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Famous for being at 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. As the northern region’s largest city, the official language in Antwerp is Dutch. Most residents, however, are bilingual and many will speak at least some English.
Antwerp is a city defined by contrasts, where lavish classical buildings on cobblestone streets stand alongside striking modern architecture. This unique setting is reflected in the city’s leisure options. There's no shortage of restaurants and cafés, monuments, serene green spaces and iconic museums.
Locals will also readily remind expats that the city was home to great painters like 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 buying life’s finer things.
Antwerp is also one of Belgium’s most populated cities and is host to many of the country's biggest businesses. Many of these businesses centre around its port, where the River Scheldt opens to the North Sea. The local economy is largely 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. Its public transport system consists of modern rail infrastructure, an efficient metro, an extensive bus network and an international airport. Thanks to this comprehensive system of public transit, both inner-city apartments and houses on Antwerp’s suburban outskirts are viable options for new arrivals to the city.
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.
The city’s temperate maritime climate means that extreme temperatures are rare. Summer is pleasant, but it’s 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 that has 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.
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