Luxembourg City expensive and boring, expat survey finds

Luxembourg City ranked 36th out of 57 cities worldwide in the 2021 InterNations Expat City Ranking Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg City ranked 36th out of 57 cities worldwide in the 2021 InterNations Expat City Ranking Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg City was among the lowest ranked cities for housing worldwide in an expat survey, with foreigners also finding there is little to do while they work long hours.

The capital ranked 36th out of 57 cities assessed in the InterNations Expat City Ranking, leaving it towards the bottom of the pile. Kuala Lumpur, Málaga and Dubai featured in the top three while Johannesburg, Milan and Rome came out at the bottom of the survey.

Luxembourg City fared particularly poorly on housing, coming 53rd as the expats surveyed said they find housing unaffordable (83%) and also difficult to find (47%). “The housing costs for both renting and buying are a nightmare,” said one respondent cited in the InterNations report.

In the leisure and climate indicator, the city ranked second to last as participants complained about the weather (44%) and the lack of leisure options (17%). “The small size of Luxembourg makes social and cultural activities very limited,” another expat said.

On the plus side, the capital ranked 11th globally for transport, and health and environment, and 19th for safety and politics. And 90% of expats said they are happy with the state of the local economy, compared to 52% globally.

Job security was the capital’s top score, where it ranked second globally. However, 22% of expats said they are unhappy with their working hours (compared to 16% globally) and just over half (56%) said they are satisfied with their work-life balance (compared to 66% globally).

Overall, expats were less happy in Luxembourg City (68%) than globally (75%), the survey concluded.

Small survey sample

InterNations surveyed 12,420 expats representing 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries for its Expat City Ranking 2021. For a city to be features in the ranking at least 50 people must take part, with 57 cities meeting this requirement.

For Luxembourg, 63 expats responded to the survey, with the top nationalities among respondents Italian (19%), British (16%), French (13%), US American (6%) and German and Danish (both 5%).  

The results contradict a separate study by human resources consulting group Airinc. The company’s Global 150 Cities Index published in June this year ranked Luxembourg in the top three attractive cities, behind Zurich and Geneva.

The Airinc rating is based on salaries, cost and quality of life, taxes, social benefits, safety and other criteria. But here, too, Luxembourg ranked substantially lower in the lifestyle category, coming in 21st place and 15th in the financial indicator.

Luxembourg dropped substantially in the 2021 edition of the city ranking compared to 2020, when it was 18th out of 66 cities. Satisfaction dropped in 10 out of 13 sub-categories, with work-life balance suffering the most (-31 spaces), followed by job & career (-28), finance (-16) and safety & politics (-15). The results are, however, difficult to compare because of the change in the overall number of cities included in the ranking.

“Certainly, other cities have performed better and worse across the years, which has an effect on Luxembourg City’s ranking as well,” InterNations said in a statement. Luxembourg’s aggregate score was fairly consistent between 2019, when the capital ranked 22nd overall, and 2020 at 4.928 and 4.979 out of 7 points, respectively. “But it has indeed fallen slightly in 2021, to 4.786 out of 7,” InterNations said.

The drop in the safety indicator comes amid an ongoing debate around security in the Gare and Bonnevoie districts near Luxembourg City’s train station, which has seen the government promise more police officers to patrol the area.

Transportation saw the biggest boost (+21), which could be tied to public transport becoming free or charge in March 2020.