Popular areas for the expatriate community are Antwerp, Brussels, Tervuren, Ukkel, Waterloo and Wezembeek-Oppem.
The availability of apartments and houses in the country and particularly in these popular areas varies. Most expats rent their apartment or house; some buy their homes. Both options are available but mainly depend on your company policy, income, and the length of your stay.
Cost of housing
Varies from area to area and the size of the house or apartment you'll pay anything from Euro 800 to Euro 2800 for an apartment and Euro 2500 to Euro 5000 and higher.
Belgian Rental Market
Finding suitable accommodation can be a problem in some parts of Belgium, depending on your requirements and your financial resources. There is a relatively free and open housing market in much of Belgium. Housing is available in most of Belgium, although the constant flow of bureaucrats and diplomats to and from Brussels makes the rental market tight in and around the capital.
Rental housing in Belgium is plentiful and generally easy to find, thanks to rather generous (for Belgium) treatment of rental income. Despite recent changes to this popular tax loophole, rental property is still considered a good way for retirees to supplement their pension income. In larger cities such as Brussels, there’s a constant changeover of diplomatic and corporate personnel, so that apartments and houses become available at all times of the year. You’ll see plenty of window signs with big orange letters on a black background proclaiming ‘à louer/te huur’ and the phone number you can call for further information. It’s sometimes possible to arrange an immediate appointment to see a property if you’re touring an area with your mobile phone in hand, and ‘sign hunting’ is a popular means of finding living quarters in a specific neighbourhood.
Most apartments and houses are rented unfurnished, although the kitchen (cuisine/keuken) can vary as to how well equipped (equipée/uitgerust) it is. A semi-equipped kitchen probably has a sink and some built-in cupboards, but not much more. You’ll be expected to provide your own appliances or make arrangements with the prior tenant to buy theirs. ‘Equipped’ means that the basic appliances are included (cooker and probably a refrigerator, but not always), and ‘super-equipped’ indicates that the kitchen may have a dishwasher, microwave and/or other ‘luxury’ appliances, as well as all the basics. If the kitchen isn’t equipped, you’ll have to provide all your own cupboards and appliances.
There are a number of ways to find a property to rent, including the following:
- Ask friends, relatives and acquaintances to look out for suitable accommodation, particularly if you’re looking in the area where you already live. A lot of rental properties are found by word of mouth, particularly in cities with large expatriate or transient populations (e.g. Brussels).
- Look at advertisements in local newspapers (including free ones) and magazines.
- Visit accommodation and letting agents. Most cities and large towns have estate agents (agences immobilières/makelaars in onroerende goederen or simply makelaars) who also act as letting agents for owners. It’s often better to deal with an agent than directly with owners, particularly regarding contracts and legal matters.
- Look at advertisements in shop windows and on notice boards in shopping centres, supermarkets, universities and colleges and company offices.
- Walk through neighbourhoods you think you might like to live in and look for ‘to let’ signs (à louer/te huur) on suitable properties.
- Read newsletters published by churches, clubs and expatriate organisations or ask at international schools or other places where expats and their families congregate.
Most rental properties in Belgium are let unfurnished, which means that you must provide most fittings and fixtures, including ceiling lamps, kitchen cupboards, appliances and often floor coverings. Furnished properties (meublé/gemeubeld) are rare and often difficult to find except for short-term stays, generally less than a year.
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