Cost of living in Brussels

It probably won’t come as a massive shock to hear that the average cost of living in Brussels is slightly higher than any other Belgian city, though not very high by the standards of other major European cities. All in all, it’s about "average", but you can easily spend more on things like beer and dining out.

Housing costs

We’ve talked about housing in Brussels in a good amount of depth, but the takeaway is this: prices aren’t usually cheap unless you’re in student housing and sharing a bathroom/kitchen space with 8-12 other people. For a shared room in 2-3 bedroom apartment expect to pay around €500-750.

Your best bet is to get on online and a find bunch of good-looking listings, and then find some people to share the place with. Unless, of course, you find a single room in an apartment for a good price, in which case you can snap it up on your own!

Food costs

For grabbing a bite to eat when you’re out and about, there’s nowhere better to be than the Belgian capital. Well, Amsterdam comes close, but you get the point. You can buy huge servings of frites from vendors hanging out of windows for just a couple of euros, heaped with delicious mayonnaise. Of course you could get ketchup, but come on - this is Belgium! Similarly there are Belgian waffles (gaufres) which, conveniently, make a perfect follow-up to the frites!

There are also local eateries serving quick, tasty food like falafel, wraps, pittas and the like. For eating out, dinner is quite a bit more expensive than lunch - if you want to try a particularly fancy restaurant, then consider going for lunch instead of dinner to save a few euros. All in all, there’s no shortage of great eating options throughout the capital, and the price is generally pretty good.

In terms of groceries, you’re looking at around €50 a week in order to eat well, with home-cooked meals every day at quite high quality. You could probably survive on €30-35 if you ate fairly spartan meals, without alcohol or much snacking.

Transportation costs

As with any modern city worth its salt, Brussels uses a method of unified ticketing, which means that you buy a generic "ticket" (which lasts one hour) and you can use it for as many different modes of transport as you require over the course of that trip. Basic ticket costs are outlined below to give you an idea:

  • Single ticket, €1.60 (€1.80)

  • Five-trip card, €7.30

  • Ten-trip card €11.20 (€13.50)

  • All day card, €4.30 (€4.50)

  • Three-day card, €9.20 (€9.50)

  • Monthly card (metro, tram, bus), €55.50

  • Annual card (metro, tram, bus), €583.00

The first price is cheaper, and represents the amount paid when the traveller has a MOBIB card. This is a plastic chip-card which you can pre-load with funds and is validated at every use. The price in brackets is known as the "JUMP" price, and is when you buy a single paper ticket. If you’re going to be in Brussels for more than a couple of days (which we hope you will be!) then it’s worth getting a MOBIB - you can buy them at virtually every station!

The best part is that while a MOBIB card costs €5 to purchase, you get €4 when you return it at the end of your exchange. So really, paying €1 for discounted fares every time you use public transport is pretty good!

You can also get around by taxi, and these cost around €1.30 per kilometre inside the city centre. Uber is currently pretty unpopular here, so just hail a cab if you need to get somewhere in a hurry.

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