Possibilities – Considering Moving to Brussels, Belgium

By - October 29, 2007 (Updated: November 28, 2014)

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the autumn expat migration. Since then, Andrew and I have been contemplating a migration of our own.

It was about this time, three years ago, that Andrew and I decided to make our dream of living in Europe a reality. We were scrambling to get paperwork done, sell our house and our possessions and find a temporary place to live in Amsterdam before our final move to Belgium.

Our time in Amsterdam was fraught with red tape and complications. There were several times we thought we’d give up, but in the end things started to come together. During all the confusion however, we’d left ourselves very little time to find a permanent home in Belgium.

We had no idea what area we wanted to live in. We had no sense of what the different communities were like. In fact we had only visited Brussels for one long weekend, a year before we moved there. We decided to hire a relocation expert to help us out.

At the time, we knew what we wanted: a detached house with a big enough yard for our Saint Bernard and room enough inside for Andrew, myself and our four cats.

We had one weekend to house hunt. Our relocation expert showed us six houses. None of them exactly fit the bill. As a last resort she showed us a row house in a small village. It was the best of what we had seen and we decided to take it.

Fast forward two and a half years and here we are, still in Everberg. While we still like our house and the area we live, I know now that I would not have chosen it if I had been able to spend some time in Belgium before settling permanently. Also, after living in Europe for a while now, we’ve discovered that our needs and desires in a place to live have changed.

Since our arrival, our Saint Bernard has passed away, negating the need for our large garden. We’ve also come to the conclusion that we both hate yard work. Although I love to grow things in pots on my balcony, my actual flower garden is seriously neglected.

We’ve also found that our Canadian concept of space has changed after living in Belgium. For just two people, the extra space in our house now seems wasted even though our larger, Canadian home seemed crowed and small, at the time.

But our biggest reason to consider moving is convince. Because I don’t drive in Belgium, my freedom to come and go has been limited by the nearly non-existent public transportation by our house. Andrew would also like the flexibility to not have to drive everywhere, all the time.

So, as a solution, we’re considering moving into the Brussels city limits. Currently, neither of us has a desire to live in the city centre. We’re thinking that an apartment with a large balcony, in one of the out-lying communes, that has a metro station would be our current ideal.

This time however, we are taking it very slowly. We’re investigating the neighbourhoods that we are interested in – taking the time to visit them at different times of the day. We are also checking out the services and public transportation in these areas. Most of all, we are making a list of our needs and wants in a future home, with the intention of sticking to it as much as possible.

I find it funny that this list is so drastically different from the list we made when we arrived in Belgium. Neither of us would have entertained the idea of living in Brussels at that time, and after the purchase of our first Canadian house, we swore we were done with apartment living.

I see now though that it is impossible to predict how your circumstances, tastes and needs change over time. Maybe this move won’t happen, or maybe the place we end up will be totally different then what I picture now. For the time being I’m just keeping my eyes open and waiting for the right property to say ‘Welcome home.’

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 10 hours ago


  1. Comment by Drew

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Drew November 2, 2007 at 10:15

    And just to be clear… if we move into the city, we’re moving to the top floor!

  2. Comment by pugwashpops

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    pugwashpops November 4, 2007 at 16:28

    Interesting … I think you’re kind of in a win/win situation and can enjoy taking your time … do the adventures ever end? To drew – top floor only if there is an elevator, the elevator shaft is not next to the unit, the unit is not immediately above/below/next to the heating/air handling unit, there is not a headlightdirectlyintheeyes type all night sign directly opposite your windows, the proximity of snarled traffic is nil, the fire dept can make the reach to your balcony/windows, the geo-orientation will allow the kids to bask in the sun, parking is indoors and within easy reach of the elevator, the walls have a high snoreproof insulation factor to protect you during my next visit … I could go on but this list is challenging enough! Won’t you miss the donkey?Have fun!

  3. Comment by cheeseweb

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    cheeseweb January 15, 2008 at 13:41

    Life, The Universe and Everything Else.

    My friend Sue always says that the universe gives you what you need (not necessarily what you want) when you need it. I’ve always believed this, even though I never articulated it as well as she does. A wise woman is Sue. Today I got what I needed. I’…

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