Brussels is the “Capital of Europe” and many people from all over the world, but especially from Europe, move here to work or study, so living and working in Brussels can be an interesting experience. Brussels is a multicultural city and due to its strategic location it is a good starting point to visit all European countries.
Brussels is literally the political and geographical center of Europe.
The city is well connected (just over an hour by TAV from Paris and Amsterdam and two hours from London). There are direct flights to many European cities.
With one million inhabitants, the city is neither too big nor too small. It has all the facilities and services of a large metropolis (culture, shopping, airport, etc.), yet it is easy to reach and manageable.
In short, Brussels offers the typical lifestyle of a medium-sized city with the advantages of a large city.
The architecture is interesting and many parts of the city are beautiful and green with many parks and gardens.
The city is generally not very clean. The authorities are constantly cleaning, but it is a futile struggle because many people (especially immigrants from less developed countries) have no civic sense and leave all kinds of garbage on the street. Armchairs, mattresses, dog excrement, etc.
Getting around by bike is not the best in Brussels due to the lack of bike lanes and heavy traffic.
Fortunately, public transportation is reliable and cheap (especially if you are under 25). Busses and subways are always on time and run frequently.
In general, it is a relatively safe city, although there is a problem with petty crime in some areas, such as around the train station.
There are many, many gray and rainy days in Brussels; weeks can go by without seeing the sun. If you are meteorologically inclined, you will have a hard time living here. Someone has said that God created Belgium in a time of deep depression. And there will be some truth to that, because Belgium has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. It is a fact that sunlight has a fundamental influence on people’s mood and psyche.
The cost of living is reasonable compared to many other European capitals, and salaries are reasonable compared to the cost of living.
Brussels, along with Berlin, has the cheapest rents among Western European capitals. It is possible to find a one-bedroom apartment for €600/800 per month, including utilities, but it always depends on the neighborhood.
Brussels is mainly a “working city”, many people just come to work and go home (to neighboring cities) at the end of the working day.
Do not expect a city full of nightlife, most stores and supermarkets close at 7/8pm. Weekday nightlife is not impressive, but there are cultural and historical events throughout the year.
One of the best things about Brussels is its multiculturalism. It is an open, relaxed city that is used to foreigners of all backgrounds and where everyone feels comfortable precisely because everyone else is foreign.
Socila integration with the locals is extremely difficult due to their cold and hostile nature, suffice it to say that the Flemings and the Walloons also warmly hate each other.
In general, although the job market is very competitive, Brussels offers good job opportunities.
However, you must not think that Belgium and Brussels are a paradise full of jobs and benefits for the unemployed. There are opportunities to find employment, but you will have to fight for it, and your success will depend on your qualifications, previous work experience, and knowledge of the local languages (French and Flemish).
To learn languages, there are many free courses for immigrants organized by the municipalities.
If you want to live and work in Brussels, your knowledge of English is sufficient in many areas, but if you want to work with customers (stores, restaurants, bars, etc.), you need to know French (not necessarily perfectly), but at least be able to communicate.
If you want to integrate into Belgian society and expand your professional opportunities, you will need to learn French or Flemish (both are better).
Brussels is a dirty and messy city with chaotic traffic at all times of the day. But it is also an open, multicultural city with a reasonable salary-to-cost-of-living ratio.
To those who want to try living and working in Brussels, I say try it! It’s certainly not the most beautiful city in Europe, but it’s not the worst either, and it can offer interesting work opportunities if you know how to take advantage of them.
If you want all the information on how to work in Belgium I suggest you read the article: the guide to working in Belgium
If you want all the information on how to move to Belgium you can read the article: Moving to Belgium