±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
±Compare Expat Providers
±Expat Focus Partners
±Latest Financial Articles
· Expat Focus International Finance Update 23 March 2017
· Expat Focus International Finance Update 14 March 2017
· Do Expats Really Need An Offshore Bank Account?
· American Living Abroad? Here's How To File Your Tax Return
· Where Do The World's Highest Paid Expats Live?
· Expat Focus Financial Update 08 March 2017
· 5 Reasons to Move to the Glittering Shores of Cyprus
· Expat Focus Financial Update 01 March 2017
· Expat Focus Financial Update 22 February 2017
±Latest Health Articles
· Why Expat Retirees Should Never Ignore Health Insurance
· Moving Abroad? Read Our Essential Health Checklist
· Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 16 March 2017
· Coming To The UK? Here's What You Need To Know About The National Health Service
· How Can Telephone Counselling Help Expats Dealing With Loneliness Abroad?
· Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 02 March 2017
· Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 27 February 2017
· Could Moving Abroad Be The Key To Improving Your Health?
· Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 03 February 2017
Mel, AntwerpBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
Expat Experiences: Belgium - Mel, Antwerp
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved from the US to Antwerp, Belgium, in 2009. We came because my husband was (and still is) in university over here and we did not want to continue our relationship across an ocean. Besides which, I love it in Europe and was thrilled to have a good reason to come over!
What challenges did you face during the move?
Not very many. It isn't very difficult for an American to come over here, especially since we got married at the same time. The biggest thing was finding a reputable (and not overly-priced) company to ship some of my possessions over here, and finding a place to live (which frustrated me, because I was in the US and unable to view the properties or know much about them). My husband ended up getting our apartment about a week before I arrived here.
How did you find somewhere to live?
My husband scoured internet sites for renting in Belgium, and emailed/called up the ones that looked good in the right areas. If the people he contacted responded positively, he set up appointments and took a train over here (he was in the Netherlands at the time, about 2hrs away from here) to check them out. I think he visited 3, and had contact with a handful of others. When we settled on our apartment, there was some paperwork that needed to be done, and since he was a student (not working), his parents also made some sort of guarantee with him.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Antwerp is a very international city, so yes, there are people from all over living here. In addition, there are many shorter-term visitors constantly coming, for study abroad programs, temporary work assignments, etc, from around the world- who stay anywhere from a month to a year or more, without putting down more permanent roots.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
|Cathedral in Antwerp|
What do you like about life where you are?
I love it here. It's a wonderful city that has everything one could want. There's a number of museums, tons of culture, big nightlife, the cost of living is quite low (as far as I'm concerned), it's very international, it's a cinch to travel around (in the city, country, and continent!), it's just a great place! Plus, my lifestyle is incredibly much healthier since leaving the US. We cook (like most people) every night, with a variety of vegetables (and no meat), we have some fruit every evening, I do plenty of walking, it's just tons better.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The big thing is that I have not yet learned to speak the language. And that's a reflection on me, not the city. One other thing I guess, is that businesses don't care much if they lose you. I'm used to the capitalist economy where businesses bend over backward to make sure you keep using them, and over here they just don't appear to care that much to accommodate people if there's an issue. But it's not like there are problems often, so it really is not a big deal. Of course, I also dislike not seeing friends/family often. But I encourage them all to come visit so I can show them around, I love to show off my city!
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I guess simply to be sure it's what you want. If you come here with an open mind ready to embrace this place, you will be quite happy. But if you come here looking for the place you left behind, and constantly compare them and want that place, you will end up very disappointed. Make sure you really want the change, and open yourself to it. Also, be aware that you *must* be patient (having a padded savings is a good idea); bureaucracy is a sloooow process, and it *will* take a while for things to get finalized. But it'll be done eventually!
What are your plans for the future?
Living life to the fullest! And, becoming a Belgian citizen once I am eligible.
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.
At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.