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Potential Brussels move... help with schools, areas to live etc... PLEASE!

(107 Posts)
lozzyblue Tue 17-May-11 09:19:24

Hi there,

my husband is expecting to receive an exciting job offer this week which would involve us and our young family relocating to Brussels.

Although excited by this, I'm also extremely nervous. I have 2 young children with my third due in 4 weeks so I have my hands full without organising an International move so any help you can give me is really appreciated and might just save my sanity!

My DD is 3, 4 in August (and so due to start school here in September). My DS is 2. I have been looking into schools but feel completely lost and out of my depth. From what I understand it can be really difficult to even get a place in a good school in Brussels as they are subscribed to super early grin(

My daughter is somewhat a creature of habit and I'm really nervous about throwing her into a completely foreign language school with no friends etc and no way of communicating. I have also read that the local schools can be inflexible and unhelpful in settling a new child when they do not speak the language? For this reason I have been looking at a blilingual education - we do not know how long this move will be for... I would guess a minimum of 2 years however I don't see it as somewhere we will stay forever.

The school which has caught my eye so far is Ecole Internationale Verseau? Does anyone know the school? the area? how likely it is we could get a place? The timing of our potential move is also stressing me out as we are fast approaching the Summer holidays I fear it will make our plans even harder.

My husbands potential employer is not actually in the centre of Brussels - it's in Ixelles I believe. Are there any areas you could recommend for us to look at property which would suit a reasonalbe commute for him (within 30 mins ideally) and in close proximity to a good school? We would be looking for a 4 (ideally 5) bedroom house with a garden. I would quite like an English speaking community close by and parks, amenities would be a bonus too!

I know I'm asking a lot and I'm aware I've rambled but my head is at bursting point with so many questions and fears about how I'll cope rattling around!

Thanks in advance for anyone who bothers to read or can help point me in the right direction!


natation Wed 14-Nov-12 15:24:51

good French school in Brussels = class of 24-26
unpopular French school = class of 22 or less

Ballet Wed 14-Nov-12 11:36:10

hi ,Actually I am also looking out for Good french school with not so large class size and also environment shoudl be diverse.
which french school you children goes to?

can you suggets some pls.

Longtime Sun 24-Jul-11 20:19:28

natation, how ridiculous is that?!? I'm just updating the Lifers' market so I'll put it on there.

natation Sun 24-Jul-11 09:15:27

Hi there
highjacking the thread a little. We are being evicted (well sort of, only staff in Brussels being made to give up our lovely 5 bed house for a 1 bed apartment which will cost employer more to rent than this house so we have to leave and rent another cheaper house at own cost and hubby takes the 1 bed apartment) and our Brussels is home has just gone up for rent on Immoweb. It is situated in Stockel, a very desirable part of Brussels, 5 minute walk to the metro, 1 minute walk to the tram. It's ideal for a larger family (caution steps into garden). Next to great schools, shops, cinema, sports centre, transport, really a great place to live and I'm very sad that we are forced to leave.

rungirlrun Mon 11-Jul-11 20:51:53

Thanks Longtime, that does look like a great compromise and alot closer to Lakdaal. Will definitely pay a visit if the moves comes off.

You are a great source of info that it would take hours to find myself. Thankyou.

Longtime Sun 10-Jul-11 23:11:28

Natation, I am so pleased that I've been able to pass on some information that's been useful to you as it's always you doing the passing on of information!

We thought of Mol for ds1 but decided against it before enquiring. That was only really because we felt it wasn't the right time for him to be away from home.

natation Sun 10-Jul-11 21:17:44

Hubby off to Tessenderlo tomorrow evening, just a few kms from Laakdal gemeente, anything you want to know in particular about the place?

Never though of ES Mol and now has given me an idea to send our eldest there - there are 2 boarding houses where children can stay for less than 2500 euro per year and the category 3 fees (non EU civil servants) for secondary are only 5000 euro per year. Will be phoning ASAP to see what availability there is there, will ask about primary too.

Longtime Sun 10-Jul-11 19:56:57

Hmm, the convert links thing doesn't work if you don't press enter after the link.

Longtime Sun 10-Jul-11 19:56:19

Longtime Sun 10-Jul-11 19:54:51

Dh says that all along the E313 there are quite a few well known chemical companies but doesn't really know Laakdal.

I notice that it's near Mol. There is a European school in Mol which usually has places if you want a cheaper English education which will include other languages later on. Might be a good compromise between the two systems. You do have to pay but not nearly as much as the usual international schools.

rungirlrun Sun 10-Jul-11 19:34:43

thanks natation and longtime. Appreciate the info.

What experience do you have of putting english speaking children into non English speaking schools? Will they hate me forever and go back years in learning or quickly soak it all up and become bi-lingual ?

If it was just a job for me it would be a much easier decision but bringing the whole family out for 'just a job' is a much harder decision. i can see it would enrich their lives in the long term but it is getting through the short term uproute first!

Appreciate any advise/experiences you can give me. How long have you been out there. Glad you went? Any regrets? sorry if i am being too nosey but just trying to weigh up things in my head.

Longtime Sat 09-Jul-11 23:51:54

I'll ask dh tomorrow as he previously had to travel around Belgium a lot for his job.

natation Sat 09-Jul-11 23:33:55

I do not know Laakdal apart from our boys playing rugby there.
According to Wikipedia, population is 15000, made up of 5 villages - Groot Vorst, Klein Vorst, Varendonk, Veerle, Eindhout - llok on google maps and you can make them all out. Only just over 200 non Belgians living in the population. You may find the schools are 1 or 2 per village, my guess is quite rural , industry looks like it is along nearby E313 motorway. A bigger town is Tessenderlo

rungirlrun Sat 09-Jul-11 22:57:29

thanks for the advise. Looks like local school is the way to go.

Anyone know if Lakdaal is a good place to live. With 6 good schools it can't be that small. i have the impression is was more industrial as when i have been i have always stayed at hotel about half an hour away.


Longtime Sat 09-Jul-11 22:12:21

(Of course, if they do go a local school from now until university age then you won't have to worry about degrees in English!)

Longtime Sat 09-Jul-11 22:11:09

Although it's a long time until you have to think about universities rungirlrun, at the moment there isn't actually a great choice of bachelor courses in English - they are mainly business, economics and European studies (eg law) of some sort. There are many masters courses in English. However, the amount of bachelor courses is increasing and so by the time yours are old enough to consider this, hopefully there will be a much wider choice.

Natation's right about Dutch being a relatively easy language for anglophones to learn - much easier than French or German. Some children do find it easier than others to absorb a language but as long as you are quite relaxed about the fact that they may (and only may) have to redo a year in order to catch up (it is not so unusual for children to redo a year somewhere in their secondary education in Belgium) then I'm sure it will work out fine.

natation Sat 09-Jul-11 08:58:03

Laakdal is far from any sizeable English speaking community in Antwerp or Brussels or any international schools, so I would take advantage of the excellent local schools, 6 of them in Laakdal, Dutch is the language of the area. As you are far from a language border where the use of Dutch to communicate is often an imovable rule, you should find the local authorities happy to speak to you in English and the teachers at school happy to speak English too, plus the neighbours.

Dutch should not be too hard for a 9 and 7 year old to learn in a year, of course it is harder the older the children get, but one of the easiest languages to learn for anglophones.

If your 9 year old is at all sporty, a possible source of native English speakers would be the local rugby club, same spirit of sportsmanship before skill in Belgian rugby and Laakdal often play the British school at rugby too so it would bring you into contact with the English community there.

IF you end up long term in Belgium, remember Dutch universities in Netherlands are becoming increasingly popular with Brits as many degrees are in English. For bilingual English Dutch students, this is a great option and tuition fees are currently just under 2k euro per year and you can get student grants too.

rungirlrun Fri 08-Jul-11 23:32:52

been reading all your e-mails with interest as looking at a job offer in Lakdaal. Understand it is quite out in the sticks so very interested in any advise on schools/town to live in.
All only english speaking with DH, DS - 9, and DD 7 years old. Looking at International school seems v expensive. Would it be too cruel to send them to local school without any local language capabilities.

Appreciate any advise.

Portofino Sat 25-Jun-11 18:53:33

Congratulations on the new baby! Hope we all get to meet you when you are here and a bit settled. All here if you need any help getting sorted.

lozzyblue Fri 24-Jun-11 21:01:13

Hello ladies,

Firstly, thank you Belgian waffle for your recent post. It's great to hear your experiences.

So, an update from me.... baby number 3 arrived by c-section on June 10th - we had a girl! :-) She is now 2 weeks old today and feels very much part of the family already - as though she's always been here!

Our relocation is now confirmed and we are due to be moving on July 18th so are in the thick of organising right now.

Apologies to those of you I was chatting with before my daughters arrival if I suddenly went quiet or didn't respond to messages!

Looking forward to getting out there and hope to be able to meet up with some/all of you in the bear future.

Lauren x

BelgianWaffle Mon 06-Jun-11 13:19:52

Hi lozzyblue,
We have two children, one at creche here and one is at a francophone local school, Jardin des Ecoliers, which is great. Very multicultural, lovely teachers and he is very happy and his French is fluent, even though mine is not! If your children are small, and you are not going to be staying in Brussels forever then try not to get too caught up in the whole competetive school thing. Obviously you want what's best for your children but for infant school, aside from learning to count and the alphabet, what is important is that children feel secure, happy and enjoy the learning environment.

Some bits of Ixelles are very urban- the bits just off Chaussee d'Ixelles, for example. Then there are other bits which are very well-heeled, such as the Chatelain/Leoputre/Tenbosch area, which is equivalent to Notting Hill/Holland Park in London Terms.

Good luck with the move!

Portofino Sun 29-May-11 15:17:01

Stockel Chant D'Oiseaux]]




natation Sun 29-May-11 13:29:09

This is the only house under 2.2k with 4 beds on Immoweb at the moment which specifically says it is in the area of Ixelles nearest to hubby's work. It looks a beautiful house, only one immediate downside is the small garden

natation Sat 28-May-11 22:18:59

Unfortunately the schools in Ixelles are very much "yes" or "not really". Best regarded you are so so unlikely to find a place. That's Ecole communale Tenbosch, St André and St Joseph Boondael. The only one I have heard reasonable things about which may have space is Ecole communale Jardins d'Elise.

Take a good look at the Ixelles map, some of it is not as accessible to hubby's work as Watermael-Boitsfort or Auderghem for example, or even Etterbeek. Your hubby's work is right on the Ixelles border with Auderghem and Etterbeek. Tenbosch / Chatelain areas are furthest away. Only the area south of Boul Général Jacques and east of Ave Franklin Roosevelt is a quick commute, this area mergers in with Watermael-Boitsfort, this is where you find Jardins d'Elise and St Joseph Boondael schools. This area is far more suburban than the rest of Ixelles which is very "city" and can be quite pricey and a huge pain to park in.

Portofino Sat 28-May-11 20:10:13

Don't know it particularly well. My first thought is "posh". There are certainly some lovely houses. My visits have been limited to visiting the Horta house and De Valera's Irish pub in Place Flagey.

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