Living in Belgium
Surrounded by Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium is located in western Europe. It houses the headquarters of European Union and NATO in its capital city Brussels.
Belgium is known for its breathtaking architecture and expats are bound to get fascinated by its medieval cities, old fashioned towns, gothic cathedrals and castles.
The country is majorly divided in two dominant culture groups, the Flemings and Walloons. The Flemish community speak dutch and are located in the North of the country. They constitute of about 59% population. On the other hand the Walloons speak French, reside in the south and constitute 40% of the country’s population. There is also a german community living here to the east of the country.
The capital city of Brussels where expats usually choose to live is bilingual so the street signs and other advertisements are in both in Dutch and French. Brussels is a cosmopolitan city, so expat need not worry as they will be able to settle here easily. However, it would be better if expats learn some Dutch or French depending on where they live and the kind of work they do.
The standard of living in Belgium is quite high. They also have excellent healthcare and education systems which expats can take advantage of while living here. Moreover, it’s also cheaper to live in a city like Brussels than to live in other western European cities like London and Zurich.
The country also has a great public transportation system like they have very well integrated systems of buses, trains and trams.
Politics of Belgium
Belgium has a constitutional monarchy just like Netherlands and Britain. The country has a hereditary royal family and also an elected government. After 1993, Belgium became a federal state consisting of several language-based communities and autonomous regions. There are also many political parties which many a times form a multi-party coalition government.
Today, the king of Belgium is “Philippe” and the prime minister is “Charles Michel”.
Economy of Belgium
Belgium’s economy is a developed free market economy which mostly relies on both industrial and service sectors. It is also dependent on international trade mainly export of products. Belgium exports almost double of that of Germany and 5 times of that of Japan if you look at the exports on per capita basis. In the 90’s the nation ranked 11th in world’s top exporters. Despite of its small size Belgium’s economy is considered to be among the top 20 economies of the world.
Belgium was the first country to go through industrial revolution in Europe and was the leading exporter of steel. It had ample of natural resources like coal which added to its boom.
Agriculture slowly declined in the 19th century and the country started importing basic raw materials needed to make finished goods. Later there was also a decline in the manufacturing and mining industry too but there was a rise in the service sector.
Buying and renting property in Belgium
A foreigner can easily buy property in Belgium without much of restrictions.
A property can be easily bought by entering into a simple agreement. During this time a booking of 10% of the sale price is made and after the notarized deed is signed by both parties the key is given to the buyer by the seller. You may need a legal counsel to complete all the needed legal procedures of the transfer.
As expats want to avoid such a hassle of buying properties they mostly try and rent them. They hire a rental agent to do the same. The standard assumed lease agreement is of nine years and expats prefer to rent their properties this way.
Expats will also be pleased to know that the cost of accomodation in Belgium is relatively lower than other European countries and is extremely affordable for the salaries they get.
Visa and Immigration
Expats can get overwhelmed by the variety of schools that Belgium has, but finding schools that suit their need wouldn’t be an issue. There are state schools, subsidised or free schools, bilingual schools, method schools and international schools to choose from.
Depending upon the term of the stay, expats may decide whether to join a Dutch, French or a German school, or to join an international school.
Belgium is in the west of Europe and it is on the sea side, so it’s never very cold or hot here. It rains a lot in Belgium especially during spring and autumn.
It also snows in Belgium but for a very short period of time. Average day temperatures in Dec-Feb is between 5 and 10 C, Feb-May 10-20C, in Jun-Sep 15-25C, in Oct 10-20C, in Nov 5-10C.