Articles relating to Brussels

Make spousal support part of the relocation package

Offering spousal support as part of the relocation package is an important element to keep in mind as an international employer. You want to keep your transferee happy while moving to a new country with his family and should therefore pay attention to the wellbeing of his family as a part of the relocation package.

 A family relocation can only be successful if the spouse and children of the transferee are happy.

Many employers do forget the importance of an employee’s family and focus on the employee only. Recently, however, there has been an increase in the number of failed relocations, because of failure to look at the family. As a result, employees get divorced or look for other jobs back in their home country and return back home. As a good employer you want to avoid this.

Expat Relocation Belgium can provide the following services in relation to families so a successful relocation can be guaranteed:

  • When the spouse is eligible to work, our team can provide assistance in finding a job, within the company of the transferee or on the local job market (assistance with local habits, analysis of the CV and review, help drafting a local CV, etc..)
  • As a part of integration we can also introduce the family to local expat communities, schools, local play-groups – not only groups in English but if there are for instance a Spanish local group requested by the family we can help the family finding the local groups. A lot can be found on the Internet, but not everything is listed or reliable; a local destination consultant can help you find the perfect fit and save the family a lot of time.
  • In addition, we provide families with an overview of the nearest hospitals, doctors in case of an emergency. This is essential information that should be provided well before it is urgently needed, especially if the family doesn’t speak the local language and often forgotten by relocation companies as basic information.
  • Finally, we provide follow-up sessions in order to check progress and we provide coaching when needed.

Contact us if you would like to receive more information.

Working for international organizations in Brussels – what can you do with your relocation budget?

Congratulations! You have just received an offer to work for NATO, the European Union institutions or another international organization in Brussels, and as a part of your offer you have received a relocation budget. Feeling very happy but also a little stressed? That’s alright: our job is to help you minimize the stress.
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At Expat Relocation Belgium, we will find the best apartment for your needs and accompany you in your relocation.

We don’t just try to find you a place to stay – we try to find you a place you can enjoy living in. Recently, we found a beautiful apartment located in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, close to the Cinquantenaire and the bus stop Diamant, just a short walk away from the European Commission and with a direct bus to NATO, very conveniently placed for our client. And with this flat, if I were looking to rent, I would have taken it immediately for my own. Our goal is to find you the best flat available for your needs.

You think you don’t need a relocation consultant and will do it yourself? Be careful and do your research! Some real estate agents will for instance recommend the municipality of Evere if you work for NATO. While Evere may be close to NATO, it isn’t the most homely, lively or commercial area. If you don’t know where to look, you may spend time and money only to find yourself in an area you will later regret finding.

For NATO and some of the EU Directorate Generals (e.g. DG TRAN), certain neighborhoods of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Etterbeek and Schaerbeek will likely be ideal, with a direct route to your work, high-quality apartments, places to dine and shop nearby and also easy access to the city center, unless you want to live outside of the city. Just make sure you are well accompanied and properly advised if you want your relocation to be a success – and instead of causing you stress, to be the source of fond memories.

Prenatal yoga in Belgium -tips for pregnant women

prenatal yoga

At 30 weeks pregnant I started last week prenatal yoga at Yoga Loft in Brussels (http://www.theyogaloft.be) and I can certainly recommend it, after two sessions I already feel much more relaxed and stretched, I even regret it not starting it earlier :-). The teacher Carrie Sutton is really nice and she gives you tips (she has a son and knows how preparing for birth works). Today after the class we had tea with a small group and we chatted about our experiences as a pregnant woman until now and we realized that in Belgium you really have to find the information all by yourself and the information that you get even depends on where you live in Belgium. The gynecologists in general in Belgium don’t give much information besides that the baby is doing fine and the regular check-ups, I must say I am happy that I am following prenatal classes at BCT (http://bctbelgium.org) with my husband and that I am following yoga as this makes me feel much better and relaxed in order to prepare for giving birth.

If you want to share you experiences being a pregnant woman or if you want some guidance do not hesitate to contact me at julie@expatrelocationbelgium.com.

Have a nice weekend
Julie Craddock

Housing in Brussels

As an expat when you are planning your move to Belgium one of the first things you will plan is your house hunting. It may be possible that you are looking for a flat/house to rent or to buy. Most expats are renting but if you are planning to stay longer buying a house can be interesting too.

Depending on the area where you are looking to live in Brussels, the rent can be lower or higher but in general renting a flat or a house in Brussels city center is very expensive compared to other cities in Belgium.

Hereinafter you can find an overview of the average monthly rent:

Furnished two-bedroom house: 1700 EUR – 1800 EUR

Unfurnished two-bedroom house: 1500 EUR

Furnished two-bedroom apartment: 1300 EUR – 1600 EUR

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment: 1000 EUR – 1300 EUR

unfurnished studio : 500 EUR – 700 EUR

Zaventem is a bit cheaper and lately very attractive to a lot of expats.

For more information or when you are planning a home search please contact us and we can assist you.

How do expats integrate in Belgium?

St. John’s International School conducted a survey with expats who used to live in Belgium, to understand what they did to integrate while they lived in the country.
The respondents were given 7 options, as well as the option to fill in their own response.
The top 3 answers:
1. Learn the local language
2. Explore the area where you live
3. Go sightseeing in Belgium

Respondents were also asked what they would change if they could be an expat in Belgium again.
Here are some of the answers received:
“I didn’t appreciate it as a teenager. I didn’t realize what a wonderful opportunity I had been given.”
“I would keep a journal or a blog of my time overseas.”
“Take language studies more seriously and put effort into learning French and Dutch.”

These responses seem to indicate that some expats may only realize the full extent of the expat assignment after their return home.

If you would like to find out more about St. Johns International School you can go visit the school on Sunday May 10th for the Community day and Family Day. If you would like to receive more information or if you want assistance in your school search please contact me.

Weekends in Brussels: the Bois de la Cambre

If you wish to escape the hubbub of the city without leaving the outskirts, the ‘Bois de la Cambre’ (French) or ‘Kamerbos’ (Dutch) is a perfect solution.

Located at the entrance to the Forêt de Soignes, this large park is part vast plains, part forest, and it is a favorite among Brussels denizens, as it caters to many needs.

Those seeking to escape the busy streets and looking for fresh air can use the large grounds as a place to relax or, alternatively, go for a run, bike ride or hike.

It is also the ideal location for dog owners to bring their animal company, whether on a leash or not. Happy dogs playing and running around freely are a common sight at the ‘Bois’.

In the sunny parts of summer, it is a choice destination for a picnic with family or friends. We are also planning an Easter Sunday brunch at the bois.

In the middle of the park is a small lake with an island, on which the very nice Chalet Robinson restaurant is located. This restaurant, which can be rented out for group activities as well, also offers the possibility for visitors to rent an outdoors lounging chair when the sun is out. As you can imagine, this option is extremely popular for sunbathing.

Finally, pleasure-seekers can also rent boats in the summer for a tour of the lake. New York connaisseurs may notice that the boats are identical to the famous boats of Central Park.

All in all, the Bois de la Cambre is a wonderful place to escape city life, even for a few hours. Perhaps a destination for you, the next time the sun shines on Brussels during the weekend?

If this is not your kind of activity, or if you feel lonely in Brussels, be sure to look at expat groups in Brussels such as the American Women’s club of Brussels (www.awcb.org) or Brussels Expats (www.internations.org), many of which organise activities in the Bois de la Cambre during sunny periods.

Brussels, the hub you’ll call home

Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel), officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is the capital and largest city of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union (EU).

Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne to a sizeable city, with a population of 1.2 million and a metropolitan area with a population of over 1.8 million, both of them the largest in Belgium. It comprises 19 municipalities, including the municipality of the City of Brussels.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been a major center for international politics. Hosting most of the EU institutions, the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the city has become the multilingual home for numerous international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants.

Brussels is known for its local waffle, its chocolate, its French fries (frites) and its numerous kinds of beers.

Based on personal experience, many individuals come to Brussels on a fixed-term contract and end up staying there or close to Brussels for several decades, due to its food, standards of living and general feel.

For an account of an expat who has recently moved to Brussels, you can read Melissa Krenz’s blog on life in Brussels.