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long term retirement visa?

Question

My wife and I, US citizens, would like to leave this dangerous, gun-loving , Trump land for the comparatively safe land of Belgium. There is a visa for retirement for those who are self sufficient and though we are not rich, we are interested. It also requires a showing of ties to Belgium. We weren't born in Belgium, so other than many short visits in the past, we are not sure what we can show. Anyone with any experience in this area? or attorneys who can give us counsel?
Best regards...

Answer
J Oct 3, 2017 07:23

Start by inquiring at your local Belgian embassy / consulate.

Answer
becasse Oct 3, 2017 10:18

Don't waste money on attorneys. Belgium has strict rules on matters like this which the consulate/embassy will advise you on - and either you will be in a position to meet the rules (and will be able to get the necessary visa) or you won't.

Broadly speaking, you will need to have a (large and) sufficient sum of money (held in a European bank) and permanent health insurance. The rules, quite fairly, are intended to ensure that you are never a burden on Belgian social security funds.

Incidentally, don't expect to "get by" in English, if you don't speak one of Belgium's three official languages - Dutch, French or German - or would wish to live in an area where the indigenous language is different to the one you do speak, start learning now.

Answer
kasseistamper Oct 3, 2017 11:05

For once I have to disagree with Becasse who lives in a French-speaking area.
I have always lived in Flanders and my problem when I first moved here with only basic Dutch was that everyone I met wanted to check out their English. They didn't care about helping me to improve my Dutch.
The reality as I have experienced it is that Dutch-speaking professionals - bank, doctor, dentist and so on - speak English. In my specific case, so do my gardener, cleaner, window cleaner and garage mechanic. Dutch speakers under the age of around mid-40s have learned English at school from around 10 and are happy to use English even when they know that I am Dutch speaking. Dutch speakers tend to be unimpressed if they are addressed in French unless they have first made it clear that they have no problem with it.
The only exception to the above is when you visit the commune/town hall where you will be expected to use Dutch and certainly NOT to use French.

Answer
J Oct 3, 2017 15:07

Well, I agree with both the above, and they're not quite as contradictory as they seem.

No, you do not want to be using a lawyer. Either you fit the criteria or you don't, and the embassy/consulate will tell you and "help" you with that.

If you live somewhere like Tervuren or Waterloo, you can expect to get on reasonably well without anything other than English. You will need to use Dutch at the commune (=town hall) in Tervuren, but I understand that Waterloo is less strict about the use of French.

However if you want to go and live in the rural Westhoek area, you'll really struggle without Dutch, and most of Wallonia is firmly French speaking.

Answer
francis.patters... Oct 3, 2017 15:24

If you live here it is a matter of courtesy to learn the language of your commune of residence.

It will also make life much easier for you.

Answer
ricmax Oct 3, 2017 16:43

It is not a matter of language, we speak sufficient French, or sufficient income or independent health insurance as we have all that. The question relates to ties to Belgium and we were wondering if anyone had experience with that issue. The consulate simply says that they have no clarifying info on it. They simply accept the visa app and the decision is made in Brussels. So the issue is a little hazy.

Thanks in advance,

Answer
R.Harris Oct 3, 2017 16:49

If you want to retire to Belgium you only need to prove that you can support yourself, ie that you won't be a burden on the State. As long as you can do that it is actually one of the easiest ways to secure residency.
As for where to live, the answer is obvious: Brussels!

rsgharris@gmail.com

Answer
ricmax Oct 3, 2017 17:28

Yes, but the consulate instructions say "must show ties to Belgium." So it is not something to take lightly.

Answer
R.Harris Oct 3, 2017 17:55

Send me an email at my address above and I will give you info on the attorney who helped me ten years ago when I came back to Belgium. I'm sure there is a way to successfully navigate this ties issue.

Answer
CC_R Oct 4, 2017 11:09

Hi without disrespecting your rights to choose where to retire? I wonder have you ever lived outside of the states? Having a lovely holiday isn't the same as actually living somewhere. Being a long way from friends and family of you have a crisis can be more difficult than you imagine.
Making some friends is possible but Belgians as a rule whilst polite don't always want to be best buddies with the guy next door they have a different view on this.
I would suggest you come for a trial period before you burn your bridges in the US.
I also agree with kaisswrstamper I didn't speak a local language and I didn't have any issue finding English speaking prodessionals in the Flemish speaking area like wise in many shops only the local commune was probelatic until I understood enough.

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