Brussels expat lifestyle survey reveals more gripes than praise

Published:  22 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Canada, Euro
A survey aimed at publicising the Belgian capital as a favourite destination for expats has backfired, with the results showing more criticism than commendation.

Brussels is home to the European Union and its plethora of pan-European organisations, with the result that many thousands of expat workers have made the city their home. However, far from praising the city for its history, heritage and cosmopolitan amenities, a majority of those surveyed were found to have made the same complaints as Belgians polled in an earlier survey.

Over 75 per cent of respondents said the city was dirty, and around the same number complained that the heavy traffic was appalling. The high number of people living in poverty amidst the wealth of the EU organisations was noted unfavourably by 67 per cent of those polled.

A surprising 51 per cent felt safer in other major European cities than they did in Brussels, and less than half believed that the city was a better place for lifestyle than anywhere else in Europe. Another surprise result was that a high number expats and Belgians alike were unaware of the total benefits of having European organisation sited in the city, with only 41 per cent welcoming their presence.

The plus points of the survey included many respondents' views that Brussels culture and lifestyle is a major attraction and, confusingly considering the negative views, 75 per cent of those surveyed said they were enjoying their stays. Many expats pointed out that they were living in a bubble, with few Belgian friends, although longer-term residents said they’d made friends with Belgian nationals.

The survey involved around 9,000 expats living and working in Brussels, 56 of whom were female and 90 per cent of whom were over 30 years old. Of the respondents, 66 per cent had lived in the city for less than a decade.
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