Brussels is one of the most international cities in Europe. It is the capital of the European Union and hosts the headquarters of NATO. The city is home to many international NGOs such as Greenpeace International and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
Brussels is also a major financial centre and home to international companies, such as Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, Belgacom, Solvay, Umicore and BNP Paribas Fortis, as well as many foreign embassies.
The presence of these foreign companies has attracted many expatriates who have moved to Brussels for work or study. This has made Brussels an increasingly multicultural city with a large population from other countries.
The international community in the international city of Brussels.
The capital of Belgium is a city that welcomes people from all over the world, and it shows. The city's international community has a variety of different expats — some come to Brussels for their jobs or studies and others are here by choice. Regarding the city's diverse populations, Brussels is home to over 175 nationalities represented.
Moreover, the international community in Brussels is the largest in the world, after New York City and Paris. And the community is a significant and vibrant part of the city's culture.
It has been estimated that there are around 800,000 expatriates living in Brussels, although this number is constantly changing, with the EU institutions accounting for some 60,000 of this total.
The European Commission is the largest employer in Brussels with over 20,000 employees and more than 4,000 international civil servants working at its headquarters. The European Parliament has 626 members who are elected by direct universal suffrage every five years. In addition to these institutions, there are also numerous international organisations based in Brussels such as NATO and OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which between them represent over 10,000 employees.
With such a high concentration of international organisations, it is hardly surprising that there is an abundance of international schools in the city too. International schools from all over the world have set up shop here so that parents can choose from American or British curricula or even Dutch or French ones for their children's education.
Due to many international companies and EU institutions, this has created a highly international population, with many expats working for these organisations and companies or being based there permanently. In addition, because of its geographic location, Brussels is also a great place for companies that need to be close to their clients across Europe but don't want to live in London or Paris.
The city's reputation as a multicultural hub also attracts people from all around the world who want to live there permanently or temporarily.
Outside of career decisions, there are many reasons why someone might choose to move to Brussels. One factor is that it offers access to some of the best universities in Europe, including the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (ULB) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).
Another reason is that although Brussels does not have as much sunshine as other cities in Europe, it does tend to be warmer than other major capitals like London or Paris during the winter months.
Living in an international community in Brussels.
Living in the international community in Brussels is a special experience. You will be surrounded by people from all over the world, and you will be able to learn from them and their cultures.
The people in the community are very friendly, they like to talk and they are always ready to help you out if you need it. They don't mind if you don't speak French or Dutch, but it is better if you try at least a bit of both language as there are many Belgians who do not speak English.
There are a lot of advantages that come with living in the international community in Brussels.
For example, the first advantage is that you get to meet people from all over the world. You can learn so much about different cultures and traditions. You can also have friends from different backgrounds, which would be very helpful if one day you decide to move abroad.
Second, it is easier for you to find a job if you live in this kind of community because there are more employers who are looking for people who can speak different languages.
The only thing that might be difficult is finding someone who has the same interests as you do. The majority of people here are working professionals, so if you're an artist or musician then there's more chance that you'll find someone who understands what it means to live as an artist or musician than if you're a doctor or lawyer (for example).
Just like Hanna, our contributing writer from Germany, says "One of the best things about living in Brussels is its multiculturalism. I have lived here for over three years now and there are so many different nationalities here that it feels like a small world! The people here are so friendly too - if you want to ask someone how they are doing or something about their culture then they're always happy to help out!"
Are you aspired to move to Brussels and live as an expat in an international community? Let us know!