Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Looking for help for a potential expat into Belgium :)

by Tsarrio Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 01:27:22 PM EST

I know this is a bit off topic, so feel free to completely ignore this post. I am looking for some help as my fiancee and I are planning to relocate to Brussels with my job. I know there are a few members here who are from Belgium, so any help would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail address is mikhail_khaimov@sbcglobal.net. I appreciate any assistance.

Thanks!


Display:
What kind of help you want/need ? What country you are coming from?

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 03:40:03 PM EST
I live in the SF Bay Area right now.
You know, typical questions - what parts of Brussels are good for real estate, what is lifestyle like, food, healthcare, etc. I have read up a little bit on various expat websites, but nothing is quite as good as getting information first-hand from someone who is from the area.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 04:56:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 

Our most famous building : the Atomium.

The US-embassy has very informative pages on their website and a lot of useful links.

A real problem in Belgium is to choose between more than 300 different beers. Make your choice.
Another story is the Belgian chocolat :  enjoy

Thanks for the occasion to promote my country on this global platform.:)

You can ask questions here, especially the Dutch and the French members here will provide their view from a close external perspective.
I also send you a mail.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 06:36:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can ask questions here, especially the Dutch and the French members here will provide their view from a close external perspective.

And teach him what wipers on the inside of car windscreens are for...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 06:53:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need for ,  Belgian drivers are so crazy that ex-pats do not dare to drive themselves.:)

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 07:07:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are they for? I am stunned.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government -- Edward Abbey
by serik berik (serik[dot]berik on Gmail) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 07:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
see this thread.


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 07:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the most important one is real estate quality and prices. I have checked out some websites such as Immoweb and Immoscan, plus a few others. There are 19 communes in Brussels, and I have no idea which one would have the best combination of good housing, good public transportation, relatively close to the center, food, shopping, etc.

Also, food is another big one. What is it like? What are some of the habits of Belgians when it comes to food as well as everyday life? I understand Brussels is relatively wealthy in terms of incomes. Is it expensive to live?

Thanks1

Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri Mar 10th, 2006 at 07:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Belgium is a surrealistic concept, very, very hard to explain even to a Belgian.
There are three official languages Flemish-French-German. So Brussels = Brussel-Bruxelles-Brûssel.
So in the Flemish part of Belgium you can see panic stops by French (drug)tourists returning from the Netherlands on the highway nearby a traffic sign that indicates 'RIJSEL' not knowing it's Flemish for the northern French city 'LILLE'.

BTW ; Flemish is the same language (officialy by treaty) as Dutch. ( I'm sure Nomad will flame me on this)

When you ask a Belgian, how many governments we have , you have a 90% change he or she will answer: "I'm not really sure" Well the real answer is not clear since we always have problems like 'who is responsible for what?' The answer is : about 7 (seven). Don't try to figure it out , the Belgians can't.

Real estate and price : are you rich? Then there is no problem. in any other case; one rule: don't trust any website, go look for yourself and discuss the price with the owner.
There are indeed 19 communes in Brussels: keep in mind the population is very diverse and very international:
we have the EC and NATO headquarters with their personnel (thens  of thousends) , almost 50% is first or second generation immigrant . There is a large Congolese group, concentrated in "Matonge" but also more than 150 other nationalities.
Food : you find everything in Brussels, from McDonalds to Pizza Hut; from Thai to Marocan, from Argentinian to Nepalese even Texas T-bone steakhouse. Lots of very cheap restaurants ( Greek are very good)

Useful links with info, maps, webcams.....:
Food and drink
Organic food
Food and beer
Brussels by Intel
Living in Brussels
Services

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 06:29:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All I can tell you, is that I went to Belgium thrice in my life ... once with my class, once for a job interview ... and once, and this one is the interesting one, with friends, on an aimless trip to Maastricht.

I was a student back then, 20 years old, and was with 3 friends at my place, at night, smoking bangs and looking at cartoons (or playing Civilisation or the Sega Saturn).

Suddenly, one of them says: "hey, why don't we go to Holland"?". And swoosh, everyone agree with one soft yelp. We went downstairs, took the car of one of my friends, which was in fact a rented utility vehicle, and left for Belgium (at night), planning on first stopping in Charleville-Mézières to visit Arthur Rimbaud's tumb. We parked the utility vehicle at the frontier (didn't have the proper insurance or something, this was over 10 years ago and Europe back then wasn't as fluid as it is today) and took the train.

So here is a brief, first-hand account of what I found ... all of these below are generalities based on interpretations of anecdotes, but I like it this way.

People in Belgium are incredibly friendly. For one, they don't have that "big country complex" that seems to pollute all of us French, British, Germans, Americans etc. And they're always ready to help 4 drunken youths.

During our entire trip, which took us from the capital, through large cities and tiny villages (we just zombied around, without a plan, more or less in the direction of Maastricht), we were rowdy, we were loud, we were drunk ... and everywhere people seemd to find it absolutely normal.

At one point I remember that one of my friends forgot his radio on a train ... he went to declare it to the station's information desk, drunk. The guy at the desk made a hundred phone calls and in the end was sort of sweaty from all the action and very sorry not to be able to find the radio on that train (which had left the station). In France, if you ask for your radio at the help desk, the guy will just tell you "well, be more careful next time", or maybe even "ahh, fascinating story, neeeext".

Later we also had these train managers of a very small town and train station start and run an old train just for us. I don't think it was that we were persuasive, being drunk and all, but that they seemed to be getting a thrill out of it (didn't even charge us much) ... so we travelled on this old train for a while, at a good 10km/h ... throwing ourselves out of the train, yelling, getting drunk, and all along under the hearty laughter of the train guys. It was fun.

Garçons in bars were super cool, cops were immensely friendly, the whole country just seemed to smile at us.

Slowly as our trip progressed, we passed over into Maastricht, and went to coffee shops, etc ... finally arrived back in Paris after a wild run in the utility vehicle, which we had redecorated with toilet paper ... hell we even got stopped by police in that vehicle. When the cops opened up, this cloud of pot smoke came out right in their face, and this one friend of mine, a very loud, long-haired, Sorbonne student, said, giggling really loud: "officers you're really out of luck, we just finished it all!".

by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 03:41:47 AM EST
LOL, I haven't laughed this hard in a while! :) Thanks for the story!

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 04:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, I want to go to Belgium now. :)
I have a Belgian professor, and he's kind of funny. The accent is in any case. :)

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government -- Edward Abbey
by serik berik (serik[dot]berik on Gmail) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 06:51:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh heaven. I don't know where to start. So, you wanted to go to "Holland" (I sincerely hope you meant Les Pays-Bas, my friend?), crashed through Belgium and ended up in Maastricht (which is not even close to Holland, and Limbrug is considered to be the strangest duck in the pond of Dutch provinces...)

I just will forgive you for being drunk/stoned/both for making these mistakes, but otherwise I will have to come to Toulouse and kick your geographic bum.

But all in all, you sound like a guy to be fun to be around with... Adventures just seem to pop up around you.

by Nomad on Sun Mar 12th, 2006 at 05:52:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few hints from a Belgian living close to Brussels.

Real Estate: as for every country, location is the main factor. The trendiest (and most expensive) communes of the Brussels region are Uccle, Woluwé-St-Pierre, Woluwé-St-Lambert and part of Ixelles. Typical price for a ready to move in house start at €500k. Auderghem and Boisfort are also nice to live in and a bit cheaper (350k+). In any other nice neighbourhood, a house will cost at least 250k. Two-bedrooms apartments start at around 150k. If your are ready to drive, there are also nice locations just outside Brussels (5-20km).

Transportation: public transports (3 metro lines + network of trams and buses) cover virtually every neighbourhoods in Brussels. Traffic is dense all day long , as in every European capital cities. It takes me at least one hour to reach my workplace in the centre of Brussels (26km journey).

Lifestyle: Brussels in probably the most international city in Europe (with London perhaps). However it is a small city (~1m inhabitants) and the number of events is lower than in the larger European capital cities like Paris or London. Activities and locations are dispersed across the city, there is no real entertainment area. Therefore you may need to make a few friends to introduce you to the good places.

Health care: generally excellent and cheap (we are a socialist country with universal health care coverage).

Food: very good with a lot of choice in meat, fish, vegetables and fruits in supermarkets. Although the sugar content in prepared food tend to increase, it is still way lower than in the US. Food is however more expensive than in the US. Very large and diversified choice of restaurants.

Work: be aware that as a non-EU national, you will need a work permit.

by Minstrel on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 08:16:38 AM EST
Belgian humor :
Why do ducks have webbed feet? To stamp out fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet? To stamp out burning ducks.

Dutch about Belgians :
A Belgian met a Dutch friend, who was driving a Rolls Royce and spending money like water.
'How did you get so rich?' the Belgian asked.
'I went to Canada, to shoot bears. The fur coats are very expensive.'
'How do you go about shooting bears?'
'It's very simple. You should go there in winter. When you enter a cave you will find a bear. Since it is in hybernation, it is very easy to shoot it.'
Three months later they meet again. This time the Belgian is entirely wrapped in bandages.
'What has happened to you?'
'Well' the Belgian replies: 'I went to Canada, I entered a cave with my gun, and the train came.

Belgians about Italians  :
There are two policemen on duty in Rome, when they're approached by a tourist. He asks a question in English, obviously looking for help. They don't understand him, so he tries again in French. Still no better. He tries once more in German, and, getting no response, finally gives up and goes away.
"I think we should learn a foreign language, don't you?", says one policeman. "It might be useful". "I don't see why", says the other. "That tourist knew several, and it didn't help him".

French about Belgians  :
 What sign do they put on the bottom of Belgian swimming pools?
"No smoking".

Belgians about Americans:
Why are the streets in Hollywood so clean?
Because they put all the garbage on television.

French about Belgians  :
So the Belgian king met with the French president and said, "We have to do something about this... how about you guys do something stupid so we can laugh about it?"
The French president said, "Okay, we'll build a bridge in the desert."
The Belgian king went home with news that the French had built a bridge in the desert, and the Belgians were laughing and laughing. In fact, they wouldn't stop laughing.
Eventually, the Belgian king had put a stop to this. He went back to France and told the president, "Okay, that was funny but we really need to end this. You can destroy the bridge now..."
The French president replied, "Well we would except for all the Belgians fishing on it."

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Mar 11th, 2006 at 10:40:00 AM EST
The best place to find flats, apptmts, houses to buy or to rent is VLAN. Rent is, when compared to London, Paris, A'dam, Frankfurt, Hamburg dirt cheap. You will suffer the embarassement of making a choice because of all the good offers. Take your time, you will find exactly what you are looking for. Inner city buzz with hundreds of pubs, restaurants, specialized retail shops, art galleries, fashion shops, cultural centres, cinemas, squares, parks, concert halls, discos etc., or, as mentionend above, lively multi cultural comunes like Elsene/Ixelles with a mix of races, trendy bars, live music, student and academic life style environment, laid back bourgeois neighborhoods, the Euro 'ghetto' with 'talk' bars where you meet journalists, photographers, politicians, the functionairs of the EU institutions, and the HQs of Think Tanks, lobbying offices, political associations, regional liaison offices with intersting cultural and political events, also the cultural institutes like Goethe Institut, British Council, Dante Alighieri, Academie Francaise etc., poche suburbs like Tervuren for the rich with museums, lakes, parks...

You chose.

link to Vlan immo:

http://www.vlanimmo.be/vlan-immo/search_form.do

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Sun Mar 12th, 2006 at 10:48:19 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]