Moving to Brussels: What to Expect Bienvenue! Welkom! Willkommen! No matter how you say it, if you’ve decided to move to Brussels, welcome to your new adventure! 

Maybe you’ve visited this vibrant city before, and if so, you have a small taste of all the things that make Brussels so great — even beyond the beer, frites, mussels, chocolate, and waffles. But living in Brussels is a much different experience than a short city break. Thousands of people move to this amazing city every year – and it’s easy to see why. There’s a lot to get excited about so keep reading for the inside scoop on living your best life day-to-day, plus some administrative tips for making Brussels your new home.

What to expect from Brussels life

Languages in Belgium 

Belgium has three national languages: French, Dutch, and German. French dominates the Brussels scene, but the capital city is officially bilingual along with Dutch. You’ll probably notice that all the street names are written in French and Dutch, along with food & package labeling, advertising, public transport, and lots of other day-to-day communication. The German language will prevail only if you venture to a small corner of eastern Belgium. 

Luckily for the plethora of expats who call Brussels home, language education is excellent in Belgium so most locals speak English without any trouble. In fact, most websites and public transport stations all tend to have things written in English so communicating won’t be an issue! 

And if you have the time and interest to learn a new language yourself, here’s a list of language schools in the Brussels region.

Making Friends in Brussels

Brussels welcomes around 40,000 newcomers every year. Loads of people come here because so many European institutions and companies are based in this city. So there are plenty of jobs around – particularly in service areas like law, PR, and consulting. As a result, Brussels is a fairly busy city and quite a youthful one too. One of the best parts of living in this vibrant capital is meeting new friends from all over the world! You’ll mix with a multitude of expats out at networking events, bars, coffee shops, food markets, restaurants, concerts, local events and just walking around the city. Expect to mingle with plenty of international professionals in all facets of your daily life, many of whom have probably emigrated from other countries like you.

Weather in Brussels

Belgium has a special weather reputation, right? Grey, rainy, blah. In realty, there’s more to Belgian weather than this unfortunate stereotype! Yes, the one thing you can count on is rain – but it’s not all day, everyday. Sometimes it even hails for added excitement! In general, the temperature is mild all year round, and you’ll likely see beautiful sunny spells in the late spring, summer and even into fall. Some summer days are downright hot, so you might even escape to the Belgian coast. The winter months aren’t unbearable either; snow can fall, but the temperatures rarely drop too far below freezing. Pro tip: it’s best to invest in a small umbrella to keep in your bag since Brussels always seems to play tricks on the weather apps!

Now, when you arrive in Brussels, there are various admin tasks you need to concern yourself with. We’re talking about financial admin, registration, figuring out how to get around, and so on. Bearing that in mind, here’s what you can expect:

Current Covid Regulations in Brussels

As you can imagine, Covid regulations change constantly. While we are currently experiencing minimal impact to daily life in Brussels, it’s a good idea to check the region’s official Covid site for the most up to date information. You’ll find answers to all your questions regarding Covid certificates, vaccines & boosters, testing sites, pharmacies and more.

How to Register at the Commune: Registering Your Residency

As you may know, Brussels consists of 19 separate communes, or municipalities. Belgian law requires that most adults register with the commune where they reside if planning to stay longer than three months. 

Head over to our step by step guide on how to register your residency. 

Two key points to keep in mind when planning your move to Brussels: 

When landlords say you can register or “domicile” with your lease that means you can register to live in Brussels legally. If you have seen the term “non-domiciliation,” you can’t register to live legally at that address and might want to reconsider housing options. 

Residents of non-EU member states will need to apply for a visa prior to requesting residency. Most likely your employer has already finalized this process, which includes work permits and necessary applications. 

Online Services: Staying Connected 

At Morton Place, you’ll be up and running with wifi and Internet services in no time. But if you need to start from e-scratch, update your mobile phone service, or require other online necessities, you’ll find a slew of spots in Brussels to stay connected. Visit companies like Proximus, Orange, Telenet, Base, and Mobile Vikings for internet and mobile subscriptions, prepaid & SIM cards, products and more. Pop into the Apple store for all the latest & greatest gadgets, centrally located near Avenue Louise. 

 

 

Public Transportation in Brussels: Get Around Town in Public…

The public transport network in Brussels offers swift and reliable options for getting around town. Take your pick of trams, buses, and the metro depending  on where you are and where you want to go. You can even check your commute time at the interactive transport site STIB-MIVB and also find the fastest way to get from point A to B in this bustling city. 

Our Morton Place properties are very close to public transport stations, so we highly recommend using them for easy and reliable service. 

We recommend you order a MoBiB card online, as this is the easiest way to pay for public transport. You can top it up with as much money as you need, and it can be used to pay for all of the public transport operators in Belgium. These days, you can also use contactless credit or debit card to pay on board however as of this writing, it is more expensive to pay for a ride with contactless than via a MoBiB card. 

…Or Ride Alone in Private!

Brussels has seriously embraced alternative personal mobility. We’ve highlighted some of the more popular options below, but check out this complete list of mobility options ranging from electric kick scooters to private car shares. 

Electric (kick) scooter and ebike sharing services have taken over almost every corner of this city! While there is some controversy regarding safety and parking, these personal transport options, accessible via app, are extremely popular and very useful for zipping around. Brands like DOTT and Bolt offer both ebikes and scooters, while Lime, Voi, Bird and Tier have hundreds of scooters available.

Swapfiets lets you pay a monthly fee for your own personal electric bike — a great choice for shorter commutes and freedom on the weekends. 

Traditional bicycle shares like Villo! make it easy to ride from one fixed point to another with flexible payment options. 

Want to feel the wind in your hair? Well, under your helmet at least. Sign up for Felyx, the electric moped service that’s as fun as it is useful. 

Car sharing providers like Cambio and Poppy allow you to pick up a car at a station or within a zone and deliver it back when you’re done. 

Uber has experienced an ongoing legal battle here in Brussels, but currently the cars are running and it’s easy to order (and even pre-book) a pickup.  

If you have a private car, your lease at Morton Place qualifies you for a resident’s parking permit which you can obtain from the commune.

Shopping for Home Goods: Deck out Your Space with the Finishing Touches 

You will find plenty of shops in Brussels with the essentials for making your new space a home. If you just need to pick up a few toiletries, you’ll find mini markets like Proxy and Carrefour Express dotted around the city. 

If home decor, bedding, towels, novelty items and household appliances are on your list, add HEMA, Zara Home, H&M Home and Casa to the mix. All of these shops are within walking distance of Morton Place for you to explore. There are also two IKEAs around Brussels, for added retail therapy. (And meatballs).

Shop from the comfort of your own home with bol.com or amazon.com.be to have almost anything delivered to your front door! 

Can You See Yourself at Morton Place? 

We hope that you’ll join our Morton Place community! As a resident in one of our homes it is our mission to help you settle into Brussels while delivering you the unique benefits of a chic, all-inclusive, coliving environment. Feel free to reach out anytime!

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Housing Brussels

Tips to Find Your Perfect Apartment in Brussels

 

Thinking about moving to Brussels? You’re not alone—Brussels is the number one expat destination in Europe—and for good reason.

 

With its beautiful architecture, cultural diversity, efficient public transport, and buffet of culinary delights, this charming city offers something for everyone. It may seem overwhelming to start the search, but it’s easy to find your home-sweet-home thanks to tons of websites, chock-full of housing options. With traffic becoming an increasing problem in Brussels, public transportation should be part of your decision making in choosing your housing. Although you may hope for accommodation which is within walking distance to your office, that’s not always possible or preferable. Also think about whether you will need access to the Eurostar (Midi Station) or the Airport.  The STIB is the Brussels’ transport service, and their journey planner is an excellent way to figure out whether the location you are considering will be an easy commute. Start by looking at STIB.BE the portal for the public transport system in Brussels. Figure out the trams, and metros which head to your office and then you can narrow down the neighborhoods which are good for you. (For more tips on choosing neighborhoods check out our top tips here  Best Brussels Neighborhoods for Expats :) 

Art Deco details of brussels houses in chatelain neighborhoods

1. Popular Rental Portals in Brussels 

A quick Google search for “apartment+rental+Brussels” will land you hundreds of hits. How do you narrow it down—and how do you know if that dream room is legit? The more popular rental portal sites, such as immoweb or immo.vlan tend to specialise in unfurnished, long-term housing. This can be risky business if you are booking online, or with a private landlord, scams are not uncommon. We have heard horror stories of deposits paid for flats that didn’t exist.  If you want to start with a furnished place, sites like spotahome can be useful. These portals tend to showcase a broad range of available options, with huge variations in quality. 

 

Life in a new city can be daunting. With work taking up a lot of your time and energy, it’s difficult to find time and opportunities to make new friends. Shared housing can be a good opportunity to share costs and start making your new social network.

Happy young woman at party Brussels

2. Try Coliving!

Brussels is the epicenter of the coliving movement in Europe. With such an influx of international professionals coming to work for the EU and related institutions there is consistent demand for flexible, all inclusive, furnished housing.  At Morton Place, we focus on  fostering  communities of like minded residents with a variety nationalities  with whom you can share your first steps in this new city. Coliving homes  offer built-in community, camaraderie and exciting networking opportunities, especially as a new arrival in Belgium. Other shared housing options can be found on roommate sites such as s appartager, or housinganywhere . The providers might require a subscription, limiting you to a certain number of searches per week, or, in other cases, unlimited access until you find your dream space. 

3. Find it on Facebook

 

There are several local Facebook groups that offer apartment hunting and shared housing resources. You can sign up with popular groups such as bxl a louer, bxl a louer studio-apart, as well as BRUXELLES: location and brussels flats and rooms to rent to start looking, and post while you’re on the hunt. While these sites are an excellent resource and helpful for making connections, it can be difficult to find the most up to date housing options. 


Rental in Brussels

 

4. Leverage Your Net-Work

If you’re moving for work, your HR department likely has lots of information about settling down in Brussels. Ask if your organization works with a relocation agent who might be able to pass along the inside scoop on any rooms or apartments on their radar. Maybe other colleagues are interested in coliving and you can go on the hunt together. If you work with the Commission or another EU organization, get connected to their welcome office intranet which lists hundreds of rentals around Brussels. 

 

5. Trust Your Gut to Avoid a Scam

 

Although most providers are legitimate, beware of bad actors. If the posting is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t transfer money until you’ve visited the space in person or via video tour. Ask your potential landlord for references if possible. Make sure you check dates, hidden fees and rental agreements so you know all the fine print before you commit.

Funrished Housing in Brussels

Enjoy Brussels –

We hope we get a chance to introduce you to the vibrant coliving communities of Morton Place – contact us for a video or in person tour.