Moving to Brussels for just a few weeks or months? Serviced, furnished apartments offer flexible short- to long-term leases, provide you with all the amenities, and spare you much of the moving hassle.
It can be hard to truly settle and feel at home when moving to a new country – especially if you don’t speak the language. But even if you’re only moving to Brussels for a few months, finding a comfortable and safe house or apartment to rent is sure to be among your main concerns.
In this guide, Joël Vanmellaert of the specialist agency BBF Serviced Apartments discusses the benefits of serviced apartments for expats and explains how a specialist estate agency can help you find a furnished apartment in Brussels.
BBF Serviced Apartments
BBF Serviced Apartments has offered serviced apartments for expats moving to Brussels since 1992. BBF provides flexible solutions for mid- and long-term expats moving to Belgium, with reduced rates for corporate and long-term bookings.
Hotels vs. serviced apartments in Brussels
If you’re only moving to Belgium for a short period of time, you might consider staying in a hotel. For many expats, however, hotel life can be a lonely experience. This is where serviced apartments bridge the gap for short-stay or medium term expats in Brussels.
Serviced apartments in Brussels offer a cosier environment and more privacy than a hotel while maintaining the convenience of a city centre location. The majority of serviced apartments are fully furnished, so expats can move right in; some allow plenty of flexibility when it comes to rental terms.
Joël says that “one of the main benefits of serviced properties is the lack of complexity involved. A suitable apartment should come already furnished with a ready-to-use kitchen; equipped with a range of amenities, such as cable television, high-speed Wi-Fi and security systems; and with services such as cleaning, tech support, and even concierge services.”
Using an agent to find furnished apartments in Brussels
Rather than dealing with property portals and landlords, it’s possible to employ a specialist estate agency to find you a furnished or short-stay apartment in Brussels. Indeed, many companies already work with relocation agents to ensure a smooth transition for their staff when arriving in Belgium.
Specialist agencies also offer a less stringent style of renting. “Some agents will let properties for as little as a month initially and will let you extend your stay with a couple of weeks’ notice. Others will allow you to automatically renew your tenancy on a month to month basis if you’re uncertain how long you’ll be staying”, says Joël.
The companies listed below provide short- and medium-term furnished rental services in Brussels:
Check Expatica’s listings for more serviced apartments in Brussels.
Getting a serviced apartment in Brussels: the process
If you use an agent, you or your company will first inquire about properties in your chosen area. The agent will then send you a proposal with suggested apartments.
If one of these properties suits you, you may have to move quickly to sign a contract or hand over a reservation fee – often of a couple of hundred euros. Deposits are usually the sum of one month’s rent, plus a one-time payment in advance to cover a final professional cleaning of the property when you move out.
Renting serviced apartments in Brussels: key services
As part of your package, you should be offered a cleaning service either weekly or bi-weekly. You should also be fully covered for any maintenance issues that occur with the apartment. Any issues can be raised with your agent, who should send a handyman out as soon as possible.
High-speed internet is a given in these apartment blocks; you should also have access to cable television. Once you’ve moved in, your agent may provide you with an online login to manage details of your property, including your contracts and any requests for maintenance.
Tenant responsibilities for serviced apartments in Brussels
When renting in Brussels, you’ll need to insure your belongings, as these won’t be covered by your landlord’s policy.
Renting a serviced apartment isn’t quite like having your own flat. Your agent is unlikely to allow you to keep a pet, smoking will be prohibited indoors and there are likely to be limits on the hours that you can have gatherings in your apartment.
Moving to Brussels: how to feel at home
Moving to a new country can be a complicated time in your career, but it represents a great opportunity to expand your professional and personal horizons. One of the most helpful things to do is to try and create a familiar atmosphere in your new apartment.
Joël says: “Try and make things as familiar as possible to remind you of home. While it might not make sense to bring your sofa or CD collection with you, travelling with important items that remind you of your family can make your new surroundings feel a little more like home”.
Making the most of your sponsor in Brussels
When you move to a new country, your company will often pair you up with a sponsor who is based locally.
“Sponsors are often experienced expats who have been in your shoes and will be able to understand your questions and help you get over the culture shock of moving to a new city”, says Joël.
Finally, try your best to embrace your situation and make the most of the opportunities by joining the expat community in Brussels. This is especially helpful if you don’t speak the language in your new country. Fellow expats may run groups or host regular meetups in the city where you can get together and chat about how you’re adapting to your new country.
Joël Vanmellaert started at BBF Serviced Apartments as an Area Manager in November 2002. He was in charge of rentals for the Brussels City area. Soon he became Operational Manager and in 2012 he started his function as Managing Director.Explore housing options