Brussels, the heart of Europe, is a city that captivates many with its rich history, multicultural environment, and political significance. If you’re considering moving to Brussels, this guide will provide you with a balanced view of the pros and cons of living in this vibrant city.
Belgium is a very family-friendly country. It has great healthcare, cultural and education facilities in all main cities, including Brussels. Brussels is popular among young people, and rightly so! There are many municipalities with young families who enjoy the Brussels lifestyle.
On top of this, has Brussels a thriving expat community. It offers quality of life and is conveniently connected to the rest of Europe. It has an international vibe thanks to its statue as the capital of the EU. Want to know more about this city? We have listed some pros and cons of living in Brussels.
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Pros of living in Brussels
Brussels, often referred to as the “Crossroads of Europe,” stands as a testament to the continent’s rich tapestry of cultures. Its streets echo with a myriad of languages, and its neighborhoods reflect a harmonious blend of traditions and lifestyles.
The presence of international organizations, including the European Union, NATO, and numerous NGOs, has transformed Brussels into a global hub. This influx of international professionals, diplomats, and scholars has enriched the city’s cultural fabric, bringing in flavors, festivals, and traditions from all corners of the world.
From its eclectic food scene that offers everything from Belgian chocolates to Moroccan tagines, to its vibrant festivals celebrating everything from jazz to comics, Brussels embraces diversity in all its forms. Living here means being part of a community that’s both rooted in history and forward-looking, where every day offers an opportunity to learn, explore, and experience something new.
Career Opportunities in Brussels
Brussels, as the de facto capital of the European Union, stands at the forefront of international politics and diplomacy. This unique position has transformed the city into a bustling hub of career opportunities that cater to a wide range of professionals.
Political and Diplomatic Avenues: For those with a passion for politics, international relations, or public policy, Brussels is a dream destination. The city houses the main institutions of the European Union, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union. This concentration of political power offers roles ranging from policy analysts and advisors to communication specialists and legal experts.
International Organizations and NGOs: Beyond the EU, Brussels is home to NATO’s headquarters and numerous international NGOs. These organizations work on global issues, from human rights to environmental conservation, providing opportunities for researchers, project managers, and advocacy experts.
Multinational Corporations: Brussels’ strategic location in Europe and its international significance have attracted many multinational companies to set up their European headquarters or regional offices in the city. Sectors like finance, technology, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods are particularly prominent. Professionals in business development, marketing, IT, and human resources will find a plethora of opportunities to advance their careers.
Startups and Innovation: In recent years, Brussels has also seen a surge in its startup ecosystem. With numerous co-working spaces, incubators, and innovation hubs, the city is fostering a new generation of entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a tech specialist, Brussels offers a dynamic environment to innovate and grow.
Language and Cultural Skills: Given the city’s multicultural environment, there’s a high demand for professionals with multilingual skills and intercultural competencies. Translation, interpretation, and cultural consultancy are fields that see consistent growth in Brussels.
Diverse Cuisine and Vibrant Nightlife in Brussels
Brussels has a fantastic and underrated gastronomy. The food culture in Brussels, and Belgium in general, contains meat, potatoes, asparagus and lots of beer! Mussels with fries is another classic dish and can be found at almost any brasserie.
You might wonder why Brussels sprouts aren’t in this list. Well, they are almost never on the menu. They are named this, only because they were cultivated in Belgium in the 16th century.
In the mood for something sweet? Then you should try the famous waffles, you will love it!
A Culinary Delight:
Belgian Classics: When in Brussels, indulging in crispy Belgian fries, served with a variety of sauces, is a must. But the culinary adventure doesn’t stop there. Dive into a bowl of steaming moules-frites (mussels and fries) or savor a plate of carbonnade flamande, a traditional beef stew. And for the sweet-toothed, Belgian waffles, topped with fresh fruits, chocolate, or whipped cream, are a heavenly treat.
Chocolates and Brews: Belgium’s reputation for producing world-class chocolates is well-deserved. Brussels, with its myriad of artisanal chocolatiers, offers a chance to taste some of the finest chocolates in the world. Pair that with a glass of Belgian beer, renowned for its unique flavors and brewing techniques, and you’re in for a treat.
International Flavors: Beyond traditional Belgian dishes, Brussels’ culinary landscape is dotted with restaurants offering global cuisines. From Italian trattorias and Spanish tapas bars to Asian eateries and Middle Eastern cafes, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
Nightlife and Cultural Events: Brussels comes alive as the sun sets. The city’s nightlife is as diverse as its culinary scene.
Bars and Pubs: Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy pub offering a wide range of Belgian beers or a chic rooftop bar with cocktails and city views, Brussels has it all. The Delirium Café, known for its Guinness World Record for the most varieties of beer commercially available, is a must-visit for beer enthusiasts.
Clubs and Music Venues: For those looking to dance the night away, Brussels offers a range of clubs playing everything from electronic beats to Latin rhythms. Live music enthusiasts can catch performances ranging from jazz and blues to rock and indie at various venues across the city.
Cultural Events: Brussels is a hub for cultural events. The city hosts numerous festivals, art exhibitions, theater performances, and live concerts throughout the year. The Brussels Summer Festival, with its ten days of music and performances, is a highlight for many.
In essence, Brussels offers a sensory feast, both in terms of its culinary offerings and its vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re a foodie, a party-goer, or a culture enthusiast, the city promises experiences that linger long after they’re over.
If you walk around the area surrounding the Grand Palace, you will find numerous bars and pubs. They offer great music, food and of course, drinks! Nightlife in Brussels is lively and composed, compared to other countries. At every moment, there is something to do here. You are sure not to be bored! This makes living in Brussels very pleasant.
You can find various breweries in Brussels. To start with you can visit the Cantillon Brewery. Since 1900 they brew Kriek, Gueuze and Lambic.
Furthermore, you can also find the Brussels Beer Project. They brew lots of different craft beers.
There are more breweries in the region of Brussels but these two are the most famous ones. If you don’t know what to do at the weekend, this is a fun activity to consider.
There are more than 15 parks to be found in Brussels, this is incredible for a capital city. Some are bigger and more popular than others but they are all beautiful. Globexs actually has a guide that wanders you through the most popular parks of the city.
When you arrive in Brussels, I recommend you explore the city a bit, including the parks. If you like sports, walking,… then the parks in Brussels are ideal. Bois de La Cambre is maybe the most famous park for sports in Brussels, and rightly so!
The city centre of Brussels is easily accessible by public transport: train, tram, metro, bus and even waterbus.
On top of this: the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB), has announced that from September 2021, its services will be free of charge for travellers under the age of 25! This makes it accessible to a lot more people.
Brussels is Bilingual
In Brussels you have access to three very different languages: French, Dutch and German. This leads to an enriching experience as you will be in contact with all three of them. In schools the two languages that are taught are French and Dutch. This means that the majority of Belgians are bilingual. In Brussels the most common language is French. However, in recent years Dutch is gaining importance. Most Belgians will also speak or at least understand English, at times this makes living in Brussels easier for expats.
Cons of living in Brussels
Housing and Living Costs in Brussels
Living in Brussels comes with its own set of financial considerations. The city, known for its architectural charm and strategic location, offers a myriad of housing options that cater to diverse preferences. However, the cost associated with these options can vary significantly based on several factors.
Diverse Housing Options: From sleek, modern apartments in bustling neighborhoods to historic townhouses that echo the city’s rich past, Brussels has something for everyone. For those who prefer contemporary living, areas like the European Quarter or Ixelles offer state-of-the-art amenities. On the other hand, neighborhoods like Sablon or Marolles provide a more traditional feel with their cobblestone streets and antique markets.
Cost Considerations: While Brussels offers a range of choices, it’s essential to be mindful of the associated costs. The city’s status as the political capital of Europe and its central location means that property prices, especially in prime locations, can be on the higher side. Renting a property in sought-after areas can be particularly expensive, with prices varying based on proximity to the city center, public transport, and other amenities.
Budgeting and Planning: For those considering moving to Brussels, it’s crucial to budget wisely. While housing might be a significant expense, other living costs such as utilities, transportation, and groceries should also be factored in. It’s advisable to research and compare prices in different neighborhoods to find a balance between convenience and affordability.
Finding the Right Home with Globexs: Navigating the housing market in a new city can be daunting. That’s where Globexs comes into play. With a wide range of rental options tailored to suit different needs and budgets, Globexs simplifies the process of finding the perfect home in Brussels. Whether you’re looking for a short-term rental or a more permanent residence, Globexs is here to assist you every step of the way.
The weather could be a pro and a con. In general, Brussels is a great place to live. But, prepare for some dark, cold and rainy winterdays! Make sure you are prepared for short days. The sun does not come out a lot, in winter. In summertime this is a whole other story. You have amazing summerdays and can enjoy them to the fullest in the parks, bars, festivals,… that Brussels has to offer.
Weather in Brussels: A Blend of Gray and Green
Living in Brussels means experiencing its temperate maritime climate, which brings with it a unique set of weather patterns. The city’s weather can be quite a topic of conversation, especially for those who are new to the region.
Rainy Days Ahead: One of the most distinguishing features of Brussels’ climate is its frequent rainfall. The city witnesses a fair amount of rain throughout the year, with drizzles and light showers being quite common. This consistent rainfall ensures that the city remains lush and green, providing a picturesque backdrop to its historic architecture.
Winters in Brussels: Winter in Brussels is characterized by its long, dark, and often gloomy days. Temperatures can drop to near freezing, and while snowfall is rare, it’s not unheard of. The short days, with the sun setting early, can be a significant change, especially for those hailing from sunnier regions. However, the city lights up during this season, with Christmas markets, festive lights, and warm cafes offering a cozy respite from the cold.
Adapting to the Climate: For those moving to Brussels, adapting to the city’s weather can take some time. Investing in a good umbrella, waterproof shoes, and warm clothing is essential. On the bright side, the frequent rain showers mean that Brussels boasts beautiful parks and gardens that flourish year-round. Taking a stroll in one of the city’s many green spaces after a fresh bout of rain can be a truly refreshing experience.
Traffic in Brussels is terrible. If you don’t need to go by car, we would advise you not to. It is stressful and impossible to find a parking spot. It will cost you a lot of money and time! Belgium is heavily suburbanised which means that the highways have many entrances and exits, this mixes local traffic with long-distance traffic which causes collisions and clogs traffic up. Living in Brussels means traffic jams!
Con or pro?
Fast pace of life
Brussels is the capital of Europe, and as in any big city, everything is moving pretty fast here. That is great for young people who do not want to sit still and enjoy life to the fullest. However, for people who want to build and enjoy a family, it might be more pleasant to look outside the city to start their family life. Things are quieter there.
So, in general, living in Brussels is pleasant. Keep these things in mind before you move and all will be well! The many bars and pubs also make it easy to make contacts, something that is always welcome as an expat.
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