Brussels and London: how do they compare?

Brussels isn’t usually compared to cities like London – that spot traditionally is reserved for Paris. However, with both being major international cities, there are similarities between the two that make them comparable. For instance, Brussels is the most cosmopolitan city in Europe and second in the world after Dubai; London ranks joint sixth with New York. But switch it to multiculturalism and London ranks fifth and Brussels eighth. So It seems the cities have tit for tat on some scenarios, but how do they compare on other things?

Size and density

London is exponentially bigger than Brussels in both population and size. It’s hard to measure the width of the actual cities side by side, as London is a far-reaching city that encompasses a large amount of the surrounding boroughs, whereas Brussels is a lot more confined. But as it officially stands, the Greater London area measures to be just under ten times bigger than Brussels. 1,572 km2 is the total area of London and Brussels is 161.38 km2.

The sharp contrast is of course in part due to the 8.6 million inhabitants that currently live in the Greater London area compared to 1.1 in Brussels. But despite having a lower population, it seems that smaller area of Brussels actually makes it more densely populated than London. Having a population density of 7025 people/km² compared to London’s 5518 people/km, Brussels ranks 10th and London comes 14th.

Cost of living

This is where Brussels gets a significant head over London as the cost of living is far cheaper the British Captial. On a price index, it is estimated that you would need around £3,235.69 in Brussels to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with £4,500.00. London also scores significantly lower on everything from restaurant dining, general consumer purchasing power, transport and rent.

Cultural offerings

A category in which both cities rank as high scorers. Brussels has some fine heritage and history that can be viewed at its various 89 renowned museums. However, London is the museum capital of the world, having more museums than any other city with 250 and with an added bonus of them being free – unlike Brussels. London also has 104 theatres, 99 more than the European capital, has 13 stadiums, with a difference of 11, and one more UNESCO world heritage site over Brussels’ three.

Standard of living

Measuring physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, safety, security, freedom, religious beliefs, finance and the environment, both score fairly poorly for being in highly developed European countries. The two cities suffer heavily from pollution, crime and personal safety. London is a largely more green city, though education is better in Brussels, but overall, the European capital has the edge this time, by even a significant difference – ranking 27th compared to London’s 41st.

The verdict

Overall, London and Brussels rank fairly consistently on most things, and your decision would come down to your own personal preference. London seems to offer more for those living there and gives its inhabitants a bit more space, but Brussels remains an attractive option due to its better standard of life and its cheaper cost of living.