Our resident ‘Web Guy’ looks at the options for shopping for computer hardware in Belgium.
When moving to a new place, it’s often difficult to find services similar to what you are used to at home. For some, this might be restaurants, sports, clothing, shoes, books, or … just about anything. For me, it was all about computer hardware.
These days, computers are an almost indispensable part of expat life: they’re how we communicate with friends and family back home, keep up to date on news, and find out where the next flight will take us!
For Alison and I, a computer and high-speed internet is the center of our lives: it’s our phone, our entertainment (TV, music, YouTube, iPlayer, etc), and our work. In essence, computers are indispensable and keeping them running, secured, and backed up requires some know-how and access to new parts.
So to keep our home network humming I needed to find retailers in Belgium that sold computers and computer components. Straight away most people will probably think of Mediamarkt and Fnac, but I like choice and the ability to do price comparisons.
Sometimes it’s nice to be able to develop a relationship with a supplier, which is not something you’ll likely manage with the big chains. So I asked my friends in Belgium to share with me some of the shops (online and bricks-and-mortar) they use. I’ve shared this list below and for the stores I’ve used I’ve also provided my thoughts on what I like and don’t like.
- Computerstore.be – Good: wide choice, shipping is included, and they deliver the next day. Bad: only in flemish, prices are higher than elsewhere, but when you factor in the free shipping and service, it is generally worth it.
- Mediamarkt.be – Good: generally low prices, large selection. Bad: quantity over quality, not big on after-sales service.
- Fnac.be – Good: online shop, 10% discount if using their credit card, decent after-sales service. Bad: generally more expensive, limited selection of components.
- padeg.be – Good: multi-lingual online shopping, generally good prices, helpful staff at the stores.
- Krefel.be – Good: online shop, top brand names, helpful staff at the stores. Bad: focused on complete systems, limited selection of components.
- Vandenborre.be – Good: online shop, top brand names, good service. Bad: focused on complete systems, limited selection of components.
Some other computer shopping options in Belgium I’ve not yet personally explored:
One other option that I’ve been told about is Oxfam; some of their second hand stores will accept computers and resell them. Check out http://oxfamsol.be under the second hand section, where you will find info on the stores that sell computers. You can also check out their eBay store front which has a mixture of articles.
Finally keep in mind that with the exchange rate between the pound and the euro, ordering from the UK could be affordable.
Your mileage may vary in using any of the above, so I welcome your experiences and comments. What options have you found for computer shopping in Belgium?