All you need to know before moving to Belgium
Moving to Belgium need not be that big a task with the right research on moving companies that can help. The country is experiencing a 0.8% annual population growth rate, including migrants coming in from all over the world. Professional movers are getting more experienced at offering migration assistance, offering visa information, making airline and hotel reservations and other extended services.
Never underestimate a small nation like Belgium. Although tiny, Belgium was colonised by the Romans, Spanish and Germans for centuries. It later gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1830, was occupied by Germany during both World Wars, which brought about the multicultural, multilingual nation it is today, and most importantly, it is one of the founders of the European Community.
Even with spectacular contemporary building facades, Belgium's charisma is not found in its city skyscrapers, but instead in its mesmerising cobbled streets, charming cafés, and graceful art nouveau architecture. You will be impressed by the architectural magnificence of the city's churches, town halls, and castles all dating back to the early Middle Ages. The capital city of Brussels can be explored on foot, by bus, or by tram. You can even go museum hopping for a day. The Grand-Place, which hosts concerts and musical events, is the city's main tourist attraction; just sit back on one of its many terraces with the company of a good Belgian beer.
Today, Belgium is the home of a thriving international business community, NATO's euro-politicians and the centre of the European Union. Belgium has indeed joined the top ranks of the EU's prominent countries. Belgium is also Europe's best-kept gastronomical Wonderland, as it features a delightful plenty of chocolates, pastries, and excellent dining options. It is easy to see why many expatriates decide to relocate to Belgium. At present, Belgium holds a population of 11,176,382 and an expat population of 974, 849. The vast majority of Belgians are religiously conservative and advocates Roman Catholic customs and traditions. Most also value their privacy. Sport also occupies a prominent place in Belgian society; popular sports include football, cycling, judo, volleyball, tennis and motocross.
Belgium is a federal state, with two relatively autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, where the official language is Dutch or "Flemish", and Wallonia in the south. Hence, the country is fragmented into linguistic communities - French, Flemish, and German. Belgians are not inclined to identify themselves with a national culture, but rather with the culture associated with their language. The Kingdom of Belgium has a population of about 10 million inhabitants; its land is surrounded by the Netherlands in the north, Germany in the east, Luxembourg in the south-east, and France in the south.
Before you give in to the lure of life in Belgium, consult the Belgium Consulate in your home country. Before immigrating to Belgium, the appropriate visa must be obtained. Without it, your stay in Belgium will be limited to 90 days. On arrival in Belgium, you must notify the local authority (administration communale) of your presence within ten working days, and you will need to present your passport or identity card. You must follow this simple procedure to obtain the ‘declaration of presence' that allows you to stay on the Belgian territory for fewer than three months. Major job industries in Belgium include the manufacturing of engineering and metal products, motor vehicle assembly, transportation equipment, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, chemicals, basic metals, textiles, glass and petroleum sectors.
If you are relocating with a pet, be prepared to present a certificate issued by a veterinarian (less than 30 days or more than one year before entry) validating that the pet has been vaccinated against rabies and is in good health. If you relocate with your car, remember the speed limit of 50 km per hour in town.
Belgium is certainly much more than the mouth-watering waffles, pastries, chocolates, pralines and beer it offers. Contrary to the name, it's Belgium who gave the world French fries. Belgians, even with stark differences in culture and language, are united in placing value on hard work, passion for the arts, and a zest for life.
Essential relocation information
There is more to Belgium that will attract you aside from its famous Belgian Chocolates. Located in the heart of Europe, this country has become a magnet for expats from all over the world because of its rich Flemish Renaissance tradition and prosperous economy. Relocating in Belgium can be very exciting given that they serve the best waffles and 500 types of beers. But before all that, let’s make sure you’re all set for your great Belgian adventure.
Regardless if your purpose is for work, studies or permanent residency you need to furnish a Belgium Schengen Visa application once you have decided to relocate. Ensure that your passport is valid for up to 90 days and has at least two blank pages. Another paperwork that you need to secure is the Veterinary Health Certificate of your pet if you’re planning to bring one. Pets like dogs, cats and ferrets coming from EU countries are required to have a Pet Passport. You can contact the local Belgian Embassy in your area to know more about other documents needed for a smooth entry.
You can try searching for houses and apartments in online portals or through a real estate agent (agencesimmobilières/ makelaar). English speaking agents are based in Brussels, the city centre where most expats in Belgium are residing. You can choose from short term (three to six years) or long term (more than nine years) tenancy agreements. The regular rent for a one-bedroom apartment is EUR 500 per month excluding basic utilities like water and electricity.
Shipping and Removal
Once you already have an idea on where you are going to live, it's time to take a look at your current belongings and sort out which ones you need to bring. Most apartments and houses in Belgium are unfurnished so you need to fill the space up. Just an idea, a 20-foot container will hold the contents of a three bedroom house and a 40-foot container for a 4-5 bedroom house, including a single vehicle.
Shipment costs vary based on the weight and how long it will take to arrive. Some companies offer a time frame of 3-5 business days, depending on the country of origin. Containers arrive in Port Antwerp. It has a very accessible central location in Europe making the distribution of packages fast and efficient.
But you don’t have to go through this whole process alone. There are experienced international and local companies in Belgium that provide moving services. They will assist you with organising, packing until the last moment of unloading your precious belongings into your new home.
You’re almost set in making a whole new life in the land where it rains all year round. But fear not for gloomy days, people in Belgium is welcoming and as warm as the coffee they are so crazy about.
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How to live like a local?
Belgium is considered as one of the most diverse countries in Europe where thousands of expats pour in yearly because of its fascinating beauty. It is one of the EU nations that don’t have a uniform identity since its residents are either French or Dutch whose influences are strongly felt in the local culture, tradition and language.
Belgian chocolates could be one of the first things to pop into someone’s mind when Belgium is mentioned. However, securing a good life in this country takes more than just the love for their iconic sweets. Expatriates should do some research about their new host destination to make sure that they will glide gracefully with the sudden change of environment rather than fall victim to culture shock. Here is some info that’ll help every foreign national who wants to move to Belgium.
Belgium has three official languages: German, Dutch and French. Dutch or some also call as Flemish is the most widely spoken language by almost 60% of the country’s population. Fear not because the majority who speak Flemish will quickly transition to English if they notice that the other person is not familiar with their language. Most of the citizens in Brussels, the capital, are also fluent in English, but it will still be helpful to use some of these basic Dutch words for starters:
- Goeiedag – Hello!
- Goeden avond – Good Evening!
- Dank u wel – Thank You
- Alstublieft – Please
- Waar is...? – Where is..?
- Mijn naam is – My name is
- Hoeveel kost – How Much?
- Ik ben van.. – I am from..
The Northern people are called Flanders or Flemish (Dutch-speaking) while those on the south are referred to as Wallonia (French Speaking). One of the most common misconceptions about the two is that they have a long-standing hatred towards each other. That is entirely wrong because the tension between them is nothing more than just harmless political differences. Whether an expat will live on the north or southern part of Belgium, they wouldn’t feel like being obliged to take on any sides because the Flanders and the Wallonia deeply respect each other’s communities.
Most locals are also introvert so don’t be surprised if a Belgian doesn’t engage right away in small talks. Some people find it rude or offensive, but it is just their character. Despite their seemingly aloof characteristic, don’t be hesitant to ask questions or introduce one’s self because deep down, they are very helpful and polite people.
Legal Age and Gender Equality
In Belgium, once a teen hits sweet 16, he/she is already considered to be of legal consent age. Expats who are relocating with their teenagers should be prepared that the country doesn’t have legal restrictions for buying beers, wine and condoms as soon as they reach 16 years old.
Belgium is also known for practising gender equality especially to the members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. The local men don’t have any problems hanging out with gay people unlike with other countries where people are discriminated because of their sexual orientation. Belgium honours same-sex marriage and is no place for the homophobic. Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is proof that Belgium provides equal rights and opportunities to everyone regardless of their gender.
Moving Services in Belgium
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