Where to live in Belgium
If you looking to move to Brussels, you'll find a range of neighbourhoods with distinct charactertistics, from central down-town neighbourhoods to family-friendly leafy suburbs. Choose where to live in Brussels.
If living in the thick of it all is irresistible then downtown is the place for you. In recent years, previously run-down parts of the centre have become a magnet for young professionals, with major renovations and industrial spaces coming up for rent or sale. Sought-after areas are St Géry, Ste Catherine and the rue Antoine Dansaert area leading up to the canal, where old warehouses have been converted into popular loft apartments.
The traditionally cheaper, working-class Marolles is becoming increasingly popular with a young urban set. The Sablon and Louise are fabulously upmarket but that is, naturally, reflected in price. What you get in return is a raft of art galleries, antique shops and stylish cafes.
Up and coming are the streets around the main boulevard leading down to Gare du Midi, with many old properties ripe for development and still at somewhat attractive prices.
Ixelles is a massive commune with character and style, wildly popular with the expatriate community. It falls into distinct areas: trendy Châtelain with its café culture, the leafy ponds and abbey area leading down to the Bois de la Cambre; and buzzy Chaussée d’Ixelles, which takes in the Matongé, the African quarter, and the cemetery with its late-night bars and student population. Through it all runs Avenue Louise with its upmarket shops and restaurants, which is technically part of the Brussels City district. The housing stock tends to be large townhouses and desirable apartment conversions, but you’ll certainly pay for it. If you’re looking for green space there is the huge Bois de la Cambre to the south. For more suburban living, head southeast to the commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, which is rapidly becoming a popular area with easy city access and a quaint village feel.
Best known for the area at the top end of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Etterbeek is filled with attractive streets lined with early 20th-century townhouses. Home to many European institutions, it has fantastic public transport facilities. The relatively cheap housing prices and good availability of houses and apartments, mostly in conversions, make Etterbeek particularly attractive. There are international schools here, as well as cultural venues at l’Espace Senghor, Théâtre St-Michel, Théâtre Yvan Baudouin-Lesly Bunton, and l’Espace Entrée Libre.
St Gilles/ Sint Gillis
St Gilles is a favourite among expats who like to live like locals. From the top end, with its grand Art Nouveau houses, down to the earthy Gare du Midi, St Gilles is packed with quirky restaurants, shops and a buzzing nightlife. There is the beautiful art deco Victor Boin swimming pool and Turkish baths for relaxing, plus a number of theatres, cinemas and galleries to explore. You are more likely to find a bargain property here too, especially if you buy. It is one of Brussels’ most dynamic areas with a definite future, attracting both expats and locals to its enigmatic character.
This is a beautiful and calm commune with huge houses and upmarket apartment blocks. Popular with expat families and home to a large international community, it has a village feel and is well situated for shops and several international schools. It is probably Brussels’ most leafy commune due to its close proximity to the Forest of Soignes and housing with generous gardens. In summer, concerts are held in the local Parc de Wolvendael.
Woluwe Saint Pierre/ Sint Pieters Woluwe
This is often the choice of folk working at the European institutions, both for its proximity and upmarket housing. It is popular with expat families for its large, gardened houses, although a mix of apartments and townhouses exists also. It is almost self-contained with its massive park, sports centre and public amenities. It is also on the metro line 1B, giving easy public transport access.
Woluwe Saint Lambert/ Sint Lambrechts Woluwe
Saint-Pierre’s next-door neighbour shares much the same attractions, including the huge Woluwe Shopping Centre. A step further out from the centre, it begins to get even more suburban and green, yet is within good distance to the airport and major international motorways. You will find varied shopping and plenty to do, including a swimming pool and ice-skating rink.