Author: Emilie di Vincenzo
Student accommodation is an Achilles heel in Luxembourg, this multicultural country with its linguistic diversity, valued for the quality of its teaching and its lifestyle. Students of numerous nationalities go there in the hope of pursuing their studies. But finding somewhere to live is a real struggle, other than a limited number of university residences to which access remains very strictly controlled.
Probably because of its small size, Luxembourg does not have the capacity to match the number of students coming there. Whether they are Luxembourgers, or from neighbouring countries, or from other more distant countries, the main problem they encounter is that of accommodation. A real conundrum. It is not always easy to find anything at all, so stark is the lack of accommodation, above all due to the absence of any background in this domain. A student culture is not as far developed as it is elsewhere, under other European skies, such as Paris, Rome or Brussels. There is no readily identifiable, visible student district that would make a difference, and one just merges paradoxically into the mass.
Contacting a property agent in order to find residential accommodation is beyond the reach of most students. Even though this may be the easiest solution, it is still an expensive one. The fact of using an agency incudes paying an additional month of rental and 15% VAT. Having said this, looking for oneself takes time and remains an uncertain option, given that opportunities for renting on an individual basis are rare.
The university itself remains the main “open sesame” even though its supply is exceeded by demand.
The University of Luxembourg has a fairly significant resource dispersed over the geography of its territory: in the heart of the capital, in Esch-sur-Alzette, Mondercange, Noertzange, Dudelange, Belvaux and Obercorn. Rooms and studios are generally furnished and single occupancy, equipped with a kitchen and bathroom. The rental price ranges between 360 and 595 euros, including charges, based on surface area. “Student accommodation offered by the University is made available at very competitive prices, and the University also contributes to costs”, explains Eric Gary of the Service des Études et de la Vie Étudiante (SEVE) [Studies and Student Life Service]. The lease is granted for the duration of a semester and is renewable. On the University web site, future students can find a wide range of information. In fact this is the platform for applications. The University is then responsible for allocating the available accommodation. Rooms are reserved solely for students at bachelor, masters or doctorate level at the University of Luxembourg, following a full-time course. “Foreign students and first year students are given priority, so long as their application is complete and the deposit paid within two weeks“. Local students, Luxembourgers living with their parents and those able to commute are given the next option. Accommodation applications can be submitted from 1 July by newly registered individuals”. Subsequently such applications can be submitted at any time, as accommodation is allocated according to availability”. Capacity to accommodate is appreciably in line with demand, with the average level of occupation in 2015 at 97%”. Since 2003, the University of Luxembourg has created a provision of 991 accommodation units for students. “Currently this consists of 35 residences. Current projects will be materialised in an additional provision of over 159 student accommodation units between now and 2017”. The University will then have 1150 student accommodation units by the end of 2017, subject to unforeseeable construction factors, and the majority will be in the southern region adjoining Belval.
Finally, it should be noted that certain private property owners also contact the University, which makes available a file of these offers, without however becoming involved in any specific lease transaction for these.
Only a few years ago, flat sharing was not very well understood in Luxembourg. There was a great deal of sensitivity about opening up ones accommodation to several tenants. But times seem to have completely changed, as has the property market. This logistical solution, which is common in European countries, especially in the Anglophone countries, seems to be gaining ground in Luxembourg, supported by the change in the economy and in practices. Flat sharing therefore seems to be a solution, which is financially beneficial, as an appropriate response to the problem of student accommodation. The formula is developing increasingly in Luxembourg-ville and its environs. Many are using this approach now, and obtaining the benefit of accommodation at reduced cost. While this kind of accommodation averages at 625 euros per month for a studio with full facilities, sharing such accommodation between three, or even four, brings down the monthly rental to well below 500 euros. There are many benefits to this, even though one does have to get on with the other flat sharers... This system is becoming a real lifestyle in tis own right, which favours an open mind and a sense of sharing. The price per room is considerably reduced when renting a house with several rooms, as are the charges associated with water, electricity, gas, TV and internet rental.
The success of a flat share generally lies in putting in place an internal set of rules that are accepted by everyone. This establishes the basis for living together as a group, and the rights and responsibilities of everyone. Are you ready to sign up for this…?