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Brussels or Bust: Just One Hour and 25 Minutes from Paris

Brussels, BelgiumBrusselsOne of the most wonderful things about living in Paris is having all of Europe at your feet. Yesterday, I took the Thalys TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) to and from Brussels for a mere 39€ each way arriving at the city central station (Bruxelles Midi) in just one hour and 25 minutes. It was barely long enough to open up the computer to get some emails done, with WiFi offered on the train…amazing!

It had been too many years not having been in Brussels, considering how easy and inexpensive it is to get there, but I didn’t have a lot of reasons to go…until now. ‘Now’ is because of a growing relationship with Dunhill Financial located in Brussels — Brian Dunhill and his father, the founder of the firm, Michael. (dunhillfinancial.be/founding-partners)

Brian and Michael Dunhill - Paris, FranceBrian and Michael DunhillIn an effort to expand their Expat client reach to Paris, Brian contacted me, to which I said, “I can’t be certain about my readers, but I need you!” It’s important that every resource offered by our Group gets personally tested and acquires what I jokingly call the “Adrian Leeds Seal of Approval.” With the last couple years of tax audits on both sides of the proverbial pond and a juggling of personal and business assets, Brian’s call was a welcome safety net. It is so difficult to know how to manage one’s own finances, even on the smallest of scales. Compound that with business and accountability and it escalates in importance.

Brian knew just what to do to take full advantage of what I had achieved to make it work for me better. I literally put my financial self into his hands with full trust and now sleep comes much easier while the bank accounts grow. He is helping achieve a better balance between real and liquid assets and working towards the real possibility of a less-work-more-play future with increases in passive income…or at least the ability to choose what I will be working out while being financially secure.

Expats with a foot in both worlds like myself need resources like Brian and Michael who understand both sides better than we do…and they are tough to find. This was a god-send for me at a time ripe for such an angel to appear. And like a guardian angel, Brian did me another really big favor.

A couple weeks ago when he was here in Paris making a presentation for Parler Paris readers, he ‘let it out of the bag’ that he was ‘investing’ in bringing a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) into his firm — someone he had worked with in the past and had a similar background to his — an American who had previously lived in Brussels with experience providing tax, consulting and financial services for U.S. Expats — most importantly to assist in filing their U.S. income tax returns. It was a welcome addition to his staff so that they could intelligently answer tax questions by their clients.

In the April 15th issue of Parler Paris titled “T-Day for French Expats” you may recall
that even if living outside the U.S., we Americans are still obligated to file a tax return regardless if there is tax to pay or not. So many of us forget this simple fact — and without an accountant handy to assist in filing the return, we can easily get lazy or passive and do nothing — NOT A GOOD IDEA!

Again, it was like a god-send. My U.S. CPA is on the other side of the planet in California and while worth a high price, is too pricey for my poor pockets. This new addition to Brian’s staff would be able to manage the U.S. returns with coordination of the French tax returns and “en plus,” be in the same time-zone, and just one hour and 25 minutes away from a face-to-face encounter. Again, I said, “I can’t be certain about my readers, but I need him!”

Carl MirCarl MirCarl Mir, of Carl Mir Enterprises US, arrived in Brussels on May 3rd to set up his desk at Dunhill Financial. I arrived just two days later on May 5th to be his first client encounter — hence the primary reason for taking one day to be in Brussels. Brian picked me up at the station and drove through the vibrant city to where he both lives and works on the east side of center between the Université Libre de Bruxelles (a French-speaking private research university) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (a Dutch-speaking university). Thanks to this, his immediate neighborhood is friendly and teeming with good restaurants and other student-focused amenities.

After introductions to several staff members I hadn’t met before, Carl and I sequestered into the conference room. He was just coming out of jet lag when he was hit with my saga, taking two hours to explain what he was about to inherit from the California CPA. It’s a kind of ‘survival test’ — if he can make heads or tails from the vortex within which I live between the two countries, he could manage just about anyone’s file!

La Mirabelle veranda - Brussels, BelgiumLa Mirabelle verandaWaterzoiiWaterzoii

Over lunch at the nearby Mirabelle Restaurant, the three of us dining on a Belgian specialty of “Waterzooï de volaille à la gantoise” (a stew originating in Flanders made made of fish or chicken, said to have been the favorite dish of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor who was born in Ghent), both Carl and I were welcomed and indoctrinated to the Dunhill clan.

By 6:30 p.m. I was home again and Brussels was a mere one hour and 25 minutes behind me. It could not have been easier or more worthwhile.

Brian will be speaking again in Paris for any of you Parler Paris readers who wish to join us on July 2nd from 6 to 8 p.m. at the same location — upstairs at Le Café de la Marie…with complimentary drinks, thanks to Dunhill Financial. We are hoping Carl will be able to join him…if, of course, he’s ready to take on the onslaught of Expat questions about taxes! Stay tuned as we bring you more information about this, but for now mark your calendars and have a look at our Conferences page.

Note: If you contact Brian or Carl prior to the next event, be sure to tell them you are a Parler Paris Reader! Contact: +32 (0)2 644 66 25 or email: [email protected].

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with Carl Mir - Brussels, BelgiumAdrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris

(with Carl Mir)

Respond to Adrian

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Photographer Susanne Kischnick-MezaP.S. Parler Paris Après Midi TUESDAY May 12! Our guest is Susanne Kischnick-Meza, Professional Photographer and Image Consultant speaking on “How to be photogenic.” Don’t miss it!

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