Day -12: Finding A Place To Live

There is a saying: the first step is the hardest. In the case of moving to Brussels, I’d be inclined to say that sentiment isn’t terribly accurate. It would be more accurate to say that find accommodation is the hardest step.

Brussels has a high temporary population. Large numbers of it’s residents are stagiaries within the EU institutions, who are there for six months at a time, or attached to MEPs, NATO, the branches of foreign governments or the many diplomatic establishments. From investigation on and, there is certainly enough supply to meet the demand from the constantly moving population.

That doesn’t make flat hunting any easier. After all, you have to deal with a multi-lingual country, which is not easy when you’re only just learning to speak French and only have a loose grasp of Flemish. There are, of course, translations services available online, but it’s hard to put faith in Google Translate and other such services when they cannot accurately account for grammar changes.

There are also risks involved. Flying to another country in order to ensure that a flat is suitable and actually exists is an expensive business. The alternative, arriving and staying in hostels or hotels until you can find a place to rent  also has the potential to be expensive and carries the risk of not being able to find something suitable in a reasonable time. Which leaves the easiest, but probably riskiest option, putting down a deposit without visiting a flat or meeting the owner.

The advantage is that you arrive knowing you have somewhere you can call yours, but on the other hand you have no idea if you are subject to one of the old cons in the book until you arrive to find the people there have no idea who you are.

Never the less, this is the start of an interesting journey, and hopefully by the end of the week I will actually be sorted out with a pleasant flat near the European Parliament. Then, the work can really begin.

2 thoughts on “Day -12: Finding A Place To Live”

  1. Hi,

    congrats on the internship! Having done it and found out the hard way, I’d recommend going over first rather than arranging things by email. I ended up paying over the odds for a flat in the middle of nowhere, with a landlady who spoke Flemish and a kitchen that didn’t work. Things may have changed, but flats to rent were advertised by posters in windows, rather than online. Ask SNP-ers over there, they might be able to help!

    Awra best!



    1. Thank you very much. I’m really looking forward to it (tempered with considerable apprehension).

      I’ve been spending a lot of time on Google Maps making sure that the flats I’ve been looking at aren’t too far out. I’ll also be ok if I get a Flemish landlady, since my Flemish is infinitely better then my French.
      Anyway, there is no way that a flat I’ve never seen can be worse then the flat I recently moved out of in Edinburgh 😉


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