If you work for one of the many European institutions in Brussels you might be in search of a neighbourhood which allows you easy access to the many offices which you might find yourself working in.
In this post I will be examining the Brussels commune of Etterbeek to see what are the pros and cons of living in this popular neighbourhood in Brussels which is located near many of the European institutions that have drawn thousands of expats to Brussels.
- Etterbeek Population and Demographics
- Etterbeek Location
- Commuting Times to Main Areas
- Etterbeek Public Transportation Links
- Parking in Etterbeek
- Schools in Etterbeek
- Entertainment & Leisure in Etterbeek
- Cost of Living in Etterbeek
- Etterbeek Housing Prices
- Crime and Safety in Etterbeek
|Crime and Safety||6/10|
|Quality of Housing||8/10|
|Entertainment (Nightlife & Restaurants)||6/10|
|Cost of Living||6/10|
|Outdoor Activities/Green Spaces||7/10|
|Public Transportation Links||8/10|
Etterbeek Population and Demographics
Recent government figures show that Etterbeek has a population of around 48,000 inhabitants with a population density of around 15,000 inhabitants per square km (39,000/sq mi) making it one of the more densely populated neighborhoods in Brussels.
Etterbeek is home to many of the offices of the European institutions headquartered in Brussels including the European External Action Service and European Committee of the Regions; as well as several embassies.
This has made the neighborhood a popular location for expats who work at these institutions and want to keep their commuting times to a minimum. Etterbeek is also a good location for individuals who work at the many EU focused lobbyist groups, law firms and trade associations located in the surrounding area.
According to data from the Brussels Institute of Statistics (IBSA), Etterbeek is home to 23,640 expats which means that expats make up 49% of the neighbourhood’s total population. 75% of expats in Etterbeek are from other EU countries with the remaining 25% coming from outside of the EU. The table below provides an overview of the top 15 biggest expat communities in Etterbeek.
|Nationality||Number of Residents|
The “bruxellois” (local residents) who live in Etterbeek make up 51% of the population.
Etterbeek is an area which has a good mixture of both residential housing (mainly apartments and townhouses) and office buildings.
Etterbeek is located about 4.5km (2.8mi) from Brussels city center. The area near the Montgomery metro station which borders the neighboring areas of Woluwe Saint Lambert and Woluwe Saint Pierre mainly consists of large apartment buildings while the area near the Schuman metro station is dominated by office buildings.
The area near the cinquantenaire (shown below) and accompanying Merode metro station is the main commercial hub of the area and is where you will find a good selection of shops and restaurants. Another popular recreational/commercial area is the Place Jourdan which contains a number of popular Bars as well as the well known Belgian fries stand, Maison Antoine.
Commuting Times to Main Areas
|Location||Method of Transport (Car)|
|City Center (Grand Place)||10-15 min|
|European Quarter||1-5 min|
|NATO Area||15-20 min|
Etterbeek Public Transportation Links
The public transportation links in Etterbeek are one of the main selling points of the area with several metro stations (Merode, Pétillon, Schuman and Thieffry) being conveniently located throughout the area.
The Metro/Rail station of Schuman also provides a direct link to Brussels International Airport which makes it a convenient location for frequent travelers.
Parking in Etterbeek
One of the main downsides of living in Etterbeek is that parking spaces are quite limited.
Since many of the buildings in the area are quite old they usually don’t come with dedicated underground parking or garage boxes which means that you are reliant on the limited street parking in the area.
Even if you own a car you will often find that it is more convenient to travel around Etterbeek by public transportation as it can be very difficult to find suitable parking near your accommodation as well as the restaurants or shops located in the area.
If you are lucky enough to find one, renting a garage box in an apartment will normally set you back between 150-250 Euros per month.
The Commune provides up to three street parking permits per household which can be purchased at the following rates:
- 1st card € 25,00 (per year)
- 2nd card € 75,00 (per year)
- 3rd card € 200,00 (per year)
Residents can also purchase half day parking passes for visitors at a cost of €10 for 52 half day passes (09:00-13:30 or 13:00-18:00) from the local town hall.
Schools in Etterbeek
One of the most important factors for families looking to relocate is the quality and access to schools for their children. Etterbeek offers a number of different education opportunities for families.
For parents wishing to send their children to international schools the nearest international school are the Ecole International Montgomery which has both a primary and secondary school offering education in either entirely in English as well as a bilingual English-French programme; as well as the Brussels International Catholic School which also offers bilingual English-French language instruction to primary and secondary school students.
Younger children between the ages of two and a half to six can attend Montessori House Brussels which is an independent international school offering bilingual (English-French) education.
For a complete overview of all international schools in Brussels check out our article on International Schools in Brussels.
Parents also have the option of sending their children to local public schools which offer education in either French or Dutch. One of the more popular public schools in the area being the Collège Saint-Michel.
Entertainment & Leisure in Etterbeek
Etterbeek strikes a good balance between being both a residential neighborhood while still offering plenty of commercial amenities like cafe’s, restaurants and shops.
Given the high number of expats in the area many of the entertainment and leisure focused businesses are specifically targeted at expats and as a result offer English language classes for activities like yoga or dancing.
While not as green or bike friendly as neighboring Woluwe Saint Pierre, the area does have several large outdoor recreational areas most notably the Parc du Cinquantenaire (Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary) which is also houses the Military Museum, Art & History Museum, Autoworld and the Great Mosque of Brussels.
Cost of Living in Etterbeek
The vast majority of living expenses such as groceries, restaurants and utilities are the same no matter which area of Brussels you decide to live. Nevertheless due to the many expats that live in the area as well as the proximity to large European Institutions the commune tends to have more upmarket options for things like groceries, restaurants and hair salons which can contribute to an overall higher cost of living.
Etterbeek Housing Prices
When looking at the price of housing for both the rental and buying market you will see that Etterbeek is usually more expensive than other communes near the city center. I have compiled a table containing the average price of accommodation in the area based off of https://www.immoweb.be listings from February 2021.
|Type of Accomodation||Rent||Purchase Price|
|Studio||€776 per month (€21 per m2)||€190,500 (€4,850 per m2)|
|1 bedroom apartment||€1,060 per month (€17 per m2)||€310,000 (€4,560 per m2)|
|2 bedroom apartment||€1,622 per month (€17 per m2)||€407,000 (€4,050 per m2)|
|3 bedroom apartment||€2,295 per month (€13 per m2)||€727,000 (€4,220 per m2)|
|3 bedroom townhouse||€1,970 per month (€11 per m2)||€535,000 (€2,690 per m2)|
Crime and Safety in Etterbeek
If you ask people who have lived in Brussels for a while many will tell you that Etterbeek can be prone to crimes like theft, property damage and muggings. Fortunately as recent statistics show the number of reported crimes in Etterbeek has reduced by 25% in the past 10 years with 2019 data showing 4,071 incidents being reported to the police. Compared to other neighborhoods Etterbeek firmly places itself in the middle in terms of crime rate with a crime rate of 16,969 per 100,000 inhabitants. The most commonly reported crimes in 2019 were theft (1,619 incidents), property damage (318 incidents) and assault (291 incidents).
Personally I have never felt unsafe in the area however every individual’s feeling of safety is dependent upon their own unique circumstances.
- Very convenient location for expats working at the various EU institutions located in the area.
- Good public transportation links.
- Good mixture of being both calm and peaceful while still having a decent selection of shops and restaurants.
- More expensive than many of the other Brussels neighborhoods.
- Lack of street and dedicated parking spots.
- Young professionals working at the EU institutions and lobbyist organizations located in the area.
Official Neighbourhood Contact Details
Commune website: https://www.etterbeek.be/
Address: Avenue Charles Thielemans 93 1150 Brussels
Telephone: 02 / 773.05.11
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 08:30 – 13:00; Wednesday 14:00 – 16:00; Thursday 16:00 – 18:30
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