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Job in Belgium: Community Social Worker

David Knockaert, 35, from Wondelgem talks about his job and wage

What is your job?
– I am a community worker for the city of Ghent. We work on social cohesion in a number of neighbourhoods in Ghent, so that everyone can feel welcome without losing their identity. Together with other partners, I regularly organise activities so that the communities can learn about and get to know each other.
– Do you like your job?
– Yes, very much. I’ve worked 14 years for the city of Ghent and for the last two years as community social worker. Regardless of what happens I will always work for the city of Ghent: it is my city and I like working for it. It’s a job for and with people, very enriching. Moreover, there is not one single day the same as another. I have contact with people from all walks of life and from all corners of the world. Bringing people back from the edge of society is very rewarding. It’s a very nice feeling to bring people together.
– What do you think of your salary?
– I am very satisfied (€3,100 per month gross, €1,970 net). Fourteen years ago I earned €1,200 net, so there is some evolution. I live alone and I can make ends meet.
– How many hours per week do you work?
– I work full time and have a contract of 38 hours per week. But because of the nature of my work there is some evening and weekend work involved and so I often work more than 38 hours. This is not really a problem because I am compensated for those extra hours. I often have to work when others have free time: a strict nine-to-five schedule does not suit my job.
– Do you save money?
– I try to put something aside at the beginning of the month. If you wait until the end of the month that doesn’t always work out. Some time ago I bought a house and refurbished it, most of my savings went into that project. However, I see that as an investment. Now I can save again. Not large amounts, but it is something. I am also in a pension scheme since I started working.
– Where does most of your income go?
– Paying off my house. Not really that much, about a third or a quarter of my salary. That is good because I hear friends talking about their high mortgages. I have deliberately not bought a house that is too big or too expensive.
– What would you never spend your money on?
– I’m not sure. A fancy car maybe? Things you do not need, status symbols. I buy only what I need and choose sustainability.
– What do you like to spend your money on?
– I like to travel. That doesn’t have to be too long or too far. I try to travel at least once a year, sometimes twice. I’m quite a fan of eastern Europe and it is easy to be very budget friendly there. Occasionally, I’ll choose something cultural: trips, books, concerts… and also going out to eat tasty food. Next year I plan on getting a second tattoo and that is not so cheap.
– What would you do if you won the lottery?
– I do not think I would change my lifestyle drastically. I would continue to work, but work less. After that I would start or support projects that bring people together, such as retreat farms for youths, where they can come just to relax. I would definitely invest in these. More travel: there are still many places in the world I have not seen.

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