Move to Brussels/Antwerp(4 Posts)
Hi all. We are in the very early stages of planning a move to Belgium and would really appreciate some advice. The move will be self funded, and initially for up to 12 months. We have three girls, aged 4, 2 and 3 months, so schools and childcare will be a priority. We are open to both international and local schools, but the likes of BSB is out of the question due to the fees.
We will rent out our place here to keep a base in the UK and rent over in Belgium too - any tips on housing in either city would be gratefully received.
Where exactly is the job as Antwerp and Brussels are an hour apart?
Live near work and consider the schools are whichever region. Antwerp is Dutch speaking. Brussels is 95% French speaking though officially bilingual.
We moved to Brussels for 2 years when my son was 1, and my daughter was born there. This was a few years ago so hope my advice isn't out of date.
Two good resources are bctbelgium.org/ and www.expatica.com/be/
The BCT is v much like NCT but as well as doing childbirth stuff they also organise playgroups etc- great for getting to know people. The groups tend to be attended by expats from all over the place, not just the UK, but run in English. Very helpful as you get to know people who have done it all before so can advise you.
Expatica is just a website with info but it does have a good forum- I tend to find the people on there can be a bit grumpy/arsey but they have good info.
Antwerp is lovely but I only know it as a place to visit. Brussels is also great- we lived in Uccle which is French-speaking and great for families (not the cheapest though, although rents certainly much lower than London).
On schools, it's a tricky one as the approach you take will obviously depend on how long you're there for. I would be somewhat reluctant to put an English-speaking child into French or Flemish school if you are only staying 12 months, but if you're probably staying longer/permanently, then this may be the best option. I can't think of an English-language school that isn't fee paying. NB also that it certainly used to be the case that you have no chance of a place at the European School unless you work for one of the Institutions.
There's quite a lot of red tape involved in moving to Belgium- registering with the commune etc- and I'd try to find a good book or similar which sets it all out as it's quite frustrating otherwise. Also get a good accountant- taxes in Belgium are high but there are numerous (legal) deductions which your accountant can advise on.
Overall it's a good place to live and have kids- in particular, local schools and healthcare are fantastic and quality of life is great.
I don't think anyone has used expatica forum in the last 3 or 4 years. Facebook schools page is where to look for help in choosing schools.
Registering with the commune / gemeente is variable, in our commune, it takes about 20 minutes and that's it, very easy, can even do it in English.
You won't need an accountant unless you have a complicated life, the tax office provides free help and are excellent. Taxes are only high for single people who earn a lot, not for families on average incomes. I pay no tax.
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