All posts by Expat Relocation Belgium

House Hunters International is filming in Antwerp

Do you love your flat and you want it to be seen on television? You will also receive a dvd of the filming after the episode aired on television.

We are looking for a ground floor apartment outside Antwerp (monthly rent would be 1000 euro) – e.g. in Schilde, Brasschaat, Wommelgem, Schoten, ..
with 2 bedrooms for the House Hunters International episode shooting on March 2nd, 2017 in the afternoon.

House Hunters International is a television show that follows people as they move from 1 country to another and the show tells their house hunting journey. The show appears all over the World and in the United States it’s seen in over 95 million homes. Contact us on if you are interested and we can answer any questions or concerns you may have.

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.

Daycare in Flanders – Antwerp


If you recently became a mom or dad and you want to start working again as a mom or you want some free time, what are the possibilities of daycare in Antwerp/Flanders? In my experience, it’s very hard to find a good and affordable place for your child.

Many mothers in Flanders need to start working again full time when their baby is only 3 months old, as maternity leave only lasts 3 months in Belgium.
Group daycare (groepsopvang) is often mentioned as a possibility, but if you can, avoid group daycare!
The State-funded childcare and family care organization, Kind & Gezin, allows one person to take care of up to 9 babies. Yes, nine little babies, with only one carer. Because of high demand and low supply, daycare centers often push this to the limit. As a result, carers do not take the time – and can’t make time – for personal care and attention for your baby individually. Time is precious to carers, so if your baby doesn’t drink his/her milk fast enough, too bad, he/she won’t have enough food. If your baby has trouble falling asleep or wants a little attention, there is no time to help him feel more comfortable. Toddlers can manage more on their own, as they are more autonomous, but for newborns daycare with up to 8 other newborns can lead to neglect of their personal wellbeing. At that point, the only thing carers have time to do is changing diapers and trying to feed the babies.

My son went to daycare 3 days a week as from 6 months old. The first months of daycare, however, he was constantly sick with high temperature (almost certainly germs caught at daycare), so we cared for him at home – before sending him to daycare healthy and seeing him fall sick again a day or two later. According to the carers, though, most parents just send their child to daycare and don’t mention that he/she is sick; instead, they cover it up by giving the child painkillers or paracetamol to reduce the fever and hide the high temperature. In other words, expect your child to be sick – very often – if you send him/her to daycare in Belgium.

Our experience was a real nightmare, but we had no choice as there aren’t a lot of possibilities for public daycare that are affordable. You can find places for public daycare on the following website: – as you can see, there aren’t a lot of places, and certainly not part time!

Another possibility is daycare at a person’s home (gezinsopvang). The individual carer can also care for up to 9 children, but most try to have a mix of older children and babies to ensure that they can give more personal attention to the child who needs it. Individual carers are advantageous in terms of personal attention, but also more expensive, and the city of Antwerp doesn’t reimburse the extra cost that you have to pay. This makes it less of a possibility for people who can’t afford to pay the extra amount.

If you need occasional babysitting then I can certainly recommend the babysitting services organized by the ‘Gezinsbond’ (family association, they provide babysitting services for 4 Euro per hour (+ 1.5 Euro fee per babysitting), and the babysitter we have is delightful and friendly. (The people who babysit actually do this as volunteers for the Gezinsbond.)

If you need occasional babysitting, be aware that a lot of teenagers and young adults think that babysitting is just watching television while a baby sleeps, as one babysit once told me when I asked her to feed my son and give him a bath – apparently, feeding and a bath was a lot of work and she preferred to only come in the evening when she could put (and leave) him in his bed. I lost confidence in teenage babysitters then and there.

Because of all these difficulties, we have started looking for a private carer, but this is very expensive compared to Belgian wages. We hope that we have found someone who can help – time will tell.

If you are experiencing the same issues or other issues as a young mother, join my new group : Mothers of young children Antwerp.

For more information contact me at



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.
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.

Jeune Premier – schoolbags and more

I discovered Jeune Premier – a Belgian accessory brand that was founded in 2012 by a lawyer and a pharmacist – during my Christmas holidays at Oostende (Belgian coast).

According to their website (, the brand started with schoolbags, because the couple could not find the ideal schoolbag for their child that suited their needs in terms of design and weight. Gradually, they expanded, and now they also sell beautifully designed diaper bags, weekend bags, pencil cases, toddler backpacks and kids bags. The bags are designed in Belgium by Hélène Fransen.

As I am expecting a baby boy in February and still needed a diaper bag, this was the perfect discovery. One of the dealers is ‘Charlie’, a cute shoe store located in the centre of Oostende. The shop owner did not have any diaper bags in stock when I first visited, but she managed to obtain one very quickly for me – the very next day! The service was excellent, and I am very impressed by the good quality of the bags. Also, the design of the bags is lovely! This looks like a brand of bags with an excellent price/quality ratio.

I will try to organise a presentation of the brand for all interested mummies and daddies during the summer of 2016 – I will keep you posted. Let me know if you are interested to attend.

Jeune Premier

Maternity clothes

pregnancy clothes

As every pregnant woman at some point you realize that your clothes no longer fit, it’s hard in the beginning but a reason to shop for new clothes.:-)

I personally recommend the Belgian brand “fragile”, they have beautiful clothes which gives you the feeling you are very trendy and no longer pregnant. The other brands like Asos, Noppies, Esprit etc … are much more “old school” – I bought a bunch of clothes online but when I tried them on I felt like I was going back in time and totally not trendy which made me miss my own clothes (non-pregnant clothes) even more.

If you want more info you can also check the post :

Finding a house in Antwerp that feels like home

house Beltinck 2

If you are looking for a house in the surroundings of Antwerp (Kapellen, Brasschaat, etc…) and you want something special, Expat Relocation Belgium can help.

A first stage involves finding the right area.

Kapellen, Brasschaat and other areas in the North of Antwerp are residential suburbs of Antwerp that are both green and close to the city center as well as the harbor (where many companies are located). For instance, Kapellen borders a nature reserve (Kalmthoutse Heide) that extends to the border with the Netherlands, and has a train station with a direct line to the Antwerp Central Station. Brasschaat is also a green area, but Kapellen is the more affordable area of the two.

Among other affordable and green areas around Antwerp, Schoten deserves a mention. Many major stores are located in Schoten (Carrefour, Orchestra, Ava, MediaMarkt, Krefel, etc.), which makes it easy to find everything that you need. It is even located close to a cinema complex (Kinepolis), and many other stores are opening in the area (Decathlon, plans for IKEA, and so on).

In the harbor area, there is also the MAS (the Red Starline Museum, with various sorts of exhibitions running all year through), admired for its architecture. In a similar vein, the new headquarters of the harbor authorities, the Havenhuis, is considered to be a building worth seeing.

All in all, the North of Antwerp is particularly attractive for those who seek to live outside of a city and yet benefit from all the shopping and cultural advantages of the Antwerp as well as easy connections to business and harbor districts.

Once the area has been chosen, it is important to find the perfect house that ticks all the boxes. This requires knowledge of the area as well as knowledge of the market.

We recently helped a couple find a house in Kapellen that featured a garden, was dog-friendly and was located in a nice neighborhood.

Our clients wrote a recommendation for us in that respect.

As writes Emily Beltinck (the wife of an Exxonmobil expat):

Julie was extremely helpful in helping us find a house here in Belgium that we absolutely love, and feels just like home. She has gone above and beyond in helping us with various things while getting settled here. We are truly grateful to have her as a reliable resource.