Though the cost of living in Belgium is far from inexpensive, it's generally not as pricey as in other prominent European destinations. Brussels ranked 39th out of 227 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2022.

The Belgian tax and social security systems are well-developed, ensuring that incomes are distributed evenly across most industries. Nevertheless, for many non-EU nationals, living in Belgium is particularly costly in the initial transition stages due to the disparity between the Euro and weaker currencies.


Cost of accommodation in Belgium

Rent payments typically account for a large percentage of a person's monthly expenditure in Belgium. Accommodation in Belgium’s cities is largely quite costly. Expats who are willing to venture outside major urban centres will find that their rental costs are substantially lower.

Energy prices in Belgium are steep, so expats moving here should not expect utilities to be a minor cost.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Belgium

There are numerous entertainment options in Belgium to suit every budget. Museum and gallery entrance fees are generally low. Expats can also visit most of Belgium’s many public parks and historic buildings free of charge.

High-end clubs and restaurants are available in all major urban centres, as are smaller bars and cafés. Brussels is significantly pricier than other cities in Belgium, such as Antwerp and Ghent.


Cost of transport in Belgium

The public transport system in Belgium is efficient and affordable. Its extensive network of bus, tram and metro routes makes getting around major cities a relatively hassle-free experience. There are also several bicycle hire schemes available for those who prefer to avoid public transport. Transport between major urban centres is often available at a relatively low cost.

Owning a car is not a necessity as long as one lives somewhere with easy access to public transport. This should save new arrivals some money when moving to Belgium. For the unlucky ones who can't avoid buying a car, it's likely to be a significant expense. The cost of car insurance and fuel is an added burden.


Cost of groceries in Belgium

Grocery shopping in Belgium can be relatively expensive, particularly for imported goods. For those who prefer organic food, there are various specialist stores available, though prices tend to be higher than in regular supermarkets. The quality of food in Belgium is generally high, so it's possible to find affordable and nutritious options without breaking the bank.

Expats can save money by purchasing locally sourced products at supermarkets or visiting local markets for fresh produce, tailoring their menus to seasonal fruits and vegetables. Shopping at discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl and choosing store-brand items can also help to reduce grocery bills.


Cost of education in Belgium

Education in Belgium is compulsory from the age of six to 18, and the public school system is of a high standard. Public schools are free, but there are some costs involved, such as books and other school materials.

For expats who want their children to follow an international curriculum, there is a range of international schools available, particularly in Brussels. These schools offer education in English or other languages and follow various curricula, such as the globally recognised International Baccalaureate.

To match the world-class educations they offer, international schools tend to have high tuition fees, which can be a significant expense for expat families. Expats on a tight budget may consider enrolling their children in local public schools or seeking financial support from their employers.


Cost of healthcare in Belgium

Healthcare in Belgium is renowned for its high quality, and the country has a comprehensive social security system that includes public healthcare coverage. Expats working in Belgium are required to contribute to the social security system and will therefore have access to public healthcare services. Expats will find many expat-friendly doctors and medical professionals in Belgium who are proficient in English, ensuring that language barriers do not hinder their access to quality healthcare.

There may be waiting lists for certain treatments, and not all services are completely free. Many residents opt to take out private health insurance to cover additional costs and access faster care.

Expats should consider investing in a private health insurance policy, particularly if they have specific healthcare needs or want to access private facilities. To save on healthcare costs, it's vital to compare insurance providers and select a plan that suits individual needs and budgets.


Cost of living in Belgium chart

Prices vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Brussels in May 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

EUR 1,680

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

EUR 1,460

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

EUR 960

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

EUR 800

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

EUR 4.10

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.15

Rice (1kg)

EUR 1.99

Loaf of white bread

EUR 2.15

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 10.46

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 8

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 75

Big Mac meal

EUR 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2.36

Cappuccino

EUR 3.39

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 2.15

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.21

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

EUR 32

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

EUR 260

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

EUR 2

City-centre public transport fare

EUR 2.45

Gasoline (per litre)

EUR 1.83

Expat Health Insurance

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If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.

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