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Antwerp, a city for everyone

Newcomers to Antwerp realise that a pocket-sized green metropolis really exists.
It’s easy to meet other people, build a new home, and simply just fall in love…
This is why they love Antwerp.
Picture Julien Burlat

“Antwerp is like a smaller version of Paris.”

Julien Burlat divides his time between Domestic Bakery (three branches in Antwerp) and consulting hotels on how to run their kitchens. 

“I fell in love with Sophie from Belgium and for seven years I travelled between Paris and Antwerp. When we were ready for our own business, we didn’t hesitate to choose Antwerp. Our restaurant Dôme was an instant hit. After two-and-a-half years we received a Michelin-star. Later we started Domestic Bakery. After 15 years we decided to focus solely on the bakery. Antwerp is a perfect place to open a business. During the week, there’s a lot of businessmen and during the weekend, many tourists visit the town. They love to spend money on quality products. You have to work hard to succeed, but the clientele is here. And furthermore Antwerp is super easy to travel around and very diverse.” 

“Multilingualism is one of Antwerp’s greatest advantages.”

Alexander Varvarenko is a shipping and digital technology entrepreneur at Shipnext. 

“I arrived here as a 10-year old from Latvia. My father was an expat managing a stevedoring company and we chose Antwerp out of a list of Hamburg, Geneva, Houston, Miami and Singapore. Why? A great mix of advantages in location, culture, values, traditions, proximity to the sea and cost of living and almost everybody speaks English. I find Antwerp almost synonym to hedonism. To me Antwerp is all about culture, sports infrastructure, historic landmarks, restaurants and quick access to Amsterdam, Paris, London, Düsseldorf and Brussels. When I’m abroad, I’m an enthusiastic ambassador for the city.” 

Picture Alexander Varvarenko
Picture James Kruger

“Being honest builds unbreakable trust and that pays off in the long term.”

James Kruger is co-founder of FCKLCK.STUDIO, a multidisciplinary creative studio. 

“I’m originally from Cape Town. When I got a job offer from Saatchi & Saatchi Brussels, I picked Antwerp as a place to live because the language in South Africa, Afrikaans, is so close to Dutch. I was very lucky to meet Rizon Parein (founder of USBYNIGHT, a design and creativity festival) the moment I arrived here. We became good friends and he introduced me to a lot of people. I live in Borgerhout, a beautiful multicultural neighbourhood where I feel very much at home. Antwerp is also an immensely creative city across all sectors, with an abundance of art, culture and food. My tip: always be honest. 

No matter how hard it might sound and even if it means earning less money. Being honest builds unbreakable trust and that pays off in the long term.” 

“In my field of work, everyone speaks English. That makes me feel very welcome.”

Artist/designer Izumi Hongo was born in Tokyo and studied fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. 

“I came to Antwerp because it was my dream to study fashion in the city of Dries Van Noten. Later I started my own fashion brand Van Hongo and opened my atelier-shop in 2011. Once I settled in the city, I really liked the life here. As I am from Tokyo, it was refreshing to do almost all my activities by foot or bicycle. All my friends live in my neighbourhood. In my field of work, fashion and architecture, everyone speaks English. That’s not only very comfortable, it also makes me feel very welcome in the city. At the same time I do my best to study Dutch and French.” 


Picture Izumi Hongo

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of the citizens are satisfied with living in Antwerp

and the city scores well above the EU average (89%) in all categories

Located in the heart of Europe

& close to Brussels

Young population

22,5% are younger than 17 years end 16,3% are older than 65 years
Picture Debora Gomes de Oliveira

“So many talented people have chosen to live here.”

Débora Gomes de Oliveira is founder of A company active in IT services and IT consulting. 

 “Antwerp is very unique in that it’s small and charming but at the same time international, diverse and culturally vibrant. So many talented people have chosen to live here. It feels like a privilege to share the city with them. The city has managed to keep a balanced investment strategy in infrastructure, entrepreneurship, education, social security and the arts. To me, it’s one of the most liveable and authentic cities in Europe and that’s why I chose to move here. You can walk and take the bike anywhere and it’s filled with local shops. Integrating into Antwerp community takes a bit of effort and time, but you`ll be absolutely accepted.” 

“I can really recommend interacting with other entrepreneurs, it’s very inspirational.”

Asser Zaky completed a Master’s degree in Global Management at Antwerp Management School and works as a supply chain engineer at Tenneco Automotive. 

“I’m from Egypt. The moment I arrived at the stunning Central Station, I knew I wanted to stay in Antwerp for a while. In no time, I found myself immersed in the culture and the society. People are kind, honest and open minded. That makes my daily interactions very easy. Integrity is key in Antwerp. I can really recommend interacting with other entrepreneurs, it’s very inspirational. People are very polite, as long as you approach them politely. Once there is a connection,it’s easy to make friends. Language is no barrier. To the contrary, everybody speaks English. That makes it challenging for me to learn Dutch! I’ve never felt like a foreigner here. It helps that there are a lot of options to connect with people.” 


Picture Asser Zaky
Picture David Gotlib

“Antwerp’s entrepreneurial spirit is firmly rooted in its historical legacy as a hub for trade and commerce.”

David Gotlib is president of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, diamond dealer and the creative mind behind a stylistically diverse cufflinks brand. 

“When my grandfather returned to Antwerp after the atrocities of the Second World War, he was welcomed with open arms and given the opportunity to start his diamond business by the mayor. The generosity of this city towards my family, and how it created our future, is something I still cherish deeply. Antwerp is a vibrant city. The quality of life here is excellent, the unique blend of history, culture, innovation, creativity and connectivity make Antwerp a very pleasant and inspiring place. We are a very diverse industry, with people from all corners of the world, yet we’re a tight-knit community where personal, face-to-face relationships are indispensable.” 

“Antwerp is a place without excessive rules or regulations.”

Kiarash Nabavieh, co-founder of Flyetic. An easy-to-use, independent private jet booking platform. 

“From the moment I moved here from Iran, I experienced Antwerp as a dynamic cultural city with a vibrant expat community. I definitely recommend Voka – the Chamber of Commerce, and the Facebook group ‘Expats in Antwerp’. Antwerp is an open city. There’s freedom of speech, you can exercise your rights. It is also a place without excessive rules or regulations. It’s a blissful place where you can exercise your faith freely. I really consider it as ‘my city’! A personal tip: respect people’s personal space. Give them room to breathe. Otherwise you could easily come across as pushy. My secret to success? Embrace your ambition and go for it.” 

Picture Kiarash Nabavieh