Alright, you are about to make that big decision – or you took it already – to move your life “temporarily” to Brussels. Why “temporarily” with quotation marks? Because, beware, the move could trick you. If only I could give you the number of foreigners who moved to Brussels “temporarily” and who, twenty years later, like yours truly, realize they are still here, you would be amazed.
The Big Move to Brussels
I moved to Brussels from NYC with virtually no idea of what this city was about. No preconceived idea is actually an asset in this case. I just pricked my ears, peeled my eyes and… bam… I caught the bug.
Everything here is worth musing about. Well, let’s start with a simple and second-to-none fact: Brussels is a capital city³ (power of three). Yup and in an upward order, it’s the capital of Flanders, one of Belgium’s three administrative regions, it’s the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium – yes, we have a king and a queen here! – and the capital of the European Union! Errrrrrr… can you top that!?
How to find a place to stay…
Unlike you, who have made the smart choice to side with and rely on Co-Homing to find thee place that will fulfill and match your pickiest demands, when I landed in Zaventem, Brussels’ airport, a glorious morning of the month of June, I didn’t have the faintest idea of where to go, where to live, let alone where I was. But, and it was the first hint I was dealt about the enigma, something happened at the very first moment I stepped on Belgium soil.
Before I left NYC, I had indeed made contact with a handful of real estate agencies. I had informed them that I would arrive on that day and that I would need a place to live, thank you for your assistance. I got a swift answer from all of them, asking me to meet the day after my arrival… except for one – strange – that offered to meet me straight upon the landing of my flight. Yes, you read well. Laurence – I haven’t forgotten her name -, a young and charming agent, actually picked me up at the airport. I am not kidding! We hopped on a cab and on our way to the city, out of curiosity, I asked her why, on a Thursday, there was so little traffic. She said: “Oh, today is a holiday!”, which obviously was the reason why the other agents were going to meet me the next day. I thought that I was dealing with a smart cookie. Holiday, pick-up at the airport, she was eager to get the business.
We eventually sat at the terrasse of a café on Grand Place. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. Amazing, flabbergasting, gobsmacking! She snapped me out of my state of awed admiration by uttering softly: “Yes, it’s indeed known as the most beautiful square in Europe”. Oh, alright…
And then, the killer question: “Now, tell me, where do you want to live?” she asks. I burst into a big laugh. “How would I know? I know nothing here!”. Then, the second killer question: “Where do you live in New York?”. “I live right above Soho”. “Ok, perfect, I know where you want to live in Brussels”. Simply, just that, nothing else …
We spent a couple of days canvassing the neighborhood called “Le Châtelain”. Needless to say, she kept picking me up and dropping me off at the hotel, duh!
Four days later, I was signing a lease in the neighborhood. Never met the other agents.
There is so much more to say about my “immersion” but in the meantime, take a look at that Châtelain House proposed by Co-Homing. Cool spot.
More to come.
*Bruxelles, ma belle … This is the title of potentially the most famous song written about the city. Composed by Dick Annegarn, a Dutch artist who spent most of his life between Paris and Brussels, it tells of his heartbreaking return to Brussels as if he had cheated on her for years with Paris.