Belgium is the 5th smallest country in Europe but it’s said to have the biggest heart. Belgium is a popular location for ex-pats due to the friendly and diverse culture. Most areas in Belgium have a large multicultural population, so much so that around 13% (1.4 million) of the country’s residents are internationally-born.
Belgium is well-connected with its European neighbours offering modern and safe transport links. Belgium is famous for its beer, waffles, TinTin comics, and excellent chocolate, as well as being the headquarters for the EU commission, NATO, and the European parliament. The country has a stable economy, plenty of job opportunities, and offers a good quality of life.
So, is Belgium a good place to live? Belgium has consistently been rated one of the best places to live in the world. Belgium offers a high standard of living, excellent job prospects, and career advancement opportunities, alongside excellent public services and amenities.
There’s plenty to consider before making the big move, from employment and schooling to factoring in the day-to-day cost of living. Then, there are also the cultural and language differences to consider.
If you’re still weighing up the options and trying to decide if Belgium is a good place to live, this article will take you through what to expect, along with some side-by-side cost comparisons between everyday expenses in the UK and Belgium and you are in for a surprise.
Is Belgium a good place to live?
Belgium is considered an excellent place to live and offers a good quality of living alongside excellent job prospects and a good work/life balance. Public services and amenities are excellent in Belgium and there are plenty of entertainment options within the larger cities.
Belgium is a multicultural society and is considered to be friendly and welcoming to all, with many speaking fluent English, French, and German. The cities are safe and offer excellent dining and entertainment options, with many bars and discos remaining open into the early hours of the morning on weekends.
Of course, Belgium is a small country but this also allows for easy travel throughout the country on the excellent train services available. People wondering “is Belgium a good place to live?” should simply look at the opportunities for travel.
Belgium is extremely well connected to Europe and the world. Brussels International Airport is easily accessible by train to any part of the country and offers direct flights to the UK, with most flights taking less than an hour or two. Trains connect Belgium with its European neighbours offering travellers easy access to Paris (1h 30min), Amsterdam (2h), and Dusseldorf (3h).
Is it expensive to live in Belgium (vs UK)
Belgium is comparable to most parts of the UK for the cost of living, with some everyday expenses being cheaper in Belgium. Food is on par in most cases, as is eating out or enjoying a beer or coffee in any city in Belgium.
The average cost of living in the UK (food, transport, bills) is around £900 per month excluding rent and/or accommodation costs. In Belgium, the average cost of living is around €800 per month excluding rent.
The cost of rent is considerably cheaper in Belgium and is around half the cost of a comparable apartment in the city centre. You’d expect to pay around £1600 for a decent city centre apartment in London (less in other cities), and by comparison, around €730 within the Brussels city centre.
If you’re prepared to use Belgium’s excellent transport networks, then you can save even more by renting an apartment or home out of town. Apartment sizes are comparable to the UK, and houses are generally a little larger with more garden space, especially if you’re just outside of a major city.
Here’s a chart comparing some everyday cost of living between Belgium and the UK:
|Item||UK (£)||Belgium (€)|
|Bottle of water||£1||€0.83|
|Cup of coffee||£1 – 3||€1 – 2.50|
|Bottle of milk||£ 0.89||€0.91|
|Average cost of food (per day)||£15 – 20||€15 – 25|
|Restaurant meal||£15 – 25||€10 – 25|
|Monthly Utility bills||£60 – 90||€100 -150|
|Monthly Tube/Metro pass||£204.30 (London, zones 1-4)||€49.00|
|1 Hour Train journey||£30 – 60 (LDN to BIR)||€15 – 25 (Brussels- Bruges)|
|Rent 1 Bedroom Apartment||£1600 (London zone 1)||€730 (Brussels city centre)|
Belgian living expenses are comparable in many aspects to living in any of the larger cities in the UK, however, there are a few living expenses in Belgium that are considerably cheaper. Travel via public transport is around ¼ cheaper in Belgium and far more convenient for accessing neighbouring European countries, with a one-hour train ride getting you to The Netherlands, Germany, or France.
Is Belgium a good place to work?
Belgium has plenty of job opportunities for a wide range of skilled and high skilled workers. Over three-quarters of Belgians work in services, including legal, financial, civil service work, media, and tourism. Belgium also has a strong manufacturing sector, with petrochemical engineering being the most dominant in the industry.
Belgium has consistently been rated as one of the best places to work in the world. According to the Global Workforce Happiness Index for 2021, Belgium is the best place to work in the world. The survey was calculated by a number of factors but was heavily weighted on the happiness of employees while at work and their loyalty to the company.
Belgian employees are healthier and happier
It has also been proven that Belgium employees are considerably more healthy compared to most UK-based employees. This is due to happiness and the fact that they are burdened with far less stress.
Alongside employee happiness, Most Belgian companies consider talent as a strategic asset and value employee loyalty. Belgian companies go to great lengths to ensure the needs of the employee are met, providing facilities catering to the needs of employees.
Career development opportunities
Belgian companies offer excellent opportunities for those that are career-focused and want to advance. Many companies offer in-house training as they prefer to spend time and effort training existing staff for a future role before considering an external applicant. Working for Belgian companies is considered a stable work environment with job security being rated highly by most Belgian employees.
The average salary in Belgium is €2,100 per month, or €25,200 annually, although many in executive roles within the larger Belgian cities will earn considerably more. Due to the headquarters of NATO, the EU commission, and the European parliament, there are numerous civil service jobs available in the capital of Brussels.
Is Belgium safe to live in?
Belgium is considered a safe country to live in and there is little risk of crime. Crime rates in Belgium are considered to below, with a majority of crimes focused on theft, pickpocketing, and property-related issues. The crimes that are committed are usually focused within the larger cities with Brussels having the highest crime rate (and highest urban population for all Belgian cities).
Most residents will say that Belgium is a great place to live. Belgian’s enjoy liberal rights in all sectors of society and offer extensive personal freedoms, women’s rights, and freedom of sexuality. Belgium is an immersed multicultural country and functions with respect and courtesy to all members of society. This makes Belgium one of the safest and happiest countries to live in Europe, and moreover the world.
Is moving to Belgium from the UK easy?
If you’re still wondering is Belgium a good place to live, then it’s also worth considering the moving experience. There are affordable and convenient removalist options available. Removal companies like Lopa Removals offer full-home removal services to Belgium with delivery around 3-7 days from collection. We take care of all the customs clearance and hard stuff so you just need to get yourself over there.
For those making the move and thinking of visiting friends and family in the UK, Belgium is one of the easiest countries to reach from the UK. There are excellent roads and transport services available allowing you to get to Belgium by car, train, bus, ferry (or Channel Tunnel), or via a flight from any of the UK’s major airports.
The drive from the Calais side of the Channel Tunnel to Brussels takes just over 2.5 hours. Flying is by far the quickest way to get from most places in the UK to Belgium, with many daily flights from any major airport to Brussels. Flying from London to Brussels takes under an hour, from Manchester is 1 hour and 20 minutes, and Edinburgh is 1 hour and 40 minutes.
No matter where you decide to live in Belgium, your family in the UK is never hard to reach.