My husband Martin and I met in Brussels in 2012, after I actually stepped on his toes at my neighborhood farmer’s market. At the time, I used to be working as a safety supervisor at NATO headquarters, and he was on a enterprise journey from his dwelling within the Netherlands. 

Three days later, we went on our first date. Five weeks later, I moved to Washington, D.C., to take a publish on the Pentagon. Almost a yr and a half later, we determined we would get married and he’d be part of me in D.C. 

As a Marine Corps reserve officer, I took benefit of my VA mortgage advantages, and we purchased a small dwelling in 2014. We introduced our new child daughter dwelling there in 2016.

But we all the time knew we wished to maneuver again to Europe ultimately. 

Finding ‘the one’ in Brussels

When the pandemic hit, it gave us time to pause and plan our long-awaited return to Europe. 

We wished to be a brief drive away from my in-laws in my husband’s hometown of Rotterdam as they aged. We in the end selected Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the executive middle of the European Union. We calculated that we could live there for less than D.C. or the Netherlands, and it is solely 90 minutes from Rotterdam.

It helped that I already had a stable community of associates in Brussels, too.

Jessica calls Martin her “90-day fiancé.”

Courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus

We bought our D.C. dwelling for $899,000 in 2021 — a 67.7% improve in comparison with what we would paid for it. And after a yr renting in Brussels, we began searching for a spot to purchase. Our two principal necessities: It needed to be strolling distance to our daughter’s college and have an outside house sufficiently big to eat exterior. 

Six months and 20 residences into our search, we lastly discovered “the one” in Saint Gilles, the neighborhood south of the town middle the place I’d lived earlier than.

I fell in love with the 14-foot ceilings, the Art Nouveau buildings, and the nice parks close by.

One of Jessica’s favourite issues to do in Brussels is go to the markets. There are cafés close by the place she likes to order a espresso or, “if I’m feeling a bit festive,” a glass of wine.

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We provided 547,500 euro, or $586,767, for the residence in Brussels, leveraging the money we had from the sale of our D.C. dwelling to place down a ten% down fee of $58,677 and securing a 20-year mortgage with a 3.59% rate of interest.

Take a glance inside our residence

We stay in a street-level duplex in a constructing with solely three residences. It’s barely smaller than our D.C. dwelling, but it surely’s been value it. Our neighborhood is equal to Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., the place a spot like ours could easily cost double or more. We’ve been in a position so as to add our personal touches. 

The entrance door leads into our eating room — one among my favourite components of the residence due to its excessive ceilings and huge house for our lengthy eating desk, the place we host many dinner events. 

Jessica is a meals and journey content material creator, and cooks just about day-after-day. She loves that she and her household can host dinner events within the eating room.

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Next to the eating room is our lounge, the place I made a “fitness nook” with my stationary bike and weights so I can work out whereas watching TV. 

We added an American-style range and oven that matches my Thanksgiving turkey, in addition to a wine fridge to our galley kitchen. We put in terrazzo flooring as an homage to my childhood dwelling in Puerto Rico. 

“In Europe usually ovens are very tiny, but not the case with me because I love a big Thanksgiving turkey,” Jessica says.

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Toward the again of the primary ground, a small room doubles as an workplace and a sitting room. Large sliding doorways result in our two-level terrace, one with a big desk we use within the hotter months.

Jessica and her household wish to eat exterior on the terrace within the hotter months. Above and past the patio, she says, “we have a beautiful view of the city hall.”

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The bedrooms, laundry room, storage, and loo are on the underside ground.

Lack of closets and space for storing is frequent in European residences. Fortunately, the previous house owners made a storage system beneath the steps, which we use for further garments, home items, wines, and images tools. 

“My daughter’s room still has the home’s original tile, which we love,” Jessica says.

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We have an average-sized bed room with a walk-in closet and a small visitor bed room with a full-sized mattress. 

Our lavatory is huge for European requirements with a bathe and tub, and we plan to renovate it in 2025.  

The bed room is “very basic,” Jessica says.

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Currently, our month-to-month housing prices in Brussels embrace our mortgage ($2,931) and apartment price ($65) in addition to utilities resembling electrical energy ($73), gasoline ($70), water (about $50), and web and cable ($68). 

Our life in Brussels

I miss being inside driving distance of my household in Western New York. The principal sacrifice of this transfer is being so removed from individuals I’m near. But we’re pleased to be in Brussels. 

Our neighborhood, Saint Gilles, has all the time been one among my favourite components of the town, stuffed with Portuguese, Brazilian, Eastern European, Italian, Latin American, and North African eating places and retailers. We even had a Latino-themed Christmas market with Colombian meals stands and stay salsa music sponsored by the city corridor final yr! 

Our daughter, now seven, is a half-Dutch, half-Puerto Rican, third-culture child, so we wished her to develop up in a various neighborhood.

Jessica’s seven-year-old daughter already speaks English, Dutch, and Spanish, and can begin studying French in school subsequent yr, too.

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Belgium shares borders with 4 international locations: the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. This shut proximity makes it simple to take a fast weekend journey to discover much more locations and cultures.

I am unable to say leaving the U.S. for Europe meant the top of all our issues. But I really feel extra content material and comfy right here. I do not fear as a lot about college shootings, for instance, or the potential lack of employer-sponsored healthcare. We can afford to stay, get childcare for our daughter, eat and prepare dinner just like the foodie I’m, and journey recurrently. 

And we are able to embrace a slower tempo of life and a tradition that prizes associates and holidays not less than as a lot as work. 

Jessica van Dop DeJesus is a contract journalist, a digital media strategist, and the founding father of The Dining Traveler, a multimedia digital platform protecting meals and journey. Jessica was raised in Puerto Rico and started touring as a younger Marine over 25 years in the past. She at the moment serves because the Latinx facilitator for the Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship program for Bunker Labs, offering mentorship to aspiring veteran entrepreneurs. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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