Expats will find ample satisfactory real estate in Brussels and its surrounding areas available to rent or buy. Most of the many real estate agents in the city have websites and there are many resources for ex-pats looking for accommodation in the city. Many people choose to live in the 19 municipalities of Brussels but many ex-pats also choose to live in the other 17 municipalities around the city. Transport into the city is relatively good and often housing prices are lower than they are in the nicer parts of the city center. Often, it’s quieter and closer to nature, nestled in the beautiful area outside of Brussels where forests abound, without being very far from the city center.
Housing prices in Belgium by European standards are still quite reasonable and have often been considered a bargain by investors, though with the ever-increasing arrival of people working for the likes of the European Union and NATO they have increased substantially. Like any city, you have a range to choose from, with some areas more high-end and as a result more expensive, while others, in particular in the less-affluent areas being more reasonable.
As an older city, many of the buildings, in particular apartments, are older, with many of art nouveau, art deco and Flemish design. Prices of renting and buying can vary greatly, even in the same neighborhoods as there can be major contrasts within a matter of blocks and it is important for ex-pats looking for accommodation to physically see the properties and areas before deciding on whether it is suitable for them. Prices have been on an upward trend for several years and buying a house is considered a good long-term investment in Brussels. The last couple of years have, however, seen a stabilisation of prices, due to the effects of the world-wide economic crunch, and so it may be possible to find bargains. Many locals and expats buy property and use rental income to complement their earnings.
Brussels is a relatively small city and if you live within the 19 municipalities you are close to most places in Brussels and barring traffic, everything is a reasonably short drive. Coupled with the good public transit system, you often can avoid driving and use that instead. Many people living in the city choose not to have a car as they live close to where they work or can take public transport. Many of the schools and shopping areas are also easily accessible by public transport and some people consider having a car a hassle as they barely use it, and when they need to go out of town, there are ample trains that go to the coast or to the Ardennes forest, the most popular holidaying areas in Belgium at very reasonable prices. This allows you to avoid the often shocking clutter on the highways that are often initiated by beautiful sunny weather or snow in the Ardennes.