Moving to Antwerp
Famous for being at the heart of the world’s diamond trade, Antwerp is Belgium’s main port city and a commercial hub that revels in culture and history.
Belgium is divided into two – the northern half is home to the Dutch-speaking Flemings, while the southern half is mostly occupied by the French-speaking Walloons. As the northern region’s largest city, the official language in Antwerp is Dutch, but most residents are bilingual and many will speak at least some English.
It’s also Belgium’s most populated city and hosts the most businesses in the country – many of which centre around its port, where the River Scheldt opens to the North Sea. The local economy is largely driven by a large petrochemical industry, oil refineries, electricity production and cargo.
Locals will also readily remind expats that the city was home to great painters like Rubens and Van Dyck, and this proud artistic heritage is still relevant, especially in the local fashion industry. As a result, there are countless boutiques and designer stores for expats who enjoy buying life’s finer things.
It’s a city defined by contrasts, where lavish classical buildings on cobblestone streets stand alongside striking modern architecture. This unique setting is reflected in the city’s leisure options – restaurants and cafés bask in the shadows of monuments, serene green spaces and iconic museums.
Antwerp’s central location in Western Europe means that it’s easily accessible. The city has well-maintained roads, modern rail infrastructure, an efficient metro, an extensive bus network and an international airport. Thanks to this comprehensive system of public transit, both inner-city apartments and houses on Antwerp’s suburban outskirts are viable options for new arrivals to the city. Rental accommodation is either furnished or unfurnished, but expats should be aware that the latter might exclude even the most basic amenities.
Expats moving to the city with children will be pleased by the variety of family-friendly attractions and they can be assured that they’ll have good options for education. There’s a wide selection of public and international schools, but Islamic schooling options are limited.
The city’s temperate maritime climate means that extreme temperatures are rare. Summer is pleasant, but it’s also the wettest time of the year, with high temperatures of around 72° F (22°C). Winter temperatures rarely drop below 32°F (0°C) and there’s more rain than snow.