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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Brussels' expats live on an elitist island, says survey

A survey designed to dispel myths about expatriate life in Brussels has done the opposite, finding it elitist and separate from that of the locals.

The Europe-Brussels Liaison Office posed the question as to whether "the image of the Brussels expatriate who lives on an elitist island actually reflects the truth".

Instead of fervent arguments against this viewpoint, the results garnered from 9,000 foreigners living in the Belgian capital were that this is in fact true.

As many as 74 per cent of respondents agreed that the international community has created a world of its own that does not interact with the other residents of Brussels.

A total of 60 per cent of expats said that they didn't know enough Belgians, a percentage that rises to 80 per cent among those who have lived in the city for less than two years.

Of the newcomers, 23 per cent admitted they did not have a single Belgian friend, although 6.6 per cent of those who had been in the country for ten years or more also professed to be in this situation.

One theory behind why expats, many of which are young professionals, do not mix is that they do not intend to stay for a long time.

Alain Hutchinson, former MEP and president of the Europe-Brussels Liaison Office, told EurActiv.com: "Many Europeans still live among themselves in some parts of the city without necessarily showing willingness to integrate."

He went on to say that he was not particularly surprised by the results of the survey, as he was already aware of luxury ghettos around Brussels where officials and other expats live.

Other findings to come out of the research were that the majority of expats believe Brussels to be dirty, unsafe and poverty stricken compared to other European capitals.

Despite this, around half of respondents said that the quality of life in the city was good and better than that in other destinations on the continent.

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