If you're planning a move to Belgium, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to Belgium - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in Belgium and more.
Moving to Belgium
"I wish I'd moved to Bruges years ago. It's a tiny place and all neighbourhoods seem very safe, clean and friendly. I'm not sure about the surrounding areas, but I'd definitely suggest the centre of Bruges or at least within the 8000 postcode. Also, I'd advise paying the estate agent's commission. They'll help you with translation of documents and with setting up your utility bills, etc. Well worth the fee," said one expat who moved to Bruges.
"Take only what you need, clothes, books; buy antiques in the area -very nice and reasonable, small town Bruges - if you find a nice place in the center with a large garden and good parking available this is ideal. If you have children living outside the city is very pleasant and near the small woods/parks," mentioned another expat.
"Be open-minded, make an effort, don't assume everything (or anything or anyone) will be as you've known before. Things WILL be more difficult; but you will be a better - bigger? broader? more understanding? tolerant? appreciative? - person as a result. As for Brussels: It's a very easy community to move into and live in (even without knowing the languages), as most people are from elsewhere in the world. I've found Belgians that work in international companies are also very open. Friendships are made quickly and easily. I will truly miss my life here when I return," commented another expat.
Healthcare in Belgium
Many expats use a combination of public and private healthcare in Belgium and purchase private expat health insurance to have access to private doctors and hospitals. The public health insurance companies are called mutuelles. For a more detailed look at healthcare and health insurance in Belgium, read our article, Healthcare in Belgium.
International Schools in Belgium
In (and outside the city of) Brussels, international schools include the International School of Brussels, ISF Waterloo, The Brussels English Primary School, British School of Brussels, Bogaerts International School and St. John's International School. For a more detailed look at these schools, read our article, International Schools in Brussels, Belgium.
In Antwerp, options include Antwerp International School and Da Vinci International School Antwerp. Ghent has one international school, which is the International School Ghent.
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Housing Costs in Belgium
We asked expats in Belgium were asked about the cost of housing compared to their home countries. One replied, "Lower, much lower. I had been living in London and I would say that this flat would be worth at least twice as much in London." "Housing costs: rental, lower; water, sewer, heating, higher; buying a home, higher," answered another expat.
"I visited estate agents and one of them introduced me to my gorgeous furnished flat. It's difficult to find furnished properties for rent in Bruges. They're mostly unfurnished. I paid the commission and administrative charges happily. The rent is ludicrously cheap," wrote one expat.
Real Estate Sites in Belgium
To find properties for rent or sale in Belgium, visit Immoweb, Logic-Immo and Immovlan.be.
Finding a Job in Belgium
"Belgium is mostly populated by those working for the UN. As a city, it probably has one of the highest populations of expatriates and there is a magazine published weekly called the Bulletin which is extremely helpful," suggested one expat.
To find job opportunities in Belgium, check out websites like: Glassdoor, Bulletin's Jobs Section and Indeed.