Working in Leuven

Leuven
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Updated 2021-12-17 12:49

Leuven is located within the Flanders region in Belgium. It's a Dutch-speaking city that offers opportunities for expatriates looking for a job.

About Leuven

Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium and is located only a few miles away from Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. It's also the largest city in the province, which makes it a promising place to find work in.

Leuven's history and culture attract a lot of tourists and make the town unique. It's also home to the Katholieke Universiteit (KU Leuven), a Catholic university. It's the largest one in all of Belgium and the Old University of Leuven made Leuven a university city since 1425 (this university closed down in 1797). Its presence gives Leuven youth and dynamism. Lastly, Leuven is home to the famous brewer Stella Artois and is the headquarters for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes it the Belgian capital for beer.

The local economy

Thanks to its position as the capital city of the province of Flemish Brabant, Leuven benefits from a good economic position within Belgium. But it's also because Leuven is home to some dynamic poles that encourage employment. Job opportunities are attractive and a number of companies are potentially hiring.

As mentioned above, Leuven is home to the KULeuven, a European institution for academic research and education. The Katholieke Universiteit is over 500 years old. It's a multidisciplinary university with an international reputation. Of course, it highly benefits the local economy and in fact, is considered Europe's most innovative university. This is thanks to the spin-offs of the academic research performed here.

Many firms specializing in modern information management and communication technologies and in biotechnology are implemented in Leuven because of the KULeuven. There's also a research center called IMEC that focuses on digital tech and nano-electrics. Thanks to IMEC's presence, companies focused on robotics, biotech, additive manufacturing, and IT have flocked to Leuven, which makes it a very promising place to be employed if you're looking for work in the biotech space. You'll find most of these companies concentrated in Haasrode Research-Park and the Arenberg Science Park.

The city has also attracted many prestigious private providers in the legal and medical sectors. In addition, Leuven is home to the Universitair Ziekenhuis Leuven or UZ Leuven, which is an academic hospital that is one of the top research institutes around. It has 5 campuses: Sint-Pieter, and Sint-Rafaël, as well as Lubbeek, Gasthuisberg, and Pellenberg. The hospital has almost 2,000 beds and employs almost 10,000 workers, which is great if you're seeking a career in the medical or research fields. It's actually one of Europe's largest academic hospitals as well, which means it's well-respected and has lots of reputable private service providers involved.

With a surface of 56.63 square meters and the Malines canal, Leuven easily became recognized as a provincial capital city. Many governmental institutions chose to take residence there because of its importance in Flemish Brabant. It's also headquarters to De Lijn, a transport company in Belgium. Not only that, but Leuven's also attracted many international companies we're sure you've heard of, such as Siemens, JSR Corporation, Nitto Denko, Huawei, and Commscope.

As we've mentioned earlier, Leuven is home to Anheuser-Busch InBev's headquarters. This is the largest beer company in the entire world, so you can imagine just how significant it is to Leuven's economy. Because it's the largest beer company around, it should come as no surprise that it's also considered one of the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies. You'll find the Stella Artois brewery and its offices sprinkled across the northeastern part of Leuven, so if you accept a job at this company, this is where you'll be spending a lot of your time.

If you're interested in the financial sector, then you'll be pleased to know that Leuven is strong in this area as well. It's home to KBC Bank, which is one of the top financial institutions in all of Europe. It doesn't just offer banking services, but also insurance. Also, KBC Bank isn't just located in Belgium; you'll also find this bank in Central Europe, as well as Ireland. Needless to say, employment with this company will only mean great things.

If you're settling in Leuven, or simply working there, the city not only offers professional opportunities, but it's also home to many cultural institutions, cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas. And most importantly, there are several bars, seeing as this is a city rich in beer culture. This is because it has a thriving tourism industry. Leuven is known as a Flanders Art-City, which means it has plenty of attractions to entice tourists to come visit. These businesses provide numerous job opportunities, so if you aren't able to find employment elsewhere, there's sure to be a restaurant, cafe, or shop that's hiring.

As for art, you'll find the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, which is one of Belgium's music and performing arts conservatories. You should look into working at this institute if you're interested in music therapy and wordart-drama, as these are the two things the Lemmens Institute is known for. There's also Kunstencentrum STUK, which is located in the city center. This cultural center and venue is involved in several types of art, including dance, music, theater, and sound art. As for contemporary and historical art, you'll want to look at jobs at the M - Museum Leuven. It's displayed work from world-renowned artists like Roe Ethridge and Angus Fairhurst.

Finding a job in Leuven

It's a good idea to start searching for jobs before you move to Leuven or Belgium in general, since it can be stressful adjusting to living in a new place while worrying about how you're going to pay rent if you're not employed. The good thing is, the majority of employers list vacancies online, which means it shouldn't be hard to browse openings and apply to them from out of the country. This is important to do anyway, since if you need a work permit, there's one type you can only get if you're recruited from out of the country (this is work permit B).

One platform worth looking into is LinkedIn. Headhunters will often use it to recruit talent, so it can make a huge difference if you have a polished profile. You can also take advantage of the site's interview and resume resources.

Once you're in Belgium, in addition to looking online, you can also browse local papers for job postings, such as De Morgen, Het Nieuwsblad, and De Standaard. There are also several employment agencies in Leuven, including Job Talent Leuven, AGO & Jobs & HR Leuven, Agilitas Leuven, Tempo-Team, Manpower Leuven, Stegmann Heverlee, and Forum Jobs Leuven. It might be beneficial to bring an updated resume with you to cut down on administrative work and speed up the job search process. After you've had an appointment to speak with their staff, the employment agencies will then match you up with suitable vacancies. It'll be up to you to send in applications and to schedule interviews if you make it past the vetting stage.

Work permits

To work in Leuven (and in general, in Belgium), you must have legal status to do so. The good news is that people from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland don't need to apply for a work permit to be legally able to hold a job in Leuven. Their right to freedom of movement not only allows them to work in Belgium without additional paperwork, but to also move to and live there.

If you're originally from a country that's not listed above, then you'll have to go through some additional paperwork to obtain a work permit. In Belgium, there are 3 types of work permits: A, B, and C. Work permit B is only available to those who are recruited from outside of the country, so keep this in mind.

Salaries

In Belgium, the minimum wage is €1,625.72 per month. When you look at this wage on a broader scale, it's on the higher end when compared with other European countries. But you should also be aware that income taxes are much higher here, with rates between 20-50%. The exact amount you pay will depend on your wages.

The minimum wage in Belgium might be a little more than €1,600 a month, but on average, workers earn much more than that. The average full-time employee takes in €3,558 per month. And if they have a master's degree, the average salary paid out is €5,330 per month.

In Leuven itself, the average salary is around €68,726 per year, or €5,727.16 per month. As you can see, this is higher than even the national average for master's degree holders, so if you find employment in Leuven, you'll have a good time.

Taxes

We've mentioned earlier that you'll pay anywhere between 20-50% for income tax rates. Not only does the rate depend on how much you earn, but it also depends on your residency status in Belgium.

For those only temporarily in Leuven and are still paying taxes back at home, you'll only have to pay the Belgian authorities income taxes on the money you've earned from Belgian clients. But if you're considered a legal Belgian resident, all of your income will be taxed, regardless of where your clients are from and where you performed your work.

To pay your income taxes, you just have to wait for the tax authorities to get in touch with you. They'll let you know if you owe anything. If that's the case for you, then the deadline to pay is June 30.

To offset the burden of taxes, the Belgian government does offer expats some tax-free allowances. You'll have to investigate further to find out if you're eligible. If so, you can claim back €11,000 per year.

Commuting in Leuven

You can choose to drive to work, although we don't recommend doing so. There aren't many car parking lots, so it can be difficult to find parking in some areas. Also, there are many streets that are blocked off for cars. This, plus the fact that road speeds are capped at 30 km/hr can make it challenging and even frustrating to be a car commuter in Leuven. If you still want to drive to and from work, you can take the European route E40 or the E314, which connects the city of Leuven with others in the south and with Aachen.

For those who are commuting from afar, Leuven's also connected to the railway system. Leuven Station is connected with other cities through lines 35, 36, 36N, 53, and 139. These connect you with Aarschot, Hasselt, Liège, Schaerbeek, Schellebelle, Ottignies, and everything in between these points. A little south of Leuven, you can also take the high-speed railway in Bierbeek, as this is the beginning of HSL 2, Belgium's high-speed rail network. It connects you with France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In the city itself, it's very easy to get around on foot or by bicycle. As with many other Belgian cities, the infrastructure is great for cycling, so you might want to consider commuting by bike. Not only is it easy, but you can get in shape as well. This is a great alternative to driving, especially since it can be hard to get around by car.

Another alternative is to take the bus. Most of them are run by De Lijn, which is a Flemish public transportation company that provides Belgium with 2,240 buses and 399 trams. Not only can you travel within Leuven on these buses, but you can also be connected to other cities in the region. To travel within Leuven, take the Ringbus, which as the name suggests, travels along the city's ring road. To get to Brussels Airport or anywhere in between, take buses 616, 651, or 652.

Useful links:

Monster Job Search

Ku Leuven

Stepstone

Glassdoor

Indeed

Career Jet

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