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Help moving to Brussels - Very scared - where do i start?

(20 Posts)
michie40 Thu 02-Aug-07 16:34:20

My DH has no accepted the job in Brussels and we now have to go about finding somewhere to rent, sort out bank accounts etc..
Any MNers live there already and have any advice. Where is a nice safe place to live with two dds one almost 3 and one 5 months? Is it really as scary as I think its going to be - never been to Belgium so no idea what its like.

AlbusPercivalWulfricBrianSun Thu 02-Aug-07 16:46:37

No advice but visited Brussels and it seems nice. Quite picturesque. Why don't you go and visit? Eurostar goes there. You should investigate what help your DH's company can give you.

moondog Thu 02-Aug-07 16:47:33

Brussels is ace.
My dh works there a fair bit.
I'd live there like a shot.

sophiaverloren Thu 02-Aug-07 17:02:46

Brussels - love it love it love it. Lived there pre kids.

Ask away!

As for where to live - what would you want from a place - near to husbands work or to public transport (traffic can be terrible), house or apartment... I know people who live pretty central with house and garden so it is do-able, but equally you may prefer suburbs/surrounding villages.

One huge benefit of Brussels if you don't speak French (or Flemish) is that you can go a long way with English. And there are loads of expat organisations.

Agree your DH's company should help out - if it's a big company they're probably used to this and may have relocation experts to hand.

Oh, and one thing to get used to (if relevant), they are really keen on you using your maiden name in banks, official stuff etc. Friends of mine have put up quite a fight to use their "own" name (ie the one they have chosen to take!)

michie40 Fri 03-Aug-07 16:53:36

Thanks for all the info - we are going to visit Brussels at th end of August to hopefully find somewhere to live. I want to find an area within a short commuting distance of the Parliament and a suitable place to bring up a young family. We also would be without a car for the first month or so. Does anyone have any area that they sould recommend or avoid?

Belgianchox Tue 07-Aug-07 10:26:14

Hi, I lived south of Brussels for many years before moving to where i am now. You should love Brussels, its very easy for foreigners, everyone speaks english, and theres a huge international community so you will be really well catered too. As far as areas to live in go, i would try Etterbeek/Auderghem in the city, or La Hulpe/Rixensart/Overijse in the suburbs. There are plenty of agencies that deal with relocating expats, finding accomodation should be no trouble at all, also its cheap and plentiful compared to the UK. Many expats that move to Brussels don't want to leave after a while, the quality of life there is too good. Good luck, and enjoy!

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 09-Aug-07 16:14:06

Can recommend this site for you:

Loads of information on there. Just look under 'Newcomers' where you can subscribe for a welcome pack which contains information about the different residential areas (Brussels is made up of 19 communes) plus info about health, education etc etc. Good luck with your move and don't worry - it's a great place to live!!

lapsedrunner Fri 10-Aug-07 12:56:51

In assume you have found this site

belgo Fri 10-Aug-07 13:18:43

michie - Belgium isn't scarey at all . It's an easy place to live - most people speak english, foods are similar, transport is easy, shops are very similar.

I live in Leuven outside of Brussels.

If you live inside of Brussels, you may live in and appartment. It's a big city, good shops and entertainment, but very busy.

Wezembeek-Oppem,Turveren, Everburg are outside of Brussels and are very popular with expats - you can get a great house in these places.

I recommend Brussels Childbirth Trust, someone has already linked you to the website. It's a lifeline for some people, and has playgroups, coffee mornings, nights out, events.

Children from the age of two and a half are entitled to a free nursery school place. The education system is very good.

Health care is also excellent - you need insurance, and I suspect your dh's work will help with sorting this out.

There is a British shop in Everburg called Stonemanor.

If you want to work in the future, there are english speaking jobs around Brussels.

If you live in brussels, you can probably rely on public transport. if you live in a village around Brussels, you may need a car otherwise it can be quite isolating.

Good luck I hope you like this country.

margoandjerry Fri 10-Aug-07 13:25:26

Hi, I lived in Brussels - twice actually.

It's quite easy - so many British and other foreigners there so it's easy to find eg, an English speaking dr if that's what you need.

I lived in the Sablon which is in town, and very lovely. But you might want to be further out, to get a garden.

Either way, mmmmmm, frites with mayonnaise....

I could live with out the Sandwich Americain though (with raw minced beef in it - the EU canteens specialise in it!)

belgo Fri 10-Aug-07 13:27:44

oh yes the 'sandwich americain' my colleagues failed to mention to me that the meat is not cooked - so I bought this at the work canteen. Took one bite and went hungry for the rest of the day.

barefeete Sat 11-Aug-07 03:20:37

Zaventum is really lovely. It is on the outskirts of Brussels and is a small suberb. My parent lived there a few years ago and so know it fairly well. It has a main line train station whic takes you straight into the centre of brussels. It has a good supermarket, great restaurants and fab bakery and is close to ring road for shopping and big supermarkets. It also has a really great market for meat, breads, cheeses, flowers etc. IKEA not to far away either!

Banking there imo is so much beter than in the uk. It is an expensive place to live and the belgians tax everything including radios or bike! (or they did when i was there) but the moules and frites are fab and Brussels itself is really great.

Have a fab time

alipiggie Sat 11-Aug-07 04:46:26

As an aupair I lived in Rhode St Genese which is a Flemish Commune. I loved it there. I travelled by bus and tram to get anyway and it was very easy. Avenue Louise was great for the browsing of shops. Rue Neuve for more shops in the north near the Borse. Grande Place - beautiful for browsing drinking one of the many beers in a cafe. My ancestor was beheaded there . I have a friend who lives in Meerchtem and loves it there, just outside the south of the city. She works at Volvo and finds that an easy commute.

Some amazing restaurants and the old town near Grande Place has amazing seafood restaurants. Second what people said on here about the moules/frite combination. You'll have a great time.

slim22 Sat 11-Aug-07 04:53:21

Bruxelles is really lovely. Lived in Amsterdam and visited often.
It is a very "civilised" place. I found people generally smart and very well behaved, maybe a touch too conservative.
Being central to the euro circuit, there always a lot going on.

there is a great website for expats in benelux, it's

You'll find all you need to know to relocate and more ie, school, playgroups and all.

There is a forum too. When I moved to Amsterdam, DS was 18 mths. Met lovely group through ads and fouund a playcentre for english speaking mums and kids.
You'll have no problem finding that in bruxelles.

good luck

Countingthegreyhairs Sat 11-Aug-07 09:19:27

Just a postscript to Barefeete's post if I may: Zaventem village IS nice but the main airport is located there so beware of aeroplane noise, which can be a problem in the communes East of Brussels.

macmama73 Sat 11-Aug-07 10:03:38

Brussels is lovely, we live about 1 1/2 hours away and visited last winter when the christmas market was on.

Another good website is:

And my favourite shop is

smurfgirl Sat 11-Aug-07 10:38:54

Tervuren is very British, it is where te British school is as well. Easy to get to Brussles from there too on the tram.

michie40 Sun 12-Aug-07 17:27:44

Thanks for everyones advice - we are going for a visit in 2wks to find somewhere to live so will have a look at the areas you've suggested. Glad to hear it easy to get around by public transport as we are planning to get rid of the car before going over.
All going to plan we should be over their by the 1st of october - all we need to do is find someone to rent our place here -
Anyone fancy moving to Wiltshire?

cupatea Tue 28-Aug-07 20:02:00

Hi Michie40,
Brussels was fab with 2 young kids. You might want to check out areas that speak your favourite language out of French or Dutch, although English is widely spoken, even school french is going to come in handy. Areas I'd recommend for families IMHO are Woluwe Saint Pierre or Woluwe Saint Lambert, Uccle, if you want something further in town, all French speaking, Stokkel, dutch speaking (but French is readily understood), is also good if you want to live near a healthy selection of shops. Live inside 'the ring' (the N0 if you're looking on a map) if you want to rely on public transport. I could go on so ask if you have any more specific questions. If you join the BCT before you go, you can also ask them for advice and its brilliant for meeting mums of all nationalities who speak english. Fantastic health service (hope DH's co. gives you medical insurance) and the patisseries ... oh how I miss them!
Good luck!

michie40 Mon 03-Sep-07 19:28:09

Thanks - we visited last week and we are going to try to rent a property in Woluwe Saint Pierre - seems to be a lovely area. Thought the whole of Brussels was great and I love the trams. Really looking forward to it now - should be their by the 1st October. Thanks for everyones advice.

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