Though Brussels gets much of the attention, Antwerp is one of the most popular places to live in Belgium for expats thanks to its beauty, culture and international atmosphere.
Antwerp is the second most populous city in Belgium, and also one of the most culturally diverse. It is home to the internationally minded University of Antwerp, the world’s diamond market, extraordinary architecture and a plethora of international businesses, as well as beautiful residential areas. This article outlines the best places to live in Antwerp for expats.
The best Antwerp neighbourhoods for expats
As they say in real estate, the three most important things about finding a new home is location, location, location — and just like any other city, Antwerp is made up of various neighbourhoods that may suit certain types of expats best.
Historic city centre
For expats that want to dive right into their new city and be where all the action is, the city centre is the best place to live in Antwerp. With the majestic cathedral and Grote Markt at its heart and some of Antwerp’s most famous sights such as the medieval fortress Het Steen, city hall and several museums, it is always lively and full of tourists and locals alike. You may pay higher prices for smaller spaces — apartments are often older and may even be part of historic buildings — but there are certainly tons of modern, updated luxury flats that boast the best views in the city.
Once a neglected neighbourhood of Antwerp, Het Eilandje — which means “the little island” — has grown into one of the city’s most popular locations for expats and tourists. North of the centre, it is the city’s oldest port area, and the neighbourhood still features an industrial marine architecture — now with newer accents, such as the angular, otherworldly Port House. Former warehouses have been transformed into modern lofts and apartments, making it ideal for young professionals or families looking to live in one of the trendiest areas of Antwerp. Its popularity can come at a price, however, so expect to pay for the privilege of living in this popular neighbourhood.
Het Zuid (“The South”) is, appropriately, south of the city centre and home to a lively art scene in Antwerp: museums such as photography museum FOMU and the Museum of Contemporary Art are within walking distance of one another, and the Lambermontmartre open-air art market offers the perfect spot to stroll on Sundays to view one-of-a-kind artwork. Besides the art, you will find plenty of restaurants and nightlife in Het Zuid, making it more suited for those who don’t mind a little hustle and bustle. Het Zuid is also home to one of the international schools in Antwerp, a convenience for families with children.
Those who need a bit more space but still want to be in the thick of things may find Zurenborg, southeast of the city centre, to be the perfect fit. It is known for its impressive architecture — townhouses and towering mansions feature diverse Art Nouveau styles — and its cosy villagelike atmosphere make it great for families of all ages.
Because Antwerp is one of Belgium’s largest cities, that does mean that it is a busy place packed with apartments and few large homes. Thankfully, it is surrounded by peaceful suburbs that not only offer spacious houses for rent but easy access to the city centre and plenty of things to do. Perhaps one of the most popular suburbs of Antwerp is Deurne, a city district that is known for the massive Rivierenhof, a 130-hectare park filled with waterways, paths and an open-air theatre — a paradise for outdoorsy types living in Antwerp.
Antwerp has plenty to offer expats of any lifestyle — families with children and singles, or those who need green space or plenty of fine art and dining — so it is important to make sure you take heed of the realtor’s mantra (location, location, location!) to find the best place to live in Antwerp for you.