Belgium, located in Western Europe, is a small yet vibrant country that offers a great environment for digital nomads and expats. With its rich history, diverse culture, and high standard of living, Belgium attracts people from all over the world. This article will provide a comprehensive guide for digital nomads and expats interested in living and working in Belgium.
Belgium For Digital Nomads
Belgium has become an attractive destination for digital nomads due to its excellent infrastructure, high-quality healthcare system, and welcoming environment. The country offers reliable and fast internet connectivity, making it easy for digital nomads to work remotely. Additionally, Belgium’s central location in Europe allows for easy travel to other European countries, making it a convenient base for exploring the continent.
- Fast and Reliable Internet: Belgium offers high-speed internet connections, with average download speeds of around 50 Mbps. Major cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent have excellent coverage, ensuring that digital nomads can work efficiently.
- Coworking Spaces: Belgium has a thriving coworking scene, with numerous spaces available in major cities. These spaces provide a professional working environment, networking opportunities, and often host events and workshops for digital nomads.
- Digital Nomad Community: Belgium has a growing community of digital nomads, offering opportunities for networking, collaboration, and support. Meetups and events specifically catered to digital nomads are regularly organized in cities across the country.
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Belgium has a temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild summers and cool winters. The country experiences moderate rainfall throughout the year, with the highest precipitation occurring during the autumn months. The average temperature in Belgium ranges from 2°C (36°F) in winter to 23°C (73°F) in summer. The climate is generally comfortable, although it can be unpredictable at times.
- Mild Summers: Summers in Belgium are generally mild and pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 20-25°C (68-77°F). It’s a great time to explore the country’s outdoor attractions and enjoy outdoor activities.
- Cool Winters: Winters in Belgium can be chilly, with temperatures dropping to around 0-5°C (32-41°F). Snowfall is common, especially in the Ardennes region, offering opportunities for winter sports and picturesque landscapes.
- Year-round Rainfall: Belgium experiences rainfall throughout the year, so it’s advisable to always carry an umbrella or raincoat. Autumn tends to be the wettest season, so be prepared for occasional showers.
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Belgium Expat Communities
Belgium is home to a diverse expat community, with people from various backgrounds and nationalities. Expats in Belgium often find it easy to integrate into society due to the country’s multiculturalism and welcoming nature. There are several expat communities and organizations that provide support, social activities, and networking opportunities for expats.
- Brussels Expats: Brussels, as the capital of Belgium and the European Union, has a large expat community. The city is known for its international atmosphere, with many expats working in EU institutions, multinational companies, and diplomatic missions.
- Antwerp Expats: Antwerp is another city with a significant expat population. It is known for its thriving fashion and diamond industries, attracting expats from various creative and business backgrounds.
- International Schools: Belgium has a range of international schools that cater to expat families. These schools provide education in multiple languages and follow international curricula, ensuring a smooth transition for expat children.
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Living As An Expat In Belgium
Living as an expat in Belgium offers a high quality of life, excellent healthcare, and a well-developed infrastructure. The country has a strong focus on work-life balance, with shorter working hours and generous vacation allowances. Expats can enjoy a mix of historic charm, cultural diversity, and modern amenities.
- Healthcare: Belgium has a renowned healthcare system, with a combination of public and private healthcare providers. Expats are required to have health insurance, either through their employer or by purchasing private insurance.
- Education: Belgium offers a range of educational options, including public, private, and international schools. The education system is known for its high standards and multilingual approach.
- Transportation: Belgium has a well-connected and efficient transportation network, with an extensive train system, buses, trams, and metros in major cities. It’s easy to travel within Belgium and explore neighboring countries.
Belgium Cost Of Living
The cost of living in Belgium can vary depending on the city and lifestyle choices. Overall, Belgium is known to have a relatively high cost of living compared to some other European countries. However, salaries and benefits generally align with the higher expenses, ensuring a comfortable standard of living.
- Housing: Rent prices in Belgium can be high, especially in major cities like Brussels and Antwerp. However, there are also more affordable options available in suburban areas or smaller towns.
- Food and Groceries: Belgium is famous for its delicious cuisine and diverse food culture. Eating out at restaurants can be expensive, but cooking at home and shopping at local markets can help save money.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Belgium is relatively affordable, with discounted monthly passes available for regular commuters. Owning a car can be expensive due to high fuel costs and parking fees.
Belgium Visas For Digital Nomads
Belgium offers several visa options for digital nomads and expats. The specific visa requirements may vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay. It’s important to check with the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date information. Some common visa options include:
- Short-Stay Visa: If you plan to stay in Belgium for less than 90 days, you may be eligible for a short-stay visa. This visa allows you to travel and work in Belgium for a limited period.
- Work Permit: If you have a job offer from a Belgian employer, they will typically assist you in obtaining a work permit. This permit allows you to work legally in Belgium.
- Self-Employed Visa: If you are a digital nomad running your own business, you may be eligible for a self-employed visa. This visa allows you to work and reside in Belgium as a self-employed individual.
Belgium has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy to get around the country and beyond. Whether you prefer public transportation or driving, Belgium offers various options to suit your needs.
- Trains: Belgium has an extensive train network, operated by the national railway company, SNCB/NMBS. Trains are a popular mode of transportation for both short and long-distance travel within Belgium and to neighboring countries.
- Buses: Local and regional buses are available in cities and towns across Belgium, providing convenient transportation within urban areas and to nearby destinations.
- Metros and Trams: Major cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent have efficient metro and tram systems, offering a convenient way to navigate the city centers.
- Taxis and Rideshares: Taxis are readily available in Belgium, and rideshare services like Uber operate in major cities. Taxis are metered, and fares may vary depending on the time of day and distance.
Belgium has several international airports that provide excellent connectivity to destinations worldwide. The main airports in Belgium are:
- Brussels Airport (BRU): Located in Zaventem, just outside Brussels, Brussels Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Belgium. It offers a wide range of international flights and serves as a major hub for connecting flights.
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL): Situated in Charleroi, about 46 kilometers (29 miles) south of Brussels, Charleroi Airport is a popular choice for low-cost airlines and serves as a secondary airport for the Brussels region.
- Antwerp International Airport (ANR): Located in Deurne, near Antwerp, Antwerp International Airport primarily handles regional and private flights.
Facts About Belgium
Here are some interesting facts about Belgium:
- Official Languages: Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Dutch is the most widely spoken language, followed by French and German.
- Euro Currency: Belgium uses the euro (€) as its official currency, which is also used in many other European countries.
- Chocolate and Beer: Belgium is renowned for its high-quality chocolate and a wide variety of beer. Belgian chocolate and beer are considered among the best in the world.
- Comic Strip Culture: Belgium has a strong comic strip culture, with famous comic characters like Tintin and The Smurfs originating from Belgian comic books.
Fun Things To Do In Belgium
Belgium offers a range of activities and attractions for digital nomads and expats to enjoy during their stay. Here are some popular things to do in Belgium:
- Explore Historic Cities: Visit cities like Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent to admire their stunning architecture, historic landmarks, and charming cobblestone streets.
- Indulge in Belgian Cuisine: Try delicious Belgian specialties like waffles, chocolate, moules-frites (mussels and fries), and Belgian beers at local restaurants and cafes.
- Visit Museums and Art Galleries: Belgium is home to numerous museums and art galleries, showcasing works by famous artists like René Magritte and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
- Explore Natural Beauty: Discover the picturesque landscapes of the Ardennes region, hike in the beautiful forests, or relax by the Belgian coastline.
Popular Belgium Tourist Attractions
Belgium boasts several popular tourist attractions that are worth visiting. Here are some must-see attractions in Belgium:
- Grand Place, Brussels: The central square of Brussels, Grand Place, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture.
- Bruges: Often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges is a picturesque city known for its well-preserved medieval buildings, canals, and cobbled streets.
- Atomium, Brussels: The Atomium is a unique architectural structure in Brussels that symbolizes the atomic age. It offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck.
- Ardennes: The Ardennes region is known for its scenic landscapes, charming villages, and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking.
Belgium is home to several vibrant cities that offer a mix of history, culture, and modern amenities. Here are some notable cities in Belgium:
- Brussels: As the capital of Belgium and the European Union, Brussels is a cosmopolitan city known for its historic landmarks, museums, and vibrant nightlife.
- Antwerp: Antwerp is a bustling city famous for its fashion, diamond trade, and vibrant arts scene. It has a rich history and is home to stunning architecture and world-class museums.
- Ghent: Ghent is a charming city with a medieval character, featuring beautiful canals, historic buildings, and a lively student population.
- Bruges: Known as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges is a fairy-tale-like city with well-preserved medieval architecture, canals, and cobblestone streets.
Belgium Internet Speed and Accessibility
Belgium offers reliable and fast internet connectivity, making it suitable for digital nomads and remote workers. The country has a robust infrastructure and widespread access to high-speed internet services.
- Internet Speed: Belgium has an average download speed of around 50 Mbps, which is considered fast and sufficient for most online activities.
- Internet Providers: Several internet service providers operate in Belgium, including Proximus, Telenet, and Orange. They offer various packages to cater to different needs and budgets.
- Wi-Fi Availability: Wi-Fi is widely available in Belgium, with many cafes, restaurants, and public places offering free Wi-Fi access. Coworking spaces also provide reliable internet connections for remote work.
Belgium offers a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you prefer hotels, vacation rentals, or apartment rentals, you can find suitable options in various cities across the country.
Popular Belgium Hotels
Belgium is home to numerous hotels that cater to different needs and budgets. Some popular hotels in Belgium include:
- Hotel Amigo, Brussels: Located in the heart of Brussels, Hotel Amigo offers luxury accommodation with elegant rooms, a renowned restaurant, and a central location close to major attractions.
- Hotel ‘t Sandt, Antwerp: Situated in a historic building in Antwerp’s city center, Hotel ‘t Sandt offers boutique-style rooms, personalized service, and a charming courtyard.
- Grand Hotel Casselbergh, Bruges: Housed in a historic building, Grand Hotel Casselbergh offers spacious rooms, a wellness center, and panoramic views of Bruges’ historic center.
Popular Belgium Vacation Rentals
Vacation rentals are a popular choice for those seeking a home-away-from-home experience in Belgium. Some popular vacation rentals include:
- Villa des Roses, Brussels: Located in a quiet residential area, Villa des Roses offers comfortable and fully equipped apartments with easy access to public transportation.
- Canalview Apartment, Ghent: Situated along the picturesque canals of Ghent, Canalview Apartment provides spacious and modern accommodation with beautiful views.
- Seaside Cottage, Ostend: For those looking for a beach getaway, Seaside Cottage in Ostend offers cozy and well-equipped cottages just steps away from the sandy beaches.
Popular Belgium Apartment Rentals
Apartment rentals are a convenient option for long-term stays in Belgium. Some popular apartment rentals include:
- The Loft, Brussels: The Loft offers stylish and fully furnished apartments in the trendy neighborhood of Sainte-Catherine, close to restaurants, shops, and public transportation.
- Antwerp City Apartments, Antwerp: Antwerp City Apartments provides a range of modern and centrally located apartments in Antwerp’s city center, suitable for both short and long stays.
- Ghent River Apartments, Ghent: Situated along the picturesque canals of Ghent, Ghent River Apartments offers spacious and well-equipped apartments with beautiful views of the city.
Belgium Food & Drink
Belgium is known for its culinary delights, offering a wide range of delicious food and drink options. From traditional Belgian dishes to international cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
Belgium Grocery Stores
Belgium has several grocery store chains where you can find a variety of fresh produce, pantry staples, and specialty items. Some popular grocery stores in Belgium include:
- Delhaize: Delhaize is one of the largest supermarket chains in Belgium, offering a wide range of products, including fresh produce, dairy, meat, and household items.
- Carrefour: Carrefour is a well-known international supermarket chain with multiple locations across Belgium. It offers a variety of groceries, household items, and specialty products.
- Colruyt: Colruyt is a popular discount supermarket chain in Belgium, known for its competitive prices and wide selection of products.
Belgium offers a welcoming environment, excellent infrastructure, and a high quality of life for digital nomads and expats. With its diverse culture, historic cities, and culinary delights, Belgium is an ideal destination for those seeking a balance between work and leisure. Whether you’re exploring the cobblestone streets of Bruges, indulging in Belgian chocolate, or working from a coworking space in Brussels, Belgium has something to offer for everyone.
– Visit Belgium: visitbelgium.com
– Expatica Belgium: expatica.com/be
– The Brussels Times: brusselstimes.com
– Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs: diplomatie.belgium.be