When you move to Brussels you might be in search of a neighbourhood which is close to an international school while still having easy access to the city center. In this post we will be examining the Brussels commune of Watermael-Boitsfort to see what are the pros and cons of living in this popular village-like suburb in Brussels.
|Crime and Safety||7/10|
|Quality of Housing||8/10|
|Entertainment (Nightlife & Restaurants)||4/10|
|Cost of Living||6/10|
|Outdoor Activities/Green Spaces||8/10|
|Public Transportation Links||3/10|
Watermael-Boitsfort Population and Demographics
With a population of 25,332, Watermael-Boitsfort is one of the smallest municipalities in the Brussels Capital Region when it comes to the number of residents. It is also one of the least densely populated areas with a population density of 1,900 inhabitants per square km (5,000/sq mi).
As a result, Watermael-Boitsfort is an excellent choice for expats who are looking for some more space to move around and enjoy more of a village type atmosphere. In that regard, it shares a lot of similarities with other municipalities like Woluwe Saint Pierre and Tervueren in that it feels much more suburban than the majority of the other municipalities in the Brussels Capital Region.
The area has a reputation of being a popular neighborhood for families who send their children to the International School of Brussels which is one of the largest and most established international schools in Brussels.
According to data from the Brussels Institute of Statistics (IBSA), Watermael-Boitsfort is home to 5,090 expats which means that expats makeup 20% of the neighborhood’s total population. About 76% of expats in Watermael-Boitsfort are from other EU countries with the remaining 24% coming from outside of the EU. The table below provides an overview of the top 15 biggest expat communities in Watermael-Boitsfort.
|Nationality||Number of Residents|
The “bruxellois” (local residents) who live in Watermael-Boitsfort makeup 80% of the population and are generally Francophone.
Watermael-Boitsfort is primarily a residential area located about 9km (5.6mi) from Brussels city center. The municipality is located just in between Auderghem and Uccle.
One of the main advantages to living in Watermael-Boitsfort is that it allows you to feel like you aren’t living in a “city” or urban environment while still being close enough to have easy access to the things that urban environments have to offer when you need them.
However, the main reason that expats choose to live in Watermael-Boitsfort is because of the fact that the main international school of Brussels is located in the area.
Commuting Times to Main Areas
|Location||Method of Transport (Car)|
|City Center (Grand Place)||25-35 min|
|European Quarter||20-25 min|
|NATO Area||20-25 min|
Watermael-Boitsfort Public Transportation Links
The public transportation links in Watermael-Boitsfort are not as good as most other areas in Brussels mainly due to the fact that it has no metro stations. Instead residents who wish to use public transportation will need to use the tram (line 8) or the various buses that operate in the area.
This means that most trips to the city centre or main business areas will take between 45-60 minutes when using public transportation making the use of a car much more appealing as it can cut your commute time in half.
Parking in Watermael-Boitsfort
Watermael-Boitsfort has arguably the best parking availability out of the 19 municipalities in Brussels. While in most other areas you will have a hard time finding a parking spot when you reach your destination this is almost never the case when trying to park your car in Watermael-Boitsfort.
The very residential nature of the area means that most residents should be able to park in their own driveway/garage or find street parking near their home.
The Commune also provides up to two street parking permits per household which can be purchased at the following rates:
- 1st card € 12,10 (per year)
- 2nd card € 60,15 (per year)
For non residents the parking in the area mainly operates using the blue card system.
Watermael Boitsfort Schools
One of the most important factors for families looking to relocate to Brussels is the quality and access to schools for their children. Watermael-Boitsfort offers residents with a number of choices for sending their kids to school.
The most likely choice for expats wanting to provide their children with an english language education is the International School of Brussels or ISB. ISB is the largest international school in Brussels with over 1,400 students from 70 different countries attending the school each year.
The school is suitable for students of all ages offering everything from preschool all the way to graduation. However, it is one of the most pricey international schools in Brussels costing between 18,000-39,000 a year to attend which is why most of the students’ parents work for their national governments or large multinational organizations who subsidize these high tuition costs.
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 mainly in French but also in Dutch depending on the individual school.
There are seven French language public schools in the area which are:
- École Communale Les Aigrettes (preschool)
- Communal School Les Colibris (preschool)
- Ecole des Naïades (preschool)
- École communale Les Cèdres – La Roseraie (primary school)
- Ecole La Futaie (primary school)
- Le Karrenberg (primary school)
- La Sapinière (primary school)
Parents wishing to send their children to Dutch language schools will normally need to take a Dutch language proficiency test in order to ensure priority placement which will enable them to send their children to one of the three Dutch language schools in the area.
Entertainment & Leisure in Watermael-Boitsfort
Watermael-Boitsfort is far from lively but it does benefit from having a village type feel with several restaurants and shops acting as local hangouts for residents in the area.
The main commercial area in Watermael-Boitsfort is located near the town hall and acts as your typical neighborhood “main street”. This is where you will find things like your local banks, restaurants, grocery stores and take out shops.
Another popular commercial area is the area known as “Le Canard Sauvage” which is a popular neighborhood grocery store near the International School of Brussels. Here you will also find smaller local supermarkets, antiques stores, restaurants as well as an artisanal ice cream parlor.
For sports lovers the area houses the Parc Sportif des 3 Tilleuls, sports park which is also the location of the Piscine Calypso 2000 swimming pool, which is one of the few public swimming pools in Brussels.
Cost of Living in Watermael-Boitsfort
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 semi-affluent nature of the commune it tends to have more upmarket options for things like groceries having several boutique organic grocery stores and artisanal food and drink shops located in the area.
Watermael-Boitsfort Housing Prices
When looking at the price of housing for both the rental and buying market you will see that Watermael-Boitsfort is generally cheaper than a similar neighborhood like Woluwe Saint Pierre . 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||€810 per month (€21 per m2)||€177,500 (€4,670 per m2)|
|1 bedroom apartment||€1,080 per month (€17 per m2)||€213,000 (€3,520 per m2)|
|2 bedroom apartment||€1,567 per month (€15 per m2)||€297,125 (€3,323 per m2)|
|3 bedroom apartment||€1,920 per month (€12 per m2)||€957,166 (€4,893 per m2)*|
|3 bedroom townhouse||€1,950 per month (€13 per m2)||€415,000 (€3,837 per m2)|
*The average purchase price of a three bedroom apartment in Watermael-Boitsfort was extremely high due to several high end units being listed on the market at the time of publication. When you exclude these high end apartments the average price of a three bedroom dropped to €533,250.
Crime and Safety in Watermael-Boitsfort
While Brussels has comparatively high crime levels compared to other European capitals as well as other cities in Belgium, the area of Watermael-Boitsfort has the third lowest crime rate of the 19 Brussels municipalities with a crime rate of 7,378 crimes per 100,000 people.
That puts it ahead of neighboring areas like Uccle and Auderghem in terms of crime rates. Crime rates in Watermael-Boitsfort have remained relatively stable over the years but have seen a slight downward trend over the past five years.
According to recent statistics from the Belgian Federal Police nearly 25% of the crime is linked to “theft and extortion” while more serious crimes like violent crime only make up about 6% of reported crimes in the area.
For a complete overview of crime rates in Brussels check out our article on Brussels Crime Rates.
- Very calm and village type feel for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre
- Easy to get around by car with plenty of parking availability
- No metro connection
- Commute to city center could be lengthy during rush hour
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