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Where to live in Brussels(14 Posts)
Hello. Can anyone recommend an area to live in/around Brussels for us. DH is Belgian and all his family are around Anderlecht. I don't particularly like it or want to be there. I like Dilbeek but ideally would like to be in an area with more international families. Other than these areas I don't know the city at all as we currently live in Asia.
Our children will go to a Dutch speaking school as DH speaks Flemish (that's a whole other thread as I'm so nervous about it) so would like them to be able to join in some English speaking activities/clubs, Brownies/Cubs.
Work commute would be into central Brussels. Any suggestions much appreciated. Thanks
How about Tervuren? Flemish speaking but large anglophone community because of the British school. There used to be English speaking Scout troops based at the British school which were open to the local community.
The British school rugby club used to be open to the local community. If not Brussels Celtic offers lessons in English and the rugby club in Leuven has a lot of English speaking players.
I would second Tervuren. As PP said, very international area but base is Flemish. Easy commute into central Brussels and lots of activities available in English as well.
Where is work? Brussels has several centres. Can you be specific?
Thanks all. Tervuren is on my radar, but possibly out of our budget. However we will rent initially and then look to buy, so it might work for a while.
DH doesn't actually have a job yet, hence me being vague about central Brussels work place. But at this stage to be honest where we will live is more of an issue to us as I'm the reluctant one to move to Belgium.
Our DC speak some Flemish, but I'm nervous about them going to school as they're by no means able to read & write to the appropriate level of the school year they'll be in. Both are primary. Has anyone done similar with schooling? I worry that I won't be much help as my Flemish is v basic. First thing for me is to go and learn the language for a few months. I feel like I won't have much role in their education in the future if it's all in Flemish.
As well as Tervuren itself there are other places nearby that might be a bit cheaper for housing but would still be close to access things like scouts and guides in English. Football is also available in English with a couple of clubs. Places like Moorsel, Vossem and Duisburg as well as Leefdaal. Though once you are further away from Tervuren centre and the tramline commuting into Brussels gets harder.
Most people responding here will have little knowledge beyond the anglophone enclaves such as Tervuren, so I would try to steer a little back to the important factors in moving and I think without a job, it's a little early to settle on somewhere to live.
1) your children speak Dutch so they will be fine in a Dutch medium school. I would completely avoid Brussels because of the francophone problem in 99% of them. Dutch is an exceedingly easy language to learn to read and write in if you can speak it, as the academy has changed spellings in response to shift in common standard pronunciation. Dutch is written pretty much as standard Dutch is spoken.
2) Anywhere in Flanders will be fine. There is a greater English speaking international population on the eastern side of Brusselse Rand (the municipalities adjoining Brussels), Tervuren happens to be one of these municipalities, others are Kraainem, Wezembeek, Overijse, Hoeilaart, Sint-Genesius-Rode, Zaventem, Machelen, Wemmel, Grimbergen, Vilvoorde etc. You could also consider Leuven and around there. I really would not target an area until you know where work will be.
Here is a file written containing activities in English in the area of Brussels / Brabant. It's a little out of date, but gives you an idea of what is available.
Weekly Activities in English open to all in the Greater Brussels area
Here is a list of activities specifically in English and open to all. There are many more activities for students only at many of the international schools, plus activities for members only at private health clubs eg Aspria La Rasante and David Lloyd Uccle, but I have not included any of them as access is restricted to students / members.
You will also find many activities in the greater Brussels area in Dutch or French, but where English speaking children are welcome too, if they are able to follow sometimes limited English skills of the teachers mixed with French / Dutch. You’ll find this especially the case at sports centres in Tervuren, Wezembeek-Oppem, Woluwe St Pierre, Kraainem etc where there are a high numbers of English speakers and speakers of other languages residing in these areas and where non French / Dutch speakers are welcomed.
Children’s Choir for 8-11s and 12-16s, at Tree of Life Yoga centre in 3080 Tervuren, with Elizabeth, currently held on Tuesdays.
Kindermusik classes for 6 months to 3 years, currently held on Fridays at St John’s School 1410 Waterloo.
Ding Dong Music (Music Together) classes, 0-5 years with parents, 5-8 years without parents, plus flute and recorder lessons, held at the German Catholic church on Ave de Tervuren in 1150 Woluwe-St-Pierre.
Do-Re-Mi (Music Together) classes, 0-6 years with parents, held at St Marc church, Ave de Fre in 1180 Uccle and KA Etterbeek in 1040 Etterbeek.
Gymboree, from 6 months to 6 years, in their studio in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
ACE Rock School, run by Richard van Wijck, open to non students on Wednesday afternoons at ACE of Brussels school in 1160 Auderghem.
Brussels Rock School, from 6 to 18 years, held at Bogaerts School in 1180 Uccle and also behind BEPS school in 1000 Bruxelles.
English Youth Theatre. for 7-18 years, held at GC de Zandloper in 1780 Wemmel and Umbrella Factory in 1080 Molenbeek on Saturdays, at GC de Boesdaalhoeve in 1640 Rhode-St-Genese on Wednesdays, GC Op Weule in 1200 Woluwe-St-Lambert on Fridays.
Musical Theatre Company, run by Jeannette Marino (of Jet’s School of Dance see below), Rachael Bateman and Steve Challens who does his own theatre classes (see above). A music / theatre / dance class for 7-18 years, with 3 groups doing one of the 3 disciplines, so all 3 disciplines over the 2 hours of the class. Held on Wednesday evenings at De Kam Community Centre in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
Panda Allstars, run by Landsbert-Noons and Laura Ford. A music / theatre class for 6-18 years, split into primary 6-12 and secondary 12-18 groups, both disciplines over 2 hours of the class. Held on Saturday afternoons at De Bosuil Community Centre in Jezus-Eik, 3090 Overijse and Wednesday afternoons at Pianofabriek in 1060 St Gilles.
Fish n Whiskers (Little Seal), run by Barry O’Halpin. For 7-18 years on Saturdays. Junior group 7-13 10.00-11.30 and Senior group 14-18 11.30-13.00. At GC de Lijsterbes Community Centre in 1950 Kraainem.
Danz Royal – RAD ballet for 4 years - adult, held at their own studio in 3080 Tervuren. Also held at British Junior Academy of Brussels (BJAB) and Ecole Agnes in 1040 Etterbeek, European School Argenteuil and St John’s School in 1410 Waterloo. Limited number of free classes for boys.
JET’S School of Dance - tap, jazz and hip-hop, for 4 years -adult, run by Jeanette Marino (also of Musical Theatre Company, see above), held at de Kam Community Centre in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem and de Lijsterbes Community Centre in 1950 Kraainem.
Jean Emmett - disco dance for 5-18 years. Ballet for 3-5 year olds on Wednesday afternoons at St Paul’s British primary in 3080 Vossem.
Celtic Clover Irish Dancing for 7 years-adult, held at the Castle Club in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem and in 1081 Koekelberg.
Dance Center Ducatillon – ISTD ballet and hip-hop from 4 years, held at the Castle Club in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
Tala & Nritya – Indian Bollywood and Creative from 3 years, held at Pianofabriek in 1060 St Gilles and at Poseidon Sports Centre in 1200 Woluwe-St-Lambert.
Art-en-Ciel from 2 years (with parent) or 3 years- adult, held at their own studio in 1040 Etterbeek. Classes taught in English and German, also French and Dutch spoken.
Atelier Bonjour held in their new studio at Rue Defacqz 64, 1050 Ixelles.
The Green Brush from 3 years on all days of the week, held at own studio at Rue de la Venerie 64, 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort.
Gymboree, arts classes from 18 months to 6 years, held in their studio in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
Tree of Life Yoga, for 3-6 years and 5-12 years, currently on Wednesdays and Thursdays, at Tree of Life Yoga Centre in 3080 Tervuren.
Gymboree Gym, for 0 months to 6 years, guided gym classes or free play time, held in their studio in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
Little Gym from 4 months to 12 years, guided gym classes held in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem, 1180 Uccle 1300 Wavre, 1410 Waterloo and 1780 Wemmel.
Chess, for 10 years +, open to non students on Wednesday afternoons, at ACE of Brussels school in 1160 Auderghem.
Taekwondo for 6 years - adult, held at Diependal Sports Centre in 3080 Tervuren, under 12s classes are on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Classes taught in English, French and Dutch.
Wezembeek Wanderers Football Club for 6-16 years, Sunday mornings at the British School of Brussels (BSB) playing fields in 3080 Tervuren.
St Paul’s Football Club for 4-11 years, Saturday mornings at Heilig Hart College in 1970 Wezembeek-Oppem.
Brussels Sports Association - football (soccer), basketball and baseball/softball for 4-12 years, lacrosse for 8-13 years, and now also cricket held at International School of Brussels (ISB) in 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort or St John’s School 1410 Waterloo, depending on sport.
Castle Club - swimming and tennis from 3 years, squash from 6 years, lessons open to non members at this private club in 3080 Wezembeek-Oppem.
GAA Gaelic Football Club for 5-18 years, held on alternative Sunday afternoons at ADEPS Foret de Soignes Sports Centre in 1160 Auderghem.
BBRFC Celtic Rugby Club for 6 years - adult, held at VUB university campus in 1040 Etterbeek. Now the only rugby club training mainly in English left.
Tervuren Blue Lions Hockey, or 6 years to adult, at Diependal Sports Centre and the British School of Brussels (BSB) in 3080 Tervuren. In English and Dutch.
Het Gulden Spoor – pony riding, for 4 years - adult, held in Moorsel, 3080 Tervuren.
Kiddy Classes, for 3-18 years. Aimed at English learners, but might be of benefit to English second language children. Term time classes held in their Schuman, 1000 Brussels location. Holiday stages throughout Brussels.
Spoken For Kids, for 3-18 years. Also aimed at English learners. Note new location and previous name Kids’ Computer Club. Term time and holiday stages, held in 1180 Uccle. Also other activities in addition to English lessons.
Candy Schools, from 3 years. Term time courses aimed at English learners. Locations throughout Brussels and Brabant.
Kiddy Zen, for 3-12 years. Term time courses aimed at English learners. Locations in 1150 Woluwe-St-Pierre, 1200 Woluwe-St-Lambert and 1050 Ixelles.
Stepping Stones, for 3-9 years. Term time Wednesday afternoons and holiday stages aimed at English learners. Located in 1050 Ixelles.
Kids & Us, for 3-12 years. Term time courses aimed at English learners. 5 locations in Brussels and Brabant Wallon. Also holiday stages.
Tutti Frutti, for 3 to 12 years. Term time courses aimed at English learners. Held in their 1060 St Gilles location. Also holidays stages and a French-English maternelle class.
Bébé Maestro Play English, from 5 years. Term time courses aimed at English learners. Located in 1200 Woluwe-St-Lambert.
APT English, for 6-11 years. Held in 1150 Woluwe-St-Pierre.
English Children’s Libraries, at Centre Crousse and the British and Commonwealth Women’s Club, both in 1150 Woluwe-St-Pierre. The Centre Crousse library is open on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and there are regular story times there too.
British Scouting for 6 years - adult, divided into 3 sections according to age, mixed girls and boys.
1st Brussels Scouts groups are held at the British School of Brussels (BSB) and ISF in 3080 Tervuren.
Central Brussels Scouts groups are held at, BJAB school and Cinquantenaire hall in 1040 Etterbeek
1st Waterloo Scouts groups are held at St John’s School in 1410 Waterloo.
British Girl Guiding for 5 - 18 years, divided into 3 sections according to age, girls only. Groups held at the British School of Brussels (BSB) Tervuren, St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Kraainem and All Saints Episcopal Church in Waterloo.
American Scouting, held at Brussels American School in Sterrebeek, 1933 Zaventem and at the International School of Brussels (ISB) in 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort. Contact these schools details.
Goodness, thank you SO much Nlds for all of this info. I'm very grateful. I've spent some time looking at all the links and feel better about a potential move. I think DH is beginning to understand my refusal to live in Anderlecht and we've agreed to drive round all the different areas on our next trip.
I understand it's tricky to choose an area before finding a job, but at least we now have an idea of areas we might like to live. I'm adamant that I need to make my own life in Belgium, particularly friends, and I don't want to fit into his life from 15 years ago before he left to work overseas.
Ideally the DC could have gone into an international school but after looking at the fees, it's unlikely, so local school it will be.
I definitely wouldn't live in Anderlecht. Not one of the nicest Brussels communes.... And I also wouldn't worry about the language acquisition. My kids have picked up Dutch in immersion at age 5/6 (they do half their week in Dutch, half in French) really quickly as they're also English speakers. I wouldn't worry too much about picking an area before you have a job sorted - just make sure you live on decent transport connections to Brussels and it will be fine. The advantage of somewhere like Hoeilaart is that you'd be on a direct train line to all major Brussels stations....
I would not call an international school an ideal if you're resettling in Belgium. They are fantastic for children who travel around the world, but for those settling in Belgium, without French or Dutch, your children cannot integrate or assimilate.
Anderlecht has metro line 5 running through it, line 5/1 connects right through the region west to east and you can get to the eastern side of Brussels is 40 minutes and with a lot less stress and a lot less cost that driving it too. Line 1 terminus is walking distance of Kraainem and Wezembeek too so you can reach those parts of Vlaams Brabant.
Take a look at the suburban train and metro map, many Flemish municipalities around Brussels have train/metro connections. You can see Anderlecht metro stops between Sint-Guido and Erasme.
Having just returned to UK after 13 years in Tervuren, Duisburg and Leefdaal, I can recommend all three as places to live. Leefdaal was my favourite, and there seemed to be a lot going on for kids, from a music school in the village, to football, a Youth Centre etc. I can also recommend the Frietkot - best steak, roquefort and frites ever.
English is widely spoken in all three places...and though they shouldn't, the staff at the Gemeente in Bertem couldn't have been more helpful when they spoke to me in Flemish and I slowly translated it into English. Not like Tervuren...
Dh commuted into the EU quarter and Evere from Tervuren, and Evere from Duisburg and Leefdaal. They are very green areas as well; and not too built up.