Excerpted from the Belgium Career Guide
Cost of Living
Despite weak confidence in euro currency, European cities, such as Paris, Oslo, Geneva and Copenhagen, remain among the most expensive to live in worldwide. Life in Belgium and its capital, Brussels, is expensive for expats; however, on average it is cheaper to live in Brussels than more than half of Western Europe’s capitals, including Paris, Stockholm and London. Belgian cities do not appear in the top 20 of any major cost of living survey. For many non-EU expats, currency fluctuations can have a great impact on the relative cost of living. Expats considering taking a job in Belgium should check on the current exchange rates of their home currencies versus the euro to get a true snapshot of the relative cost of living.
Housing costs in Brussels are less expensive than in other European capitals such as Amsterdam, Paris, London or Rome, according to a study by Deloitte. However, while housing costs in Europe are generally decreasing, this is not the case in Belgium. The property prices are on the rise, and according to Statistics Belgium, on average, prices rose by 1 percent since the last recorded quarter. The highest cost of housing is recorded in the Brussels region where a house price is an average of 370,131 EUR. In the Walloon region (Wallonia), house prices are an average of 153,082 EUR, while in the Flemish region (Flanders), house prices are an average of 215,053 EUR. While different research groups disagree on the percentage, there is an agreement that the Belgium housing market is overpriced.
Belgium has an excellent and dense passenger rail network. The national rail company is the NMBS/SNCB (site available in Dutch, French, German and English). There are a number of frequent traveler passes available and special low rates for children, senior citizens and weekend travel. International connections are available from Brussels to Paris and London via Eurostar and Thalys.
Hours of Work
The legal working week in Belgium is 38 hours, and the work week cannot exceed 40 hours., The work day should not exceed eight hours, except in certain cases with the approval of unions and the government, and certain other exceptions. Overtime, including work on Sundays or public holidays, is paid at rates ranging from 50 to 200 percent above the normal rate. Compensation for Sunday work must be received within six days.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Belgium Guide.