Living in Brussels as an expat is like living in a bubble, detached from the local reality. NO need to speak any of the official languages. English or sign language will do just fine.
I think the greatest thing about this city is that it’s small enough to get around easily, but extremely international for its size. So, no worries, you’ll have 10 friends already in your first week here. Networking is not an issue, it’s a constant opportunity.
It’s so strategically positioned, that you can basically reach 5 countries in just a few hours. Isn’t that cool, to be able to travel to 5 different cultures, see so many places in just 1 or 2 hours? Car, train, plane, you name it, you’re there in no time. Most of the people who come to Brussels whether it is for just some months, years or unlimited immediately start travelling like crazy! And you should do too!
Comfortable life is what you get with an average job. This is not limited to those in executive positions, but to most people with decent jobs and salaries. If you want more than conformable, than that’s a different story.
A bit of everything for everyone! Interested in sports, volunteering, religious, etc. A simple google search will help you connect with some group that has the same interests.
Means of transportation or bike will take you everywhere! I mean it, everywhere! If you live and work in Brussels, there’s not much need for a car. Having a car in Brussels is a pain! Nevertheless, if you do have a car, that’s perfect for day trips in Belgium and around, the infrastructure is marvellous.
If you enjoy food, there are plenty of good, varied, weird and standard restaurants to pick from. Don’t be shy, go and try whatever you find, it’s really amazing the flavours you can discover and eventually like. I’m pretty unsurprising to some extent, I love Italian and Japanese. Seriously, I love it! My friends all know by now that they should not cook Italian for me, especially pasta unless they are Italians or lived in Italy for enough years to master cooking it. Luckily for me, there are enough beautiful and authentic Italian restaurants in Brussels to satisfy my delight (Try Caneva for the most amazing ravioli with black truffles!!). So, go ahead and explore the international cuisine in Brussels.
There are plenty of items that can throw you off, but with a bit of luck you can dodge a bullet, so you’re good to go. One of the worst things is bureaucracy!! It’s crazy!! There are so many papers to fill in, to sign, to look for and legalise. Of course, if you’re a full EU member you’re almost safe, no need to go through any excruciating process. But, for the rest, prepare for impact.
Lack of services is something that will piss you off for at least the first 6 months. After this period of adaptation, you will either leave the country or just give in and accept that no service provider in this country cares about your request. You just have to wait between 8am and 1pm and hope the technician will come, wait for a month for a doctor’s appointment, a blasé attitude, that we just have to accept things how they are, etc. These can drive you nuts, especially if you are a goal-getter, want to get things done or just have some common sense.
This next one is not only for Brussels, but for the entire country. Taxes! They love taxes! High, legally unavoidable and condemn you to a life of middle class person. Putting up a business is not encouraged here.
Oh, in Brussels, Belgians are a rare sight. So if you get your hands on one, hold on to them! Stats say that only about 1/3 are Belgians in Brussels, the rest are all foreigners. On the upside, you will hear a multitude of languages and for sure your own as well. Downside, not much mingling with the locals.
But to understand all these, one should have his own taste of the city, or its beer or waffles 🙂 whichever comes first