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What Is the Cost of Living in Belgium?

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Cost of living in Belgium

Are you considering moving to Belgium? One of the things to research is the cost of living there. That alone is not enough though, standard of living is also an important metric to keep in mind when comparing different areas before you settle. In this living in Belgium guide, we will take a look at the different costs associated with life in Belgium to give you a good picture.

Cost of Living in Belgium

When taking a look at cost of living in Belgium, we normally take several factors into consideration, and we will take a look at each one on its own in the following sections. But first, let us mention what the average salary is so the breakdown makes more sense to us.

Expected is that by the end of 2023, the average gross salary in Belgium is € 3,661 per month, or € 43,932 per year (source: Trading Economics). The minimum wage is €1,954.99 per month, or €23,459.88 per year (source: WageIndicator.org).

Before getting into the details of the cost of living in Belgium, we will share a couple of international comparisons so you can get a general idea, and we will highlight what the situation is like in Brussels.

Cost of Living in Brussels

As in most major cities and capitals, the cost of living in Brussels is higher than in other places, but as well, the salaries earned do account for that. The average net salary in Brussels is € 3,700 per month, or €44,400 per year, after tax (source: Check in Price).

A family of four is estimated to spend € 3,108.10 per month, and a single person € 885.40 per month, both without rent (source: Numbeo). So a single person can live very comfortably with their salary, but a family of four would need two working members based on average salaries.

Cost of Living in Belgium Compared to the United States

Compared to the United States, the rent prices are a lot lower in Belgium. Furthermore, the main other costs seem to be cheaper in Belgium as well than in the United States. However, since the salaries in the United States are higher, the local purchasing power is lower in Belgium. We will share some details below (source: Numbeo.

  • Consumer prices are 9.7% lower
  • Rent prices are 52.2% lower
  • Restaurant prices are 3.5% lower
  • Groceries are 23.9% Lower
  • Local purchasing power is 18.0% lower

Cost of Living in Belgium Compared to the United Kingdom

Compared to the United Kingdom, living in Belgium is quit expensive. Eventhough the rental costs is lower in Belgium, the other costs are higher and the wages are lower. So the local purchasing power is in Belgium lower as well. We will share some details below (source: Numbeo.

  • Consumer prices are 6.1% higher
  • Rent prices are 36.5% lower
  • Restaurant prices are 2.0% higher
  • Groceries are 12.1% higher
  • Local purchasing power is 4.3% higher.

Breakdown of the Cost of Living in Belgium

In this part, we will have a look at the cost of living in Belgium for specific categories in more detail. We will have a look at:

  • cost of renting
  • utility costs
  • pubilc transport costs
  • cost of entertainment and eating out

The breakdown will be made both for Belgium as a country and for Brussels, since most expats will be most interested in moving to the capital.

Cost of Renting in Belgium

In Belgium the rent to salary ratio is quite good. It is said that one should be wary of paying more than 1/3 of their household income on rent. Most major cities worldwide break that rule, with for example, Londoners paying up to 50% of their salaries on rent.

In Belgium, on average, one would pay 30-35% of their salary in rent. The following table shows the average costs for a one bedroom apartment and a three bedroom apartment in and outside the city center.

Average Rental Prices in Belgium
Region Flat Size Monthly Rent in the City Center Monthly Rent Outside the City Center
Belgium 1 Bedroom €813.30 €661.38
3 Bedroom €1,183.14 €981.53
Brussels 1 Bedroom €969.20 €793.68
3 Bedroom €1,622.73 €1,455.26

Source: Numbeo

You will have lots of options for accommodation while searching for a place to live. You can find furnished apartments, serviced apartments - sometimes called aparthotels - and unfurnished accommodation. The different levels of service and amenities will affect the price you pay, but if you are new in Belgium, it will save you the trouble from having to find and buy the items yourself.

Utility Costs in Belgium

Depending on where you live, and the type of contract you have, some utilities will be included in the contract, such as water, sewage, garbage collection, etcetera. But some will not be included, such as electricity and gas, sometimes internet, etcetera.

  • The cost of the basic utilities (electricity, gas, water, garbage) will be around €177.48 a month on average in Belgium and €197.44 a month in Brussels (source: Numbeo).
  • Internet at 50 Mbps with 150 GB will cost around €31 (source: BIPT).

Utilities such as water and garbage are mostly provided by regional monopolies, so you will not be able to shop around. But for your electricity, gas, and internet, the market has been liberalized, so you can definitely shop around to find the best service and prices.

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Public Transport Costs in Belgium

As we saw above, outside the city center, prices are cheaper than in the center. So if you want to save on rent, it is viable to live outside the center as Brussels, and Belgium in general, have very good public transportation.

Major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, and Charleroi have tram systems covering the entire city able to take you around without hindrance. Brussels also has a metro network. For other cities and areas, you will have to rely on a bus network. In Flanders it is managed by De Lijn, in Wallonia by TEC, and in Brussels by STIB.

The following table shows the average price for a monthly pass and an one-way ticket for the public transport in Belgium on average, and in the major cities.

Average Public Transport Prices in Belgium
City Monthly Pass One Way Ticket
Belgium €49 €2.50
Antwerp €49 €2.50
Brussels €50 €2.50
Charleroi €30.50 €2.50
Ghent €49 €2.20
Liège 37.75 €2.50
Namur 56.30 €2.40

Source: Numbeo

Cost of Entertainment and Eating Out in Belgium

One of the nice things about living in Brussels is that it is not much more expensive than the rest of Belgium in terms of entertainment and eating out. Moreover, a great thing about Belgium in general is that they have great food and that they are known for their beers.

Prices for Entertainment and Eating Out in Belgium
Activity Cost in Belgium Cost in Brussels
Single meal at inexpensive restuarant €15 €15
Three course midrange meal for two €70 €70
McDonalds combo meal €9 €9
0.5 liter of domestic beer (pub) €4 €5
0.33 liter of imported beer (pub) €4 €5
Cappuccino €3.08 3.34
0.33 liter of soda €2.47 €2.38
0.33 liter of water €2.24 €2.49
2 tickets to the movies €22 €24
Gym membership €28.44 €30.73
1 hour of tennis court rental €17.57 €22.39

Source: Numbeo

In general, at most restaurants where you might consider leaving a tip, a service charge of 10-15% would be added to your bill automatically, so you do not have to leave a tip.

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