Moving to Brussels: What to Expect Bienvenue! Welkom! Willkommen! No matter how you say it, if you’ve decided to move to Brussels, welcome to your new adventure!
Maybe you’ve visited this vibrant city before, and if so, you have a small taste of all the things that make Brussels so great — even beyond the beer, frites, mussels, chocolate, and waffles. But living in Brussels is a much different experience than a short city break. Thousands of people move to this amazing city every year – and it’s easy to see why. There’s a lot to get excited about so keep reading for the inside scoop on living your best life day-to-day, plus some administrative tips for making Brussels your new home.
What to expect from Brussels life
Languages in Belgium
Belgium has three national languages: French, Dutch, and German. French dominates the Brussels scene, but the capital city is officially bilingual along with Dutch. You’ll probably notice that all the street names are written in French and Dutch, along with food & package labeling, advertising, public transport, and lots of other day-to-day communication. The German language will prevail only if you venture to a small corner of eastern Belgium.
Luckily for the plethora of expats who call Brussels home, language education is excellent in Belgium so most locals speak English without any trouble. In fact, most websites and public transport stations all tend to have things written in English so communicating won’t be an issue!
And if you have the time and interest to learn a new language yourself, here’s a list of language schools in the Brussels region.
Making Friends in Brussels
Brussels welcomes around 40,000 newcomers every year. Loads of people come here because so many European institutions and companies are based in this city. So there are plenty of jobs around – particularly in service areas like law, PR, and consulting. As a result, Brussels is a fairly busy city and quite a youthful one too. One of the best parts of living in this vibrant capital is meeting new friends from all over the world! You’ll mix with a multitude of expats out at networking events, bars, coffee shops, food markets, restaurants, concerts, local events and just walking around the city. Expect to mingle with plenty of international professionals in all facets of your daily life, many of whom have probably emigrated from other countries like you.
Weather in Brussels
Belgium has a special weather reputation, right? Grey, rainy, blah. In realty, there’s more to Belgian weather than this unfortunate stereotype! Yes, the one thing you can count on is rain – but it’s not all day, everyday. Sometimes it even hails for added excitement! In general, the temperature is mild all year round, and you’ll likely see beautiful sunny spells in the late spring, summer and even into fall. Some summer days are downright hot, so you might even escape to the Belgian coast. The winter months aren’t unbearable either; snow can fall, but the temperatures rarely drop too far below freezing. Pro tip: it’s best to invest in a small umbrella to keep in your bag since Brussels always seems to play tricks on the weather apps!
Now, when you arrive in Brussels, there are various admin tasks you need to concern yourself with. We’re talking about financial admin, registration, figuring out how to get around, and so on. Bearing that in mind, here’s what you can expect:
Current Covid Regulations in Brussels
As you can imagine, Covid regulations change constantly. While we are currently experiencing minimal impact to daily life in Brussels, it’s a good idea to check the region’s official Covid site for the most up to date information. You’ll find answers to all your questions regarding Covid certificates, vaccines & boosters, testing sites, pharmacies and more.
How to Register at the Commune: Registering Your Residency
As you may know, Brussels consists of 19 separate communes, or municipalities. Belgian law requires that most adults register with the commune where they reside if planning to stay longer than three months.
Head over to our step by step guide on how to register your residency.
Two key points to keep in mind when planning your move to Brussels:
When landlords say you can register or “domicile” with your lease that means you can register to live in Brussels legally. If you have seen the term “non-domiciliation,” you can’t register to live legally at that address and might want to reconsider housing options.
Residents of non-EU member states will need to apply for a visa prior to requesting residency. Most likely your employer has already finalized this process, which includes work permits and necessary applications.
Online Services: Staying Connected
At Morton Place, you’ll be up and running with wifi and Internet services in no time. But if you need to start from e-scratch, update your mobile phone service, or require other online necessities, you’ll find a slew of spots in Brussels to stay connected. Visit companies like Proximus, Orange, Telenet, Base, and Mobile Vikings for internet and mobile subscriptions, prepaid & SIM cards, products and more. Pop into the Apple store for all the latest & greatest gadgets, centrally located near Avenue Louise.
Public Transportation in Brussels: Get Around Town in Public…
The public transport network in Brussels offers swift and reliable options for getting around town. Take your pick of trams, buses, and the metro depending on where you are and where you want to go. You can even check your commute time at the interactive transport site STIB-MIVB and also find the fastest way to get from point A to B in this bustling city.
Our Morton Place properties are very close to public transport stations, so we highly recommend using them for easy and reliable service.
We recommend you order a MoBiB card online, as this is the easiest way to pay for public transport. You can top it up with as much money as you need, and it can be used to pay for all of the public transport operators in Belgium. These days, you can also use contactless credit or debit card to pay on board however as of this writing, it is more expensive to pay for a ride with contactless than via a MoBiB card.
…Or Ride Alone in Private!
Brussels has seriously embraced alternative personal mobility. We’ve highlighted some of the more popular options below, but check out this complete list of mobility options ranging from electric kick scooters to private car shares.
Electric (kick) scooter and ebike sharing services have taken over almost every corner of this city! While there is some controversy regarding safety and parking, these personal transport options, accessible via app, are extremely popular and very useful for zipping around. Brands like DOTT and Bolt offer both ebikes and scooters, while Lime, Voi, Bird and Tier have hundreds of scooters available.
Swapfiets lets you pay a monthly fee for your own personal electric bike — a great choice for shorter commutes and freedom on the weekends.
Traditional bicycle shares like Villo! make it easy to ride from one fixed point to another with flexible payment options.
Want to feel the wind in your hair? Well, under your helmet at least. Sign up for Felyx, the electric moped service that’s as fun as it is useful.
Uber has experienced an ongoing legal battle here in Brussels, but currently the cars are running and it’s easy to order (and even pre-book) a pickup.
If you have a private car, your lease at Morton Place qualifies you for a resident’s parking permit which you can obtain from the commune.
Shopping for Home Goods: Deck out Your Space with the Finishing Touches
You will find plenty of shops in Brussels with the essentials for making your new space a home. If you just need to pick up a few toiletries, you’ll find mini markets like Proxy and Carrefour Express dotted around the city.
If home decor, bedding, towels, novelty items and household appliances are on your list, add HEMA, Zara Home, H&M Home and Casa to the mix. All of these shops are within walking distance of Morton Place for you to explore. There are also two IKEAs around Brussels, for added retail therapy. (And meatballs).
Can You See Yourself at Morton Place?
We hope that you’ll join our Morton Place community! As a resident in one of our homes it is our mission to help you settle into Brussels while delivering you the unique benefits of a chic, all-inclusive, coliving environment. Feel free to reach out anytime!