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
Good food, good mood!
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!
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.
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
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!
A peeing boy as a statue...
Brussels is a dirty city. Illegal dumping of waste and the way the waste is collected seems inefficient. If you look up the hashtag #Bruxellespasbelle on Instagram, you will see for yourself what it is like.
Also, most train and metro stations smell of urine, which makes it unpleasant to take the metro or train, especially early in the morning. Street robberies are not uncommon either.
To hear about the personal experiences of other expats on this subject, you can always join the facebook group: Expats living and working in Brussels. You can ask anything about living in Brussels here, the expat community is large and everyone is willing to help each other.
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.
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.
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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Join the Brussels expat community
The Facebook group “Expats living and working in Brussels” is the meeting spots for newly arrived and established expats.