Brussels - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is generally good. Those without kids can love in city center apartments. With kids, you can choose an inner suburb option (apartments, townhouses), or outer suburbs (single family house). Most people commute by public transport. Fair amount of people take bicycle using the city's great bike infrastructure. And some drive, but rush hour traffic can be bad, and parking downtown daily would not be cheap. - Feb 2023

We absolutely loved our home. We decided to live beyond the Ring Road in Sterrebeek and had a beautiful new triplex with a large yard, close proximity to a trolley line, and lots and lots of fields. While some people couldn't understand why we didn't live closer, at least in Krainem, we were happy with our choice. I usually biked downtown and the kids took the way-too-long bus ride to ISB, but they never complained about it. - Jan 2022

Housing varies a lot. The pool of housing never seems adequate to the number of people, and it seems lots of people experience very long temporary housing situations (sometimes indefinite). There is an Embassy-owned building downtown, and the rest of the housing is spread out throughout the city and even into surrounding suburbs. Some people arrive from other posts and expect to be put up in a gated mansion, and that's just not possible in a city like this. We had a great apartment in Woluwe Saint Pierre. Very residential, walkable, and safe. If you are on the metro line, commuting to the Embassy is very easy. There is no parking at the Embassy and street parking is limited. - Oct 2021

Three bedroom apartment. - Apr 2021

Housing is excellent in Brussels; one of the best we experienced. We lived in one of the popular communes called Woluwe St Pierre near excellent farmers' market and close proximity to public transportation. The housing pool is huge with 300+ houses and many are embassy-owned. Locals are very conscious about cost of electricity, water. All houses are equipped with solar panels and some have water cistern underneath so your toilets will flush with rain water etc. All and all, it has great housing. - Sep 2020

We live in a house outside of the main city in what is called "near suburbs". We have a decently-sized house and yard with driveway and garage and very easy walking distance to public transportation and shops including grocery stores. Embassy housing varies from apartments in the city near the Embassy, to large condos in more suburban parts of the city, to houses in suburbs. Commutes vary from 10-30 minutes on average, depending where you live and which mission where you work (within the TriMission Community). - Sep 2020

We live in a USG-owned apartment complex in Auderghem. We love our housing and the location, close to the International School of Brussels and near the forest and several parks. We are a short walk to the Metro and have an easy commute to the downtown embassy compound. Other expats live in Uccle, Woluwe St Pierre, Woluwe St Lambert, Etterbeek, Ixelles, and several of the border Flemish communes like Kraainem, Tervueren, and Wezembeek-Oppem. Commute times range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Almost everyone takes public transit to get into work. - Mar 2020

We live in an apartment. Housing is not typically huge but our apartment is a decent four bedroom, three and a half bath. Most people live in townhouses or apartments. - Feb 2019

We have a four-story townhouse on the eastern edge of the city. People live all over the place. Downtown apartments tend to be smaller than places in the suburbs. Our townhouse has a small yard and a garage. - Feb 2019

Fair, but surprisingly far from the best in my career. A leased property that hasn't been kept up as well as it should have been and some basic infrastructure issues causes repeated problems (satellite/cable wiring problems, electrical issues, limited Internet options, etc.). And weird local laws, like quiet hours; yes, your neighbors WILL complain if you dare mow your lawn on a public holiday. - May 2018

I live in a row house about 6 miles from downtown. It takes me 20 minutes to get to work by foot and metro. A lot of other embassy people without families live closer and have smaller places, but I have over 1000 square feet and a garage. Commuting by metro, tram and bus is easy and cheap (€1.40 per ride with 10-ride tickets or €499 unlimited for the year). The embassy is centrally located, so most commuting-related problems seem to involve the schools, which are not in the center. - Jan 2018

We lived in an apartment near the Montgomery metro stop. We were fortunate and had ample built in storage but our kitchen was rather small with European-sized appliances. Regular cookie sheets would not fit into the oven. - Feb 2017

We live in a townhome leased by the USG. Homes are generously sized and typically finished with "Ikea-style" kitchens. Even though we are quite a way from downtown, there are numerous transportation options that will all get us to the city within 50 minutes. Bus & tram are both walking distance (+/-10 minutes) which will take you to the metro. - Dec 2016

We live in an apartment building owned by the U.S. government with underground parking, located on a metro line. Other expats live in houses outside of Brussels and drive into town. My husband's commute on the metro to the Embassy is about 25 minutes. When he was assigned to U.S. NATO it took him between 45 and 60 minutes each way via metro, train, and/or bus. - Aug 2014

There is a whole range of housing from apartments to stand-alone houses. And they are spread out to all 19 communes of Brussels and some surrounding suburbs. Do your homework and be very specific on your housing survey. We live in a townhouse in a commune on the edge of the city limits, at the end of the metro line and it's perfect for us. 15 to 20 minute commute via the metro to the Embassy complex, about 45-minute bus ride in the morning to the International School (ISB). Access to buses and trams as well, so if you don't want to drive someplace, you don't have to. - Jul 2014

Housing is typically good and fairly central but spread out all across the city. Commutes can range anywhere from a 10-minute walk (city apartment living) to a 30-40-minute commute on the bus/metro. - Apr 2014

Most State Department housing is located in the Central or Eastern parts of the cities or the suburbs. Singles are in apartments. Families are in some of the nicest, sizable homes I've seen in developed world posts. The U.S. Embassy and Mission to the EU are easily reached via public transport. I would advise a car for anyone working at NATO. Brussels drivers are the worst I've seen in Western Europe. Morning traffic is awful if you leave after 8:00am. Commutes from downtown to NATO at this hour might be 30-45 minutes. - Jan 2014

Most of the embassy community lives South and East of the city center. Generally speaking, the closer to downtown you live, the smaller your housing and the lower your chance of having a small yard will be. The downtown embassy housing is often spacious apartments; a little further out you are typically in row houses with multiple stories. Most are happy with embassy housing. - Jan 2014

U.S. Embassy housing is good and ranges from in-city apartments to free-standing houses in the communes. Often the houses are plain with not a lot of character on the inside, but functional and clean. If you are are a senior employee or have a large family, then the housing is really quit nice. Commute time is 45 minutes to an hour if you live outside the city center. - Oct 2012

A great selection of old-style apartments in the city centre and Ixelles. Those with families often go for houses on the periphery- Tervuren is very popular with British expats. - May 2012

Housing varies from townhouses and single homes out by the schools outside of town to nice apartments downtown. I think the housing is consistently good throughout the pool. They actually give you a choice of two housing options that correspond to your housing questionnaire reply. - Jan 2012

Mostly apartment in the center, houses in the close and outlying suburbs. Commute by metro 15-25 minutes, trams, buses; if you can choose the time at which to drive into the office, car commute will be 15-20 minutes; if not, it can take 40 minutes plus. - Nov 2011

If you're unfortunate enough to be part of the US Government's tri-mission housing pool, housing is a serious morale issue here. It varies greatly, there are some very nice places, but there are some real dumps also and the housing office seems to have little or no interest in accommodating people's personal needs or preferences. If housing is important to you be prepared to fight a long hard battle to get what you want. On the other hand, my friends who are expats not associated with the US Government, all found very nice places quickly and easily. There is a ton of great housing available - houses in the suburbs if that's what you prefer or very nice townhouses and apartments in the city. - Aug 2011

All sorts. Apartments and row houses downtown and in the inner suburbs, many of which are small towns. And detached homes further out. Stokkel is a popular location to live in as there is an establish town there as well as a Metro. Closer in, around Montgomery Circle is an ideal place to live with huge apartments and large row houses near a Metro. 15 minute tops by Metro downtown. People who work downtown can get there in 5 minutes on public transit, and people who work at NATO can either catch the NATO shuttle at Montgomery or take the 5-10 minute drive. The Place Chatelain area is probably the BEST place to live, but without a Metro it can be isolating for some. - Jul 2011

Some lovely new apartments in the centre (Chatelain/Ixelles), converted old houses in the Merode/Etterbeek area,modern houses in the suburbs such as the 'woluwe's- some with good metro connections-other larger properties tend to be MUCH further out in eg Tervuren or Overijse where getting home after 11 I'm told is really hard! - Jun 2011

They vary widely from near the Grand Place to out in the boonies - urban to suburban - you name it, we got it. Commute all depends on where you work and where you live - I chose a longer commute for more convenience when I'm not at work. - Jun 2011

Anywhere from central urban apartments to town-homes with yards. Commutes can very from a twenty-minute walk to an hour by car or bus. Traffic is rough. - Jun 2010

Housing is very variable - size and location depends on family size, and the commute depends on the mission for which you work. Suburbs are FAR from all missions, and the commute from there regularly takes 45-60 minutes each way. - Jun 2010

Housing ranges from nice apartments or townhouses downtown, to small or large houses FAR out in the suburbs. Despite being given 3 choices by the housing board, many folks are unhappy with housing since it seems the board has made random decisions. This is a serious source of bad morale - out of the four officers in our section, two have appealed (one successfully, one not) and the other two are also unhappy - with good reason. Because of the three US missions here, commuting times vary from 15 min walking from apartments downtown, to 45-60 min driving from houses FAR in the burbs - dont believe what the Embassy tells you (they said 15-20 min, ours is regularly 45).Housing board is getting better, and a recent OIG visit helped address some of the issues. - Mar 2010

Housing varies depending on location. Small apartments in the city and large houses in the country. - Jul 2009


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