In any city, the decision where to live is very important and cannot be taken lightly. The decision should be based on your children/family, work/school commutes, interests and, of course, financial considerations. It is important that you know exactly what you want before deciding. A practical solution is to rent a place in the city, short-term, to find your feet and then decide for yourself what would be best when you know more about the city and what would be most convenient for you.
Having said that, with the large number of expats that do live in Brussels, there are many areas that have significant expat communities if that is attractive to you and many areas in the city where expats congregate. The choice of places to live is quite extensive, with a large number of expats widely dispersed amongst the 37 communes in and around Brussels. The European District in the city provides the most expat friendly hang-outs though there are others littered throughout the city in different neighborhoods.
The biggest benefits of living within the 19 communes of Greater Brussels is the proximity to the city centre and its access to public transport. There is generally a more comprehensive metro and tram system than in the outer communes that have to rely more on overland trains and buses. On the other hand, the upscale neighborhoods in the city are expensive and may offer less space than further outside of the city center. Either way, it is important to know that Brussels is quite a congested city and commutes can be long (even if actual travel distances are not that great) at rush hours.
The 19 Communes of Greater Brussels
- St-Agatha Berchem/St-Agathe-Berchem
- Watermael-Boitsfort/Watermaal Bosvoorde