As of the moment, the Belgian capital has a population of 2.080 million people. A good percentage of that is made up of foreign residents; expats who moved to Brussels for work or for personal reasons. They have to contend with all four seasons here, as the country as a whole gets all of them throughout the year. But since Belgium is a seaside country, expect a lot of rainfall to come, especially during spring. As for the language here, it's mostly Flemish and French, of which there are many language schools in the city where you can get more fluent.
You probably already know that you need a Schengen Visa in order to gain entry to Belgium and the rest of the EU. Especially if you're coming from a non-EU country. There's also the option of getting into the country via the ETIAS Visa Waiver Program. If you're eligible, you can travel to Belgium even when you don't have a Schengen Visa. But to stay here for more than 90 days (approximately three months), you'll need to apply for a long-stay visa. This will allow you to stay for at least a year and from there, you can start the legal process of actually moving here.
As fairytale-like or old-school as Brussels may seem, it does have today's many modern conveniences. Not the least of which is its public transport. Thanks to the metro, the buses, the trams, the taxis, and even the bikes here, traveling around the city will be a breeze. Riding the metro is especially easy and efficient because it consists of four separate lines that go to most of Brussels' many districts. You can also take the tram, though it's a little slower than the metro, you can still see most of the city through it. And if you're more into taking a taxi or riding a bike, you can always get one through a transportation app!
Perhaps one of the hardest parts about moving to Brussels is finding a neighborhood to live in. The city's many districts all have their own unique charms, it's up to you to decide where you want to stay there for the rest of your life (or at least, the rest of your stay here in Brussels!). For this artistically-inclined, for instance, the creative district that is Ixelles is more for you than any other place in the city. Those who appreciate the nostalgic beauty of Brussels would most likely prefer living in Sablon instead, which is an area that will make you feel as if you traveled back in time!
Would you believe that Brussels isn't that expensive a city? Well, at the very least, a lot less expensive than the likes of Paris and Rome, to be exact. Just look at the differences in common rental fees. In the French and Italian capitals, even the smallest apartments will have you paying thousands of Euros for rent every month. While here in Belgium, whether you go for a luxurious long-term rental or a mid-range flat, the common monthly rental fees here range from €600.00 to €2,000.00. Not that bad compared to those in other cities!
Finding a job in Belgium isn't all that difficult. There are loads of ways to do it and each has proven to be very effective. The simplest one is to strengthen your network. You can rely on the friends you make in Brussels or join a networking organization like the European Professionals Network or the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. You can also go online, particularly on job-seeking sites like Indeed, Xpatjobs, BrusselsJobs, and more. Whichever way you choose, you can trust that you will, no matter how long you look for, land employment here. And you can thank Belgium's stable job market for that!
Brussels is one of the most international among the European capital. It houses the European Union's headquarters after all! So you can expect that the city has many international schools as well. All set up to ensure that your kids, as well as others from expat families, not only get to continue their education in the city but also get a high-quality education. Operating on various curriculums, these institutions have long proven their worth in educating kids, both locally and from around the world. The likes of the Scandinavian School of Brussels, The British School of Brussels, and the Brussels American School are all worth noting!
Apart from education, you can also expect that the Belgian healthcare will take good care of you and your family too. That is when you've all achieved legal residency here. Though it operates on a universal system, only citizens and legal residents of the country get access to Belgian healthcare. Though you can still get private insurance, getting the public option is still helpful in a lot of ways. Either way, since you'll be living in Brussels, you practically have nothing to worry about. The city's best hospitals, such as CHU Brugmann and Hôpital Erasme ULB, among many others, provide excellent service and first-class treatments!
Now, a big question remains: will you remain safe in Brussels? The answer is yes, for the most part, at least! At 55.66%, the crime rate here isn't as high as those in other capital cities around the world. It's simply moderate. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on how you want to look at it. For now, Brussels remains a safe enough city to walk around with, with a safety rate of 67.46% during the day and 37.66% at night. Though you might want to steer clear of some areas like Gare du Midi the city's red-light district no matter what time of day it is.
When you move to another country, one of the first things you really ought to understand is its tax system. Here in Belgium, no matter how similar the way they do their taxes here to those in other countries may seem, it mostly doesn't match up 100%. You might miss a few details that actually make big differences. Generally, you will be taxed on income, property, and more here. Your income tax rate will depend on your annual salary. For the property tax, you pay it every year and the rate differs from region to region. Here in Brussels, the rate is 2.25%.
When you get relocated to another country, there are two things you should remember. The first is to set up a local bank account so you can store and handle your money properly. International transfer fees would often also cost less when you have your own bank account. The second is to join a local mobile network. Getting a local SIM card will ensure that you stay comfortable and connected wherever you end up. And at the very least, the mobile networks here in Belgium are all trustworthy and efficient. You'll have no reason to not join one when you get here.
Got relocated to Brussels? Congratulations! You're going to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world! But moving to the Belgian capital isn't as simple as it may seem. This guide will show you that you have many things to expect here!