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Antwerp is a city defined by contrasts, where elegant classical buildings on cobblestone streets stand alongside striking modern architecture. Famously 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.
Locals will readily remind expats that the city was home to great painters such as Rubens and Van Dyck. 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 life's finer things.
Living in Antwerp as an expat
As the northern region's largest city, the official language in Antwerp is Dutch. Most residents are bilingual, and many will speak at least some English. Antwerp is also one of Belgium's most populated cities and hosts many of the country's most prominent businesses. Many of these businesses centre around its port, where the River Scheldt opens to the North Sea. The local economy is primarily driven by the petrochemical industry, oil refineries, electricity production and cargo.
Antwerp's central location in Western Europe means that it's easily accessible. The city has well-maintained roads, and its public transport system consists of an efficient tram and bus system. Thanks to this comprehensive public transit system, both inner-city apartments and houses on Antwerp's suburban outskirts are viable accommodation options for new arrivals to the city.
Cost of living in Antwerp
Life in Antwerp is not especially expensive – it's far less expensive than Brussels – but not particularly cheap. As a country, Belgium has a high income-tax rate which ranges from 25 to 50 percent. Budgeting with post-tax figures is therefore essential. For those who find themselves on a tight budget, cheaper-than-average options can be found for accommodation and food, though it may take some time and effort.
Expat families and children
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 is also a wide selection of public and international schools for families to choose from.
Climate in Antwerp
The city's temperate maritime climate means that extreme temperatures are rare. Summer is pleasant but 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.
Overall, expats moving to Antwerp will find a welcoming city with a lavish lifestyle. There's an abundance of options for entertainment, schooling and accommodation. The quality of life enjoyed by expats and locals alike is high, and the city offers new arrivals a range of unique cultural experiences, making Antwerp an attractive destination for expats from all walks of life.
"I love Antwerp's energy. It's hard to describe it and if you visit for a weekend, you might not feel the vibe, but stay for a while and it will get under your skin." Read more about Nina's expat life in Antwerp.
"It's only one or two hours to Berlin, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. That still stuns me." Learn more about Di's thoughts on living in Antwerp.
Are you an expat living in Antwerp?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Antwerp. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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