually comes in slightly UNDER budget! There are plenty of downsides - I'm guessing it's one of the "worst" apartments in the area (but that's what you'd expect in a nice area if it's something we can actually afford, right?!?!).  The kitchen is outdated, fairly ugly, and itty-bitty.  There's only one toilet (fairly common in small apartments, but two would be nice), and no windows in the bathroom.  It's a bit on the dark side and it's on the first floor (which I suppose has it's own pros and cons).  Our washing machine would live down in a dungeon-esque basement, and who really needs laundry to be a MORE depressing chore?  It's a little far from the nearest grocery shopping areas, potential churches, and not as close to the schools as we might like, so we aren't sure if we still might end up needing a car.

There are lots of great pluses, though.  First, I would dub it a "minimalist" apartment and thus in keeping with our family philosophy.  Pete's commute should be quite easy by bus or bike.  It's on a very quiet street with a lovely little park at the end.

It's also about a 10 minute walk to Merl Park, a Luxembourg favorite.
cafe in center of Merl Park
playground at Merl Park
The apartment backs to a green area and is very close to a bus stop. There is plenty of storage space and a garage with a long driveway for guest parking (parking and/or garages often are missing or cost extra, and parking on the street can be very hard to find).  There is a small shared patio outside and shared basement inside, both with lines to hang laundry, and possibly room for a dryer in the basement.  It has brand new windows and a brand new bathroom (still being installed).  The landlord was an amiable fellow, although he didn't seem to know much English (frankly, we're not sure what his native language is, maybe German or Luxembourgish - the kids will have to be our translators!)  The renovations would be done by the time we arrive or shortly after, so we could potentially move right in (skipping temporary housing) and get the kids enrolled in school immediately.

shared patio with laundry lines, dandelion "garden" in back
The school situation is another story for another post, but if we are able to get that figured out on Wednesday morning we'll probably just bite the bullet and snag this apartment, without waiting to see if there is something "better" out there (when we get more of the appointments we couldn't get due to the holiday).  At this price, we're afraid if we wait too long it will be gone.

To be continued!

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