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Belgian Culture

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Things to Consider

Culture

Belgium is a country filled with a rich history, works of art and beautiful buildings. It’s a small country, yet is densely populated with expats making up around one tenth of the population. Belgium has a high living standards, good quality healthcare, education and public facilities which makes it extremely popular amongst locals and the expat community. Belgium is a country with two nationalities and is made up of both the French and Dutch.

Belgians love their food and Belgian fries, waffles and chocolates are some of their specialities. The Belgian community have a great sense of humour and are quick to dismiss any preconceived ideas about the clichés which surround their country.

Language

The diverse nationalities in Belgium mean that there are three official languages in the country. French, Dutch and German are all spoken in Belgium, however Dutch is one of the primary languages. Belgium is divided into linguistic regions so make sure you research your chosen destination to find out what the native language is in the area.

As the languages vary across the country it will be essential to learn a basic knowledge of all three to ensure you are well versed. Teaching languages in Belgium is a big business and you should have no trouble finding a language school to enrol with.

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Finance

If you are staying in Belgium for more than three months then you will need to open a Belgian bank account. Belgium claims to have the largest number of bank branches per capita in the world, so finding a bank should be relatively easy.

To open a bank account you will require your passport and a bank application form, you may also need a proof of address to. It’s also possible to open an account before you arrive to ensure that everything is set up ready for your arrival.

Driving

To drive in Belgium you will require a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. Road accidents in Belgium are high and as such fines for speeding have increased in recent years, if you are caught breaking the law you will be required to pay an on the spot fine.

Household Issues

Belgium is home to the EU headquarters making it a popular choice with foreign nationals to buy property. The housing market regularly fluctuates and it’s recommended that you rent rather than buy if your stay is short term. If you choose to rent you will be required to provide a proof of income amongst other documents.

Employment

How quickly you find a job in Belgium will depend up the industry you wish to work in and your previous education and work history. If you are arriving from an EY country then you have the right to work in Belgium under the EU’s freedom of movement act.

Salaries in Belgium are generally above average, however taxes are higher so you may need to take this into account when you negotiate your starting salary. Many employers also offer a 13th month bonus for their employers which is usually provided at the end of the year.

Education

As the capital of the EU, Belgium has a schooling system in place which serves both international and local families. Compulsory schooling age in Belgium is 6 to 18 years, although children can enrol at 5 if they are deemed ready to start.

Schools aren’t segmented by zone in Belgium, so parents have the option to enrol their children at any school they wish providing they have spaces available. There are a variety of Belgian, international and European schools in Belgium with many languages spoken.

Take a look at our blog post about relocating with a family for more information.

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