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Retire in Brussels Guide

Retire in Brussels with confidence, armed with the knowledge from our extensive guide. It covers critical considerations for retirees, from the cost of living and climate to housing, healthcare, and residency choices in Brussels. We also delve into the social and cultural scene, volunteering options, public transportation facilities, and the city's walkability, helping you make an informed decision.
|-Retire in Brussels Guide

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that has become a popular destination for international retirees. The city offers a high standard of living, a rich cultural scene, and a central location that makes it easy to travel to other parts of Europe. However, retiring in Brussels also comes with its own set of challenges, such as the high cost of living and the need to learn a new language.

Cost of Living in Brussels

Brussels is not the cheapest city in Europe, but it offers good value for money compared to other major European capitals. Housing is relatively affordable, especially if you choose to live outside the city center. Groceries and dining out can be expensive, but there are plenty of markets where you can buy fresh, local produce at reasonable prices. Public transportation is efficient and affordable, so there’s no need to own a car.

Climate in Brussels

Brussels has a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers and cool winters. The city gets a fair amount of rainfall throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to always carry an umbrella. However, the rain also makes Brussels a green and lush city, with beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for leisurely strolls.

Healthcare in Brussels

Belgium has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and Brussels is home to several top-notch hospitals and clinics. The city also has a large number of English-speaking doctors, which is a big plus for international retirees. However, healthcare can be expensive if you’re not covered by the Belgian social security system.

Public Healthcare System

Belgium has a comprehensive public healthcare system that covers a large portion of medical costs. However, it’s not automatically available to international retirees. To be eligible, you need to be a legal resident and contribute to the social security system. Many retirees choose to take out private health insurance to supplement the public healthcare system.

Residency Options for Retirees

Belgium offers several residency options for retirees, including long-term visas and permanent residency. The requirements vary depending on your nationality and financial situation, so it’s a good idea to consult with an immigration lawyer or the Belgian embassy in your home country.

Parks and Recreational Activities

Brussels is a city that loves the outdoors. There are numerous parks and green spaces, such as the beautiful Parc du Cinquantenaire and the Bois de la Cambre. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and theaters. And let’s not forget about the Belgian beer and chocolate, which are a must-try for any retiree.

Restaurants in Brussels

Brussels is a foodie’s paradise, with a wide range of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Some popular options include Le Fin de Siècle for Belgian cuisine, La Truffe Noire for Italian, and Bon Bon for gourmet dining. For a more casual meal, try one of the city’s many friteries, where you can get a cone of the famous Belgian fries.

Learning the Language

While many people in Brussels speak English, learning French or Dutch can make your life easier and help you integrate into the local community. There are numerous language schools in the city, such as the Alliance Française and the Dutch Language House of Brussels.

Meeting People and Making Friends

Brussels is a multicultural city with a large expat community, so it’s relatively easy to meet people. There are numerous clubs and organizations that cater to international retirees, such as the American Women’s Club of Brussels and the International Club of Brussels. Volunteering is another great way to meet people and give back to the community. Organizations like Serve the City Brussels are always looking for volunteers.

Housing Options for Retirees

Most retirees in Brussels choose to live in apartments, which are plentiful and come in all shapes and sizes. Some popular neighborhoods for retirees include Ixelles, with its lively atmosphere and Art Nouveau architecture, and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, which is quieter and more residential.

Transportation in Brussels

Brussels has an excellent public transportation system, with trams, buses, and a metro system that make it easy to get around the city. The city is also very walkable, especially in the city center. Most retirees find that they don’t need a car, which can be a big cost saver.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Additional Information:

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