Accommodation in Leuven

Leuven
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Updated 2021-12-20 13:58

Leuven is home to a lot of students but also attracts expats because of the companies implemented there. So, where to find housing in Leuven?

Leuven

Leuven (or Louvain in French) is a small city with a very rich historical past. It's the capital city of the Flanders-Brabant region and is also the largest city here. In addition, it's considered a student city because of the Catholic university KU Leuven. This university is 500 years old and is the main attraction in Leuven, not only for students, but also for companies that are at the top of their field. All these details attract many foreigners in search of a new life and a new place to live.

The boroughs of Leuven

Leuven is divided into 5 different boroughs:

  • Heverlee
  • Kessel-Lo
  • Leuven
  • Wijgmaal
  • Wilsele

Below are some details on each borough so you can decide which one you're best suited for.

Heverlee

Heverlee is located to the south of Leuven. This area is a Belgian region in the Brabant province. It's home to the Higher Catholic School (Katholieke Hogeschool Lueven) and a section of the Catholic University, the Arenberg campus. This campus is dedicated to research and education for exact sciences. Heverlee also has the main facilities for the Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences on the Arenberg campus.

If you enjoy sports, then you'll be pleased to know that the Den Dreef stadium is located in Heverlee. This is the home of the Belgian soccer team Oud-Heverlee Leuven. This borough also holds the Cyclocross Leuven race every January.

This town has flourishing industrial parts, which means there are ample job opportunities here.

Kessel-Lo

Kessel-Lo is located northeast of Leuven. It's home to a family park called Provinciaal Domein Kessel-Lo that offers recreational activities, sports, and cultural leisure activities.

The borough has many youth organizations, which makes it ideal for families with young children. On the other hand, there's a local brewery called De Vlier, so it's perfect for beer connoisseurs.

Lastly, if you like rugby, you'll feel right at home here. Kessel-Lo is home to the rugby team Rugby Club Leuven.

Leuven

This is Leuven proper, which we've already covered earlier. Most of the city life is found here, so if you like the hustle and bustle, you should think about settling down in Leuven center.

Wijgmaal

Wijgmaal is located far up north of Leuven, even past Wilsele. You'll find the Wijgmaal Station here, which acts as a hub for transportation. Wijgmaal is also home to the Ymeria Stadion, which is a soccer stadium that's the home of Olympia SC Wijgmaal.

Every May, you'll witness the Wijgmaalse Feesten, which is a three-day celebration. There are many sports activities, mainly races. You'll also get to enjoy musical performances.

Wilsele

Wilsele is located on the northern side of Leuven. There are actually two parts to Wijgmaal, which are separated by the Canal Leuven-Dijle: Wilsele-Dorp (a village) and Wilsele-Putkapel. It wasn't until recently that a bridge was built across the canal to connect these two parts.

On Keizersberg (which means “emperor's hill” in Dutch), there's an abbey. Many students from KU Leuven reside here, so if you're a student yourself, keep this borough as an open option if you want to live around other students.

How to find housing in Leuven

You can look for accommodation in Leuven online or through real estate agencies. If you're on Facebook, you can join groups that are specifically aimed at finding accommodations in Leuven. Otherwise, sites like Booking, Logic Immo, Immoweb, and Immo Vlan are great to search on.

Once you're actually in Leuven, it's easier to locate rentals, as they most likely display a sign on them that says “te huur” (Dutch) or “à louer” (French). Newspapers, online and printed, are also very helpful.

If you're really having issues finding housing, then consider enlisting the help of a real estate agent. While they mainly sell properties, they can also assist you in apartment rental searches.

Temporary accommodation in Leuven

Before you settle into an apartment, you have to go out looking for one first. In the meantime, you'll need to stay in temporary accommodations. Otherwise, you'll be homeless.

The cheapest option is to stay in a hostel, and Leuven has two available: Leuven City Hostel and HI De Blauwput Leuven. Hostel St. Jacob is a third option, but at the time of writing, it's temporarily closed. At these hostels, you can stay cheaply, but you'll usually have to share a room with strangers, as the rooms have 4, 6, or more beds. Not only that, but you'll also have to share bathrooms and showers with everyone else. You can also book twin rooms with private bathrooms, but these will cost significantly more. At this point, it's a better choice to just book a budget hotel, especially if you're bringing lots of your belongings and valuables with you.

If you're looking for budget hotels, try Hotel Ladeuze. It's located just one minute from Ladeuzeplein and many university faculties. They've got a breakfast buffet you can have for €9, so if you have a big appetite, it can be worth your money. There are several other budget hotels you can try, such as Ibis Budget Leuven Centrum, Budget Flats Leuven, and Hotel Industrie.

Otherwise, popular options are regular hotels. There are many concentrated in the Leuven proper area, but they might be a bit pricier since they're centrally located. Consider booking a hotel outside of the R23 ring to get cheaper rooms. Leuven is small enough to traverse, so staying outside of the ring can be better on your wallet.

If you want to get a feel for life as a local, Airbnb is a great choice. You'll get to stay in studios or apartments that'll show you how the potential place you'll rent will be like. There are also entire townhouses and residential homes available, or you can just rent out a private room in a residence to save a little money.

Another option is aparthotels, such as one at Boardhousing Aparthotel. These combine the best of both worlds when it comes to apartments and hotels. You'll feel like you're living in an apartment but you'll enjoy amenities and housekeeping as if you were staying in a hotel. Because the living quarters are larger and include a kitchenette, it'll probably be the most expensive option. However, if you need to stay for a longer duration, aparthotels can be the most cost-efficient choice since the daily rate is lower in comparison and you can cook your own food instead of eating out.

Student accommodation in Leuven

To stay in the university residence halls at KU Leuven, you need to sign a rental contract of 10 months. Make sure you apply early because rooms will go fast. To qualify for university accommodations, you must be enrolled for 27 credits in an academic year or 13 credits in a semester.

If you'd like to stay longer, then private market apartments usually have a contract term of 12 months. On the other hand, if you're only staying for a semester (which is 5 months), you'll need to go with a private landlord. This option will be more expensive than renting for a full year, but it's possible to do.

If you're looking for off-campus private accommodations, you can follow the same route that normal expats do. Do note that it's not very common for students to look for an apartment or house on their own. However, you can ask KU Leuven to send you model contracts so you know what a leasing contract looks like. Because you're advised to sign contracts in Dutch, if you can't read the language, you can ask a Housing Service advisor at your university to help you out. Do note that they usually aren't able to help you by email, but rather, by in-person appointments or by phone.

Accommodations in Leuven

Like in most other Belgian cities, there are three main options for long-term accommodation in Leuven: rooms, studios, and apartments.

Rooms can bridge the gap between staying in a hotel and renting out a studio or apartment, as it's cheaper. It's also ideal for those who are on a tight budget, such as students. However, you won't get much privacy, as you'll have other housemates. But it can be great for those who like company. Expect rooms to be anywhere between 25 to 35 square meters large.

Studio apartments are the next step up. They'll give you your own space and are bigger than just having a room. However, be aware that studios are a bit smaller in Leuven than they are in other places. Expect them to be around 35 to 40 square meters large. They're ideal for both single people and couples. This is because studios have a mostly open concept where the bedroom leads into the kitchen and the living room areas.

Apartments are a step up from studios in that they have walls between rooms and are slightly larger as well. Like the rooms and studios, 1-bedroom apartments are a bit smaller in Leuven than in other cities. They're typically between 40 to 50 square meters large.

When renting out any of the above choices, you'll have the choice of furnished or unfurnished. However, if you're renting a room, you'll usually have to supply the furniture yourself. Furnished properties will be much simpler to move into since you won't have to get any furniture, beds, TVs, and other large items. However, it'll cost more to rent out and there will be more potential things to damage, which means there's more of a chance of your landlord taking your deposit. Unfurnished properties will be more of a pain to move into and get set up, but you'll get to choose your own things and better yet, you can take them with you should you move elsewhere.

Pay attention to unfurnished shell Apartments

While you're searching for apartments, be especially on the lookout for unfurnished shell apartments. At first glance, you might think they're the same thing as unfurnished apartments. However, you need to have a sharp eye or else you'll be in for a surprise.

An unfurnished shell apartment is basically devoid of anything. So not only do you not have basic furniture, you won't have appliances such as a refrigerator, washing machine, or stove. That's not it either; a shell apartment won't have light fixtures, carpet, curtains, and more. Reasonably, this type of apartment is the cheapest type to rent out. However, you'll have to go through the trouble of finding all these things to make your apartment livable.

Rents in Leuven

Rent prices in Leuven are a bit higher than other places, although not as high as in Brussels, considering that's the capital of the country.

To rent out a room, it'll cost you around €300. For a furnished studio, this can cost close to €900, so as you can see, this is why many students and those on a budget choose to stay in a room. And lastly, a furnished 1-bedroom apartment will cost you over €1,000 to rent out.

How to rent an accommodation

To rent an accommodation, you should reach out by phone, although email is acceptable nowadays, especially in a student town. Either way, the landlord needs to describe the property to you in full detail so you should have a good idea of whether or not it's ideal for you.

If you decide it's right for you, you can schedule a viewing. At this point, the landlord can't legally deny you.

Once at the viewing, check every room and how everything's functioning. This includes how the ventilation is like in the bathroom, as people usually have a problem with moisture.

If you want to rent out a property after viewing it, it's time to sign a contract. Verbal agreements won't suffice. Both you and the landlord will need to sign and date two copies of the contract, which both of you will get to keep. In addition, you'll have to go through an inventory checklist and both of you must sign off on that as well. At the end of your tenancy, you'll go through the list together and if anything is not in the original condition, the price to fix it will be deducted from your deposit. As for the deposit, you'll usually have to put two to three months' rent down. Most people choose to have a bank hold that amount in escrow.

Within two months of you signing the contract, it must be registered with the municipality. However, this is the landlord's responsibility. If they fail to do so and still don't register it one month afterward, you're legally allowed to leave the property without giving notice or compensation.

If you want to move out of the property, you'll need to get your landlord at least three months' notice. The exact time will depend on which type of contract you've signed.

Useful links:

Leuven Official Portal

Logic Immo

Booking

Immoweb

Immo Vlan

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