Finding Somewhere To Live in Brussels
If you’re coming to Brussels to live and work, then you’re going to need to find somewhere to live.
Finding Somewhere To Live in Brussels
Brussels is the most expensive city in Belgian and the large expat population living in the city there’s a strong demand for good quality housing in good areas. As a result, these districts tend to be more expensive.
However, Brussels is still comparatively cheaper than other capitals such as London and Paris.
Fortunately there’s a wide variety of housing available across the city. You can find modern and not-so-modern apartment blocks with spacious balconies, streets of narrow 19th century terraced houses and large detached villas. All manner of architectural styles and indeed oddities are represented here!
Around a third of Belgians rent their homes and most newcomers to Brussels and even many of those living here longer term will most likely rent their housing. This gives you a number of advantages over buying.
Buying real estate in Belgium involves very high additional charges and taxes – amongst which a 10 – 12.5 percent stamp duty payable when buying property. Belgian real estate prices also tend to rise much more slowly than in the UK, Netherlands or elsewhere. Tax can also be payable on any capital gain made on selling.
These factors mean that buying is unlikely to be financially viable unless you are certain you will remain living in the property or at least are willing and able to hold onto it for the long-term.
Renting in Brussels
Renting gives you a high degree of flexibility, with moving being simpler than for owner-occupiers, and the costs much lower. There’s also no shortage of rented housing and there is a wide variety available across all price levels.
Rents in general in Belgium are relatively low compared to neighbouring countries. Brussels not surprisingly has the highest rents, but even these are competitive compared to London.
Rents in Brussels can be very high in the south and south-eastern middle class districts which tend to be favoured by expats and EU personnel. In other Belgian cities you will find rent levels to be much lower, so if you want to get more or better quality accommodation at a lower price it might be an idea to consider commuting from outside Brussels.
In contrast to the Netherlands, where a high proportion of rented accommodation is controlled by housing associations with restrictive letting criteria and long waiting lists, most rented property in Belgium is privately let and thus openly available on the market. This makes it easier to find something suitable, and rent levels also tend to be lower in Belgium than in Holland.
Tenants in Belgium also enjoy a higher degree of legal protection than in the UK and the Belgian rental system is on the whole well regulated.
Use an online real estate service
The easiest way to find a suitable house or apartment in Brussels is to use an online real estate listing service. The leader in this field in Belgium is without doubt Immoweb at www.immoweb.be The site is in Dutch, French and English versions and is free of charge.
You can browse and search the selections on Immoweb by region or city, as well as specifying price/number of bedroom combinations. I was able to find an excellent modern apartment through Immoweb with little difficulty.
Some of the properties are listed by estate agents, but there is no reason for this be a hindrance. In contrast to some countries such as Germany, the fees of Belgian real estate agents are paid by the landlord and not by the prospective tenant.
Unlike in Germany, where landlords tend to keep quiet about the fact that their property is vacant and such signs are a rarity, “To let” signs (Te huur/A louer) are a common feature of Brussels streets.
As a result another good way to find an apartment, though involving more work, is to just wander around the streets in the district you want to live in and keep a look out for “To let” boards and then note down the details. The rent asked for is often also stated on the board.
Brussels has a relatively high level of vacant rental properties and so it shouldn’t take you long to find suitable that you like and at a price that fits your budget.
Immoweb are at www.immoweb.be
Image courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/corporatienl/4119287985/
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