The first thing you will need to do is calculate the cost of living in Belgium. Ask around on our forums for people who have been through the same experience or are thinking about it and read our guide on buying property.
Don’t forget to take into account costs for visas and permits, language classes, occasional trips home to visit family or arrange things that you can’t do from Belgium. There are also extra costs for health coverage, property insurance, moving your furniture, etc. You can find more information on these topics in our guides on property and insurance.
You then need to review your current financial situation (or the one you will be in based on a job offer in Belgium) and see if you can maintain your current way of life in Belgium. Think about how much of your savings you are willing to spend on moving to Belgium. It might be necessary to reduce some of the luxuries you are used to at the moment. You also need to find a job, if you haven’t already, and calculate if it will provide the necessary funding for your new life. More information on how to find a job can be found in our guide on work.
If after this calculation you are still convinced that you want to move to Belgium, there are still many things you need to take care of to make your move to Belgium a success;
Find a place to live
The first thing you will need is a roof over your head. The best thing you can do is rent something in the beginning. Then, if you’re planning on staying for a longer period, you can start looking for something more permanent. You can find more information about this in our guide on buying property.
Open a bank account
Most banks in Belgium allow you to open a bank account from abroad. All you have to do is fill out a form online and send in a copy of your passport. Once you arrive in Belgium, you will already have your account available.
Close bank accounts
Closing bank accounts in your country of departure is not always necessary, especially if you think you may return there. However, if you have no use for a bank account anymore it is best to close it as this is one less thing to worry about and also one less way in which identity theft could take place. If you will still need to pay taxes or other bills in your home country, then you should leave it open.
There are many contracts that need to be cancelled, some of which might need some weeks’ or months’ notice. Make a list of all the contracts you have at the moment (electricity, water, telephone, etc.) and write down how much notice you need to give. Then make sure you contact all of the providers in time so all contracts are terminated by the date that you are moving.
You can either have your mail forwarded to a friend or family member in your home country and they can then send you just the important mail. Or you can choose to forward everything immediately to Belgium, which could end up being quite expensive.
Visas & permits
Make sure you double check that you have all the required visas & permits for your move to Belgium, especially if you or one of your family members is not a EU citizen; then you will need to apply for a visa and work permit. Also find out if your degree is valid in Belgium; you can find more information on this in our guide on work.
If you are an employee that is sent to Belgium by your employer for a certain period, you can be eligible for the “special tax rate for foreign executives” (NL: bijzonder aanslagstelsel voor buitenlandse kaderleden FR: régime fiscal particulier des cadres étrangers). This is only applicable if the executive has been sent to Belgium or hired abroad and will work in Belgium for a limited period. This system was designed so foreigners can receive an amount of non-taxable money to pay for extra costs incurred when moving to Belgium. These costs need to be justified, so you need to keep all receipts and evidence for these additional costs.
Also, talk to your future employer about certain things such as accommodation, language tuition, financial advice or other living costs and benefits. They may be able to help, which will make the initial move to Belgium a little less expensive.