Once you have decided to relocate the Belgium, you will quickly realise that even though it is an exciting prospect, it also brings with it an element of apprehension and stress. You will need to plan your move carefully and there will be a number of different things you will have to consider.
Finding the right removal company to take care of transferring your personal effects from the UK to Belgium will most definitely play a big part in your planning process.
It is here that White & Company can assist. As founder members of BAR, FIDI & OMNI we have successfully moved thousands of people all over the globe. Whether we transport your personal belongings by sea or road, we can help take the stress out of your move.
Belgium, like most worldwide countries has very strict importation regulations and consequences if regulations are not adhered to. There are restrictions on importing of items such as:
• Replica guns, weapons and ammunition.
• All narcotics
• some prescribed medication
• certain food items
• cash, securities, or cheques more than €10,000 in value
Used household goods and personal effects can be imported into Belgium duty-free if:
• You have lived in your country of origin for at least 12 consecutive months.
• be planning to take up official residence in Belgium.
• have owned the imported items for at least six months.
• intend the goods for personal use only.
• wait at least one year before reselling them in Belgium.
If you are unsure of any items, visit the following web sites for further information before you attempt to import:
Why Move to Belgium?
Nestled neatly in the middle of Western Europe, Belgium’s resourcefulness and progressive ideals has seen the country emerge as a truly modern European nation while its cobbled streets and creaking castles create the illusion of having stepped back into Medieval times.
Perhaps best known around the world for its love of frothy beer and all things chocolate, Belgium is a gastronomic explosion of delectable food. Brussels, the capital, is often regarded as one of the gourmet capitals of the world, and has a wide range of delicacies on show to rival any major European city. Mussels are, of course, a must.
Belgium balances its indulgences with a very active lifestyle. Cycling to and from the countryside is a popular pastime, as well as commuting option. The climate is incredibly unpredictable however, with it not being uncommon to experience four seasons in one day. You can wake to a breezy but warm sunny morning, experience an afternoon shower and conclude with a brisk foggy evening.
History and art lovers will be spoilt for choice. The fountain of ‘Manneken Pis’ meaning Little Man Pee is a famous bronze sculpture in Brussels of a small boy urinating and is seen as a symbol of liberty, On special occasions the fountain is attached to a beer Keg and Manneken Pis urinates beer, which is then served to onlookers!
From the dune-filled beaches to dense pine filled forests, Belgium truly has something for everyone. The obvious downside to Belgium is that it is very expensive and the cost of living is high. The country demands very high taxes and social security contributions from its citizens with individual taxpayers taking home on average less than 45% of their actual income.
We pay taxes for a reason though however. And you can breathe a sigh of relief to know that those taxes are well spent, with Belgium’s social security system ranking among the highest in the world.
Working in Belgium
As EU citizens, British nationals are not required to obtain a visa or a work permit to gain employment in Belgium. However, you will still need to obtain a registration certification from your local town hall after you arrive.
In order to increase your chances of getting a job in Belgium, it is advantageous to be able to speak either Dutch, German, or French.
As a general rule, those in the north of country (Flanders) speak Dutch and those in the south (Wallonia) are more inclined to speak French. However, it is worth doing your research into the area you are hoping to move and work in first to ensure you are able to pick up the language.
Many EU institutions, NATO and other major international organisations are currently based in Belgium and are one of the biggest sources of expat recruitment. There are also a large number of multi-national companies based in the capital of Brussels.
Currently there is a need for employees with skills in the sectors of engineering, IT and telecommunications. To match the high standard of living, wages are generally very competitive and many employers pay a 13th month ‘bonus’ to their employee, usually at the end of each financial year.
Here are some useful websites for those seeking jobs in Belgium:
Buying property in Belgium can be complicated and overly bureaucratic, however, because homes are relatively cheap compared to the UK, some real bargains can be had if you do your homework.
Unlike their German neighbours, a very high percentage of Belgians own their own home (72%), and there are no restrictions in place to stop foreigners buying property in Belgium, even if they are non-resident. The cost of property varies enormously, depending on what you are looking for and in what location.
As a guide, you can currently purchase a family three bedroomed home just south of Brussels for €370,000 (£321,210). A two bedroomed good-sized apartment in the centre of Brussels would cost in the region of €415,000 (£361,120). As with all cities, the further out of town you live the cheaper the property becomes.
Because of the possible language barriers, it is advisable to go to a reputable estate agent who may be able to act as a translator, helping you understand the ins and outs of your contracts.
Listed below are several estate agents with listings for sale or rent:
• Willemen Real Estate – https://www.willemen.be
• Vauban Real Estate – https://www.immoweb.be/en/real-estate
• Zoopla – https://www.zoopla.co.uk/overseas/property/belgium/
Education in Belgium is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18 or until the child graduates from secondary school. The education pathway is very similar to the UK, where children can attend pre-school then onto primary school, secondary education, and on to higher education and university.
International schools are the most popular option for an expat wishing to send their child to school in Belgium. There may be some students from the local population attending too, but the schools are generally geared towards an international audience and curriculum.
Below is a list of international and bilingual schools for expats in Belgium:
• International School of Brussels (ISB) – http://www.isb.be/
• British International School of Brussels (BISB) – http://www.bisb.org/
• British Junior Academy of Brussels (BJAB) – http://www.bjab.org/
Many expats living in the main cities, often find that it is not necessary to own a car. If you do choose to drive, it is worth doing your research before you arrive.
Below are some helpful tips for driving safely on the roads in Belgium:
• You must have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents.
• Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road.
• The speed limit is 74mph (120km/h) and in cities and built up areas it is 31mph (50km/h). It is rigorously monitored, and speed traps are everywhere.
• Belgian motorways are toll-free.
• When approaching a roundabout give way to traffic already on the roundabout, on your left, unless signed otherwise.
• Belgium has some of the severest penalties for drink driving in Europe — you will be fined up to 125 Euros on the spot if the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is between 0.05 per cent and 0.08 per cent. You will also have to surrender your licence for 3 hours.
Each country’s health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. The Belgian healthcare system is one of the best in Europe.
As soon as you move to Belgium, you must register with a state insurance scheme called a mutuelle or ziekenfonds. The system is divided into state and private sectors, with fees payable in both, funded by a combination of Belgian social security contributions and health insurance funds.
With mandatory health insurance, patients are free to choose their own medical professionals and places of treatment. You can also choose to take out further private health insurance cover and there are plenty of institutions with health plans to suit all personal circumstances, here are a few:
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White & Company
European Removals since 1871
We recommend a visit from one of our Surveyors for all European moves, so that we can assess your requirements, and the volume of goods to be moved.
Below is a rough guide to the largest cities in Belgium:
What Others Say…
Wayne Middleton and Brian Witherford were professional and extremely helpful. Did a brilliant job. Would recommend Whites to anyone. Thanks very much.
Have used this company regularly for 5 years including my time in the armed forces. They are professional and efficient. Will use them again on our next move.
The move went very smoothly and they were very polite.
A very smooth move by White and Co. The team worked very hard and were polite, professional and helpful.