So a little over twelve weeks ago we made the big move from the UK to Belgium. A country we absolutely fell in love with years ago and one that still pulls on our heart strings!
I haven’t posted in about two weeks largely because the past two weeks have been two of the most stressful, heartbreaking and ultimately soul searching weeks I’ve ever experienced. After only 12 weeks here in Belgium we have decided to return to the UK. A decision that whilst we know is the right one has been the cause of many tears!
I won’t bore you with all of the nitty gritty details but basically the two primary reasons are our sons schooling and finances.
With regards to school we always planned to send our 5 year old son to a Dutch or French speaking school. The reality of this was vastly more stressful and upsetting than imagined. He is an anxious child by nature and on visiting schools it became clear he wouldn’t find it easy to assimilate into a non English speaking environment. Once we’d decided against this option we researched English language schools. We always knew this was virtually an impossible option due to the ridiculous costs involved, for example the British School costs in excess of €30,000 per year (yes you read that right!!!!). We found some cheaper options but ultimately they were all out of your price range. This left me home schooling him which I absolutely love but I know is not enough for him. He needs friends and routine!
Secondly, the financial reality of living in Belgium! My husband was offered a role with an excellent salary (or so we thought). We had thoroughly researched the taxation system here and knew that it was the most taxed country in Europe. BUT, we were given incorrect information by the HR department at my husbands employer. Not just once but around 10 times!! We were under the impression that we would benefit from an expat tax break which made the tax roughly what we paid in UK. It was only after meeting with an accountant that we discovered the awful truth. Once we registered with the local commune (council), that registration effectively negates any tax break and you then become a resident and in turn pay Belgian taxes! On my husbands salary that is 50%!!! Meaning than after tax he would take home less than what he made 8 years ago even though on paper he should be €20k better off!!!
We were probably partially to blame for this as we didn’t confirm what his employer had told us. Now I know your probably saying it’s not all about money but in this case it has to be. With prospect of having a massively reduced salary, much higher cost of living, continued financial commitments in the UK and the possibility of funding an English school we made the agonising decision to cut our losses and head home to England.
We have loved our time here in Belgium and will never look back in regret. I think the biggest benefit for me was the time i got to spend with L exploring the amazing city of Brussels. It’s really bonded us even more than before. I have loved seeing him learn and grow!
Now where to?? In all honesty we are not sure. G has interviews lined up and family have kindly offered accommodation until we find a permanent base.
Im sitting here the night before we head back feeling like we failed. We are the adventurers of our family and never stay put for long but I had hoped this would be a permanent move. I suppose though when you know it’s not right you know it’s not right! Better to have discovered this early enough before we committed ourselves to a rental property (short term leases in Belgium are 3 years and there as harsh financial penalties for breaking a lease)!
So away we go again. I think I will choose to think of this as an extending holiday! Now onto the next adventure 🙂
Thanks for reading!