Moving to Belgium is not complicated for Irish citizens. If you are planning to stay longer than three months, you need to register and apply for a residency card. Belgian law requires you to carry either your passport or residency card with you at all times, but you are entitled to live and work there. If you decide to move there, what can you expect? How will your daily life change? What about culture shock in Belgium? What language do you need to speak? You know there’s great beer, chips, and chocolate, but as tempting as it is to consider, no, you cannot live on beer and chocolate. What other foods are common in Belgium?
It’s important to know there are two main regions in Belgium, and they speak different languages. In the Wallonia region in the south, people speak French. Flanders is to the north, and people there speak Flemish, a dialect of Dutch. Yes, English is spoken widely but it is not an official language. Basically, while it is easy to find someone to help you with directions or explain how things work in English, don’t expect official documents or communications in English. Tourists don’t need to speak French or Dutch, but residents do.
Daily Life & Culture Shock in Belgium
Belgium is a small, densely populated country. The population is diverse with nearly 10 percent of residents being immigrants, so you can explore many other cultures there. Public life in Belgium is generally secular. No religion has enormous influence in public policy. You should expect to spend a lot of time in traffic. The public transport infrastructure is fairly good, but strikes are common. These facts combined with the country’s flat landscape make it easy to understand why so many Belgians take to their bikes to get from A to B regularly. Also, biking everywhere offsets the chocolates and beer. Yes, it rains a lot, but if you are used to that and have proper gear, biking still has a lot of appeal.
The standard of living in Belgium is excellent. The health care system is top notch, and the population is well educated. Childcare is accessible and affordable. You can find furnished apartments, but be aware that an unfurnished unit probably won’t have basic appliances such as a cooker or refrigerator. Life in Belgium appears to be getting better all the time. The unemployment rate is down. And the country has moved from 18th to 16th place in the latest World Happiness Report from Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
If you are considering a move to Belgium short term such as a gap year job or a year of study, it makes sense to look for shared housing or a furnished apartment. However, if you are planning to be there longer, shipping your belongings to Belgium means you don’t have to replace everything. You might want to ship a few special items, or you might have a whole house of furniture to relocate. Either way, Spratt Personal Shipping can get it there safely when you need it.