Brussels and Belgium are good places to come to live and work, whether you are planning to stay for a year or two or maybe for longer. Here are some of the advantages:
Belgium has a lucrative job market
There is high demand for qualified skilled professionals. This is especially so in Brussels, where most of the EU institutions are based. Plus there are many international corporations located in the city and surrounding region. Flanders to the north of Brussels is also host to many internationally known companies.
Housing is relatively affordable
Parts of Brussels can be expensive, but rents in Belgium are generally much lower than in Britain or London. There’s also no shortage of affordable property to buy as well as to rent.
Commuting is easier and cheaper than in UK
Although the trains can be full, distances tend to be relatively short. And train tickets are much cheaper than in Britain and are half-price everywhere in Belgium at weekends.
Transport connections are excellent
Living and working in Belgium and especially Brussels means that you’re never far from the UK. The Eurostar high speed train service with the UK is now very fast and much more convenient than flying, assuming you live in southern England. It takes under 2 hours to get from the centre of Brussels to the centre of London. You’re also never more than a few hours away from Belgium’s North Sea coast, most of which consists of golden sandy beaches.
A more relaxed work culture
The work culture in Belgium is more relaxed than in the UK and employees have more legal protection and social benefits such as vacation, which is usually a generous 5 or 6 weeks after the first year. There are also more public holidays.
Great food and drink
Belgium also has a world renown cuisine that surprises even the French. There is also an enormous range of excellent Belgian beers to try!
Language isn’t really a problem
Most people in Belgium speak pretty good English and in many large companies the working language is English. Belgium and especially Brussels has a big expat population and you can get by in most cases in English. Learning French or Dutch (Belgium’s two main languages) is however a good idea to get the best out of the country and in order to integrate better.
The media is international
Media in Belgium is very international, especially television. Most Belgians have cable TV (which also now carries Internet and phone services). There are some 40 TV channels available, most of which are non-Belgian. And BBC1 and BBC2 are available throughout Belgium as standard.
To sum up: Belgium is a great location whether you’re looking to emigrate longer term or just to spend some time living and working in another EU country. Belgium isn’t perfect of course, but overall, I’d say the advantages outweigh any disadvantages.
I moved here two years ago and I’m glad I made the decision. It’s been well worth it and I’d seriously recommend that you consider Belgium as a destination if you’re thinking of moving abroad.