As a non-Belgian, the initial phase of your time in Brussels is dominated by trying to work out what to do at the Bureau des Étrangers and why the whole process is so time-consuming and reminiscent of the fifth circle of hell.
When we knew we were moving back to Brussels Mr B made me promise up and down that we would avoid living in 1000 (central) Brussels at all costs. His previous experience left him scarred and furious at the mere thought. His number one piece of advice to transferring colleagues remains to learn from his mistake.
I’ve written before about the fact that Mr B has to go to the Commune once a year to renew his work permit and residency card. This is his punishment for being non-European.
We hear wild tales of competent, efficient, nay even pleasant Communes in Brussels but I want proof, people proof.
If you have a Commune to praise, let me know. If you have a Commune to damn leave your tale of woe below and await sympathy.
PS I warn you in advance that I hold no truck with Belgians or those smug expats who tut when you complain about Communes and exhort you to remember that the bureaucrats are “doing their best” or “work under ‘difficult conditions”. With few exceptions they are not and they do not. Men who clamber into the crumbling sewerage system of Bombay and clean it out by hand work ‘under difficult conditions’. Belgians have no excuse.