Welcome to the post that hopefully will answer all your questions about moving to Brussels. I want to share what I learned after moving to Brussels and the quick things you need to do first. After receiving a job offer, I relocated from Crete Island to Brussels in February 2023. Having moved around for the past ten years across Europe for work and study, starting over is something I’ve mastered with time. If you are moving soon to Brussels or you have already moved, maybe this post will bring some answers to your questions.
As you might know, Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the center of the European Union, as it hosts the European Parliament. Besides this parliament, there are two other parliaments in Luxembourg and Strasbourg, France. However, the main decisions are taken in Brussels and Strasbourg. As a result, Brussels is a dynamic and multicultural city with many worldwide internationals. You should know that Belgium has three communities—French, Dutch/Flemish, and German. Because of these communities, the country comprises three regions: the Flemish/Flanders Region, the Brussels Capital Region, and the Walloon Region. So, depending on your region and work-related requirements, you might need to start learning the local language. In Brussels and the whole country, everyone is bilingual, if not trilingual, and many speak up to 4 languages. Belgium has three official languages. The northern part of Belgium is predominately Dutch-speaking, and the southern part is French-speaking. At the same time, the German community is located by the German border. Nevertheless, all these regions are intertwined due to economic and cultural aspects. Each region is managed independently, so rules and regulations might differ.
Find here official information and services. Throughout the post, I will refer to Brussels since I have experience living here.
Before arriving in Brussels
One of the things that you will start doing as soon as you know you are moving to a new city or country is to start looking for a place to live. When looking for a place, beware of scammers. Never send money in advance without having seen the apartment. The best thing to do is book a month in a hostel, hotel, or a room with a local. And once you are in Brussels, start making appointments to visit apartments. That’s how I did it. I posted on a Facebook group, and within the day, I arranged to have a room for a month. You can find places to rent on
Immoweb. Ixelle, Louise, and Saint-Gilles are central neighborhoods and part of the 19 communes of Brussels. With time, you will know which neighborhood you like the most. Unfortunately, the prices don’t differ much in Brussels. An apartment with two rooms is around 1200 EUR, from which electricity, water, and internet are not included. Also, the tenant has to pay the property taxes and make house insurance in case of fire. The law protects the landlord more than the tenant. If you have a car, you must also pay for the parking spot and change the number plate to a Belgian one within three months if it’s a foreign plate.
Get a Belgian phone number
As soon as you land in Brussels, get a phone number. You will be asked later to have a local phone number at the bank, at work, and different contracts you might sign. I initially got a Lyca mobile number, but the data options for mobile internet are not great, and the internet connection is weak. After switching to Proximus, I kept the same phone number, which is pretty great. The unlimited internet from Proximus works perfectly, costing around 55 EUR a month. It’s the most expensive, but you have perfect roaming when traveling in Europe and a constant internet connection. I use my phone as a hotspot to connect my laptop and other devices. Another company that you might want to check for mobile or home internet is
Mobile Vikings. Their packages are promising. I wanted to try them, and when I was about to charge the SIM card they sent me, I found out I needed a Belgian bank account for the first payment. One more company that you might want to check is
net. They seem to have reasonable prices.
Get a Belgian Residence Card
This is an important document you need in Belgium. You might need a Belgian residence card, depending on your internet provider. For Proximus, you need. Also, when you need to open a bank account, it may not apply to all banks, but most. For Argenta Bank, where I want to open an account, you need the residence card. To apply for the residence card, you must go to the commune where you live. This is
Foreigner's office in Ixelle, where I was living. Once you open the link, you can make an appointment to apply for the residence card. If you are an EU citizen like me, you must have a rental contract, work contract, passport, and passport-sized picture. The total tax is around 50 EUR. After the first appointment, the police will visit your address to ensure you live there. Once that happens, you must return to the commune without an appointment to complete the final procedure (have the picture with you). You will have the residence card sent by post within three working days.
Every time you change commune, you have to inform your new commune that you are now living there. For example, I moved from Ixelle to Anderlecht. The procedure is to email email@example.com with the Belgian residence card, mentioning the previous address and the new address, the names of the other people that live with you, make a payment of 11 Euros, and send proof of payment. You can also check more details on the official site of
If you are not a citizen of the European Union but want to get a residence card, there are several ways to get one. You can apply for family reunification with a European citizen, study in Belgium, get a job, or prove that you have sufficient means of living.
Open a Belgian bank account
When you rent a house in Belgium, you need a Belgian bank account to pay the deposit or the “garantie locative,” as they call it in French, which is usually two months of rent. Of course, you can also pay this money directly to the landlord, but you will have no guarantee of getting the money back. With this bank deposit, neither you nor the landlord can touch the money without the agreement of the other. You need a Belgian residence card to open an account, so getting that one first is better. I usually search for small banks to open an account without monthly charges, and one of these banks is Argenta.
Learn French, Dutch, or German
Speaking the local language is always an advantage. You can integrate more easily, have more job opportunities, and feel more comfortable doing administrative chores. You can start French classes in an institute or with private freelance teachers.
One thing is certain: you need an appointment for almost everything in Brussels. There is no perfect country, and each European country has something to offer. If you have questions, write them in the comments below. Enjoy Brussels, and try to make it fun! It can get depressing. Have friends, live with your partner, and life will be easier.