Finding accommodation in Brussels
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As it is a very multicultural city with a healthy job market, it is no surprise that Brussels is so popular with expats. An inexpensive place to live in comparison with the nearby capitals of Paris, London and Amsterdam, Brussels' residents enjoy a very high standard of living.

When moving to a new city, one of the priorities is of course to find a place to live. To help you out, here is everything you need to know about finding accommodation in Brussels.

Due to the European institutions and organisations such as NATO being based in Brussels, every year the capital welcomes lots of expats who come here to work in an international environment. While many expats stay and work in Brussels for decades after having arrived, just as many people head home when their employment comes to an end. As such, accommodation is never too hard to find as flats and houses are continually becoming available across the city.

Neighbourhoods in Brussels

After having decided to move to Brussels, one of the main priorities is to find accommodation in the capital which is home to 1,2 million inhabitants. All in all, the city is made up of nineteen different municipalities, and each of them has their unique feel, with all of them having something different to offer.

One of the most popular neighbourhoods to live in is Bruxelles-Ville; the historic centre of the city. Here you'll find many of the main tourist attractions as well as a wealth of bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. As it is located at the heart of the capital, it has excellent transport links and so in no time at all you can get to most places in Brussels. This popularity, however, does mean that it can be a bit harder to find accommodation and administrative services often have long queues.

Among expats, the neighbourhoods of Ixelles, Etterbeek and Saint-Gilles are also all trendy places to live, and while each of them has their own characteristics, they all have lots to offer and have great transport links to the rest of the city. Located on the outskirts of Brussels, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre are also popular with families as there are lots of green spaces and large houses to be found here.

Within the city, Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, Schaerbeek, Forest and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean are all located not too far from the city centre, and they are all home to very multicultural populations. As they are less popular amongst expats than the neighbourhoods mentioned above, you can find cheaper housing here and lots of hidden gems.

Lying on the periphery of Brussels are the more residential neighbourhoods of Auderghem, Anderlecht, Watermael-Boitsfort and Uccle. While these all have lots of green spaces on offer, they are much quieter and peaceful than the areas nearer to the city centre.

Clustered together to the northwest of Brussels are the neighbourhoods of Berchem-Saint-Agathe, Jette, Ganshoren and Koekelberg. Relatively unknown to most expats in the city, they do offer up some very affordable housing, and this is partly due to their distance from the centre of Brussels. In this respect, they are very similar to Evere in the east of the city which is where NATO is based.

While most expats working in Brussels decide to live in the city, the country's fantastic transport links and the short distance between cities means that everyday people commute to work from neighbouring cities such as Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven; all of which are very nice places to live.

Types of accommodation in Brussels

When it comes to the types of accommodation on offer in Brussels, you will find everything from elegant townhouses to rent to student accommodation and shared flats. For short-term stays, you can also look into the numerous hotels, hostels, apart-hotels and AirBnBs that are scattered around the city.

As you can see, each area has its own characteristics, positives and negatives and so you will want to take your priorities into account when choosing where to stay.

Rent prices in Brussels

For a capital city and one that is home to so many powerful and prestigious international organisations, Brussels is a remarkably affordable city in which to live. Rent prices aren't too high, and for a two-bedroom flat near to the centre, you'll usually pay around 1,000 ' 1,500 euros a month. You will however in all likelihood have to pay for gas, electricity and water on top of this.

Prices get lower the further you head from the centre and are also dependent on whether you sign for a fully-furnished flat or not. Flat-sharing is very common and is the most affordable form of accommodation if you want to stay in a nice place. Student accommodation, however, is the cheapest and most basic with some single rooms going for as little as 300 euros a month.

Renting conditions in Brussels

When renting a flat in Brussels, there are a number of essential things to take into account and the first of which is the lease. Many people arriving in the city for the first time are shocked to find that most rental agreements follow the 3-6-9 system which means that a contract can last up to nine years in total! While this seems scary and a bit crazy to some people, it does give you stability and gives you more rights than in many other cities. You can, however, break the contract if your time in Brussels is up or you want to move. This does, however, mean that you might end up paying a fine such as three months' rent if you break the contract in the first year. Due to the Belgian preference for this system of renting out places, it can be a little tricky to find short-term accommodation although it certainly is possible.

When signing a lease in Brussels, the landlord usually goes around the apartment with the prospective tenant and conducts an "Etat des lieux" which both parties have to agree on and sign. This determines the state of the property and any issues are written down so that both parties don't disagree on anything when it comes time for the tenant to move out. A security deposit of up to three months' rent is also usually blocked in a bank account in the tenant's name.

During the rental period, responsibility for the state of the property falls on the tenant, and while this does mean that you have to keep the place clean and in working order, this also gives you more freedom to decorate and make yourself at home. At the end of the rental contract, however, you need to have returned it into how you found it. While tenants are responsible for everything they use in the flat, it is the landlord who is responsible for any issues that arise with plumbing, electricity or heating systems for instance.

Finding accommodation in Brussels

When it comes to finding accommodation in Brussels, there are many different ways to go about it. There are lots of websites online that have properties for you to browse through and many people find their flat or house on Immovlan.be or Immoweb.be. While scams on the websites are relatively uncommon, it is still good to watch out for them and so you should never pay out a holding deposit before visiting the flat.

To help you out in your search, you may want to speak to a real estate agent, and a list of them for all of the Brussels municipalities can be found at logic-immo.be.

For those of you have more time, you may want to take a stroll around any of the neighbourhoods that you like the sound of as you'll often see "te huur", "à louer" or "to rent" on signs outside of properties or from flat windows. If you see a place you like, simply call the number on the sign and organise a visit.

Another great way to find accommodation in Brussels is to turn to social media, and there are lots of Facebook groups which advertise flat-sharing opportunities or properties for rent on them.

Useful links:

be.Brussels
BruKot
Immovlan.be
EU-Rentals
Halldis

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