Brussels is the capital of Belgium and is situated in the northern region of the country. It is also the de facto capital of the European Union and houses numerous international organisations. The city is located 97 km away from the North Sea and is bordered by Wallonia and the Flemish regions.
In terms of weather, Brussels has an oceanic climate and receives frequent rainfall. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures averaging around 22ºC. These months are also the wettest. Skies are mostly overcast but mid-spring (April-May) is generally sunny and dry.
Living in Brussels
Brussels consists of 19 municipalities or communes each with its own postal code. Generally, the city can be divided into two parts i.e. Upper Town and Lower Town. Upper Town holds the seats of government and is also a residential area while Lower Town is the commercial, historical and business hub of the city.
Choosing where to live depends on your preferences and way of life. The city centre is popular with young professionals and has an array of cafes, antique shops, restaurants, art galleries and retail outlets. The commune of Ixelles is home to a large number of expatriates with residences ranging from townhouses to trendy apartments.
Etterbeek offers affordable housing options while Schaerbeek boasts a multicultural population consisting of 140 different nationalities. Tervuren is ideal for raising a family and has excellent transport links to the city centre. Uccle has several international schools and is a beautiful green-leafy area because of its proximity to the Forest of Soignes.
The public transport in Brussels consists of the metro, bus and tram service. The metro operates on 4 conventional and 3 underground lines and connects with various bus, tram and railway stations throughout the city. Buses run from the centre to the outer areas of the city and also link to the rail service.
Brussels sports the largest tram network in Europe with tracks covering a length of 139 km. A MOBIB chip-card can be used to pay fare on public transport. A single trip costs €1.60 and multiple-trip or multiple-day cards can also be purchased. Paper cards or tickets called JUMP are also available and cost €2.10 if purchased outside the vehicle and €2.50 if bought inside the vehicle.
The city is served by three airports namely the Brussels-National Airport, the Brussels South Charleroi Airport and the Melsbroek Air Base. The first two airports are the main airports operating in Belgium.
Brussels offers a wide variety of leisure and entertainment activities. It is the greenest city in Europe and has a multitude of parks and gardens. This includes the Botanical Gardens, Leopold Park, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Egmont Park and Square of the Small Sablon.
The Grand Place, the Notre Dame Du Sablon, the Palais Royal, Manneken Pis and the Old England Building are well-known landmarks and receive numerous visitors every day. The city is also famous for its collection of unique museums such as the Comic Strip Museum, the Toy Museum, the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and the Museum of Belgian Brewers.
Working in Brussels
1. Jobs Prospects
The European Parliament employs a large number of expats in the city. Landing a job here involves going through several examinations and the procedure can take up to a year. Jobs are also available for professionals in sectors such as real estate, finance, education, accounting, administration, health services and engineering.
Many jobs require good command in French or Dutch and sometimes both. Knowing English can be a plus point or a mandatory requirement depending on the nature of the job.
2. Starting a Business
In addition to great job opportunities, Brussels is also an ideal city for starting a business. You can structure your venture as a private limited company, a public limited company, a cooperative company or through various types of partnerships.
The next step involves registering your business and getting a company number. You might have to provide proof of your education or skills and then register with a social security fund. You will also need to open a business bank account.
Information regarding taxes and registration is freely available and is even provided by the Belgian Government. It is also advisable to get in touch with a good notary and accountant so that they can take care of all the essential paperwork early on.
3. Finding Office Space
The most renowned areas for offices in Brussels includes the European Quarter and Avenue Louise.
The institutions of the European Union and offices of numerous multinational corporations can be found in the European Quarter. The area is well served by all means of public transport and has various amenities including restaurants, museums, retail outlets and art galleries. Avenue Louise is 20 minutes away from the airport and houses embassies, international companies and luxury retail brands.
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