7 Reasons to Live in Brussels
The city of Brussels is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city, whilst being an exceptionally popular choice for many current expats and those who are pondering a relocation to achieve their tax career ambitions. From exquisite career opportunities to incredible architecture and central hub to neighbouring cities, there are many reasons why Brussels is an attractive city to relocate to. In our latest article, we explore the top 7 reasons why prosperous tax professionals love to live and work in the heart of Belgium.
Since it’s effectively the de facto capital of the EU, Brussels has a dynamic and International atmosphere fuelled by expatriates and diplomats from all over the continent. Brussels also houses countless multinational companies and hosts more than 1,000 business conferences on an annual basis which makes living in Brussels extremely attractive to professional expats wanting to explore career opportunities abroad. According to Expatica, Belgium has a job vacancy rate of nearly 3%, which is the second-highest in the whole of the EU, meaning talent is constantly in demand.
Excellent transport system
Brussels offers a modern, well-organised and affordable transport system, boasting one of the most widespread tram networks in Europe. Thanks to the travel opportunities internally and externally, expats can easily travel to neighbouring towns and villages or back to their hometown when they please. Contactless tickets are also available for purchase at ticket offices, newspaper shops and STIB information offices and can be used on bus, metro, tram or a combination. It is for these reasons that many expats feel comfortable relocating here, with travel convenience right on their doorstep.
Brussels is very strategically located alongside many major European countries and big cities are just a short distance away. They include Belgium’s neighbours, all of which are less than two hours away: The Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg. Due to Belgium being so central, the options for short weekend holidays and family day trips are virtually endless. Paris (265km) is a three-hour journey, Amsterdam (173km) and Luxembourg (187km) approx. two hours each along with London (320km) which is easily accessible by train, car or plane.
Brussels is home to a magnitude of parks, gardens and forests which are all regularly taken care of to ensure the city remains clean and pleasant to walk through. In fact, Brussels is often regarded as one of the most ‘green’ capitals in Europe with many of the parks containing stunning lakes and ponds, promoting and encouraging a diverse range of wildlife whilst offering city workers the chance to unwind and relax throughout their working day.
During the hotter months, the parks and gardens are a popular place to meet groups of friends or family to enjoy the summer sun and have a picnic, right in the heart of the city. And across the weekends, you will likely find that these parks host a variety of social clubs and international sports which is a must.
Some parks continue into a forest like Bois de la Cambre, while other smaller parks are in neighbourhood areas like Leopold Park near the European Commission. Cinquantenaire Park, Woluwe Park and Foret de Soignes are three of the most famous parks and certainly worth visiting!
Brussels is home to some truly stunning architecture, statues and art, located beyond just the obvious tourist areas of the city centre. The world’s oldest shopping mall ‘The Galeries Saint-Hubert’ opened in 1847. Most people remark that it looks ‘more like a palace!’. Alternatively, Brussels houses one of the world’s most unique buildings in ‘The Atomium’ with its giant metallic construction, offering a panoramic view of the city which is particularly popular at sunset.
World Heritage sites are also located all over Brussels with four of Victor Horta's (a Belgian architect and designer who is considered one of the most important names in Art Nouveau) houses being listed as well as Stoclet House, a gleaming masterpiece from the Vienna Secession movement. You can also visit numerous other art nouveau gems right across Brussels.
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt is also a must-see with this mile-and-a-half embassy row packed with great architecture. You also have the weird and wonderful Maison Delune, where jazz was first played in Belgium along with the majestic Villa Empain which is now a museum of East-West cultural exchange.
A high standard of life and healthy income highlights the possibilities of a great work-life balance for expats relocating to Brussels. In fact, both of these elements rank above the OECD average meaning its no surprise that the expat community is growing. Living in Brussels can be fairly affordable and is known to be cheaper than accommodation in London.
The business culture in and around the bustling Brussels city centre generally follows the normal 38-hour week, whilst being forbidden to work more than 40 hours per week, making more time for personal lifestyle commitments. Thanks to the city being reasonably compact, expats only need to travel a short distance to their accommodation or to further explore the city during the week.
The Belgian healthcare system is undoubtedly one of the best in Europe, provided you carry out the appropriate registration then you will be entitled to subsidised healthcare, which includes immediate family. Although in order to use the healthcare system you must have state and/or private health insurance.
The system is divided into state and private sectors, which has fees payable in both and is funded by a combination of social security contributions and health insurance funds. With mandatory health insurance, patients are free to choose their own medical care provider and places of treatment.
Patients generally pay costs upfront and are reimbursed a proportion of the charges for medical and dental fees, hospital care and treatment, maternity costs and prescriptions through their health insurance fund. Some alternative treatments are also reimbursable if carried out by a qualified doctor. Many people top up their cover with private insurance to get a full refund of all medical costs.
Famous for its eating and drinking culture, Brussels has several Michelin restaurants that are a hit among expats. The culinary offerings in Belgium are extensive, diverse, delicious and even fairly affordable. Mostly it is made up of different regional dishes with influences from the neighbouring cuisines: French, German and Dutch (Netherlands).
Belgium is also known for being the land of beer and chocolate, with the country producing over 800 different varieties of beer and 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year! Not only is the cuisine outstanding, but Brussels also offers a fantastic lifestyle to residents and expats alike, with a wealth of cultural and historical attractions, combined with top-class eateries and fantastic shopping. You will never be short of new restaurants to try among the unique atmosphere in Brussels, that is rich with history and youthful energy.
If you are interested in a move to Brussels or anywhere else in the world then get in touch with a member of the Kingpin International team. Alternatively, please browse our current International tax vacancies.