There is a relatively free and open housing market in much of Belgium. Housing is available in most of Belgium, although the constant flow of bureaucrats and diplomats to and from Brussels makes the rental market tight in and around the capital.
Rental housing in Belgium is plentiful and generally easy to find, thanks to rather generous (for Belgium) treatment of rental income. Despite recent changes to this popular tax loophole, rental property is still considered a good way for retirees to supplement their pension income. In larger cities such as Brussels, there’s a constant changeover of diplomatic and corporate personnel, so that apartments and houses become available at all times of the year. You’ll see plenty of window signs with big orange letters on a black background proclaiming ‘à louer/te huur’ and the phone number you can call for further information. It’s sometimes possible to arrange an immediate appointment to see a property if you’re touring an area with your mobile phone in hand, and ‘sign hunting’ is a popular means of finding living quarters in a specific neighbourhood.
Most apartments and houses are rented unfurnished, although the kitchen (cuisine/keuken) can vary as to how well equipped (equipée/uitgerust) it is. A semi-equipped kitchen probably has a sink and some built-in cupboards, but not much more. You’ll be expected to provide your own appliances or make arrangements with the prior tenant to buy theirs. ‘Equipped’ means that the basic appliances are included (cooker and probably a refrigerator, but not always), and ‘super-equipped’ indicates that the kitchen may have a dishwasher, microwave and/or other ‘luxury’ appliances, as well as all the basics. If the kitchen isn’t equipped, you’ll have to provide all your own cupboards and appliances.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg from Survival Books.