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Moving to Brussels - schools, nannies/au pair, where to live

(6 Posts)
MumMatthews2 Wed 06-Feb-13 10:19:36

My husband and I are probably starting new jobs in Brussels in the next 6 months. And I am finding the decisions about schools etc very daunting despite having spent a few years in Brussels before (2009-2012). I will be working at the European Commission and my husband for a Belgian company. This will be a permanent move, but we want to keep open the option of moving back to the UK if we think it would be better for the children's schooling when they are older. Our children are: boy - 2.5 yrs and a girl - 6 months. Obviously we will have the European Schools option, but how good are they really? How good is the English teaching? Are they fun, or just dryly academic? Which of the European schools is best for what?
I am very keen to choose a school where they will learn French from the start ( I am a fluent French speaker!) but I don't want them to be taught in English at a level lower than they would in the UK! We have heard the ISB is very good, but is it a happy school for young children? Also, the fees are astronomical!
Any advice on schools would be most welcome!!
Also, any suggestions on where to find a good English speaking (and preferably British qualified) nanny/au pair to look after our baby daughter and to do pick ups and drop offs to creche, school, etc...? ARe there any good agencies in Brussels that anyone could recommend?
Lastly, since we are both going to be working full time (which is quite scary since I have been off work for three years with the children!) does anyone have any suggestions on where to live? We are looking to buy a family house with a garden. I will be working (probably) at Place Lux. and my husband at Rogier (probably!) and we would like to be as close as possible to schools, so that the children have friends nearby, but also able to get in/out of work quickly. I am asking for the world, aren't I!
We used to live in WSP and really liked it, and hear the local Belgian schools can be very good there. This seems one good option, but I guess there is no bilingual option.
We see Watermael Boisfort has nice houses near ISB, but is it a nice area?
Any help, advice, links etc... would be very welcome.
Thank you!!

natation Fri 15-Feb-13 09:23:45

Hi there
I just noticed this, I am going to pm you, rather than write here.

oldwomaninashoe4 Wed 27-Feb-13 11:24:12

I am also moving to brussels in the summer with 4 kids who hopefully will be attending the European School in Uccle. We have made the central application adn will hear end April whcih school we have been assigned. There is a huge issue over all new engliah language entrants to the european school system being assigned to Laeken so we will be very lucky to get into Uccle (Ixxelles and Wollwe are effectivly shut for new entrants). Otherwise we will have to bus our kids to laeken which is far too long for young kids - I dont even think my 4 yr old daughter would be able to go that long without a toilet !.

i will aslo need a aupair / parttime nanny as we will be both workign full time, not sonething we have done in a long time and i am finding the whole project somewhat daunting.

We are hoping to rent a house in south Ixelles or uccle close to the Bois Cambre and the european school - everyone says that this area suffers from poor public transport but we are stuck in our car anyway so that not an issue for us.

Would love to share intelligence as i try to put in place arrangemnts for the big move in the summer.

natation Thu 28-Feb-13 22:38:16

Is there a reason you cannot live in the Laeken area, given you haven't actually moved here? More and more families with the privilege of an EEB education are moving north, so their children don't spend long periods on the buses. Wemmel, Grimbergen, Strombeek-Bever, Neder-over-Hembeek, these areas are increasingly popular. Trains from Jette and Bockstael take you to the EU district in minutes, certainly much faster than you can get from Uccle to the EU district which is a less than desirable commute. I don't know any new EEB students who made it into any school other than Laeken this school year, but maybe there were some, I just didn't meet them. Do look to these northern areas. You should get a place for example in école maternelle de Wemmel, as only those living in that commune can send their children there, it usually means not so oversubscribed as Brussels maternelles.

Hardly anyone uses a nanny or au-pair here, as child care at local schools is so reasonable and hours covered can be as much as 6.30 to 19.30. You'll find an au-pair I'm sure, but adding up 450 minimum per month, food, language lessons, it might be a rather expensive option, compared to a local school garderie which might costs as little as 10 euro a day for 4 children, which if a Belgian tax payer, would also be tax deductible. I have no idea if EEBs have garderies, I'm sure they do, but I'm sure they would cost more than local schools.

Driving anywhere near Bois de la Cambre is near to suicidal. Is there a reason you cannot use public transport? Are you not working in the EU district? It would probably be quicker to cycle in the bois de la cambre area at rush hour than drive. That's the reason why the public transport in Uccle to central Brussels is so bad, no metro, trams which share the roads with private cars and public buses.

I think you need to come and stay in Uccle for a week and try the commute by car and public transport.

Indegloria Tue 05-Mar-13 13:05:01

Not much comment on your school choice, but I currently live in Uccle near the Bois and have never felt so well situated, tram to Midi/Bourse in 15 minutes, Buses 38 and 60 to the European district and easy biking distance. The superb traiteurs, cycling/running/playground in the Bois and easy access to two great hospitals mean that you would have an incredible quality of life in this location. Only drawback is that many people (especially French tax exiles) see the same advantages and its reflected in the prices.

Paris3 Mon 11-Mar-13 21:45:41

My husband and I are moving this summer to Brussels with our 3 children from Paris - 5, 10 and 13 for the next school year. French is the children's dominant language so the state system is an option for us. We loved Ixelles and are flat searching around Place Chatelain. We have just spent the last few days knocking in the doors of local schools ( st andre, st bonniface, tenbosch, ma campagne.....) and have not even been admitted on to a waiting list (with the exception of ma campagne... We are returning tomorrow with our fingers crossed). The lycee francais is a very expensive option (with 3 children) and not close by but we shall try there as well.
Does anyone out there have any advice / recommendations ... Apart from checking the schools close to where we hope to live, I have no idea where to start... I knocked on the doors of the schools which appeared most recommended, but any other suggestions would be very welcome !
Many thanks !

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