What’s life like in Brussels right now?

Professionals moving to Brussels in the coming weeks will want to know what to expect with the reopening of the country. After a somewhat strict lockdown the deconfinement process started in May and is entering an increasingly relaxed status. Since the 15th of June, Belgium along with its European neighbors opened its borders to EU and Schengen passport holders. Life in Brussels is slowly going back to “normal”.

With the steady improvement of the pandemic numbers, the kingdom is entering Phase 4 of the relaxation of its rules, called “deconfinement” as of 1 July.

1 July: What to expect

People in Brussels today continue to wear masks when in public transport in accordance with the rules, mask wearing in the street is less frequent. The atmosphere is increasingly relaxed, but outdoor groups of more than 10 people are not allowed so some parks have seen an increase in oversight from park wardens. Safety distances in more crowded areas are enforced.

Restaurants

Restaurant terraces are full as are cafés and bars. Night life is active however all venues have to close at 1am. Night clubs remain closed. There are news reports of youth gathering to on the Place Flagey for spontaneous parties – so the confidence is back for the younger segment of the population.

 

Shopping Rules

Shops are relaxing rules and everything is open. Shopping times are no longer limited and you can shop with a friend. Safety measures are in place to ensure distancing can be respected within the shop. Masks are recommended but not obligatory inside shops.

Gyms

Wellness centers and gyms are open since the beginning of June with protocols in place for hygiene. Pools are also open which is handy as Brussels is experiencing a significant heatwave!

Entertainment

Cinemas and indoor events can host up to 200 people. Museums, galleries and music halls have gradually reopened. Outdoor festivals are allowed with a maximum attendance of 400 people. This means that most music festivals join the infamous Tomorrowland in rescheduling their festivals for 2021.

Administration

People moving to Belgium from abroad often need to register at the local town hall, called the Maison Communale/Gemeente Huis. There are also other administrative procedures for health care, registering for parking etc. New registrants can no longer walk in to take care of these services. They must make an appointment. To do this at the town hall for Morton Place residents you should follow this link: https://irisbox.irisnet.be/irisbox/appointment

 

Moving forward: long live bicycles!

The most exciting consequence of the pandemic has been the acceleration of the mobility plans in Brussels. Increasing the biking lanes and the go slow and no traffic areas is needed as traffic is congested and people are still cautious about taking public transport. Our neighborhoods in Saint Gilles and Chatelain will benefit from this plan, allowing our residents to bike easily  from home to the European Quarter on dedicated bike lanes.

 

What’s happening at Morton Place

Most of our residents have  gone back to their offices spending only a portion of their time working from home. Weekend trips have also started again. We continue to get requests from people outside of Belgium who are moving to Brussels for professional reasons. We are organising video tours and trying to make sure everyone gets to chat with one resident during the tour. There is enthusiasm and confidence in future residents’ voices and we feel confident that we will be able to host future Morton Place residents in comfort and security. We look forward to hosting new residents at Morton Place over the course of the summer!

Morton Place Coliving

What to Expect when moving to Brussels today

Many of our future residents are considering when to schedule their move to Brussels after weeks of lockdown or as we call it here “confinement”. We have gathered some of the information we have found the most relevant to help you understand the current situation.  The next udpate is scheduled for 3 June. We will publish again at that time to keep you aware of the rules.

 

Travelling to Brussels from Abroad

Before travelling to Brussels we recommend contacting the local representative of the Belgian government for details on what may be required, especially if you do not have a Belgian residency card. As of now and most likely until 3 June’s update, anyone arriving from abroad needs to self isolate for 14 days when arriving in the country.  Feedback from our residents who have returned to Brussels from France and Italy and who have Belgian residency cards has been positive, they had no questions asked and were handed a flyer. At the airport a representative requested they self-isolate for 14 days but that trips to buy essentials and daily exercise was allowed. This is of course anecdotal and each person may get a different reception.

 

State of the pandemic

The number of new cases is going down with an “R” rate for the week of 14-20 May of 0.89. (source Sciensano weekly update) If you want to know more about the spread of the virus and how the Brussels region has been effected we recommend  reading the Belgian Health Ministry’s Public Health website which has all of the official figures.

 

Easing of restrictions or “deconfinement”

The peak of illness was the week ending on 12 April 2020 and the government announced easing of lockdown restrictions as of 4 May 2020 when Belgium entered Phase 1 of deconfinement. As of 25 May we are in Phase 2 with the following situation:

  • Face masks are obligatory in all public transportation but not in shops
  • There are no public gatherings of more than 3 people and there is a police presence to discourage groups
  • Shops are open including retail and markets
  • Hairdressers and nail salons are open
  • Doctors (GP’s) are allowed to practice normally
  • Sports are allowed with a cap of 20 team mates
  • Weddings and funerals not to exceed 30 people
  • Schools are partially reopened

 

Phase 3 is expected as of 8 June. We are expecting news on the opening of restaurants, cafés and places of worship.

 

Life In Brussels: Cycling paths and “slow” streets

Brussels has quickly pivoted to improve cycling and walking paths in the city. The historical inner city of Brussels (500m from Morton Place) has a blanket “slow street” designation with all traffic limited to 20km an hour with a priority for walkers and cyclists. Within weeks 40km of new cycling paths have opened up with an additional 40km in the works for September. We were particularly excited to see that a large, comfortable path will be reinforced along the inner ring linking Morton Place Parvis and Louise to the European Quarter. For an updated cycling map: New Cycling Paths

 

Life at Morton Place

 

Along with the rest of Belgian households the confinement at Morton Place has also eased  and our activities are almost back to normal. We have a sanitation station at the entrance of each house for the proper disposing of masks and gloves as well as hand sanitizer for anyone walking into the house. We will be welcoming new residents  as of 8 June when we expect most rules regarding the confinement to be lifted.  Although there is some relief at this return to some freedoms, there is also nostalgia for what has been a time of real bonding and friendship among housemates. From celebrating Easter by preparing dishes representing their countries of origin, to a traditional South African braai, pizza nights playing Settlers of Catan and endless deliveries of disinfecting spray and hand soap… what’s not to miss?

 

Moving to Brussels?

We expect the rules  regarding the stay at home measures to be gradually eased as of beginning of May. This is a situation that is evolving rapidly so it is best for expats to stay informed. A vast majority of our residents move to Belgium from abroad and may not always know how to be informed about local news. Expats moving to Brussels maybe curious what the status is in Belgium with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic. In general Belgian hospitals have been coping well, without the overflow sadly witnessed in other parts of the world.

Rules of the Belgian “lockdown” otherwise known as “confinement”

Like it’s European counterparts, the Belgian government imposed a strict stay at home policy as of 18 March 2020. All non-essential workers were instructed to work from home and all offices, retail and non food or pharmaceutical spaces were closed. Residents were asked to stay home while taking one hour a day to exercise with maximum one other person from their household. Borders were closed as of 20 March 2020. We expect the current rules for confinement to be updated on 24 April 2020 with a gradual lifting of the rules anticipated as of 4 May 2020.

Staying Informed

Morton Place Coliving is actively following the guidelines of the Belgian government regarding the the confinement measures which have been put in place. If you are not in Brussels and would like ressources to keep yourself updated the following are good places to get informed.

Belgian Government

Official news and guidelines are published on the official government website of the Belgian Covid-19 Task Force.

Local News Sources

National newspapers are good sources of information and Le Soir seems to have access to most of the government leaks ahead of key announcements. In general the national papers are Le Soir (French), De Standaard (Dutch). Many articles in translation from the flemish papers appear in the  Brussels Times (English) and The Bulletin is a longstanding platform with reliable information relevant to expats.

International

Brussels has consulates from almost all major countries and their websites also feature information relevant to their nationals’ needs. There is a directory of all foreign consulates on the Belgian diplomatic website.

 

Home Office Morton Place Chatelain Coliving

Coliving means we are a Household

Morton Place coliving houses went into lockdown, or “confinement” as of the beginning of March. We follow the rules of Belgian Ministry of Health.  In Brussels, the rules are to limit social contact to one’s household, working from home if possible, with only one outing a day for shopping or exercise. The restrictions started mid-month. We quickly had to move in new residents to their rooms so they became part of the coliving household.  We then decided to suspend any new move ins until after the lifting of the confinement, to minimize the exposure.

Safety first

Our priority is ensuring our coliving communities stay safe. We have increased supplies of the essentials such as extra hand soap, disinfectants etc. In addition to following the official rules, our residents have elected to establish their own coliving house rules. Ideas include blocking the doors open of common areas to minimise contact points, and creating a disinfection rota to spray all frequently touched surfaces more frequently. We also have a protocol and medical supplies in case anyone falls ill, luckily we have not had to use them.

Wifi + Privacy = Community Happiness

Apart from the physical wellbeing of our residents we have also considered the general wellbeing of our coliving house members. With each of our residents having a private bathroom, one major source of cross contamination is eliminated. With 6-8 people in each house working from home, our investment in a corporate grade LAN ensures smooth wifi connections for all. The Netflix account is used for housewide movie and pizza nights. Our in-house copies of “Settlers of Catan” and “Cards against Humanity” are dusted off. You might expect international residents to quickly set off for “home” in such a situation. Almost all of our residents stayed in place, even the residents from Belgium, testifying to the strong community bonds in our coliving houses as well as the comfort. Our residents celebrated Easter together, with colivers sharing the traditions of their home countries. We celebrated a birthday with champagne and ice cream delivered via Deliveroo and have had countless bbq’s in our gardens.

 

Feedback from our coliving houses

We checked in with our coliving communities on a weekly basis. Our new residents who quickly moved in on the day of the lockdown told us “it was actually a good occasion to get to know everybody, in normal times we wouldn’t all be at the house so much.” Our coliving homes have fewer residents per house then your typical house share with a lot of space for hanging out while still allowing for some privacy. Our extra tv rooms with their soft carpets and large flat screen TV’s have been converted to exercise rooms. The home offices, libraries and gaming tables are providing a good space to hang out without being stuck in the bedroom. “We are having a lot of fun while leaving each other enough space.”

Next Steps for coliving at Morton Place

This has been an intense period for all of us, but the bonds of our coliving residents have never been stronger. We are now establishing what our protocols will be for the next phase of coliving life with Covid-19 and are happy we have the trust of our residents to ensure their safety and well being. We will be aiming for a phased move in of new residents, increased housekeeping and discontinuing the use of our guest rooms until we have a better understanding of the post lock down period. Meanwhile, it appears confinement in Belgium is set to be lifted in May and we look forward to welcoming new members of our coliving community at Morton Place. If you are coming to Brussels and would like to explore coliving,  check out our availability here.

Moving to another country for business is a daunting process for anyone, and it is essential that you make the most of this. Working abroad is a wonderful way of expanding your business experience, as well as sampling another culture at the same time. The Parvis Saint Gilles neighborhood of Brussels is a great place to live during this time as it’s in the heart of the city, with a strong neighborhood identity.

With its numerous cafés, markets and restaurants it offers a lot of opportunities to socialize yet are still only a few stops on the metro to the business district and the European Quarter. It’s one of the most culturally diverse and interesting parts of Brussels, and there is so much you can experience when you move here.

The heart of the neighborhood is the Parvis, or church square which is a large pedestrianized square in front of the Saint Gilles church. There is a plethora of bars and cafés which cater to the urban population which typifies the neighborhood. There is also a weekly market on the square attracting people from all over Brussels for it’s organic produce.

Cultural opportunities

Saint Gilles is a bohemian artist’s enclave with a lot of studios tucked away in buildings which used to house the light manufacturing workshops of the past. Cultural highlights include

Galleries:

Galerie d’ivonne

Brussels Artwork

Cultural centersBrussels cultural centre

 

Food and drink

You should also be looking at where you can go to sample some of the best food and drink in Belgium, and there are plenty of options here. Sampling some of the best restaurants and eateries in the square is a major part of experiencing this wonderful place, and, your housemates are sure to help you establish a list of places to try.

If you want to combine great drinks, and a great experience for either lunch or dinner, then you should definitely check out Le Dillens.

You could also head to Cipiace, a delightful bar, and restaurant if you are looking for a quiet early evening drink or a long, talkative lunch with your friends. This is one of the best Italian eateries on the square, and this small, intimate gem, is one of the best places to eat in the Saint-Gilles.

The market also has plenty of excellent food stalls and places you can take a break, have a bite, and watch the world go by. The ideal location for some delightful food and drink options right now.

Coffee and Exploring

When you move to somewhere as exciting as the Parvis de Saint Gilles, you need to do your best to explore as much as possible. There are some great opportunities for doing this, and we have compiled a helpful guide to help you with this moving forward.

A great place to kick off your exploration is Brasserie de l’Union, named after the Saint Gilles football team “l’Union Saint Gilloise” this is an old school café at deliberately democratic prices. A small wander over to the rue Jean Volders and the rue Vanderschrick  leads you to a gorgeous collection of Art Nouveau architecture with such gems as the restaurant La Porteuse d’Eau.

People watching

One of the best ways of acclimating to your new home is to indulge in a spot of people watching, and this is so important for your move to Parvis. Now, the best way of doing some successful people watching is making sure you hole up in a delightful cafe somewhere, ordering a delicious hot drink, and watching the world go by. There are a lot of great places to do this in and around the Parvis area, and one of the main ones is to check out Brasserie Verschueren, a bohemian haunt is one of the best cafes in the city.

There are another couple of great places that you need to look out for, Cafe Maison du Peuple is one of the best contemporary hotspots in the area, complete with free Wi-Fi, and a great selection of beers as well.

Making the most of your trip to Parvis is so important because this is such a vibrant and multi-cultural area, popular with artists, musicians, and locals. You have to make sure you are focused on making the most of your move here, and that means experiencing all the delights that Saint-Gilles has to offer.

There is so much to keep in mind when you want to achieve this, and this is why doing a bit of research before you go is one of the best ways of plotting your move abroad. There is so much to experience in Parvis and the surrounding area, and you have to be sure you’re making the most of it.

 

Brussels Grand Place

Brussels is a city that offers so much to its residents. So, if you’ve decided to move to Brussels, then you’ve made a fantastic choice! Some of you might have visited this great city before, so you have a vague understanding of what lies ahead.

However, living in Brussels is different from going on a short city break there. As such, before you pack your bags and move, it’s a good idea to understand what to expect when you move to Brussels.

We’ve come up with some key things to be aware of, and they’re split into two categories; what to expect from the general life in the city, and what to expect on the admin and settling in side of things.

What to expect from general Brussels life

Thousands of people move to this amazing city every year – and it’s easy to see why. It offers a lot to get excited about, and here’s what you can expect during your stay:

A multilingual city

One of the standout features of life in Brussels is that you’re surrounded by people from all over the world. It’s a multicultural city, and this is best represented in the plethora of languages you hear. Language education is excellent in Belgium, so most locals speak English without any trouble. In fact, websites and public transport stations all tend to have things written in English for you as well. So, talking to people won’t be an issue! You will quickly learn that Belgium has three national languages, German, French, and Dutch. Dutch is spoken by the majority of the population but French tends to dominate in Brussels although officially it is a bilingual city. You will find all the street names are signposted in both French and Dutch. So don’t be surprised if your street name has two completely different spellings!

The people

Brussels welcomes around 40,000 newcomers every year. Loads of people come here because a lot of European institutions and companies have their bases in this city. So, there are plenty of jobs around – particularly in service areas like law, PR, etc. As a result, it’s a fairly busy city, but quite a youthful one too. Expect to see plenty of professionals as you walk around the city, many of whom have probably emigrated from other countries like you.

The weather

Weatherwise, you’re looking at a reasonable climate. The temperature is mild all year round, but you can get some beautiful sunny spells in the summer. The winter months aren’t unbearable either; snow can fall, but the temperatures rarely drop too far below freezing. One thing you can count on is rain – you’ll get a couple of showers in any season.

What to expect from the admin side of things

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:

Banking

Thankfully, a lot of big European banks operate in Brussels. Therefore, you won’t need to open a new account – which makes life a lot easier. The best thing to do is get in touch with your bank and ask them if they operate in this city, just to be 100% sure.

But, if your bank doesn’t operate here, then you’ll need to open an account with a local bank in Brussels. The good news is that the major banks here offer an expat service that’s ideal for your particular situation. ING is a popular choice amongst expats arriving in Brussels, and you can contact them here to learn more about their expat service.

If you’d like to open your account before you even set foot on Belgian soil, then KBC is widely regarded as the leading bank to do so. Again, they have an expat service that caters to your needs, and you can open your account online with a foreign or Belgian ID card.

Registration

Everyone who lives in Brussels longer than three weeks is technically required to register their residence at their local town hall.

Brussels has 19 communes or boroughs, each of which has their own town hall or “maison communale”. This is where you should like to check the process required by the town hall for registering as a resident in their Commune.

In general, this requires making an appointment where you will be required to show up bearing id and in some cases your lease. Once you have been registered you can expect a local police office to come to your home to check your name is on the doorbell and often to check whether you are indeed living in the house. This may feel intrusive but it’s not you – it’s just the way the system works. When landlords say you can register or “domicile” with your lease that means you can register living there. If they don’t want you to register there and you want to live there full time, you might have a problem.

If you’re moving from outside the EU or EEA, then you need a temporary residence permit. When you have one of these, you’ll be registered to the foreigner’s register after a home check.

Regardless of where you’ve come from, all foreigners coming to Brussels will need to register at their local town hall or “commune”. Typically, you have two weeks to do this after settling in. There are 19 communes in Brussels, figure out which one you live in, and make an appointment with the registration service.

Public transport

The public transport network in Brussels is a brilliant way to get around. It offers swift and reliable options – including trams, buses, and the metro. We recommend you order a MoBIB card online, as this is the easiest way to pay for public transport. You top it up with as much money as you need, and it can be used to pay for all four of the public transport operators in Belgium. To check your commute time the best is to rely on www.stib.be.

Our properties in Brussels are always very close to public transport stations, so we highly recommend using them to get from A to B in this busy city.

bike share

Bike share

If you fancy taking the more eco-friendly approach, then there are two providers of bike-sharing services in Brussels. Villo and Billy Bike let you ride public bikes around the city, and there are also Lime electric scooters if you want something a bit quicker.

Car share

For those of you that need to drive, you have two carsharing providers in the city; Cambio and DriveNow. Each one lets you book the car through an app, but they differ slightly. Cambio makes you pick the car up at a station and deliver it back when you’re done. With DriveNow, you can find cars parked within the DriveNow zone, use the app to unlock them, and park them in any other location within the same zone. 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.

Household shopping

You will find plenty of shops that sell all the essentials you need to settle in. There are mini supermarkets dotted around the city, and there’s a small version of Ikea called HEMA as well. This is the best place to go for household appliances and home decor – they even sell bedding. To make life easier, there’s one within walking distance of Morton Place for you to explore. It’s often the first stop for new residents to purchase extra touches for their room.

 

Hopefully, all of this information helps you understand what to expect when you move to Brussels.

It’s a diverse and exciting city with lots of professional opportunities waiting for you.

Make sure you sort out your bank account and registration as soon as you arrive, then it’s time for you to settle in!

 

Coliving Place

Coliving is becoming a more popular choice for adults looking for easy and sociable living arrangements. Nostalgic for their student days, but needing a more grown up approach, coliving offers the social advantages of communal living without some of its drawbacks. If you’re thinking about the best way to find somewhere to live that offers you all that you need from a private and a social point of view, coliving might be right for you.

What is Coliving?

Coliving is a growing housing trend focused on shared living. Depending on the residence, shared spaces can range from cinema rooms, gyms or offices or as intimate as shared bathrooms and dorm style bedrooms. The range is broad so it’s important to figure out which coliving version is best for you. But it’s not just a type of living arrangement; it’s also a lifestyle with residents choosing coliving for its social aspects. Most residents could just as easily afford independent accommodation, but they choose coliving for it’s social and service aspects. Coliving can offer you a range of benefits, from fun spaces for spending time with others to community events, to housekeeping and maintenance services.

New to town?

Most of the residents at Morton Place are new to Brussels; without friends or a social network, life can be quite lonely outside of work. Coliving means you come home to a friendly face in the common areas, most often someone who just a few months before was new to town, just like you.

Everything provided for

One of the benefits of Coliving is that everything is in place for you when you move in. Everything that you could need is there, including furniture, a fully stocked kitchen and the all important Wifi. There’s no need to furnish anything, although you can personalise your space. All of your amenities and utilities will be included too, so you don’t have to spend time sorting out your electricity provider or getting your WiFi hooked up. It’s all ready for you to move in when you’re ready so that you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Help with maintenance and cleaning

In coliving arrangements like those found in Morton Place houses, you don’t even need to worry about maintaining your living space. Regular cleaning services help to keep common areas clean, so the most important thing you have to take care of is your own room and en-suite shower. Even light maintenance is taken care of, because lots of things can be expected to happen, from bust light bulbs to small amounts of wear and tear. You get a beautifully designed living space, and it will stay looking smart for however long you decide you want to stay. Things will get fixed during the day while residents are at work. Houses have guest rooms so residents can benefit from having friends and family come and stay.

Best neighborhoods

Morton Place homes are in the more desirable areas of Brussels. Residents staying at Morton Place Chatelain can enjoy the Wednesday night food trucks on the Place du Chatelain, summer evenings on the rooftop of the Jam Hotelor  brunch with our neighbours, Hinterland. At our Louise and Parvis houses, residents enjoy drinks on the terrace at Brasserie Verschueren, Italian food at CiPiaCeor brunch at Le Café Dillens, as well as late-night DJs at Café Maison du Peuple. The small, boutique restaurants and shops are the key to making neighborhoods feel like home, and we have chosen some of the best Brussels has to offer.

Outside sitting area of a café in the Parvis Saint Gilles Neighborhood in Brussels

Be part of a community

As well as providing spaces for socialising, Coliving can help you to become part of a community. Coliving spaces can provide events, social groups, activities and other ways to get involved with a community both within your building and out in the wider community too. Some coliving spaces have community programs on offer, while others can even provide benefits such as childcare. At Morton Place, we recognise that your home is also a refuge, not another office, so we don’t organise events in the house unless it’s a welcome drink. We let our residents organise their lives spontaneously and find the events they organise themselves are the most successful. With the growth of the coliving world, we expect it to increasingly cater to different demographics both in terms of family sizes and ages.

Coliving can be an excellent option for people looking for sociable living with lots of perks. If you want to be part of a community and live somewhere that’s full of life, coliving could work for you. Morton Place offers three beautiful houses in Brussels that provide a welcoming community and well-appointed spaces for both long and short-term rentals.

Residential View

Sure, hotels are great. But a resident’s perspective is the best place from which to view any city as its inhabitants do. It places you right where the action is, and affords you instant access to amenities and transport links.

If you’re lucky, you might even get a stunning view of the city.

Those who have had the good fortune to stay in a shared property in Brussels know that there’s no better way to engage with the sights, sounds, smells, taste and feel of Belgium’s capital.

For those considering moving to Brussels on a long-term or full-time basis or relocating to work, there’s a great deal to get excited about. Living as a Brussels resident puts a wealth of sights and activities on your doorstep. Let’s take a look at just some of the things that await you outside of your front door that make this a city unlike any other…

 

Dive into a cultural melting pot

Belgium has multiculturalism baked into its crust. No matter where you’re visiting from, you’re sure to find something or someone familiar even as you explore cultural influences from around the world. Take yourself down to the bustling Chatelain quarter; a lively hub to which many expats are drawn to get a snapshot of the multicultural feel.

Brussels has been a multicultural hub throughout its history. It is situated as a cultural and geographical meeting point between Latin and Germanic peoples including the Spanish, Polish, German, British, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, Turkish and, of course, French. Yet, despite its multicultural nature it has always maintained its own unique sense of identity.

Belgium’s cultural eclecticism can be seen everywhere from its politics to its architecture, its wealth of diverse spoken languages… and of course the food (more on that shortly).

Ever wanted to visit Paris but been put off by the hefty price tag? Take yourself down to the Brugmann Quarter, often referred to as “Little Paris”. Here you’ll find a slightly more idyllic echo of Paris that offers the sense of romance that many find lacking in the “real” French capital.

Get lost in a world of sensational architecture

Brussels’ famous Art Nouveau architecture makes it one of the most picturesque cities in Europe and a mecca for those who appreciate the design wonders of the man-made world. From the infamous Guild houses lining the magnificent UNESCO-listed Grand Place, to the more ostentatious Palais Royale and the Palace of Justice or the more idiosyncratic gems like the Maison Saint Cyr.

The Victor Horta Museum near Louise is an intact home designed by the architect himself, considered the master of early 20th century Belgian architecture. Lovers of fine architecture will find Brussels a treat for the eyes.

 

Explore a wealth of culinary delights

One cannot get the true measure of a city without sampling its tastes as well as its sights. As you might expect, no matter where your culinary tastes lie, there’s something for you in Brussels. The city is home to some 3,000 restaurants. Five of which have not just one but two Michelin stars.

For a truly authentic Belgian eating and dining experience check out Monk; a bustling bierkeller where people from around the world cram in together to enjoy world class beers and the establishments only dish, spaghetti. Or, for a more illustrious dining experience visit the stunning Comme Chez Soi on the Place Rouppe.

While much of the fare in Brussels has a decidedly French influence delighting in seafood and dairy, vegans can still have a great time in Brussels. Check out Humus and Hortense in the Flagey neighborhood, which has recently won the award for Best Vegan Restaurant in the World.

However, for perhaps the most intimate and unique dining experience in Brussels, be sure to visit the charming L’Epicerie- a one woman restaurant in the Chatelain  neighborhood that feels like a freshly prepared dinner at your best friend’s house (if only your best friend could cook that well).

Finally, no conversation about Belgian food is complete without chocolate. The really good stuff can be found at Mary, which celebrate its 100 years this year, or for more powerful contemporary flavors try Wittamer on the place du Grand Sablon.

Enjoy art… Everywhere!

Ever felt like there was a certain sense of snobbery that pervaded the art scenes in London, Paris, New York and the like? There’s nothing snobby about the art scene in Brussels. Great art is everywhere. It’s even on the walls or the city street! Check out the stunning comic strip murals on the walls of the Comic Book Museum on Rue des Sables. Keep your eyes peeled for the work of BONOM (Brussels’ provocative street artist sometimes referred to as the “Belgian Banksy”.

Needless to say, for those who favour a more traditional cultural experience there are plenty of stunning galleries to rival anything you’d see in Paris or Amsterdam. Check out Bozar for a neat microcosm of the Brussels art scene where you’ll see an eclectic mix of pieces all wrapped up in a stunning Victor Horta designed exterior.

Or if your tastes veer more towards the contemporary, be sure to visit MIMA; a gallery that redefines galleries and pays homage to all kinds of alternative and popular cultures from tattoos to comic books.

Shop like a local

While the area surrounding Grand Place has no shortage of fine shopping, locals know that the best spots lie a little off the beaten track. Get your high end fashion fix at Stephanie Quare in Louise where you’ll find notable brands from Mango to Jimmy Choo. Thrift shoppers, on the other hand, won’t want to miss the sprawling Jeu de Balle flea market in the Marolles where you can find all kinds of unique one of a kind items whether you’re looking for antique books, a new jacket or a chez lounge. Or perhaps you’d rather walk around the stalls that occupy the pretty cobbled streets of the Parvis de Saint-Gilles for the Saint Gillois market.

If it’s fresh produce you’re after you need look no further than the Market of Châtelain where you can find all sorts of fresh organic produce, or have your fill of local wines and cheeses at the Chasseurs Ardennais Market.

Take a sun drenched walk in the park

Every major conurbation has its share of beautiful parks. No matter how much one loves urban chic it’s nice to be able to get away from it all and relax in nature’s bounty. Brussels has no shortage of stunning green spaces in which one can escape the hustle and bustle. Weekends sees the traffic stopped and the roads given way to cyclists, runners and skateboarders over at the Bois de la Cambre, which also has several small restaurants for a break. For a lunch break in the city centre, try the Leopold Park near the Solvay Library- an oasis of natural calm in the heart of the city.

Those looking for ornate gardens should visit the Van Buuren Museum and Gardens while plant lovers will want to spend hours at the national botanical gardens Jardin Botanique Meise.

If you really want to get lost, find your way to the Foret de Soigne the old hunting grounds of Belgian royalty where you can walk for miles in the forest without seeing a single car.

Conclusion

This article represents the briefest snapshot of what residents of Brussels enjoy within easy reach of their homes on a daily basis. There’s so much more to be discovered, but part of the fun is finding your own hidden gems for yourself. One thing’s for sure, you’ll be glad you came to settle in Brussels.

Colocation coliving

La colocation version 1.0

La colocation c’est souvent une étape obligée entre la vie de famille et la vie d’adulte indépendant. On en garde un bon souvenir d’une maison remplie de jeunes, enivrés d’indépendance et pleins d’espoir, de soirées passées entre amis à refaire le monde, sa chambre meublée de bric à brac avec le matelas posé au sol… Mais la colocation c’est aussi la salle de bain au fond du couloir avec sa douche qui n’inspire pas trop confiance ou l’évier de la cuisine qui déborde d’assiettes sales.

Coliving: c’est la colocation version adulte

Quelques années plus tard avec sa vie professionnelle qui démarre, l’époque de la colocation est souvent dépassée mais l’envie de rentrer le soir et de retrouver des visages familiers est toujours d’actualité. C’est de ce désir qu’est le né le coliving Morton Place : une envie de vivre en communauté sans en avoir les inconvénients de la « coloc » d’entant. Nos maisons sont rénovées pour la colocation avec douches privatives, cuisines avec plusieurs frigos et lave vaisselles, les salons sont équipés de canapés qui invitent à y passer un peu de temps entre amis en fin de journée. Nos colocataires voyagent beaucoup ou viennent eux même de l’étranger et le concept « all inclusive » ou toutes les charges, maintenance et le nettoyage sont compris aide tout le monde à se focaliser sur l’aspect convivial sans devoir se soucier des petits détails qui peuvent vite empoisonner la vie communautaire.

Morton Place Coliving

A Morton Place notre objectif est la colocation sans compromis, donc salles de bain privées, home office pour ceux qui veulent travailler à partir de la maison sans être coincés dans leur chambre, et la chambre d’amis pour les visiteurs. Et, Belgique oblige, la déco est soignée et naturelle laissant place pour les éléments personnels qui donnent la vie a une maison.  Resultat, nos residents vivent en moyenne deux ans ou plus dans nos maisons et la fourchette d’age s’elargie. Il y a une place pour tout le monde dans la colocation version Morton Place.

 

Music Festival Belgium

European summers are famous for their music festivals. From the classical in Salzburg and Bayreuth to the techno in Sziget there is a festival  for everyone. Belgium punches above its weight in this regard with several festivals including the world famous Tomorrowland.  The season kicks off in Brussels and spreads out through Flanders and Wallonia some within day trip distance from Morton Place, others a bit further away.

Couleur Café  Brussels 29 June through 2 July

Beautifully located under the Atomium, Couleur Café is originally an African music festival begun 29 years ago and has morphed into a World Music festival. It’s Brussels’ biggest music event attracting over 70’000 festival goers. The artist selection is true to its roots with a line-up that includes Malian star Sidiki Diabate but broadens to include Leon Bridges and Gregory Porter, a Dub step stage and dance workshops for Afro Caribbean dances from salsa to afro house. The world food stands are infamous and worth visiting for the flavors alone. This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the multicultural qualities of Brussels, and still make it home in time to sleep in your own bed at night.

https://www.couleurcafe.be/en/

Rock Werchter Leuven, 5 July through 8 July

“Werchter” takes place on the outskirts of Leuven, the pretty student town. One of Belgium’s oldest festivals all the old rock bands have played there from The Ramones and Lou Reed to Oasis. The festival has mushroomed and is a well organized affair while remaining casual. A short ride from Brussels on the train you can grab a day ticket and catch The Chainsmokers, Alt-J or Radiohead and still be home in time to catch up with your housemates!

 

https://www.rockwerchter.be/en/tickets

Tomorrowland, Boom 20-22 July and 27-29 July

A bucket list destination with tickets that sell in the blink of an eye, Tomorrowland is arguably the world’s most famous techno festival. Entire planes are chartered for ticket holders with DJ’s on deck as from take off. Located beside the  small town of Boom the festival area is transformed into an Alice in Wonderland type setting with sumptuous decors and a music village called “Dreamville” which includes Michelin star restaurants and a hair salon for perfecting your festival look. We are a long way from Woodstock here. As beautiful as Morton Place is a night at  Dreamville is worth staying away for.

 

https://www.tomorrowland.com/en/festival/welcome