In the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living survey, Brussels was ranked 78th out of 209 cities in the world. This puts Brussels as less expensive than other European cities such as Copenhagen and Dublin. However, the city is much more expensive to live in than cities like Barcelona and Stockholm.

Things such as housing and electricity are especially expensive, but expats will be able to save a significant amount on food and public transport, and the cost of eating out in Brussels is lower than many other major cities. 

Cost of accommodation in Brussels

Housing is usually the largest expense for expats in Brussels. Those moving to the city will find that some landlords are willing to negotiate lease prices. Prospective tenants should ask how long a property has been vacant, and may have some leverage if the figure is more than six months.

The cost of apartments and houses in Brussels varies dramatically and depends on size, quality, and the proximity to the city centre and the European quarter. Utilities such as heating and electricity are generally expensive and are an additional expense.

Certain neighbourhoods are more expensive than others. Ixelles, Uccle and Woluwe St Pierre are among the most expensive in the city. There is a large variety of choice when it comes to finding a place to live in Brussels, and there is something for every budget.

Further outside of the city in areas such as Waterloo, Tervuren and Overijse, expats can expect to find more family-friendly homes with large gardens, garages and sometimes pools.

Cost of communications in Brussels

Expats can get a phone line with various plans that include television, internet and mobile phone services. Mobile phone charges in Belgium are some of the most expensive in Europe.

When choosing a plan, it is important to ask about contract terms. Sometimes a contract renews every time a new feature is added. Expats should plan and ask questions ahead, and sign up for what they need all at once. 

Cost of eating out in Brussels

Some of the best bargains in Brussels are inspired by food, and good restaurants are abundant. The snack stands around town sell local specialities like the famous Belgian frites in heaped quantities for a few euros. Waffles are best bought from the trucks set up in tourist locations and in the main squares.

For high-end fare, many of the finer restaurants around the city offer a great chance to try the food at a fraction of the cost of the dinner menu on the prix fixe lunch menu. Dining in Brussels is a pleasure that will not disappoint any taste or budget. 

Cost of public transport in Brussels

Lots of people drive in Brussels, and depending on where an expat lives this might be a requirement. If someone works and lives in the city centre or the European quarter, however, public transport is affordable and well connected via the metro, bus and tram lines.

Using public transport in Brussels is also less of a headache since it prevents having to deal with expensive and limited parking or parking fines. Expats who will regularly be using public transportation can also save money by buying multiple-ride cards.

Unfortunately, public transport services to the airport are not very effective. If an expat plans to take public transport to Zaventem Airport, they should give themselves plenty of time to get there from anywhere in the city.

Cost of groceries in Brussels

There are dozens of specialty stores in Brussels. The main supermarket chains are Delhaize and Carrefour. These both offer everything from meat and fish to laundry detergent and cat food. In general, items are similarly priced to those in the US and other EU countries. Fresh produce can be expensive in the winter, but prices are better in season.

Cost of living in Brussels

Prices vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Brussels in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

 One-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 900

 One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 700

 Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 1,500

 Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 1,200


 Dozen eggs

 EUR 2.80

 Milk (1 litre)

 EUR 1

 Loaf of bread (white)

 EUR 1.60

 Chicken breasts (1kg)

 EUR 9

 Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 EUR 6.70


 Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

 EUR 0.22

 Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 EUR 45

 Electricity, heating, water (average per month for a standard household)

 EUR 130

Eating out and entertainment

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

 EUR 60

 Big Mac Meal

 EUR 9


 EUR 3.20

 Coca-Cola (330ml)

 EUR 2.50

 Local beer (500ml)

 EUR 4


 Taxi (rate per km)

 EUR 2

 City centre public transport

 EUR 2.40

 Petrol (per litre)

 EUR 1.40