Getting used to relocation to Belgium takes some time

Getting used to relocation to Belgium takes some time

Getting used to relocation to Belgium takes some time

Belgium may not immediately spring to mind as a favoured destination for expat professionals, but spending time in the country gives new arrivals a different perspective on its hidden charms.

Known worldwide as the home of the European Parliament, Belgium’s capital city of Brussels is often seen as a stuffy, politically-oriented destination only rendered liveable by its beer and chocolates. New arrivals aren’t often thrilled with their latest reassignment, but the country itself soon makes itself known as a place for fabulous culture, and a superb quality of life.

The trick for new arrivals is to stay away from the obvious tourist spots and explore the places Brussels residents love to visit. The first surprise is the delicious local cuisine, a gastronomic delight by any standards, especially when enjoyed with a glass of the country’s famous beer. Due to its political position, the small country is a mix of cultures and their various languages, causing controversy at times, but usually finding the sensible way to avoid confrontation.

Compromise is one of Belgium’s main strengths, as expected of a country which has several official languages, one for each of its overlapping border states. Flemish, French and German are the three most spoken, but the majority of residents also speak at least some English. Healthcare is state-funded, with many Belgian doctors proficient in alternative as well as conventional treatments. For expats with families in tow, state-funded schools as well as kindergartens make it easy for trailing spouses to take on work or volunteer.

The major downside is the swingeing rate of income tax, one of the world’s highest, with expats earning 40,000 euros or more paying a staggering 50 per cent to the Belgian taxman. Senior expats working temporarily for international groups are classified as non-resident and pay special rates as well as rebates for the cost of setting up new homes. In spite of this, a high number of working British expats apply to become Belgian citizens every month of the year, proving the popularity of this unique little country.

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