JPOC's guide to living and working in Belgium
Belgium is a country of surprises. Many of them are just plain weird and a few are quite frankly rather unpleasant. It does have a lot of opportunities for IT contractors and there is a very active ex-pat community in Brussels. In general, the zone from Brussels up to Antwerp is the place where you are most likely to find work as it is full of national and international technology companies.

I spent a year and a half there and, while I am not likely to go back and work there again, I do enjoy return visits whenever I can get there. What you will find on these pages over the coming weeks and months will be my personal observations on the practical and not so practical aspects of ex-pat life in Belgium.

Notes about Belgium
Languages A major cause of friction in Belgium
Practical Matters
Registering Registering with the authorities in Belgium
International Belgium
Belgium hosts two major multinational intergovernmental bodies. The European commission and NATO are both based in the country. The commission is almost a state within a city in Brussels and NATO occupies a large site on the north side of the capital as well as having its main operational centre in the south of the country.

This international presence attracts large numbers of companies and other organisations which have chosen to make Belgium the centre of their European operations. All of this fills Brussels with many opportunities for ex-pats to find work and to enjoy life.

Two Names for Everything
Everything in Belgium has two names. One French and one Flemish. Most places which are well known in the UK are referred to by English speakers with the French name even if the place itself is Flemish speaking as in the case of Bruges or Brugge in Flemish. That can get you into trouble with the locals if you refer to their town by its "foreign" name.

Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium's two largest cities are an exception in the Anglophile name differs from both local forms of the name. Bruxelles and Anvers being the French form and Brussel and Antwerpen being the Flemish variant.

In Brussels, many streets and features such as Metro stops have two names which can be very confusing if you are taking directions or trying to find something on the map.

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