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Record number of 220,000 expats currently active in our country

Record number of 220,000 expats currently active in our country 

A smooth commute is more important than a big house

Wednesday 29 November 2017 — Today our country has a record number of expats, or rather highly-educated foreign employees. This year there are just about 220,000 of them, compared to 2000 when there were ‘only’ 150,000. This is an increase of nearly 50% compared to 15 years ago. And what is even more striking is that the cliché of the expat taking his family to the best neighbourhoods of our country to live in the most expensive villas is no longer true. According to Skyline Europe, market leader in finding accommodation for expats, who deducted this fact from a market analysis.

An estimated 220,000 expats live and work in our country today. That is precisely 46% more than in 2000, when the number was estimated at 150,000. The increase is quite remarkable, and it proves that the financial crisis, Brexit and the terror attacks cannot keep the expats away from the European capital.

It must be said: Flemish cities like Antwerp and Ghent are increasingly attractive to expats, but Brussels is still the big Walhalla for most of them. With all its European institutions, Europe’s capital attracts most of the highly-educated, foreign employees. Now more than ever, states Skyline Europe.

“We only see the number of expats in Brussels increase. If you look at it from that perspective, you’ll see that our capital belongs to the top three of the largest international political metropoles, next to Washington DC and New York. Something like this has of course an enormous appeal.” 
Kristof Schellekens, spokesman Skyline Europe

Accessibility above all

Apart from the thousands of expats working for the European institutions, there are countless embassies and many international multinationals who have their headquarters here, not forgetting NATO. In terms of locations, there is the European quarter in Elsene, the Tervurenlaan in Etterbeek where the majority of the embassies are located, and the residential area for expats in Oudergem. The large multinationals can be found mainly near Zaventem airport and in Evere where NATO is also located. 

“A good example of a typical residential area for expats is the Ambassador Park in Evere. And it is quite clear that accessibility has become a decisive factor when choosing accommodation. Expats want to live in Brussels, but in a location where they can get to the centre easily. It doesn’t really matter whether this is by car or public transport, as long as they have an easy commute.” 
Kristof Schellekens, spokesman Skyline Europe

Apartment instead of villa 

But who are these expats coming to our country in such great numbers? According to Skyline Europe the majority comes from Japan, Germany and Czechia, and also the Americans are represented in great numbers. And while there is the idea that expats only stay in our country for a few months, on average they tend to stay for 3.5 years. They who only stay for a few months in Brussels are mainly employees or interns who perform short assignments for the European Union or the multinationals. 

“The average expat in our country is male, and between 25 and 40 years old. The majority works for the European Union and NATO, but also multinationals such as Audi and Toyota have a strong representation in the expat market.” 
Kristof Schellekens, spokesman Skyline Europe

Another striking fact: companies no longer house their expats in large exclusive houses. While luxury properties with a living area of more than 150m² were no exception, the average expat now as an apartment of 80m² at his disposal. Executives often have a more spacious apartment to live in, with an average living area of 120m².

Since 2017 a lot less expats are bringing their family with them to our country. Three quarters of the expats stay in Brussels on their own, and visit their home country every now and then. The only exception to this rule are the Japanese expats, they bring their whole family with them as the distance is just too great to travel back and forth. 

Higher price category 

The high number of expats shows itself on the real estate market, which in Brussels is aimed more and more at corporate lets. Rents from 1,500 to 2000 euro are no exception on the expat market. The average rent for an expat 2-bed apartment in Brussels is 1500 euro/month. This is slightly higher than what the average Fleming spends on a “normal” rented house. The average rental price for a penthouse for expats, about 2000 euro/months, is on average quite a bit higher too.

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