Students and young expats find life in Belgium the most satisfying in Europe

by Ray Clancy on April 5, 2017

Young expats and international students in Belgium are more satisfied with their life than those in other European countries with 96% telling a survey that their future outlook is positive.

The research from BNP Paribas Fortis Bank and Think Young found that 53% of students chose Belgium because there was an opportunity provided by their university or school at home to do so while 39% made the move because they wanted to experience another culture.

Some 39% of students also wanted to learn another language or improve their current language skills while 37% thought moving to Belgium would improve their CV and maximise their career opportunities.

More than 80% of expat young professionals polled moved to Belgium because of the career opportunities available, while more than 50% had taken up the challenge for reasons of personal development.

Other reasons for moving to the country included the opportunity to learn another language, the standard of living and the quality of life. Contrary to what might be expected, less than 10% decided to relocate for mainly financial reasons.

‘Financial motives are the least important ones for expats to move to another country,’ said Salvatore Orlando, head of expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis, adding that the purpose of the study was to find out what those expectations are and also the drivers and barriers expats experience during their stay.

Andrea Gerosa, founder of Think Young, believes young expats are highly motivated. ‘It’s a meaningful move, driven not by the desire to have fun but by the willingness to learn more, improve skills, and enhance career opportunities,’ she said.

Some 63% of international students in Belgium said they had a more developed social life with six out of 10 praising the quality of the Belgian education, and 30% thought education was affordable while 21% thought living costs were affordable.

The research also found that 82% of the young professionals stated that they had been able to advance their careers as a result of the move while 43% said that they have a better social life, 42% had more disposable income and 36% thought their quality of life improved.

But there are indications that finances can be strained. Only 28% stated that the living costs in Belgium are lower than at home. In particular the cost of accommodation was mentioned with renting or buying a property €200 higher for 20% and €1,000 more costly for 16%.

The survey covered 6,349 young expats between the ages of 18 and 28 in Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

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