7 Reasons to Live in Brussels
Covering a total area of 30,528 square kilometres, Brussels is a beautiful and cosmopolitan city at the heart of Belgium and the European Union. It is an extremely popular choice for many expats, so we thought we’d give you 7 interesting reasons as to why you might love living and working in Brussels.
1. Nobody is a Foreigner
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 work abroad.
Writer Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt once said that in Brussels “nobody is a foreigner because everybody is a foreigner”, this is indeed, very true. The community of expats living in Brussels is currently estimated at approximately 220,000 and only Washington and New York equal the capital.
2. Functional Public Transport
The modern, well-organised and affordable public transport system in Brussels consists of a metro along with trams and buses, making it easy for anyone to navigate around the city and neighbouring towns and villages. Contactless tickets are available for purchase at ticket offices, newspaper shops and STIB information offices and can be used on bus, metro, tram or a combination.
3. The Parks, Gardens and Green Spaces
Brussels is home to numerous parks, gardens and forests which are all beautifully taken care of. In fact, Brussels is regarded as one of the most “green” capitals in Europe with many of the parks containing lakes and ponds, promoting and encouraging a diverse range of wildlife.
During summers, the parks and green spaces are full of coloured blankets with groups of friends and families having a picnic and enjoying the sun. During weekends, many of Brussels parks play host to a wide range of social clubs and international sports.
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!
4. Strategic Location
Situated in the middle of Belgium, 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.
5. World Class Healthcare System
The Belgian healthcare system is one of the best in Europe. Provided you carry out the proper registration then you will be entitled to subsidised healthcare, which includes immediate family. To use the healthcare system then you must have state and/or private health insurance.
The Belgium healthcare 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.
6. Architecture, Statues and Art
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.
The “little peeing boy” is well known, his female and canine counterparts less so. There are also statues of a giant monkey in a space suit, a cat on a bike and poignant memorials to clowns and pigeons who gave their lives in World War I.
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.
7. Incredibly Good Food
Brussels is also famous for its eating and drinking culture, with the capital having several Michelin restaurants.
The culinary offerings in Belgium are extensive, diverse, delicious and quite affordable. Mostly it is made up of different regional dishes with influences from the neighbouring cuisines: French, German and Dutch (Netherlands). There’s even a saying that Belgian food is “served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of French food”. A three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost around €60.00... fast food chains can almost feel pointless.
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!
Brussels has a fantastic lifestyle to offer residents with a wealth of cultural and historical attractions, top-class eateries and fantastic shopping. The city offers a unique atmosphere 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.