Enlarge font Decrease font Text size Print Print

Where to live in Brussels

1st June 2014, Comments5 comments

Where to live in Brussels
Find the best neighbourhood in Brussels for you to settle into your Belgian home, from the green areas of Uccle to the bustle of Brussels's downtown.

If you are moving to Brussels, you'll find many neighbourhoods with international communities and varying degrees of suburban lifestyles. Find a neighbourhood that suits your needs, whether you want to be in the thick of Brussels's action, close to the central business district, in a family-orientated area with larger spaces, or close proximity to international schools. Here's a guide on where to live in Brussels.

Brussels centre

If living in the thick of it all is irresistible then downtown is the place for you. In recent years, previously run-down parts of the centre have become a magnet for young professionals, with major renovations and industrial spaces coming up for rent or sale. Sought-after areas are St Géry, Ste Catherine and the rue Antoine Dansaert area leading up to the canal, where old warehouses have been converted into popular loft apartments.

The traditionally cheaper, working-class Marolles is becoming increasingly popular with a young urban set. The Sablon and Louise are fabulously upmarket but that is, naturally, reflected in price. What you get in return is a raft of art galleries, antique shops and stylish cafes.

Up-and-coming are the streets around the main boulevard leading down to Gare du Midi, with many old properties ripe for development and still at somewhat attractive prices.


Best known for the area at the top end of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Etterbeek is filled with attractive streets lined with early 20th-century townhouses. Home to many European institutions, it has fantastic public transport facilities. The relatively cheap housing prices and good availability of houses and apartments, mostly in conversions, make Etterbeek particularly attractive.

There are two international schools here, as well as cultural venues at l’Espace Senghor, Théâtre St-Michel, Théâtre Yvan Baudouin-Lesly Bunton, and l’Espace Entrée Libre.

Ixelles/ Elsene

Wildly popular with the expatriate community, Ixelles is a massive commune with character and style. It falls into distinct areas: trendy Châtelain with its café culture; the leafy ponds and abbey area leading down to the Bois de la Cambre; and buzzy Chaussée d’Ixelles, which takes in the Matongé, the African quarter, and the cemetery with its late-night bars and student population. Through it all runs Avenue Louise, which is technically a part of the Brussels City district, with its upmarket shops and restaurants.

The housing stock tends to be large townhouses and desirable apartment conversions, but you’ll certainly pay for them. If you’re looking for green space there is the huge Bois de la Cambre to the south. For more surbaban living, head south-east to the commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, which is rapidly becoming a popular area with easy city access and a quaint village feel.

St Gilles/ Sint Gillis

St Gilles is a favourite among those expats who like to live like the locals. From the top end, with its grand Art Nouveau houses, down to the earthy Gare du Midi, St Gilles is packed with quirky restaurants, shops and a buzzing nightlife. There is the beautiful art deco Victor Boin swimming pool and Turkish baths for when you want to relax, together with a number of theatres, cinemas and galleries to explore.

You are most likely to find a bargain place to live here too, especially if you buy. It is one of Brussels’ most dynamic areas with a definite future, attracting both expats and locals to its enigmatic character.

Uccle/ Ukkel

This is a beautiful and calm commune with huge houses and upmarket apartment blocks. Popular with expat families and home to a large international community, it has a village feel and is well situated for shops and several international schools. It is probably Brussels’ most leafy commune due to its close proximity to the Forest of Soignes and housing with generous gardens. In summer, concerts are sometimes held in Parc de Wolvendael.

Woluwe Saint Pierre/ Sint Pieters Woluwe

This is often the choice of folk working at the European institutions, both for its proximity and upmarket housing. It is popular with expat families for its large, gardened houses, although a mix of apartments and townhouses exists also. It’s almost self-contained with its massive park, sports centre and public amenities. It’s also on the metro line 1B, giving easy public transport access.

Woluwe Saint Lambert/ Sint Lambrechts Woluwe

Saint-Pierre’s next-door neighbour shares much the same attractions, including the huge Woluwe Shopping Centre. As it is a step further out from the centre, it begins to get even more suburban and green, and is within good striking distance of the airport and major international motorways. You will find varied shopping and plenty to do, including a swimming pool and ice-skating rink.

Brussels communes

  • Anderlecht 02 558 0800
  • Auderghem 02 676 4811
  • Berchem-Sainte-Agathe 02 464 0411
  • Brussels City 02 279 2211
  • Etterbeek 02 627 2111
  • Evere 02 247 6262
  • Forest 02 370 2211
  • Ganshoren 02 465 1277
  • Ixelles 02 515 6111
  • Jette 02 423 1211
  • Koekelberg 02 412 1114
  • Molenbeek-Saint-Jean 02 412 37 90
  • Saint-Gilles 02 536 0211
  • Saint-Josse-ten-Node 02 220 2611
  • Schaerbeek 02 244 7511
  • Uccle 02 348 6511
  • Watermael-Boitsfort 02 674 7411
  • Woluwe-Saint-Lambert 02 761 2711
  • Woluwe-Saint-Pierre 02 773 0511


Expatica Ask the Expert

Find a home in Belgium using Expatica's housing search.

Readers' recommedations:

  • Berchem, Jette and Ganshoren.

Updated from 2012.

5 comments on this article Add a comment

  • 15th November 2012, 22:44:34 emigrant posted:
    The cities listed here are very expensive. Better is to look a little more far away of the capital. You will love Halle to live, from there it takes only 18minutes by train to get in Brussels. Also, crimerates in Brussels are very high. It's way better to live in cities near by Brussels.With a good regulated public transport here, you will live way better than in this city.
  • 2nd March 2013, 01:33:31 laurent posted:
    Not necessary; when you have strikes every 3-4months and then you have to use busy highways!
  • 9th September 2013, 17:24:10 Brusselaire posted:
    Brussels is a nice small town compare to London or Paris. It's not crowed and you can still find nice place to live. It's expensive because of the EU who increase our renting price. If you go to part of Brussels likes Schaerbeek, Saint-Josse who are near the city center you will have nice place for cheap price, with always open shops.
  • 1st December 2014, 10:54:08 Pierre posted:
    The neighborhoods you have listed are all great places to live and you describe them very accurately, good article !

    However, you have forgotten to talk about other attractive neighborhoods near (or well connected to) the city centre such as Auderghem or Evere (near NATO). Anderlecht is also a good place for people willing to pay lower rents while being connected to the city centre or the european institutions.

    I suggest to visit www.shelterr.com , it has a "map research" functionality that is particularly suited if you want to look for a place to live based on the neighborhood
  • 29th December 2014, 11:37:31 Antonio posted:
    Thank you expatica for your useful article and Pierre for posting shelterr it has been very useful in my housing research in Brussels !


© Copyright 2000-2015 Expatica Communications BV