AmCham: Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers and explain the activity of LuxRelo?
Stéphane Compain: I’m a French-British national; I was born in London raised in Djibouti, Thailand, and Switzerland. I have always worked in the mobility industry and for the past 21 years in Luxembourg, mainly for big international companies providing moving & relocation services. Five years ago, I jumped into the entrepreneurial world and co-founded with my wife Sandrine a company providing immigration and relocation services (www.luxrelo.lu)
Is it not difficult during these “Covid” times to relocate?
In many countries, some of my partners have been badly impacted by the Covid situation and the various lockdowns where people could not relocate. In Luxembourg, we were quite lucky as the Government did not close the borders and continued to process the work permit applications. We had to quickly adapt our way of working and organize virtual home searches when people could not travel so that they could have a home when they were able to travel. Due to the lack of local talents, we see an increase in companies hiring from outside the EU.
How far does LuxRelo go to help their clients?
We offer a wide panel of services provided” in-house” like work/residence permits applications or home search, but we have also set up partnerships with companies that can assist with language courses, cultural training, spousal assistance, or pet transportation. We can be a one-stop-shop for companies wanting to support their employees to smoothly relocate to Luxembourg.
If I were, moving from the US to Luxembourg, how would you organize such a move?
- If you have children, the first thing would be to look at schooling options and book a place as soon as possible. Most international schools applications are closed by May …
- If you come from a non-EU country, you need to organize your work permit application where a company like ours can support you with a step-by-step process until you get your work/residence card.
- You also need to get quotes from removal or move management companies to transport your household goods from your origin country to Luxembourg.
- Depending on when you want your lease to start, you should fix a day or two to organize the home search of your apartment/house in Luxembourg, whether in person or virtually.
Would one have to be in a management position or have a relocation package?
In the past, relocation packages were mainly offered to employees in management positions. For a few years now, we have seen more and more companies providing immigration & relocation packages to juniors or even interns as there is a global war on talents, and companies want the new hires to focus on their new job as soon as they arrive.
What has been your most challenging move?
Every person is different, but there is always a lot of stress involved when relocating to an unknown country. One challenging experience has been the spouse of a client who did not want to move to Luxembourg and gave a hard time to the consultant by rejecting all the properties we presented, criticizing Luxembourg, and constantly comparing to how it was in the home country. It’s essential to move to a new country with a fresh and open mind, but I think that companies should also look at supporting the spouses of the employees they are relocating.
What type of questions would you recommend to a potential client seeking to come and work here in Luxembourg to ask a future employer?
The first thing they should do is ask what the cost of living is compared to their home country. Their salary might look super attractive, but renting is expensive, and most landlords ask that you earn three times the rent …
If you have a family, ask if there will be support for school search as it can be challenging to secure a place in international schools depending on the age of the children.
Due to the housing crisis in Luxembourg, would you recommend someone to rent or buy?
Good question … Due to the high cost of buying a property, I would suggest when you arrive (if you have never lived in Luxembourg) to rent for a year which will leave you time to explore the housing market and decide where the best place is to buy. Plus, it can take a long to find the right property, and you often don’t have that time when you relocate from abroad.
Do you go so far as to recommend future schools if the mover has children?
Yes, we provide guidance and advice on schools in Luxembourg, whether private or public. This is the most challenging part in relocating to Luxembourg as there are not enough places in the international schools. I strongly suggest employees and companies to look and book options as soon as possible in April-May at the latest.
I imagine not all moves go exactly to plan; what hiccups have you encountered in your experience with overseas moves?
We’ve had a few hiccups from time to time, but we try to avoid them as much as possible by having pre-arrival calls with the assignee’s where we help them manage their expectations about the country, and we have very strict processes to accompany them in a smooth and effective way.
AmCham would like to thank Stéphane for this very insightful interview!!