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My Experience as an Expat in Brussels

By Edited Jun 1, 2016 1 0

1. Living Locally, Growing as a Person

Living in a foreign country can be a learnful experience, but it can also be stressful especially as a young person. I learned a lot about how to plan my budget, finding an affordable flat and making new friends.

gates of brussels


Fig 1: Brussels, gateway to the world, cinqantiere (image credit: creative commons)

I have been working and living in Brussels (Belgium) for a few months without speaking a word of French. This was not easy for me but thankfully Brussels is a very international city with citizens all over the globe. If you plan on living in Brussels as an expat I strongly advise to do some research beforehand, especially in terms of finding a flat. In this Article I will be explaining what to expect as an expat in Brussels.

2. What to expect as an Expat in Brussels

  2.1. Multiculturalism

This multiculturalism is comparable to any big city such as New York, London or Paris. There are however some subtle differences which make it even more interesting to learn and grow as a person.

I really do believe that you cannot grow as a person if you stay in the same environment, surrounded by the same people. The person you are is a mixture of the people that surround you.

Every country has its own values and moral standards but living in a multicultural city makes it easier to integrate.

  2. The City

Brussels holds the European parliament and many people.from over the world are therefore mixed in this city. It is also a very touristic place but unfortunately this attracts pick pockets and thieves.

atomium attraction

Fig 2: The atomium, Brussels Main Tourist Attraction (image credit: creative commons)

The crime rate in Brussels is generally low but some regions should better be avoided. People in general are very friendly and open minded however some of the older locals still only speak French.

One of the great features about Brussels in my opinion is its central location in Europe .and its many connections at the airport. It attracts a lot of tourist and businessman all over the world and it sells the best chocolate and waffles.

  3. Local people

The local people are mostly French speaking with a minority Dutch speaking, luckily most people are tourist friendly and you should have no problem speaking with the local people.

Brussels is a metropolitan city with the majority of the people working here. It happened often to me that I could not take my morning train due to the insane amount of people waiting for the same train. The metro station in general is a disaster and taking a train at rush hour is a real pain. A big plus is that this city is bike friendly so even if you live 30 minutes away, it pays off to take your bike and ride to your work.

The local people are always friendly and open minded. Some of the Belgians are typically a bit shyer but once they are your friend they will stay your friend and will do anything for you.

  4. The Weather

Last but not least I want to talk you a bit about the weather and what kind of extremes you can expect.

climate brussels weather

Fig 3: Brussels average weather (credit: expatarrivals.com)

During the summer it is relatively cool and moderately sunny. I have only seen max temperatures of around 80 °F (27 °C) and it’s relatively humid due to the sea nearby. The winter is moderate due to the influence of the gulfstream. On the coldest days you can expect temperatures as low as 15 °F (-10 °C) with mild to heavy snowfall. Spring and fall are relatively cool and windy. If you stay during the winter time I would advise to get some warm clothing as it can get cold sometimes.

At last I want to say that the nearby sea (North Sea) is freezing cold and not advised to go swim there in months other than July, august or September.

 

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