Moving to Brussels
What can I expect when moving to Brussels?
For more detailed info, you may check the brochure "Before you take off" for foreign students coming to the VUB. You can ask any further questions at the International Relations and Mobility department:
- phone: +32-2-6291279
- email: international. relations @ vub. ac. be (remove spaces).
Visa and other formalities
If you come from a non-EU country you will normally have to apply for a residence visa as student or employee before you can settle in Belgium. You normally need to apply from your own country, though in exceptional circumstance you can try to have a tourist visa (valid for short stays, up to 3 months) converted to a long term visa while already in Belgium. The simplest way to get a visa is to apply as a PhD student at the VUB. The university's letter of acceptance is normally all you need to get the visa, though this may take some time, as Belgian visa services can be slow.
For more details see:
Compared to other European capitals, costs for living in Brussels are still relatively low, both for renting apartments and for food. You should be able to find a comfortable apartment starting from about 500 euro/month, i.e. less than a third of a normal PhD scholarship. Good places to start looking are:
- http://www.vlanimmo.be, and the journal called "Vlan" (free) or "Vlan+". This journal has the largest offer. That's the journal Belgians use to find an accomodation.
- Quartier Latin, this site is extremely well done, but search mainly for "kots" (specifically for students).
- http://www.immoweb.be, other announcements, from agencies.
Some good (not too expensive, easy to reach from the university) areas to check are:
- center of Brussels close to the Grand Place and to the Antoine Dansaert street. The cheapest place are at the end of the Dansaert street near the Canal;
- Saint-Gilles is close to everything with many places to rent.
- area arond the place Flagey in Ixelles
- Etterbeek : all the area of La Chasse
- area around the ULB campus Solbosch in Ixelles is also nice but more expensive
You can search these areas by entering in the websites:
budget : 500 EUR
Bruxelles 1000; Etterbeek 1040; Saint-Gilles 1060; Ixelles 1050
If you plan to rent a van, to help you to estimate the volume of your belongings, go to http://www.centraledesdevis.com (in french).
In Brussels, there are three methods of public transportation: bus, tram and underground (metro). It's possible to buy daily tickest for one or ten travels, weekly tickets and montly or yearly based season tickets. To find ticket prices and the shortest trajectories connecting any two places in the city, go to the website of the Brussels public transport company, http://www.stib.be.
Students for Bachelor's and Master's degree have the right to work for 20 hours per week apart from their weekly school programs. PhD students, if they do not take any courses, have the right to work full-time. Jobs for students are announced via the university job service, (job @ vub. ac. be). The salary is paid on an hourly base, and varies between 5 euros up to 11 or 12 euros per hour. On the other hand, newcomers should not be very hopeful about finding a job, because, as Belgium has two official languages, French and Dutch, most candidates are asked to be bilingual. This means that in practice Belgian citizens have priority in most of the job interviews.
See further: financing your studies
Foreign student support services
The university provides extensive medical, social and other services for registered students and researchers, for little or no fee. Particularly helpful is the Foreign Students Integration Service), where you can go for all kinds of assistance and support to the very amiable and experienced Patrick Boekstijns, and the service for foreign researchers at the R&D-International Relations department. These can help you with the different legal and other issues, such as visa, health insurance, etc.
The VUB restaurant provides inexpensive, healthy meals.