The Apartment Hunt in Brussels!

Once you leave the student’s life behind and settle in your new work environment, the apartment search takes on a new dimension. Should I rent? Should I buy? what are the constraints? How much will it cost? The endless question cycle begins…

For me the questioning started 2 years ago approximately and I found a few answers  along the way.

  • Renting or Buying? Once you start earning your monthly wage, you want to be fully independent and build your nest. I find that renting is the easy solution and maybe not the best one. Renting means giving away a huge part of your salary every month for something you do not own. My priority, I find, is to own something and as such invest in building my life/future. In order to do so, I have stayed for some time at my parents, my boyfriend’s parents and now at my boyfriend’s apartment in order to save money for my big buying project…
  • What is your dream home? I am not saying you will get the dream home right away but you can find something approaching or a “structure” that you can bend and transform into your dream home 🙂 In my case, I know that I want an entrance, an open kitchen, a fireplace, two bedrooms minimum…And the list goes on. I doubt I will ever find a picture perfect apartment but I am looking for a close match in terms of space.
  • Small or Big? Should you start with a 40m² or 85m²? 40m² is very small if you like to be at home but perfect if you travel a lot or only need a place to crash for the night. For some time I wanted to buy a small apartment close to any university or college in Brussels so I could rent it if I couldn’t live in it. But let’s face it, I like to be home and to cook and to cuddle and I have bought over time some big furnitures that will last for a lifetime soooooo no 40m² possible anymore. Plus it is important to think about the rest of your plan: meeting someone? marrying? having kids? At some point I think a bigger apartment is a must unless you want to make an investment and pay taxes 🙂
  • Neighbourhood? Another important point when looking for an apartment…At first you look at everything and leave all options open. But after visiting a few places I narrowed my search to the neighbourhoods I felt comfortable living in. I can afford to buy a place in Molenbeek Saint Jean or Anderlecht but would I feel safe walking alone at night? I doubt it. Do I want to spend 2 hours per day to get to work because I bought in a neighbourhood at the other side of Brussels? Nope…So I am looking in the nicer suburbs of my city: Auderghem, Watermael-Boitsfort, Uccle, Ixelles, Woluwé or Evere.
  • Buying new or Renovating? Do no underestimate how much renovations can cost but don’t forget that buying in a brand new building means paying an addition 21% VAT on top of the apartment price + notarial fees…The one thing to do is to visit the apartment you will make an offer to with an expert. That person will spot all the small details you will miss, all the defaults and hidden costs you don’t foresee. It will help negotiate the final price of the apartment and evaluate the amount of renovations needed. You may also receive a few tips on what is urgent (you must renovate electricity within 18 month after buying for example) and how to lower your costs (getting help from the region if your renovation saves energy).
  • Next Step? When you find THE place, make your offer and if you buy in Belgium make sure to write on the offer all your conditions –> e.g. the offer is valid IF I get my loan from the bank, if the electricity is up to new standards, if no hidden defects are found by the expert,… These conditions will ensure your financial protection in case you don’t get your loan or let’s imagine the worst if there are costly hidden defects found while renovating. Once your offer is accepted, it’s time to meet the notaris and do a lot of reading.

This is a short list but still useful when you are trying to buy in Brussels 🙂 Think carefully about what YOU want, this is a big decision.

Any questions? Feel free to ask! 


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