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’s home to the internationally-minded University of Antwerp, the world’s diamond market, extraordinary architecture, and a plethora of international businesses. This article outlines the best places to live in Antwerp for expats.
The best Antwerp neighborhoods for expats
As they say in real estate, the three most important things about finding a new home is location, location, location. Just like any other city, Antwerp has a diverse set of neighborhoods that suit certain types of expats best.
Historic city center
For expats that want to dive right into their new city, the city center 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’s 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. There are certainly tons of modern luxury flats that boast the best views in the city.
Once a neglected neighborhood of Antwerp, Het Eilandje (“the little island”) is one of the city’s most popular locations. North of the center, it’s the city’s oldest port area. The neighborhood still features an industrial marine architecture — now with newer accents, such as the angular, otherworldly Port House. Former warehouses are now 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; expect to pay for the privilege of living in this popular neighborhood.
Het Zuid (“the South”) is, appropriately, south of the city center. It’s 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. The Lambermontmartre open-air art market offers the perfect spot to stroll on Sundays to view one-of-a-kind artwork. Besides the art, there’s plenty of restaurants and nightlife in Het Zuid, making it more suited for those who don’t mind a little noise. 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 may find Zurenborg, southeast of the city center, to be the perfect fit. It’s famous for its impressive architecture; townhouses and towering mansions feature diverse Art Nouveau styles. Its cozy village-like atmosphere makes it great for families of all ages.
Because Antwerp is one of Belgium’s largest cities, that does mean that it’s a busy place packed with apartments. Thankfully, it sits amidst peaceful suburbs. These offer spacious houses for rent with relatively easy access to the city center and plenty of things to do. Perhaps one of the most popular suburbs of Antwerp is Deurne. Deurne is famous for the massive Rivierenhof, a 130-hectare park filled with waterways, paths, and an open-air theater. It’s a paradise for outdoorsy types living in Antwerp.
Antwerp has plenty to offer expats of any lifestyle, including families with children and singles, or those who need green space or plenty of fine art and dining. It’s 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.