Hunt for Shelter: Tips, Advice, and Experiences from Brussels Appartment Searching

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Maybe for you a warm, secure home is an absolute must. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who feels grounded anywhere but at home. Like with most parts of our psychology, you are probably somewhere in between and it probably depends on the situation. My experience apartment hunting in Brussels was characterized by trial and error. I ran into some obstacles, but at the end I found a method that provided awesome opportunities.

 

The following are five principles that served me well in the hunt:

 

1. Create a directory of apartment profiles for yourself.

 

As simple or complex as needed, a list of the rooms you are pursuing that you have made yourself will give you a much needed sense of order. The websites you might use for searching like immoweb.be, appartager.be, or craigslist (for better or worse) will be scattered and many choice apartments are easier to find by the physical ads pictured in my photos. This is key for the amount of multitasking you want to do for a swift go.

 

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2. Take care.

 

I ended up just an email away from a €900 scam at one point. Looking back, signs that it was fishy were how hard the person worked to make me feel pity for him and how rushed he felt. When I asked for the lawyer from the contract’s contact info though, he never replied. Later, I noticed that his passport id number was different on the lease from in the image he sent. Jack Lyon was definitely lyin’.

 

3. Also, take risks.

 

Talking on the phone in a foreign language scares me, so at the start I tried to work mostly over email. This was a major hindrance, I began to realize. After taking time to prepare what I would say on the phone and doing some breathing exercises the opportunities began flowing. Still, there were some moments that were…comment dit-on “painfully awkward?” C’est la
vie.

 

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4. Know what you want, and be flexible.

 

With as many variables as are involved with all apartment hunting (furnishing, costs, location, what your landlord is like, neighbors) a sense of where you stand is vital. For me, cheap rent was the top proirity, followed by a location that would have a good travel flow and near lush greenery, and it had to be furnished but barely. Knowing this really helped me make a rushed decision at the final moments.

 

The landlord I ended up working with is a great guy, if you were wondering. He is very honorable about his Greek heritage, and he has the mild odor of oysters and motorbikes, usually.

 

5. Get lost in Brussels!

 

My best memories alone in Brussels so far have been the afternoons where I would house hunt up and down the streets with a partial map and an eye on the traffic. It is astounding how this city transforms from one urban scene to the next, instantaneously. The places where the memory traces are still vibrant (like a solo tree with flags along the trunk at a roundabout on Rue de College) will likely be points for pilgrimages throughout my stay here.

 

Immoweb.be was by far the best site for the search, and the 2GO4 Hostel was 6.5/10, but would have been 8 or 9 if I stayed there for less than a week.

 

A big thanks to Marie-Eve and Laurie from Montreal for taking me in when all of the hostels and BnB’s in Brussels were occupied.

 

— Blaise Holden (blaise@pacificu.edu)

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