Moving to Belgium
You’re moving to Belgium – welcome to the finer things in life. In this article, we’ve introduced the top 8 cities in Belgium to live and work and we’ve given you 5 Essential Tips for saving money and preventing stress on your move to Belgium. Take note of our 4 Crucial Keys to unlocking a successful International Move to Belgium too.There’s guidance on getting (and staying) connected…and finally, 6 little-known facts about Belgium you’ll really want to know.
A rich and varied Belgian coastline awaits your exploration. Medieval towns and castles to be discovered – Belgium holds the world record for castles per kilometre – exquisite Renaissance architecture to admire and a gorgeous city life, you know you are making a great move!
For the foodies amongst you, there are 125 breweries in Belgium, chocolate and more chocolate to try and it’s THE home of the pommes frites. For the fashion aficionados, there’s always Antwerp with the Royal Academy of Arts not to mention great shopping centres.
Look no further than our articles and blogs, for essential advice and information for moving to Belgium. Our tips and tales will ensure you achieve a hassle free move
5 Essential Tips for your move to Belgium
We all want a hassle free move, here are our top tips for saving money and preventing stress.
- We all prefer to move in sunny weather. If you want to ensure you get the date and time convenient for you, book your International Moving Company because their timetable will become fully booked in the warmer months too. If you have a family, the best times to move are in the holidays, however moving quotes will be higher and waiting times longer.
- One way to lower the price is to take the children out of school and choose low demand months for your move.
- Another option is a mid-week removal. Why is it everyone prefers weekends an-yway!
- Same goes for your new accommodation, negotiate a lease beginning mid-month if you can – you’ll find better prices from your Moving Company.
- You might well incur increased fuel costs due to transport/road/traffic points, go through the journey with your removal company in detail and explore their local knowledge too.
4 Crucial Keys to unlocking a successful
International Move to Belgium
- Within 8 days of arrival, register your address with your local town hall/administration office. You’ll receive a Belgian eID-card – takes about 8 weeks – this acts as your residence permit. Take all essential paperwork with you when registering including house contract, at least four passport sized photos, proof of health insurance and sufficient financial means – work permit, scholarship, pen-sion papers.
- Are you eligible for expat benefits? Certain sections of ex-pats can qualify to be taxed only on their Belgian-sourced income
- You may need to exchange your driver’s licence for a Belgian one, where driving and theory tests are pre-requisites. Check out Driving in Belgium
- Open a Belgian Bank Account choose from ING, BNP Paribas Fortis and KC. You’ll need passport or Belgian eID-card along with proof of residence.
Most popular cities to live and work
The headquarters of the European Union and NATO reside in Belgium; it’s also the home to over 2,000 European headquarters of multinational organisations, and countless international government organisations.
The country is divided into three regions with French-speaking Wallonia to the south, German-speaking in the east and Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north with the total population of 11,190,846 people.
Currently for expats the order of preference is
We’ve given you a flavour of these popular cities right here:
Antwerp is the world’s diamond capital and a rich multicultural environment resulting in a great selection of international schools and English-speaking clubs and societies. Owing to the port and the industry within the area, there’s a good balance of businesses, fashion and culture – Antwerp has earned the title of ‘Trendiest City” with university facilities, and a rising young population. Single expats tend to live in apartments in the middle of Antwerp with families choosing to live in the residential north of the city. Rising neighbourhoods are ‘tZuid (a redeveloped museum area) and Berchem boasting Art Nouveau houses with a bohemian feel, ‘tEilandje (little island) in the north is enclosed by docklands and close to MAS, Antwerp’s well known contemporary museum. If you prefer the feel of a village within a city, then look for apartments in St Andries, an area between Nationalestraat and the river.
Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage city affectionately known as ‘Northern Venice’. You’ll love its medieval canals and exquisite architecture and you’ll spend hours walking around its cobbled lanes. But don’t think it is all about history, Bruges is modern too and very popular with tourists, although it manages to maintain an intimate, small town atmosphere. Good news it has affordable property prices. Market Square neighbourhood is in the city centre, while Burg is found in the east. For families, Sint-Jozef, Sint-Pieters, Sint-Andries and Sint-Michiels are districts beyond the canals, all providing residential housing with green spaces.
Gent is popularly thought to be Belgium’s most beautiful city; it manages to mix locals, students (University of Ghent is a respected research and development centre) and expats providing an enterprising and energetic blend of international and provincial town feel. For expats wanting to remain in the city centre look at Muinparkwijk and Coupure. Consider too Patershol and Prinsenhof. A more peace neighbourhood look at south-east Visserij. Families might like to in the surrounding villages, combining a rural lifestyle with easy city access.
Genval provides easy access to Brussels only a 20-minute train journey, it’s a French-speaking region and expensive, but beautiful down by the lake – one could imagine a “mini Geneva” with it’s upmarket hotels, water sports facilities.
Leuven is known as the student city, only thirty minutes drive, east of Brussels A hub of activity with over 50% student population attending the world-renowned University KU Leuven. Property is cheaper due to catering to students, however its popular, therefore its wise to research before moving to Leuven. You’ll need to research all five communes:
Leuven, Heverlee, Kessel-Lo, Wilsele and Wijgmaal, because each one has plenty to offer with restaurants, cafes, parks and night activites, concerts and music festivals and fairs.
Liège a city known for its folk festivals and nightlife. There are specific streets where expats tend to live including boulevards Frère Le Mont St-Martin, and Les Terrasses. If you are looking for character, there’s an island in the middle of the Meuse River called Outremeuse.
Tervuren is one of the richer areas with large houses and land. You’ll need a car to live here although it’s also the last stop on the tramline service. Life is quieter here, best suited to families, although Overijse, to the south is popular with expats. Its an official Dutch-speaking area, you’ll also find English and French spoken. Tervuren is known for its lovely park, which surrounds the Africa Museum and the British School.
Waterloo, a French-speaking municipality, is popular with expats, especially Americans and Scandinavians offering a selection of international schools and cheaper (larger) housing than the centre of Brussels. Waterloo has everything close to hand, meaning you won’t need to use the car too often.
Getting and staying connected in Belgium.
You’ll need to register. Main telephone suppliers are: Belgacom/Proximus, Belgian Telecom, IP nexia, Mondial Telecom and main internet providers are: Belgacom, Scarlet, Numericable, Voo, Telenet.
TV cable companies also offer internet connection so shop around for companies offering combined services: telephone, internet and television. You’ll find there can be a monopoly by one company or your choice isn’t available in your area. TV licences have been scrapped in most regions, although Wallonia still charges a fee per household.
Choose your mobile phone provider from Base, Mobistar and Belgacom/Proximus
Health and Wellbeing in Belgium
As an expat you’ll need to have state and/or private health insurance to access healthcare, which is one of the best in Europe. Doctors work privately as well as in public settings, Dentists are usually private, with hospitals and clinics mainly privately owned managed by universities. You can only obtain Belgian health insurance after you’ve obtained your eID-card(takes about 8 weeks) and you’ll need to register for social security.
Little known facts about Belgium
- It might not be all cricket – that is, it’s believed that Belgium could have invented cricket and not the British. A Flemish poem written in 1533 states “King of Crekettes” and “wickettes” both predate English references.
- It may interest you to know that Belgian men are the second only to the Dutch in terms of height: 181.7cm as opposed to 182.5 cm.
- Divorced? You’ll be amongst many others as Belgium has the highest divorce rate in Europe.
- Belgians pay high tax rates amounting to some 57.8 per cent for the highest earners they are the fourth highest in Europe.
- Belgium legalised Euthanasia in 2002 and introduced same-sex marriage in 2003.
So it’s done, you are moving. Congratulations! Now it’s up to how you approach the move because it can either be a hassle or a doddle…
Top tip: plan small steps, factor in time and space to meet with current friends and enjoy time together, ensure all the family takes part in planning time for this activity. Put in place a plan for the 12 months after the move, where you can explore and enjoy your new country. So many ‘hit the ground running’ taking little regard for their longer-term wellbeing and family bonding processes.