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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

marchmad Mon 10-Jun-13 21:24:24

At our school for acceuil and 1ere maternelle, there is an organised morning activity and an organised afternoon one too. 11.30 is lunch. 12.05 is sleep till 13.45-14.00 (children allowed to wake up naturally except the very heavy sleepers). Then they have a drink, go to the toilet, 14.15 to 15.00 an organised activity. 15.00 to 15.15 is playtime outside, then back inside to prepare for parents collecting at 15.30.

I know someone offered acceuil (2.5 class) places in 2 very well regarded schools just in the last couple of weeks, one is however in Wezembeek where you have to live to be able to go to school, one of the schools there always seems to have acceuil places, not so much pressure on school places due to the residential restrictions which they don't have in Brussels.

Longtime Mon 10-Jun-13 23:23:13

I waited until all three of mine were three before putting them into school because I thought three years in maternelle where, let's face it, they don't do an awful lot, was plenty long enough to learn to speak French and make local friends (and it was). Even then I only put them in in the mornings for the first year because they seemed to make them sleep all afternoon and mine had long given up their nap at that age so I didn't fancy having them up all evening having slept at school! The teachers were fine about it and actually seemed quite happy to have one less to look after.

Longtime Mon 10-Jun-13 23:24:50

(If you put them in at three they don't go into classe d'accueil but straight into first year maternelle though it does depend a bit on when the child was born.)

marchmad Tue 11-Jun-13 08:35:51

If you 2.5 year old is born in 2010, they are in fact 1ere maternelle in September 2013 and if born in 2011, they will be in acceuil .

Some schools mix acceuil and 1ere maternelle children anyway, mixed year groups are quite common at maternelle level.

The further out you go from the EU quarter, the more residential it becomes and more green it becomes. It is also cheaper as a general rule the further out you go, communes like Ixelles and Etterbeek can be very expensive for houses in particular. There are more places available in schools the further out you go. Even the end of metro lines 1 and 5 though are only 20 minutes from EU quarter, so they are actually closer in time to some areas which are closer geographically.

aharker3 Tue 11-Jun-13 13:29:40

Thanks all, I'll admit to being hugely confused by everything! But that said I'm diving in and calling schools today. Any you think I should just all out avoid? And any you think I should pray and hope for? As long as we are a half hour commute from eu district max we would be happy. Ideally we would like to avoid driving to schools but beggars can not be choosers... Certainly not in the school system in brussels it seems! Thanks

marchmad Tue 11-Jun-13 15:19:21

There is absolutely no need to drive to any school in Brussels and driving to work is highly inadvisable too. The public transport is excellent here and quite cheap. There are so many schools, you should be able to walk to school.

Without giving us an idea of where you'd like to live, I wouldn't like to say which ones you should phone first or last.

aharker3 Tue 11-Jun-13 16:16:23

I think at this point I need to call pretty much everywhere and look at where to live accordingly though uccle and wsp seem favourable to me.... Thanks smile

marchmad Tue 11-Jun-13 16:42:09

oh please don't do Uccle. Not only is it a terrible terrible commute to work, it is far harder to find school places there. Stick to metro lines 1 and 5 or tram lines 39 / 44 or EU district or Etterbeek. But even that is too much area to look at, decide what type of house you want, what type of area you want, what your budget is, then narrow down the search from there.

aharker3 Tue 11-Jun-13 21:50:14

Oh - I'd read on this forum (another thread) it is about 20 mins commute by tram to EU district... hmmm this just gets harder and harder! We don't want to live in the EU district as would rather a more leafy area - we would like a small town / big village feel with plenty to do for kids. Not majorly fussed on the house just not four stories and a garden is a must for us! I look into where those tram lines and metro lines go and use that as a good starting point.

Thanks again!

juneblues Tue 11-Jun-13 22:06:13

It's nowhere near 20 minutes by tram, there is no direct tram from Uccle to the EU area, you have possibly 30 minutes to Montgomery, change to metro another 10 minutes.

If you're after small town, go for the far end of the metro lines, north Watermael is near Beaulieu metro or the Auderghem side too, then Demey and Hermann-Debroux on line 5, then there is anywhere from Tomberg to Stockel of line 1, then anywhere along 39 tram route.

Actually many of the houses are indeed 4 storeys, the best value 4 beds are, ground floor is garage and caves or garden room, first floor is living room and kitchen, top 2 floors are bedrooms. It's a common design here. You'll get 3 floors without the garage too. The houses aren't like UK ones, other differences like it's rare to get more than a matchbox of a kitchen.

I wonder if Wezembeek on the 39 tram route might suit you.

This one is a real bargain if still available. It's not far from Louis Marcelis 39 tram stop, change onto metro line 1 at Stockel, alternatively 76 bus almost outside the house to Kraainem metro. It's also a 5 minute walk to Notre Dame de la Trinité and La Fermette school. English speakers in bother, especially latter, I know a child just offered an acceuil place at ND de la Trinité and know another child who'll be in 1ere maternelle there.

Portofino Tue 11-Jun-13 22:13:18

You need near Stockel - near metro line 1.

juneblues Tue 11-Jun-13 22:20:42

Here's one 2 stops from Stockel between "Aviation" and "Rue au Bois" on 39 tram route, a mumsnetter might just have looked at this one. Nearest schools AR Crommelynck, not somewhere I'd choose long term but take a look, otherwise, Joli-Bois or the 2 Stockel schools or Don Bosco or Jean 23 Parmentier, the nearest 6 schools all walking or short bus / tram ride away.

superfluouscurves Wed 12-Jun-13 08:33:01

Quick note about full-time school from 2.5 yrs:

Like Longtime I waited until my child was a bit older then, against my better judgement, put her in school full time.

She was still a bit hit and miss potty-wise but peer pressure did the trick!

Keep an open mind. School explained to me that many of the 'socialising' group activities that they place great importance upon here, happen around lunch time ie washing hands, lining up, taking turns, sharing, sitting at table, identifying and discussing different foods, eating together,manners/etiquette, going to loo + story + nap afterwards etc.

It turned out really well in the end so try not to worry. Early years care is generally v. calm and organised here.

aharker3 Wed 12-Jun-13 09:11:19

Seriously I can't thank you all enough - all this info is so helpful. I' going to look at those houses now and I'm calling schools today too. Re the four flights in houses - well if that's how it is in general I' fine with it - I think we are just a bit tired from our town house we have over here - too many stairs with babies!!!! I've kind of seen that all the kitchens are small and most look rather "retro" too but I'm ok with that - we'd love big kitchen as we have one here but that's not going to make me turn my nose up at a house - big kitchens are a luxury! Whilst slightly overwheled trying to get this all sorted so quickly I' excited and hugely grateful to you all for your support.


aharker3 Wed 12-Jun-13 09:23:55

one ore question... am I mad to think I can get a decent sized garden? Or are they generally all quite small? Thanks

superfluouscurves Wed 12-Jun-13 09:31:30

The houses immediately around the Montgomery/Merode/Schuman-EU district areas have small town gardens (if you are lucky) or at least a small courtyard or several balconies.

The houses further out in leafier areas such as Stockel (villas as opposed to multi-storey town houses) tend to have much larger gardens but it all depends on price.

Good luck with calling schools today!

juneblues Wed 12-Jun-13 13:04:27

Aharker3, you have exactly the right attitude. I admit I get a bit shirty with people when I try to help when they carry over their "wish lists" from their home country to here where houses and schools are different. I've had some reject houses because they have only 2 toilets and not 3, some because the 30 metre long garden was in their opinion too small, because houses don't have power showers, because they cannot fit a table in the kitchen (that really does limit choice).

Price should be a reflection of street, m2 floorspace, m2 garden, villa / semi / terraced, quality of finish. You should pay for what you get, but if you're not sure of a house, post the link here and we can all comment.

Those 2 houses I posted above, in fact anywhere between those 2 areas is great.

Here's another one which drew my attention, near école communale de Stockel, Sacré-Coeur de Stockel (I know a definite waiting list of over 10), St Georges.

This one looks maybe a bit dated, or otherwise the photos are crap, and therefore perhaps a bit overpriced, but near Sacré-Coeur de Stockel, St Georges, Notre Dame de la Trinité, La Fermette. You could walk to Stockel metro from here still.

Fancy a swimming pool for under 2k? Near SC de Stockel, école communale de Stockel, St Georges, it's on Av Baron d'Huart.

aharker3 Thu 13-Jun-13 08:01:51

Thanks so much again - Ill look at all of these and I think I am going to try and come over next week to meet schools. Originally we thought we could get exactly what we wanted but clearly we can't and that really doesn't matter as long as we are in a safe area and can make friends. We def want a garden but we only have a small one now and we manage to use it beyond it's potential so we would be happy with a small one over nothing. Some houses do look dated but then that's nothing a bit of imagination can't sort out! FIngers crossed I'll be posting that I have a school place and house soon! thanks

juneblues Thu 13-Jun-13 16:28:56

You can't alter a house, as in the decoration or fixed fittings, without the written permission of the landlord so do be careful. The Rue des Tulipes house for me is the best location V price. It's in the next street almost to a new mumsnetter too. Don't be put off by those big floor tiles, when you come to move out, you'll be eternally grateful you didn't choose a house full of beautiful wooden floors, as the wood is easy to scratch and you're responsible for giving them back looking like they did when you moved in, the tiles are far harder to damage.

aharker3 Thu 13-Jun-13 19:41:16

Oh no I didn't mean changing the decor - that's the same as here.. just meant in terms of styling! thanks so much

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 19:53:29

You can repaint, but if anything other than neutral colours you need to put it back to how it was before.

aharker3 Thu 13-Jun-13 21:24:50

I love the house on Rue Des Tulipes - looks a great size, nice garden and I'm gathering the area is good too - so thanks so much Juneblues I'll look into this. Another question (surprise surprise) does anyone know more about the schools in the area Juneblues mentioned? (école communale de Stockel, Sacré-Coeur de Stockel, St Georges.) I'm going to call tomorrow and then, if there are places, do I want to be making an appointment to go meet the head? I'm a little bit overwhelmed at the thought of this, because fundamentally aren't I choosing the school DD will stay at for the longhaul? Do I want to be trying to reserve a place for my 7 month old as well? Thanks a mill... when I get over I'll be having to buy you all a big round in appreciation!

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 21:55:54

Those schools will be fine. If there is a place, grab it with both hands. Honest. I have been here 7 years and will aim to put my child into one of the Stockel schools next year in anticipation of secondary school places. If you don't like the school you can move later. In Brussels, you can move freely in Maternelle. Once you start Primaire you are not supposed to move mid cycle - so 1,2 or 3,4 or 5,6. They tend to stay with the same teacher for the cycle.

Portofino Thu 13-Jun-13 21:59:51

So find a Maternelle place for your 2 yo. You can move later. No you don't need worry about your 7 month old just yet.

juneblues Fri 14-Jun-13 06:01:38

For St Georges, there is a geographical restriction of having to live in a "facility" commune, that means the school would ask you if you live in Kraainem or Wezembeek, you reply you are about to rent a house there.

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