A year overseas - Post 1: Moving to Belgium

I've decided to split my experience of living and working overseas into a series of posts, as there are so many aspects to cover! I'll be covering many aspects of my year of working and living in Belgium, from working there to travelling and everything in between. I have plans to travel throughout 2017 so will be posting about present travelling too, but I really want to share my year of living in another country and I hope you enjoy my posts reflecting on the past as well as present!

This post will cover my initial move to Belgium -

The reason I moved was because of a placement year as part of my degree - I studied for 2 years, worked for the 3rd year and returned to complete my degree in the fourth year. Most of my course undertook placements at London based companies, but London didn't appeal to me (especially with finding accommodation, living costs etc). Of course the aspect of finding a house in Belgium was daunting but I was lucky enough to be sharing with one of my closest friends who has family in the Netherlands - after looking at expensive furnished places online she went to Belgium to view houses for us including a much cheaper, unfurnished house in Sint Niklaas, about 20 minutes train journey from Antwerp.

I arrived to beautiful weather in Antwerp on my first day of exploring the city

After securing the house (about 300 euros a month not including bills) her family amazingly knew a friend who was getting rid of all their belongings to move away - washing machine, furniture, a TV, literally selling everything. We put together another £300 or so to buy beds, mattresses etc which saved us money over the course of the year for a furnished place, and her family moved it all in for us so we arrived to a furnished flat - I got very lucky!

A busy Belgian Street in central Antwerp

As expected you have to save a considerable amount before planning to move to another country, it's difficult to remember the exact amounts but I basically needed:

  • 1st months rent
  • Deposit (1st months rent x1.5)
  • Travel money (Eurostar ticket)
  • 1 months money for food/bills/expenses

The first month was difficult money wise as you can imagine, as you have to complete a full month of work before getting paid. Although now I'm a graduate I would most likely move and live on savings before working or I would accept a job offer that would include expenses being covered - a lot of overseas roles offer reimbursement of moving expenses as an incentive.

A street 5 minutes away from my home in Sint Niklaas - I loved the brick pavements and golden statues. Just behind the trees is a bar that became one of our favourites, great for drinking Kriek and eating a grilled sandwich

It was a scary time for me as a student, with little travelling experience and moving to work for a corporation (post to follow!) but it was a huge learning curve. Those days of travelling to Belgium for the first time (I moved to country I hadn't even visited!) were daunting but cured my fear for taking coaches planes - I used to get so nervous about travel but now it's second nature. It's a bizarre thing to move somewhere purely for a career opportunity and I will only ever move somewhere that I've visited beforehand and desire to live, but it was exciting to do whilst at University and I often wonder what I would be like if I hadn't gone.

I hope this post was informative! I look forward to sharing more about my year overseas - please leave any comments or questions below! X

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