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Possible move to brussels

(21 Posts)
Singherewecome Tue 24-Oct-17 06:14:20

We are a British family who have been living in Singapore for 4.5 years. There is a possibility of a move to Brussels. Kids are 12,10 and 5 and the older two may go to international school as they don’t speak any French or Dutch. How much do you need to earn to have a good standard of living there - bearing in mind the high tax rate?

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 07:06:37

Survival income for 2 adults and 2 children is 1200 euro net pee month and people live on that and would pay their rent from that too.

There is no specific high tax here. Tax is complicated, with increasing tax free limits for dependents. Then there are rates that s increase such as 20%, 30%, 40%. Then you can offset child care, cleaner etc to pay less.

Many international moves to greater Brussels include free international schooling which is an enormous perk as 2 kids is about 60k per year, more then average gross pay. Free housing is also often included - expats tend to live in more expensive housing costing typically 30k per year. Then they often get free cars too, worth another 100k per year. Add it all up, a package could easily come to 100k.

If you're getting free school, house and car, you can live very comfortably on q net salary of 2k per month.

amyboo Tue 24-Oct-17 07:52:08

I think it's a bit unreasonable to say there's no "high tax rate" here. Yes, tax is complicated, but you can easily count on losing up to 50% of your salary in tax/social security if you're a higher earner. For example, DH earns €3500/month, but actually takes home just over €2000, plus meal vouchers. For his bonuses, he loses well over half. Out of a recent €2000 bonus, he saw €650! Yes, you get some tax back at the end of the year, but not that much unless you have kids in creche, garderie, a mortgage, a cleaner, etc.

I would count on at least €1500/month rent for a place in a decent part of Brussels, maybe a bit more if you plan to live close to the EU area or the international schools. If bills aren't included, you're looking at about €80/month for TV/internet/phone, plus electricity/gas/water on top. As a guide, we pay €100/month for electricity and slightly more for gas, plus about €400/year for water (family of 5 in a house).

If you have a car included in your package that's great, as car insurance is pretty expensive here (+/- €1500 a year for full cover, depending on age and car). And I think food's fairly expensive. We're a family of 5 and spend the best part of €750/month on our Carrefour shopping - and that's not really buying anything crazy.

I would say €2000 a month is a very conservative idea of a liveable salary, even with car, and school fees included....

Robin2008 Tue 24-Oct-17 09:59:38

I agree with Amyboo.
I find it hard to say how much would be necessary to live here, it really depends on the lifestyle you are used to.
Have a look at to get a feel for house prices.
Child support is generous:
Taxes: yes could say they are high (but they are pretty much all over Europe). You should look if you or your husband could qualify for non-resident tax status (for executives, specialists etc) and if yes, if that would make a difference (for some it is much lucrative than for others). If you think you qualify, you should definitely speak to an accountant/tax specialist.
Schools: international schools are very expensive, but some more than others. Local school for your youngest is free.
Shopping: on the expensive side, all countries around Belgium are cheaper, but don't worry I would not call it crazy expensive either.
You could join 'English Speaking Mums in Brussels, Belgium" on Facebook to ask more questions. If you ask to join, look out for a message - you will need to answer some questions first before they'll let you join.

Singherewecome Tue 24-Oct-17 10:36:16

Thanks all for your comments, really appreciated.
Coming from a very expensive city (Singapore) we are used to high costs, but Low taxes (20% tax rate). I know it’s really hard to say how much you need to live somewhere, which is why it is so annoying when a company keeps asking how much he would be looking for!

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 10:52:45

You need to ask what is free - schooling , rent , utilities, car.

Then you need a gross monthly on a 13 or 14 month quote. Then * for annual gross.

Once you have annual gross, put through salary calculator to find net including net social security.

If your net us 1500 or more and you have no housing or school fees to pay, that s very livable if you don't gp out too much or have holidays costing more than 1k per year.

Child benefit is about 300 per month.

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 10:52:46

You need to ask what is free - schooling , rent , utilities, car.

Then you need a gross monthly on a 13 or 14 month quote. Then * for annual gross.

Once you have annual gross, put through salary calculator to find net including net social security.

If your net us 1500 or more and you have no housing or school fees to pay, that s very livable if you don't gp out too much or have holidays costing more than 1k per year.

Child benefit is about 300 per month.

amyboo Tue 24-Oct-17 12:39:08

Child benefit is not about €300 a month. For 3 kids I get around €550/month. You can check out the rates on

And I still maintain that €1500 is not very liveable, even without housing to pay. Although I guess it's a personal thing. We would struggle to pay our basic bills (food, internet, school costs, clothes etc) for our family of 5 on that.

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 15:31:32

Sssorry thought 2 kids. 3 kids close to 600 for those ages, can link later link to calculate

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 15:34:20

It s a very personal thing, 5 of us, 3 adults, complete budget after housing is 1000 euro per month. Live off child benefit, mine is almost 1000 euro.

lifeisunjust Tue 24-Oct-17 15:34:55

1500 net + 600 child benefit is 2100.

Longtime Tue 24-Oct-17 16:40:50

Singherewecome, we have a Benelux mumsnetters Facebook page if you’re interested in joining. You have to be friends someone in the group though as it’s a secret group. I will pm you.

cannotseeanend Tue 24-Oct-17 20:31:29

The allocations familiales for a 12,10 and 5 year old in Brussels or Wallonies (Flanders is slightly less) is 617.40 per month and 127.97 annual extra in August.

Here is the gross-net rough calculator (before deducting things you can offset like life insurance, child care).

3500 per month (based on 12 months, in reality people get 13 or 14 months with a double pay 1 or 2 times a year), with 1 non working parent and 3 dependent children equals
2655.55 per month

It makes a difference if non working spouse (get a larger tax free allowance) and also number of children.

If you want to live on 13 to 14 months net income of 2655 per month plus 12 months of 616 child benefit, you'd have to have a non working spouse and be offered a gross 3500 per month.

GibbonsSleeve Tue 24-Oct-17 22:04:26

Total income is calculated at 13.85months wages. You get nearly an extra months pay for December and in may /June. Paid holiday is earnt a year in advance so if you moved to Belgium in January you would not be entitled to any paid “legal” leave for a whole year. Most companies have “extra legal “leave on top and will let you take a certain amount of leave unpaid. I would estimate rent at at least 1600 euros a month for the bedrooms you will need. If you want a nice standing of living, at the very least 2000 euros on top of that. Food and clothing, utilities, insurance all expensive here. If you are thinking of eating out occasionally and going on holiday and that sort of thing. My husband earns about 3600 euros take home. I work as well. We would struggle on his income alone. 90% of my work colleagues do not live in Brussels and their housing costs are much cheaper.

scaryteacher Wed 25-Oct-17 08:06:15

If you move out from Brussels to the surrounds you may find it cheaper. We've just moved (l/l wanted to move back into the house) and the rent has dropped by €800 per month, and Dh's commute has become easier to boot.

We try to live on €2500 per month, plus rent, and it's doable. Ds at uni in UK.

scaryteacher Wed 25-Oct-17 08:07:26

Gibbons I thought the 13th and 14th month was not quite legal any more?

lifeisunjust Wed 25-Oct-17 09:17:26

Correct not everyone gets 14th month.

If you have to pay your own housing, 1000 euro per month is survival for a family of 4 after housing, 1500 is economical but affords not having to watch the price of everything, 2500 is getting to very comfortable and anything higher puts you in a minority. It s all personal though.

chinasprout Wed 25-Oct-17 21:15:46

@Longtime please could you add me to fb group? I am currently on my look see visit in Brussels (desperately trying to find a house!) before we move here in late December. Thanks!

cannotseeanend Wed 25-Oct-17 21:51:20

Chinasprout, be very careful about taking on a house before arriving, I have known many people regret their choice, be sure you know about work commute, schools etc, types of contracts.

Longtime Wed 25-Oct-17 22:23:06

China, have sent you a pm

chinasprout Sat 28-Oct-17 14:47:36

Thanks all - adding all this information on out goings to my spreadsheet (don’t judge me, but it makes me feel a bit more in control of this crazy life). grin

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