The idea for the “Meet a Member” series is to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Cohabs Community and get a better sense of what Cohabs is all about.
So, are you curious to learn more about one of our members?
Meet Jennifer, a Canadian living at Cohabs Parvis 108, Brussels.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
I’m Jennifer, 28 years old and born in Toronto, Canada. Before I moved to Belgium 2 years ago, I was a medical software information consultant, but then I wanted to learn French and thought it would be better in Europe than in Quebec (laughs).
So I moved to Brussels, I had to transition from being a young professional to going back to student life! At first, it was a bit scary, such a huge culture change, but I’m so glad I did it.
Can you tell us how you found yourself living in a Cohabs house?
My flatmates were antisocial, they didn’t even say hi, so he told me to come and see Cohabs Jourdan 20 and the great atmosphere there. I did that, then after a while, I gave my notice to my previous apartment and moved to Cohabs.
What are your best memories in Brussels and Belgium so far?
Oh, that’s such a difficult question, I have so many beautiful memories. The barbecues, meeting people, discovering the city… Actually, I moved in during the pandemic so we had to find some hobbies, and we learned to play chess! We did tournaments, chess club Tuesdays,… We also had puzzle nights (laughs). These are really great memories.
We also took a few trips together, to the beautiful Ardennes, Ghent, Bruges, Dinant, and a lot of exploring in the rest of Europe as well.
What are your “best and worst” of Brussels?
Brussels is one of the safest cities I’ve been to! I love the Châtelain, the markets, the social life, the culture… Also, all the terraces and coffees! You don’t have that in Canada. Here in Belgium, my friends are like “let’s go for coffee” and I’m always surprised because we don’t really do that in Toronto. There, we’re super work-oriented and we’re always like “let’s catch up” but we never really do. It’s not good or bad, it’s just so different!
The most complicated thing in Brussels is that sometimes people already have their own social circle and it’s hard to immerse into it. Also, the fact that people speak french and dutch makes the language barrier a bit more difficult. Also, the Belgians are very direct, and I’m so used to sugarcoating.
Any good addresses in Brussels you’d agree to share?
I made a lot of good Belgian friends and they took me to the best places! My favorite ones are:
- Le Cocq in place Fernand Cocq is a great place to have a drink and play chess
- Café Belga because it’s a nice mix of international people and locals
- Matonge is a very cute area with many restaurants and a nice view of the square
- El Cafe in Cimetière d’Ixelles because you get to buy one drink and get one for free during certain hours
- Café Flora in Saint-Gilles is beautiful
- Woodpecker in Bois de la Cambre
- La Pharmacie Anglaise for amazing cocktails
- The “guinguettes” (pop up cafés) in all the Brussels parks during spring and summer
How has your experience with Cohabs been so far?
From the moment I moved in, it was the best experience ever! Making so many friends from different countries, always having something to do, it’s so welcoming. When you have 22 people living together, everyone is so unique and has their own experience, share their own stories, you just learn and grow from all that.
It’s a true family atmosphere, and Cohabs has a great sense of community. Now that I’m moving back to Toronto, I want Cohabs to open there (laughs)!
The company really cares about the residents, you have such great customer service! It’s more than just another shared house, there are events and activities organized all the time so it’s never boring! The Cohabs app allows you to create events but also see the other members and if there are some people from your country. For example, I actually met two other Canadians from other houses and we became great friends.
What I also love is that the structure of the houses makes the space so livable that you can have your own space but also enjoy time with your housemates in the common areas.
Any recommendations or tips for people moving to Brussels?
Yes! Take a deep breath, relax, Brussels is nice, and go live at Cohabs (laughs). People are very friendly, don’t hesitate to ask for directions for example!
Also, I’d say to go to Dinant! It’s beautiful, it’s a nice day trip and it’s great for food and drinks without being too expensive.
You’re moving back to Toronto soon, what will you miss the most?
This list is long! I’ll miss the friendships I have in Brussels, the city, my housemates, my house, walking everywhere, the cafés, the coffees, the calmness, the simplicity, the balanced life, the bars, the music… Everything!
You’re interested in joining your own new family in Brussels? Let’s have a chat together, apply to join here!