Two Brabants, home to thousands of emigrants


Geographically, nothing has changed since then. Brussels is still as close as ever and still influencing the real estate market, boosted by Brussels residents looking for more space and peace in the ever-receding countryside. These two provinces are also among the richest in the country, with a good range of public services, transport and shops.

Belgian expatriates will no longer be at risk of having their account closed in Belgium

Enough to attract the people of Brussels, but not only that. For a long time, international institutions have been recording the arrival of foreign workers or emigrants who have to build a new life, albeit a temporary one. The main market for these very specific customers remains the capital, but both Brabants are also thriving, especially the city of Waterloo.

20% of foreigners in the most popular cities

The Lion City is historically famous for the famous clash, the battlefield of which still attracts tourists from all over the world. But it also developed on the basis of its proximity to Brussels, on the one hand thanks to the road of the same name that leads to Uccle via Rhode-Saint-Genèse, but also, of course, through the Ring Road.

With the arrival of large multinational companies to Brussels, but also and above all European institutions or NATO institutions, international schools were born on the outskirts of the capital (six in the Waterloo area alone) and over the years international shops such as British or Scandinavian grocery stores were established .

According to the latest data shared by the Waterloo city administration, in 2023, 5,748 foreigners of 120 different nationalities lived in the Lion City. For the expatriate category, we find mainly the French (1,398), followed by Italians (584), Spaniards (382) and even Americans (146). They were also much more present in Belgium about twenty years ago, before the attacks of 11 September 2001 and the financial crisis of 2008 changed the situation.

More Belgians than ever are moving abroad

And while Waterloo’s population is 20% foreign-born, the number of expatriates has tended to decline in recent years. “I started working with expats in 2011 and the number has halvedconfides Palmina Guglielmi, a real estate agent specializing in this market and operating mainly in Walloon Brabant. Since the health crisis, we feel that there is a real change in habits with the possibility of doing everything remotely.

We have noticed that the foreigners who keep coming to Belgium sometimes have a longer-term project than a professional mission. “In recent years we have seen many Spaniards and people from Middle Eastern countries entering the market of buying instead of renting, sometimes with budgets exceeding a million euros. We are more into investment logic, especially with embassies in the Middle East.

But what is it that draws expats to Waterloo so much? “It is truly the most desirable municipality. At Drève d’Argenteuil there is a European school and a school of St. John’s, which of course play a role, as does the proximity of ISF, which is located in Rhode. Waterloo is also halfway between Brussels and its institutions and Shape (Supreme Headquarters Allies Powers Europe, NATO body, editor’s note). And then, some families don’t want to live in the city and are looking for space“, explains the broker.

The rent can reach 6,500 euros per month

But other municipalities are obviously the target of expats. The neighboring communities of Lasne, La Hulpe or Braine-l’Alleud, for example, boast neighborhoods popular with wealthy foreigners. Wavre also welcomes its share of expats with the presence of British multinational pharmaceutical industry leader GSK in its northern zone, but also the international school Aquarius.

Flemish side,”according to a study by Willaert and Koelet devoted to the trends of Europeans in terms of settlement in Brussels and the periphery, immigrants from Western Europe try to settle mainly in the Brussels municipalities in the southeast and municipalities adjacent to the periphery. The main Western European groups call Crainhem, Tervuren, Wezembeek-Oppem, Overijse and Zaventem home, accounting for around 20% or more of the population”, we read in a study by the Flemish Rand public authority.

But how can we find accommodation to meet these very specific requirements? “In general, we are asked to find villas with four to five bedrooms and as many bathrooms, with rents ranging between 2,500 and 4,000 euros.specifies Palmina Guglielmi. The owners are often investors who sometimes have more than twenty houses. There are a number of American-style villas in Waterloo that are very successful and are regularly renovated by their owners. I even recently rented a house for 6,500 euros per month.


About ten international schools in two Brabants

Education. If both Brabants attract foreigners, it is because of their proximity to Brussels, but also because of their educational offer. There are about ten schools located mainly in Waterloo, Rhode-Saint-Genèse, Tervuren and Weezembeek-Oppem and Wavre. In Walloon Brabant, let’s list, to be exhaustive, Bogaerts International School (Waterloo), International School Le Verseau (Bierges), Bogaerts International School (Waterloo), ISF (Waterloo), European School of Brussels-Argenteuil (Waterloo), St. John’s International School (Waterloo) and European Montessori School (Waterloo). For Brussels, Wallonia.be has four European schools in Uccle, Woluwe, Ixelles and Laeken “and many other international schools, including BEPS International School, British International School of Brussels and International School of Brussels. There are four in Flemish Brabant, in addition to the ISF based in Rhode, mainly in Tervuren (especially the British School of Brussels), Wezembeek-Oppem and Kraainem.



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