Brussels, capital of Europe, offers lots of opportunities to young people from all over the world, whether it is for studying or working. With its international environment, the city is welcoming and full of stimulant events. However, finding a place where to live is not always easy. So here it goes a short guide on how to find a home in the city of beers and fries (and chocolate, of course).
The first thing to know is that there are several options when it comes to deciding which kind of accommodation suits you best.
Student housing. In case you are moving to Brussels for studying you can decide to apply for a student room in the campus of your university. Every university on its website has a section with all the necessary information about accommodation on campus and other houses facilities they provide. The price will depend on the university, but usually, student accommodations are cheaper and, therefore, very requested. So, be sure to send your application as soon as possible.
Room in a shared flat. Another option is to rent a room in a “coloc” (shared flat). This is the perfect solution if you don’t want to live alone and you wish to create your little family in Brussels. Anyway, every shared flat is different, with its own lifestyle and requirements. That is why normally you will have a small chat with the other roommates before being accepted. Also, the number of roommates can be very different, it can go from two up to seventeen people. After student houses, rooms in shared flats are usually the cheapest option. The price for a furnished room is normally between 380 and 480 euros, charges excluded.
A studio. If you prefer to live alone, then you should look for a studio, a small apartment for a single person. The prices are going to be a bit higher, but – hey – no one that steals your food or makes parties when you have to wake up early the next morning. For a furnished studio you pay on average between 500 to 750 euros, charges excluded.
In order to find a room or a studio, the best way is to do it through some Facebook groups. Here are some examples:
There also some websites that can help you, such as:
An apartment. If you are a group of friends looking for accommodation together, a good option could be to directly look for an apartment. You can always find it in the Facebook groups linked before, but the best option is the platform Immoweb, where you can personalize your research with your budget and special requests. In case, you can also decide to call on a real estate.
Keep in mind that not all landlords accept flat sharing, so always be sure to ask beforehand.
Other issues to keep in mind.
The deposit. When you start your renting contract you are going to be asked to pay a deposit. The amount of the deposit can be between one and three months of rent. When you will enter your accommodation it will be drafted a document that will state the conditions of the location. If once you leave the conditions are the same, you will receive the entire amount back. If instead, the location suffered any damage, then the landlord will deduct from the entire amount the sum correspondent to the harm. For the deposit, it is safer to create a blocked bank account, than will be unblocked once the contract is over, rather than give it in cash to the landlord.
Furnished, or unfurnished, that is the question. All kind of accommodations – rooms, studios, apartments – can be furnished or unfurnished. Rooms tend to be furnished, but, usually, apartments aren’t. If you are staying for a short term, of course, to find something furnished is the best option. The rent can be a bit higher, but your home will be ready from the day you arrive and you will not have any extra expenses. On the other hand, unfurnished houses or rooms can be a bit cheaper, but you have to take into account the initial expense for the furniture and the extra physical and mental effort it requires. However, it has to be said that in Brussels is really easy to find cheap second-hand furniture. You can go to second-hand shops, such as Les Petits Riens, or have a look to market place on Facebook. Moreover, in Brussels, there are many flea markets (brocantes). For example, at Marolles, in Place Jeu de Ball, there is a flea market every day until 2 p.m. and every neighborhood periodically organizes its own flea market. Last but not least, always have a look when you are walking in the streets: it is common to find good furniture for free.
Also, there is always the possibility that the person that is leaving the room or the apartment will directly sell you at least part of the furniture.
Scams. Unfortunately, scams are a reality in Brussels. Here are some tips on how to avoid it. The easiest victims of scam are those who can’t be in Brussels during the searching of the house. Of course, it is not always possible, but the best way to avoid scams would be to find a weekend in which book all the visits for the houses you are interested in or arrive a few days before the date you want to start renting in order to sign the contract in person and meet the landlord.
If it is not possible, here it goes the first gold rule: if something is “too good to be true”, then it’s probably not true, it’s a scam. If landlords must be reached electronically because they are in a foreign country doing “something”, and are unable to meet you (even for giving you the keys of the house), it is very likely that it is a scam. Don’t take any documents or ID they might send you as a guarantee, they might be false or stolen. Check the name of the landlord on the Facebook groups, if he has already scammed someone his name might appear. Also, check with Google Images the originality of every picture he might send you of the house if the house doesn’t exist he has to have taken from somewhere.