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A day checking out Brussels this Weds

(11 Posts)
tanimbar Mon 24-Feb-14 06:23:55

My husband is thinking of applying for a job in Brussels, which would involve us moving in the summer holidays. We have three children, 6, 4 and 2. I'm going to Brussels on my own for the day, to have a look around possible residential areas (job would be in Schuman), and just get a general sense of how it would be for us as a family to live there. I'm going to look round the BSB, but have the afternoon free. I know there are several long-term Brussels folk on here: how would you suggest I spend my time?

sanschocolat Mon 24-Feb-14 13:15:16

Ooh, not sure what to suggest other than what you are already doing ie checking out schools and houses (assume you have already been looking on here ???)

Sure others will be along soon though - bumping for you!

meerkate Mon 24-Feb-14 14:37:07

hi tanimbar
my parents moved to Brussels due to my mum's job when I was 5 and my little brother 3 so it's my hometown, though i moved back to the uk when i went to uni. my mum's job was in schuman too. we initially lived in woluwe-st-pierre, which is a popular suburb for ex-pats. i would spend time in the centre checking out the obvious -but-lovely sights like the grand-place and the sablon, but also check out some of the popular suburbs - others will advise! i have great childhood memories of the WSP parksmile we went to belgian school in primary and one of the european schools for secondary. there is a wealth of choice though and others will be much more up-to-date than me on current options! good luck with the look-around smile my parents went for a year initially - but never left!

sadandverymad Mon 24-Feb-14 20:21:17

Given the ages of your children, you might want to consider a local school at least for the younger ones. Local school is almost free and starts at age 2.5 years. You could always ask to visit a few, but local schools are only open on wednesday morning. You could combine a BSB run with a local school run. I'd live along metro line 1 / tram lines 39 and 44 for an easy journey to work and also public transport option to BSB.

If you want to know what kids do outside school on wednesday afternoons, take a look around Sportcity in WSP to find how many sports take place at the same time. Then a trip to Parc Malou or Georges Henri playgrounds if you're visiting with the children.

Lunch, well I'd go for lunch in Stockel, either at Fonteyne the Kitchen or Le Pain Quotidien.

tanimbar Tue 25-Feb-14 14:08:26

Thanks for some great suggestions (especially regarding lunch - v. important!), and about where might be practical to live. We're currently in reasonably central North London and, while I tell myself I'd like more space and don't mind being further out, I wonder how true that actually is! Yes, the idea of local school for the smalls is appealing in some ways. One thing that concerns me though is that my French, while just about serviceable, is not fluent, and I'd worry about the extent to which I could communicate with teachers. I have enough trouble keeping communication channels open with my son's school in London! Does anyone know how easy it might be to transfer back into the English system? We don't plan on being there forever.

sadandverymad Tue 25-Feb-14 17:33:30

it doesn't matter which school your children go to, if you're going back to the UK, they'll have to adjust to a new school and new school system back in the UK. If your children are likely to head back before they reach secondary age, I'd put it to the bottom of your worries, whether they transfer back from international or local school.

Limited French at local school? No problem if you choose the right school. Biggest difference with local schools is you must accept THEIR system, teachers and schools are in charge, not parents, if you cannot accept how things are done, it's not for you. Communication with school is in comparison a far smaller problem.

You might get space further out for the same price, if you live somewhere like Moorsel you'll pay far far less, but you'll have a long way to work, you'll spend far more on car transport, you'll have a less convenient trip to BSB too. If you add on the added car transport cost from the rural areas near to Brussels, it often adds up to more than being in a well serviced suburb like WSP which excellent public transport to work and BSB, where you can get nice big houses in a nice community where local schools are also full of non Belgians where teachers are used to communicating in a myriad of languages. The other downside to the rural areas is you spend more time travelling to / from school / work / activities.

PortofinoRevisited Tue 25-Feb-14 17:58:16

Will you be working too? I second sad's idea of WSP or along the 39 or 44 tram line. Most of the expats I know live in that area so it will make it easier to make friends - and 39 tram is handy for the Brussel Childbirth Trust's centre in Wezembeek Oppem for toddler groups etc. In fact Wezembeek would not be a bad location either - at least near the 39 tram and 410 bus route which also goes past BSB. Stockel is definitely the area I would be aiming for. In fact we plan to move there within the next year or so. Lots of shops, cafes, restaurants. A cinema. Sportcity is just up the road. Depends on your budget really.

tanimbar Tue 25-Feb-14 20:17:30

Not working straight away, but I'd certainly hope to, so wouldn't want to limit things too much by living in a silly place. Good point. I'll definitely have a look at Stockel. Is there a swimming pool?

PortofinoRevisited Tue 25-Feb-14 20:20:46

Yes - Sports city has a pool, tennis courts etc etc. Sports facilities are generally cheap - especially if you live in commune.

TheHammaconda Wed 26-Feb-14 13:25:49

We're based in the Schuman area, I like it very much. Been in Brux for just over three years now. My French is OK but not fluent. DS is 3 and started at our local school in September - I haven't had any problems communicating with his teachers.

sadandverymad Wed 26-Feb-14 15:48:07

Sportcity is in the Joli-Bois quarter of WSP which is 1km south of the centre of Stockel, it's 2 tram stops from the centre of Stockel. Sportcity contains the best 50m pool in Brussels region and the top francophone club in the country where most of the national level swimmers are non Belgian and its swim school is very well run and very popular - called CNSW. It's also where many of the BSB swimming club do supplementary training - BSB currently has no pool but they will open their competition standard 25m pool in September 2016. If you're good enough to join the swim squads, it's a mere 275 euro per year for unlimited training hours (within the timetable). There are many anglophones in the club, including in the national level squad.

All children living in WSP and Wezembeek-Oppem can buy a season ticket for 10 months for 55 euro, also children schooled in one of the 20 or so WSP schools who live elsewhere also buy the season ticket and are billed it through school. It covers entry for weekly school swimming lessons and also entry for the swim club training and also unlimited entry in those 10 months for public swimming. Bargain really. Just google Sportcity and you'll see the photos of the pool.

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