Where to live in Brussels?

(71 Posts)
anotheronetobrussels Thu 26-Apr-12 14:35:59

Hi all

I am a first time poster but long time lurker here.We are moving to Brussels over the summer. Thanks to lots of help from Natation I have secured places for my two girls at three different maternelles. One in Stockel (SC de Stockel)one in Auderghem (Blankedelle)and one in Watermael-Boisfort (L'Assomption,Jagersveld).Just wanted to ask all you Brussels mamas given the choice which area would you opt to live in?
The commute for my Dh to Wavre will be by car so not much in it distance wise.

Thanks in advance

Portofino Thu 26-Apr-12 20:34:48

I would go for Stockel given a choice - lots going on, shops, cinema, public transport, lots of MNetters expats. Tis more expensive though.... We need Longtime for a view on Auderghem..Watermael looks nice - very leafy, lovely market on Sunday am. PM me your email address if you want to join our FB group/mailing list (if you haven't already) There are lots of here now and we go out!

I will link this thread on the FB group (secret) and rally the troops....

anotheronetobrussels Thu 26-Apr-12 21:36:35

Thanks Portofino. I feel like I know you I have read so many of your posts on Brussels! Yes Stockel seems to have a lot to offer. I liked Auderghem (well around Blankedelle) not as busy as Stockel but yet with corner shop and restaurant close to school. It seemed very chilled out..We stopped at Place Keym for a beer (as you do when in Brussels) and it also felt quite chilled and European. Where is the market held in Watermael? I will pm you my email.Thanks.

natation Thu 26-Apr-12 21:59:13

Boitsfort market is near Place Wiener, next to the maison communale.
The food in the Brussels markets, in the affluent communes, can be quite expensive, but the standard is very high. If you're after a cheaper market, the one next to gare du Midi on a Sunday is the best. The waffles at the Stockel market (3 days a week) are worth a visit in themselves.

Longtime Thu 26-Apr-12 22:51:35

Auderghem is fine, Watermael-Boitfort is really nice but personally, if I had the choice, I would go for Stockel. You are on the main line metro but the housing is really nice and you have lots of facilities there. The side of Auderghem Blankedelle is on is the side which leads on to Boitsfort so maybe nicer than my bit of Auderghem. I have a couple of friends who live over there and have known many more.

We often go to the Watermael market but it is very expensive (so we usually just go for the walk and some bread!!).

I would suggest that you have a look at house within your price range and then post the link to them on here so that we can advise. If you get the opportunity to come over to look at places, maybe one of us can meet up with you to give you some advice?

sasha08 Fri 27-Apr-12 07:54:18

Hello. My DS is at Communale de Stockel and we live about 15/20 mins walk (or 3 tram stops) from there. I would definitely recommend Stockel as an area to live but don't really know the other areas you mention to compare. Very happy to answer any questions you might have. I received lots of helpful info on here when we were choosing schools etc smile

frazzlenz Fri 27-Apr-12 08:20:35

Hi, I live in Stockel and have 2 boys at SC de Stockel, one in 3rd maternelle and one in 3rd primaire. I really like the maternelle at SC de Stockel. The maternelle section of the school has lovely teachers and the kids seem very happy. There often have class trips and sports days and the kids seem to enjoy them a lot. The children get swimming lessons and can do activities inside during the lunch hours during winter for a fee. There is reliable (and very $$) before and after school care, and hot lunches available 4 days a week. The school is very friendly and people I know who have had children at other schools and shifted to SC say it welcomes input and participation from parents more than a lot of other local schools. The teachers in maternelle are very used to expat kids so that helped DS3 to settle in and make friends.

In fact the whole school is very international and there are a lot of English speaking parents from a huge range of countries. DS3s best friends are still the other English speakers but he is increasingly making friends with the local kids as well. Parents (both expat and local) are friendly and are happy to help explain things or even translate if you need it.

Stockel is an great place to live with kids, as there is good public transport and heaps of activities for children in the area. Natation has most likely told you about all the activities but we have found the ones run through the sport centre really good as its so easy to get to and there is heaps to choose from. There are plenty of supermarkets in the area (though some are easier to get to if you drive) and the market at Place Dumon is nice if a bit $. From time to time there is a festival or carnaval at Place Dumon and they have a good Xmas market there too.

Ask away if you have any specific questions smile

frazzlenz Fri 27-Apr-12 08:24:09

Theres another market too nearby at St Alix though I havent been. Smaller I think than the one at Stockel, but others might know more. Some nice restaurants too in and around the Stockel area.

anotheronetobrussels Fri 27-Apr-12 15:03:49

Thanks so much everyone.

Yes I am coming over next week Longtime and I just wanted to suss you all out before deciding on school/house.
My Dh would probably prefer Watermael/Boisfort as he likes leafy (in fact we would be out in a farmhouse in the countryside if he had his way). I on the other hand like the city. We don't have to be on the metro line as I will be at home with the kids, well initially anyway. Although I do know that good transport links make life easier.

Frazzlenz thanks for all the positive info on SC de Stockel. I have met the principal and got a good feeling about the school so that will probably swing it for me in the end. I will meet the head of L'Assomption in W-B next week.

I also like the sound of the markets. I would nearly base my decision on where to live based on this (not really). I would prefer to shop at a market than a supermarket any day of the week. My dh will be getting worried if he is reading this!

Thanks again guys...I am sure I will meet some of you when we move over.

Cheers.

natation Fri 27-Apr-12 17:09:57

W-B is pretty similar in terms of leafiness to WSP, they both border the forest. They both have markets - mind you most of Brussels has too and you might change your mind about buying your shopping at the markets when you find how expensive the produce can be there compared to supermakets, they both have good sports centres with swimming pools and running tracks, the income of the average inhabitant of each commune is probably pretty similar too. They both have an expat population, but WSP has a bigger and more diverse one, means the rentals housing CAN but does not always cost more for a like-for-like house in the 2 communes.

Superspudable Mon 21-May-12 09:07:25

Sent you a PM regarding Blankedelle school, highly recommended.

Also very easy commute to Wavre from that area as Auderghem is right on the E411 - my neighbour used to drive there every morning to the uni there....

aharker3 Mon 10-Jun-13 12:00:52

Hello, I'm new to posting so hope I'm in the right place! I'm moving to brussels in 6 weeks, all very quick so lots to find out! I'd love any advice on pretty much everything! I have a 2 and a half year old girl and an 8 month old boy. We really want to live somewhere that I'm not reliant on a car for and would love a park and kids things nearby! We also want a garden so if you have recommendations on areas I'd be grateful. Re nursery I would like my girl to go 2 days a week to a local nursery so she can learn Flemish/French and my son to start for one day a week. Again suggestions would be appreciated. Also do you know of any dance classes for my girl. She loves dance and I'd like to keep this goading ASAP for her! I'd really love to join any Facebook groups etc to start meeting people online as I would love to meet moms once I get there and really want friends for the children. Autumn is always wanting friends around her and I really don't want her to feel she's missing out on friend time!!!! I'm excited to be moving out but really want us all to feel at home as quickly as possible. Hope you can help! Thanks

Longtime Mon 10-Jun-13 13:53:26

aharker3, will pm you

Portofino Mon 10-Jun-13 14:18:11

Looks like Longtime is on the ball re. FB group etc. 99% of Belgian children start full time maternelle at 2.5. I think you will struggle to get a part time place unless you pay for a private or montessori school. You should ideally be looking for a school place - it is the best way to immerse your dd in the language. The Dutch speaking schools are full this year already at Kindergarten level though according to the news.

Nursery provision tends to stop at that age as there is no call for it. Some one else can better advise on nurseries for one day a week - I think there are various Halte Garderies as opposed to a creche place which are aimed more at working parents.

The areas mentioned above in this thread would be top of my list. Stockel covers bits of Woluwe St Pierre, Kraainem and Wezembeek Oppem. All are popular with expats and there lots of activities laid on for children.

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 15:50:59

Where is work first of all, as that is where should be the biggest determining factor in deciding where to live?
Once you've decided on general area to live, that will determine the language, Dutch or French. Many people initially think of areas as part of Brussels, when they are in Flanders or Wallonia. Flanders is Dutch, Wallonia is French, 80% of Brussels schools are French and the majority of the pupils in the 20% of Dutch schools are also French speaking.

There are a few halte-garderies but many of those are mornings only. Many take from only 1 year too.

Part time in a local school comes with its own set of problems usually, the majority of of maternelle teachers will give you a hard time over any child deviating from the pattern of the other 24 in the class, the child might not settle because of them being different, the more time in immersion, the quicker your child will learn French or Dutch, the quicker they will be happy.

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 16:05:37

I don't know any dance classes for 2 year olds, but I know of music classes in English for children of that age, plus the BCT groups which might include some dancing. You'll get dance classes from the age of 3.

aharker3 Mon 10-Jun-13 19:13:45

Thank you all so much. I'll double check where husband is working but as long as the commute is only half hour max we are happy to live anywhere nice! One little question (one of many I am sure) but what do you mean by full time school starts at 2.5? Is that all day everyday or just half day? I'd be open to half day but will really struggle with putting her in full time. She's smart and confident so it's not that I'm worried about more it is about all the activities we do together that come from parent child time... Not school. I have nothing against it but for our family we always wanted a good blend of nursery and home time! Would be grateful to get more feedback in this and people's experiences. Thanks

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 19:28:01

Yes that is from 8.30 to 3.30. You won't find any parent-child organised activities in those hours, except BCT activities and a few paying activities marketed to expat families.

I have to say that your chances of a successful integration into a local school is much reduced if you choose part time. If you cannot do "as in Rome", then I'd say you should wait to put into school in a year or two and do that full time. The majority of children I know who were pulled out of local school under the age of 5 where pulled out because they were part time and that made it difficult for integration and for acquisition of language.

Portofino Mon 10-Jun-13 20:15:53

There is no school on Wednesday afternoon so full time is 4.5 days a week. I think dd's school allowed 5 mornings in the first year, after that it was all or nothing, other wise it disrupts the programme. Maternelle is very much seen as early years education vs child care. In ,y experience they have lots of fun though, and it is the best way for your dd to learn the language. My dd started at that age and positively thrived. She was quiet for the first 6 months then the French kicked in and she hasn't stopped since. She is still good friends with most of her first class.

Portofino Mon 10-Jun-13 20:23:49

As I said earlier, you might find a fee paying Montessori school willing to take her part time. But generally school places in Brussels are at a premium right now, paid or otherwise. If you haven't found a place before the end of the summer, you might go without entirely this school year.

aharker3 Mon 10-Jun-13 20:42:01

Thanks so much. I would be thrilled with 5 days a week morning only but of course will do what I have to to make it all work. I have no doubt dd will be happy whatever happens but I just want to explore all options. I will do my research based on the above and might book a trip over to make some appointments once I have an actual clue on how the whole enrolling process works! I've looked online but wondered if any of you have any good links you can direct me to regarding the school system. I am really appreciating this help. My husband will be working in the European Quarter, so does that have a bearing on places you might suggest to look at to live!? Thanks so much.

Portofino Mon 10-Jun-13 21:04:50

Schools break up on 28th June, so I would suggest making some calls to see where you might still find a classe d'acceuil place ASAP. If you dh will be working in the European district, Woluwe st Pierre, Woluwe st. Lambert, Kraainem or anywhere along the no 1 metro line is good. Evere has good links by bus also and there are lots of new builds there. All of them have websites which will give links to the schools. At this stage you will need to contact each school directly to see if they have places. I would get a place and negotiate the part time stuff later.

You shouldn't sign a rental contract til you have a place. Leases tend to be 9 years here as standard and you will pay to leave within the first 3 years. Would maybe be better to stay in short term furnished accommodation if unsure, otherwise you may pay more in the long run.

Portofino Mon 10-Jun-13 21:12:03

Www.immoweb.be is the main property website. You can search via the map. Most people I know - and the Belgian MNetters - live in eastern Brussels, the communes I listed above, plus Wezembeek Oppem and Auderghem, and Etterbeek. . It depends very much on what your budget is for housing and whether you prefer a house or apartment.

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 21:12:23

The 2 and 3 year olds also sleep between 12.15 and 13.45 as a rough guide, so they don't get tired, plus they spend copious amounts of time outside, no matter what the weather, as every local school has a canopy in case it rains.

For EU quarter, anywhere along metro lines 1 and 5 and tram lines 39 and 44. Some even like living in the EU quarter but you have to be careful with which schools and streets there, as it goes from affluent to poor in one street.

You phone (not email) every single local school. It's a good idea to limit your search area though, otherwise you'll end up with 30 odd schools on your list.

You can do any pattern of attendance in maternelle, if you must go with part time, mornings only EVERY morning would be best. Some maternelle teachers will say outright they don't like your child being part time, some might be more discrete. It means your child misses out on every afternoon activity. Some days, if they are doing something special, you might be persuaded by the teacher to allow your child to stay all day. Your child might be the only child in the class part time, it is more likely than not. You might be asked to collect away from the classroom at lunch time, meaning your child might go to the secretary for collection, it can be immensely upsetting for 3 year olds seeing a mum arrive and they don't see theirs.

rushingrachel Mon 10-Jun-13 21:15:54

I have a son 2.5 and technically he should start school in September. And we have places. But if I go with local schooling I only intend putting him in half time from September. After that time they only seem to me to eat, play and have a story. None of the schools we met seemed to find that bizarre. DS is my baby. I don't actually want to send him to school at all! And I am home so would strive for a balance.

So OP You may find schools are tolerant enough about the little ones leaving at lunchtime. But as the others who are more expert than me have said, chances of finding a classe d'accueil place in a nice school are slim enough.

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