How can I find a cleaning lady? Is Cactus open on Sundays? Which is the best Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant in the south of Luxembourg? And are their quinoa tuna rolls any good?
Once upon a time, to get answers to these questions you’d have to spend countless minutes asking colleagues, neighbors, or strangers on the street. Sometimes you’d even have to look up phone numbers and make calls, crossing your fingers that the person on the other end would speak your language.
Then Google appeared, and the five minutes expats needed to get answers was shaved down to 30 seconds. Good, but not great. And how to make sense of all those 10 Google results?
Along came the Facebook expat group, that friendly forum where you can post any question, no matter how serious or silly, and within seconds feedback, ranging from sage to sarcastic, starts trickling in. Overall, such a group combines the best qualities of a tour guide, relocation expert, food critic, and in many cases, concerned friend.
There are at least three Luxembourg Facebook expat groups. At the time this article was written, the largest, Luxembourg Expats, counted 26,000 members. Having that many people willing to give personalized tips when you’re new here is comforting, and it can be a lifesaver when you need some quick info, such as when you’re at Belle Etoile and you can’t remember on which floor the Apple store is located, or when your neighbors are playing loud music at 1 a.m. and you want to know if you can legally shut off their electricity.
But how reliable is the group when you’ve got bigger, more important concerns, when you need a recommendation for a doctor, renovation company, or crèche for your infant? Therein lies the problem. You know little about the other group members. Most of them are strangers, and you have no way of knowing their tastes and expectations, or if they are recommending a business simply because they find the service decent and have nothing else to compare it to, because they have a personal connection to it, or because the sun is shining today. (Or more likely in Luxembourg, it isn’t.)
Look at the example of banks. Newcomers often ask for recommendations, and group members enthusiastically give them, but most people will say their bank is excellent as long as it offers electronic banking and the tellers aren’t rude. Yet most of us will eventually need many more products and services from our banks, and choosing the right one might be among the most important choices you make when you relocate. A good bank gives you security, guidance, and options to make your wealth grow, whereas a bad one does the opposite.
Facebook expat groups are helpful when you need some quick info or a sympathetic friend — or 26,000, as the case may be. And they’re great for getting leads. However, when you’re making key decisions, it’s best to follow up tips from strangers with plenty of research of your own, including the old-fashioned method of going to business and offices to ask questions face-to-face.
Want to know why most expats in Luxembourg — both on and off Facebook — prefer ING? Go to ING.lu to learn about our many services perfectly tailored for expats, or even better, make an appointment with an advisor to find out what ING can do for you.