Coliving is becoming a more popular choice for adults looking for easy and sociable living arrangements. Nostalgic for their student days, but needing a more grown up approach, coliving offers the social advantages of communal living without some of its drawbacks. If you’re thinking about the best way to find somewhere to live that offers you all that you need from a private and a social point of view, coliving might be right for you.

What is Coliving?

Coliving is a growing housing trend focused on shared living. Depending on the residence, shared spaces can range from cinema rooms, gyms or offices or as intimate as shared bathrooms and dorm style bedrooms. The range is broad so it’s important to figure out which coliving version is best for you. But it’s not just a type of living arrangement; it’s also a lifestyle with residents choosing coliving for its social aspects. Most residents could just as easily afford independent accommodation, but they choose coliving for it’s social and service aspects. Coliving can offer you a range of benefits, from fun spaces for spending time with others to community events, to housekeeping and maintenance services.

New to town?

Most of the residents at Morton Place are new to Brussels; without friends or a social network, life can be quite lonely outside of work. Coliving means you come home to a friendly face in the common areas, most often someone who just a few months before was new to town, just like you.

Everything provided for

One of the benefits of Coliving is that everything is in place for you when you move in. Everything that you could need is there, including furniture, a fully stocked kitchen and the all important Wifi. There’s no need to furnish anything, although you can personalise your space. All of your amenities and utilities will be included too, so you don’t have to spend time sorting out your electricity provider or getting your WiFi hooked up. It’s all ready for you to move in when you’re ready so that you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Help with maintenance and cleaning

In coliving arrangements like those found in Morton Place houses, you don’t even need to worry about maintaining your living space. Regular cleaning services help to keep common areas clean, so the most important thing you have to take care of is your own room and en-suite shower. Even light maintenance is taken care of, because lots of things can be expected to happen, from bust light bulbs to small amounts of wear and tear. You get a beautifully designed living space, and it will stay looking smart for however long you decide you want to stay. Things will get fixed during the day while residents are at work. Houses have guest rooms so residents can benefit from having friends and family come and stay.

Best neighborhoods

Morton Place homes are in the more desirable areas of Brussels. Residents staying at Morton Place Chatelain can enjoy the Wednesday night food trucks on the Place du Chatelain, summer evenings on the rooftop of the Jam Hotelor  brunch with our neighbours, Hinterland. At our Louise and Parvis houses, residents enjoy drinks on the terrace at Brasserie Verschueren, Italian food at CiPiaCeor brunch at Le Café Dillens, as well as late-night DJs at Café Maison du Peuple. The small, boutique restaurants and shops are the key to making neighborhoods feel like home, and we have chosen some of the best Brussels has to offer.

Outside sitting area of a café in the Parvis Saint Gilles Neighborhood in Brussels

Be part of a community

As well as providing spaces for socialising, Coliving can help you to become part of a community. Coliving spaces can provide events, social groups, activities and other ways to get involved with a community both within your building and out in the wider community too. Some coliving spaces have community programs on offer, while others can even provide benefits such as childcare. At Morton Place, we recognise that your home is also a refuge, not another office, so we don’t organise events in the house unless it’s a welcome drink. We let our residents organise their lives spontaneously and find the events they organise themselves are the most successful. With the growth of the coliving world, we expect it to increasingly cater to different demographics both in terms of family sizes and ages.

Coliving can be an excellent option for people looking for sociable living with lots of perks. If you want to be part of a community and live somewhere that’s full of life, coliving could work for you. Morton Place offers three beautiful houses in Brussels that provide a welcoming community and well-appointed spaces for both long and short-term rentals.

Residential View

Sure, hotels are great. But a resident’s perspective is the best place from which to view any city as its inhabitants do. It places you right where the action is, and affords you instant access to amenities and transport links.

If you’re lucky, you might even get a stunning view of the city.

Those who have had the good fortune to stay in a shared property in Brussels know that there’s no better way to engage with the sights, sounds, smells, taste and feel of Belgium’s capital.

For those considering moving to Brussels on a long-term or full-time basis or relocating to work, there’s a great deal to get excited about. Living as a Brussels resident puts a wealth of sights and activities on your doorstep. Let’s take a look at just some of the things that await you outside of your front door that make this a city unlike any other…

 

Dive into a cultural melting pot

Belgium has multiculturalism baked into its crust. No matter where you’re visiting from, you’re sure to find something or someone familiar even as you explore cultural influences from around the world. Take yourself down to the bustling Chatelain quarter; a lively hub to which many expats are drawn to get a snapshot of the multicultural feel.

Brussels has been a multicultural hub throughout its history. It is situated as a cultural and geographical meeting point between Latin and Germanic peoples including the Spanish, Polish, German, British, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, Turkish and, of course, French. Yet, despite its multicultural nature it has always maintained its own unique sense of identity.

Belgium’s cultural eclecticism can be seen everywhere from its politics to its architecture, its wealth of diverse spoken languages… and of course the food (more on that shortly).

Ever wanted to visit Paris but been put off by the hefty price tag? Take yourself down to the Brugmann Quarter, often referred to as “Little Paris”. Here you’ll find a slightly more idyllic echo of Paris that offers the sense of romance that many find lacking in the “real” French capital.

Get lost in a world of sensational architecture

Brussels’ famous Art Nouveau architecture makes it one of the most picturesque cities in Europe and a mecca for those who appreciate the design wonders of the man-made world. From the infamous Guild houses lining the magnificent UNESCO-listed Grand Place, to the more ostentatious Palais Royale and the Palace of Justice or the more idiosyncratic gems like the Maison Saint Cyr.

The Victor Horta Museum near Louise is an intact home designed by the architect himself, considered the master of early 20th century Belgian architecture. Lovers of fine architecture will find Brussels a treat for the eyes.

 

Explore a wealth of culinary delights

One cannot get the true measure of a city without sampling its tastes as well as its sights. As you might expect, no matter where your culinary tastes lie, there’s something for you in Brussels. The city is home to some 3,000 restaurants. Five of which have not just one but two Michelin stars.

For a truly authentic Belgian eating and dining experience check out Monk; a bustling bierkeller where people from around the world cram in together to enjoy world class beers and the establishments only dish, spaghetti. Or, for a more illustrious dining experience visit the stunning Comme Chez Soi on the Place Rouppe.

While much of the fare in Brussels has a decidedly French influence delighting in seafood and dairy, vegans can still have a great time in Brussels. Check out Humus and Hortense in the Flagey neighborhood, which has recently won the award for Best Vegan Restaurant in the World.

However, for perhaps the most intimate and unique dining experience in Brussels, be sure to visit the charming L’Epicerie- a one woman restaurant in the Chatelain  neighborhood that feels like a freshly prepared dinner at your best friend’s house (if only your best friend could cook that well).

Finally, no conversation about Belgian food is complete without chocolate. The really good stuff can be found at Mary, which celebrate its 100 years this year, or for more powerful contemporary flavors try Wittamer on the place du Grand Sablon.

Enjoy art… Everywhere!

Ever felt like there was a certain sense of snobbery that pervaded the art scenes in London, Paris, New York and the like? There’s nothing snobby about the art scene in Brussels. Great art is everywhere. It’s even on the walls or the city street! Check out the stunning comic strip murals on the walls of the Comic Book Museum on Rue des Sables. Keep your eyes peeled for the work of BONOM (Brussels’ provocative street artist sometimes referred to as the “Belgian Banksy”.

Needless to say, for those who favour a more traditional cultural experience there are plenty of stunning galleries to rival anything you’d see in Paris or Amsterdam. Check out Bozar for a neat microcosm of the Brussels art scene where you’ll see an eclectic mix of pieces all wrapped up in a stunning Victor Horta designed exterior.

Or if your tastes veer more towards the contemporary, be sure to visit MIMA; a gallery that redefines galleries and pays homage to all kinds of alternative and popular cultures from tattoos to comic books.

Shop like a local

While the area surrounding Grand Place has no shortage of fine shopping, locals know that the best spots lie a little off the beaten track. Get your high end fashion fix at Stephanie Quare in Louise where you’ll find notable brands from Mango to Jimmy Choo. Thrift shoppers, on the other hand, won’t want to miss the sprawling Jeu de Balle flea market in the Marolles where you can find all kinds of unique one of a kind items whether you’re looking for antique books, a new jacket or a chez lounge. Or perhaps you’d rather walk around the stalls that occupy the pretty cobbled streets of the Parvis de Saint-Gilles for the Saint Gillois market.

If it’s fresh produce you’re after you need look no further than the Market of Châtelain where you can find all sorts of fresh organic produce, or have your fill of local wines and cheeses at the Chasseurs Ardennais Market.

Take a sun drenched walk in the park

Every major conurbation has its share of beautiful parks. No matter how much one loves urban chic it’s nice to be able to get away from it all and relax in nature’s bounty. Brussels has no shortage of stunning green spaces in which one can escape the hustle and bustle. Weekends sees the traffic stopped and the roads given way to cyclists, runners and skateboarders over at the Bois de la Cambre, which also has several small restaurants for a break. For a lunch break in the city centre, try the Leopold Park near the Solvay Library- an oasis of natural calm in the heart of the city.

Those looking for ornate gardens should visit the Van Buuren Museum and Gardens while plant lovers will want to spend hours at the national botanical gardens Jardin Botanique Meise.

If you really want to get lost, find your way to the Foret de Soigne the old hunting grounds of Belgian royalty where you can walk for miles in the forest without seeing a single car.

Conclusion

This article represents the briefest snapshot of what residents of Brussels enjoy within easy reach of their homes on a daily basis. There’s so much more to be discovered, but part of the fun is finding your own hidden gems for yourself. One thing’s for sure, you’ll be glad you came to settle in Brussels.

Colocation coliving

La colocation version 1.0

La colocation c’est souvent une étape obligée entre la vie de famille et la vie d’adulte indépendant. On en garde un bon souvenir d’une maison remplie de jeunes, enivrés d’indépendance et pleins d’espoir, de soirées passées entre amis à refaire le monde, sa chambre meublée de bric à brac avec le matelas posé au sol… Mais la colocation c’est aussi la salle de bain au fond du couloir avec sa douche qui n’inspire pas trop confiance ou l’évier de la cuisine qui déborde d’assiettes sales.

Coliving: c’est la colocation version adulte

Quelques années plus tard avec sa vie professionnelle qui démarre, l’époque de la colocation est souvent dépassée mais l’envie de rentrer le soir et de retrouver des visages familiers est toujours d’actualité. C’est de ce désir qu’est le né le coliving Morton Place : une envie de vivre en communauté sans en avoir les inconvénients de la « coloc » d’entant. Nos maisons sont rénovées pour la colocation avec douches privatives, cuisines avec plusieurs frigos et lave vaisselles, les salons sont équipés de canapés qui invitent à y passer un peu de temps entre amis en fin de journée. Nos colocataires voyagent beaucoup ou viennent eux même de l’étranger et le concept « all inclusive » ou toutes les charges, maintenance et le nettoyage sont compris aide tout le monde à se focaliser sur l’aspect convivial sans devoir se soucier des petits détails qui peuvent vite empoisonner la vie communautaire.

Morton Place Coliving

A Morton Place notre objectif est la colocation sans compromis, donc salles de bain privées, home office pour ceux qui veulent travailler à partir de la maison sans être coincés dans leur chambre, et la chambre d’amis pour les visiteurs. Et, Belgique oblige, la déco est soignée et naturelle laissant place pour les éléments personnels qui donnent la vie a une maison.  Resultat, nos residents vivent en moyenne deux ans ou plus dans nos maisons et la fourchette d’age s’elargie. Il y a une place pour tout le monde dans la colocation version Morton Place.

 

Music Festival Belgium

European summers are famous for their music festivals. From the classical in Salzburg and Bayreuth to the techno in Sziget there is a festival  for everyone. Belgium punches above its weight in this regard with several festivals including the world famous Tomorrowland.  The season kicks off in Brussels and spreads out through Flanders and Wallonia some within day trip distance from Morton Place, others a bit further away.

Couleur Café  Brussels 29 June through 2 July

Beautifully located under the Atomium, Couleur Café is originally an African music festival begun 29 years ago and has morphed into a World Music festival. It’s Brussels’ biggest music event attracting over 70’000 festival goers. The artist selection is true to its roots with a line-up that includes Malian star Sidiki Diabate but broadens to include Leon Bridges and Gregory Porter, a Dub step stage and dance workshops for Afro Caribbean dances from salsa to afro house. The world food stands are infamous and worth visiting for the flavors alone. This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the multicultural qualities of Brussels, and still make it home in time to sleep in your own bed at night.

https://www.couleurcafe.be/en/

Rock Werchter Leuven, 5 July through 8 July

“Werchter” takes place on the outskirts of Leuven, the pretty student town. One of Belgium’s oldest festivals all the old rock bands have played there from The Ramones and Lou Reed to Oasis. The festival has mushroomed and is a well organized affair while remaining casual. A short ride from Brussels on the train you can grab a day ticket and catch The Chainsmokers, Alt-J or Radiohead and still be home in time to catch up with your housemates!

 

https://www.rockwerchter.be/en/tickets

Tomorrowland, Boom 20-22 July and 27-29 July

A bucket list destination with tickets that sell in the blink of an eye, Tomorrowland is arguably the world’s most famous techno festival. Entire planes are chartered for ticket holders with DJ’s on deck as from take off. Located beside the  small town of Boom the festival area is transformed into an Alice in Wonderland type setting with sumptuous decors and a music village called “Dreamville” which includes Michelin star restaurants and a hair salon for perfecting your festival look. We are a long way from Woodstock here. As beautiful as Morton Place is a night at  Dreamville is worth staying away for.

 

https://www.tomorrowland.com/en/festival/welcome

Brussels Grand Place

Visitors in town: where to go both on and off the beaten path?

The month of May boasts at least two long weekends thanks to national holidays. Many of our residents take advantage of our in-house guest rooms to host their own friends and family so we have a round up of Brussels’ must sees, some on and some off the beaten track.

The Classics

First stop is the Atomium, a weird and wonderful landmark which sports fantastic views and a great photo op.  The rolling carpet leading to the uppermost silver globes is worth it for the experience alone. The quintessential Brussels experience.  Just go – and check it off your list.

 

Nearby the Atomium and only during the month of May the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken are open to the public for a very short period each year, and this year the period has been extended. They are located in the Royal Park which also houses the residence of the Royal family.

Glass masterpiece the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

Hip and happening in the Dansaert neighborhood

After this more traditional visit of tourist highlights, it can be fun to head down to what is called “the Dansaert area” which is home to trendy shops and vintage stores. The rue Antoine Dansaert is a major artery running from the Bourse to the canal. This is the more hip of Brussels’ fashion districts. The doyenne of the neighborhood is Sonja Noel with her infamous shop Stijl, located 74 rue Antoine Dansaert. Here you will find all the major Belgian creators from the Antwerp 6 to more avant garde designers and their capsule collections. There are still a few independent shops who have survived and thrived in the side streets, alongside the heavy hitters such as Prada on the main thoroughfares… this could be a very fruitful afternoon.

 

Stijl

Shopping rue Antoine Dansaert @ Stijl

 

And now for some lunch

The rue de Flandre is a great place for a lunch break. San is one of our lunch favorites. The food is oh so fresh, very colorful and presented all in one bowl, all healthy and all delicious. If you want a more traditional Brussels experience, have some oysters and fresh seafood tapas standing at the infamous Mer du Nord outdoor seafood bar.

Restaurant La Mer du Nord

Old school Brussels: Vintage finds

Once the shopping and lunch are finished, you can gradually start to walk from this the lower part of town, up towards the Sablon. On your way up stop by the vintage stores in the rue des Chartreux, don’t forget to stop by the wonderful Gabriele Vintage, or for the vinyl lovers the infamous Caroline record store. Finish off with some chocolates at Wittamer and then it’s a few stops on the tram back to Morton Place.

Sablon Brussels off the beaten track

Chocolate stop @ Wittamer

Morton Place Neighborhood Walks

Thanksgiving back in the 1980’s

I love Thanksgiving. When I was a girl we lived in Ann Arbor Michigan, a university town just outside Detroit and each year on the third Thursday of November, there was an exodus as all the students went home and the entire town shut down. Even though ours was a first generation American family, we always celebrated the holiday albeit with our own flavor: mostly related to a high volume of wine and a generous cheese platter. Although we included the traditional turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes, my French mother could not bring herself to include anything as American as pumpkin let alone marshmallows.

Don’t be afraid!

Like many families around the US, our guests included strangers, often graduate students, who had nowhere to go for the holiday and could not afford the flight home. For these students, this was often their very first Thanksgiving. They would show up apprehensively, clutching a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, wondering how a holiday could be based on eating turkey of all things. A few hours later, with the glasses empty and the plates cleared apprehensions had been laid to rest and we were all fast friends. To this day, my parents receive an annual thank you note from Michel, a graduate student they hosted over 50 years ago.

Thanksgiving in Paris

I hosted thanksgiving for the first time  at the age of 21 when I was relatively new to Paris, living alone in a tiny flat and working at Christie’s. I had just graduated from university and was trying to juggle a new job while finding my way as an adult in the city. For those of you who haven’t lived in Paris, it’s not known for it’s spacious apartments or kitchens especially on the budget of a young professional. Let’s just say my “kitchen” consisted of two hot plates, a toaster oven, a sink and a mini fridge. Luckily my best friend lived upstairs and could share the burden of preparing the meal! I did have an expandable dinner table that could seat 10 people at a squeeze, so 12 we were.

It’s not about the food

I don’t have many memories of what the food was like, probably for the best, but it did transform my apartment into a home. My American friends were thrilled to be able to bring their own favorite dishes, and my Parisian friends were curious to partake in this most American of traditions. Over the years that kitchen got a lot of use as hosting dinner parties became an important part of my social life; there is something about a home cooked meal, a bottle of wine and a long evening ahead that can’t be replicated in a restaurant. It also proved a great way to make friends in what felt to me like a huge, expensive city.

“Family dinners” at Morton Place

When designing Morton Place, I knew the kitchen and the dining area would be the heart of the house. This is where the stories are shared at the end of the day, where people reveal their own culinary heritage and bring a bit of their traditions to the group. We often see notes written on the kitchen blackboard announcing a housewide “family” meal being hosted by one or the other residents, and when I see those announcements I know the group is going to be alright.

Thanksgiving in London and Amsterdam

This year, I am new to London and am hosting my first Thanksgiving here in this big, some times daunting city. My dinner table will include my family and like my parents before me, some “orphans” who aren’t able to fly back home for the holiday. But far away in Amsterdam my 22 year old daughter Julia, pictured above, will be hosting her first Thanksgiving with her brother. They will be preparing it partly in his kitchen and partly in hers, some of their friends will be discovering the holiday for the first time while others will be reminiscing about Thanksgiving back  home.

 

 

Sarah and Chloé at the Opening of House Louise

New to town?  The best Expats in Brussels blogs

Blogs are a great way for newly arrived expats in Brussels to get the inside track on what is hot and happening. At the opening of MP Louise, we were excited to meet some of the bloggers who have their ear to the ground for all that is new and trendy and thought we would share with you some of our favorite blogs. We have compiled a list of essential blogs for expats and Bruxellois alike.

The best blogs for Expats in Brussels:

  • Brussels’ Kitchen: living in Brussels means outstanding restaurants at affordable prices. Sarah and Chloé of BK write one of the most respected blogs on good grub in Brussels.
  • On Food and Wine: Andrea’s blog reflects the wit and affection of a good natured expat, out to find the best to be had in Brussels while acknowledging the occasional chaos. A kindred spirit for those who choose to celebrate the opportunity to be here.
  • See you there:  the best weekly round up of what to do in Brussels be it food, fashion or fun.
  • French Connect:  this blog is geared at French expats in Brussels, of which there are quite a few! Very well researched, there is a lot of detailed info on settling in Brussels. Check out the membership perks, including a free drop in clinic for legal and fiscal advice.
  • Mode In Belgium: francophone blog with a local perspective. Lovely interface, nice mix of fashion and cultural events.