Home Finance Retirement A guide to retiring in Belgium
Last update on April 20, 2020

Many expatriates come to Belgium on short-term contracts, yet a large number of them end up staying here for good. Here’s a look at retiring in Belgium.

A group of six retirees, who dub themselves The Brats (Brussels Retired Expats), penned the ultimate guide for anyone planning to spend their twilight years in Belgium. Retiring in Belgium – A Guide for Expats doesn’t provide all the answers but it poses all the right questions.

This isn’t just a guide to managing one’s finances. This is information that ultimately has to be sought out, as the authors urge, from a specialist. The authors ask how you plan to spend your retirement, and even how you feel about dying in Belgium.

Pensions

It’s also relevant for younger adults; the looming pensions crisis is already prompting governments to postpone state payouts. The authors caution that it’s never too early to plan ahead; maybe you are planning to bring over Mum and Dad.

We’re told by the pro-EU lobby we can live, earn, and retire where we like and still claim a pension. But it’s not as easy as all that, as the book explains. Who pays your state pension? Depends on where you have lived. Will your private pension be subject to taxation? Yes, possibly.

A question universal to pensioners is how to spend their time. The authors give some useful suggestions for places to study, volunteering opportunities and social activities in Belgium as well as tips on semi-retirement and the tax implications.

Large sections of the book are devoted to questions of estate planning and tax traps for expats. Who knew the Belgian state could tax you on 100% of a deceased spouse’s wealth if you didn’t draw up a marriage contract?

Healthcare

The authors give a guide to healthcare in Belgium. They point out some of the peculiarities of the system here, such as euthanasia. How will you feel about that if you end up terminally ill here?

Parts of the book seem to be more a passion of the authors and peripheral to the specifics of retirement. Witness the entire chapter on how to become more technology-savvy: clearly a benefit for any retiree but perhaps not worthy of such lengthy treatment.

This and the authors’ summary of where to live in Belgium could have been flagged within other chapters as topics for further reading. Notwithstanding, this is a must-read starting point for anyone, of any age, who is contemplating going native.

Retiring in Belgium – A Guide for Expats: €15 (all proceeds to charity) is available from Community Help Service Belgium and the British Charitable Foundation.