A Cosmopolitan City with a Small Town Heart

Although it occupies a rather serious and somber position as the seat of the European Union, Brussels is a lively, sophisticated city that is resplendent with international flair and a cosmopolitan outlook. As a crossroads for Europe, you will find expatriates from all over the world living peacefully side-by-side here and this translates to a fascinating living environment that is culturally rich while retaining the intimacy of a local town.

In many ways the spirit and resilience of the people of Brussels is mirrored in their seemingly reserved nature. Once you are able to break through the tough exterior, however, you will be pleasantly surprised by a people with an enchanting fascination with the world of comics, fine food and beer. More importantly, they appreciate a truly high standard of living with strong family bonds and an appreciation of the fine things in life. The fact that the single, most photographed item in Belgium is a statue/fountain of a naked little boy's public indiscretion (Mannekin Pis) goes a long way to explaining the sense of humor and love of art that typifies Brussels and Belgium in general.

In keeping with the city’s cosmopolitan stance, the entertainment, dining opportunities and nightlife on offer in this city are varied and energetic. Often regarded as one of the gourmet capitals of the world, the food on offer rivals that of any other major European city and you can enjoy a wide range of delicacies. Mussels in Brussels are, of course, a must.

What’s the draw?

  • An international appeal that leaves plenty of opportunity to make friends from all over the world.
  • A centrally-based location that is ideal for exploring the rest of Europe during weekends and holidays.
  • A fascinating city that reveals its charms slowly and always offers something new to be discovered.

Live there:

Expats can find Brussels a little schizophrenic at first. From the confusing scatter of different languages from around Europe and the world, spoken at any time around the city to the often weird traffic rules and the dual language (French/Dutch) names of most neighborhoods, street-signs, squares and train stations -- just about everything, including the extremely variable weather, is bewildering. Our relocation guide can make everything just that little bit simpler, so that you can navigate the infrastructure with confidence and enjoy the leisure and entertainment opportunities on offer.

The Expat Info Desk expat guide to living in Brussels contains detailed information about popular living areas in and around Brussels. We identify popular expat living venues to suit your lifestyle and budget and present detailed information about the surrounding infrastructure, schools, educational facilities and other local amenities.

Uncover Brussels’ mysterious charms with the Expat Info Desk.

Five top tips

01Learn French or Dutch, especially if you are coming long-term. If you have children this is even more important and will assist them to integrate.
02Learn the Belgian rules of the road as they are a little different to other places and can be complicated.
03Join expat groups by all means but remember that Belgians do exist too, and many expats make the mistake of never getting to know them properly.
04Make the most of summer. Winters are wet, cold and gloomy and involve largely indoor activities.
05Bring as many personal documents as possible (birth, driving, examination certificates), they will help in many different bureaucratic situations.

Interesting fact

As of 2008, the population in Brussels was 1.05 million people. 27% of the population is made up of foreigners, not including those who have taken Belgian citizenship.