The low property prices and high quality of life enjoyed by many people living in Belgium contributes to the idea that buying a property here is an appealing option. However, there are some drawbacks which you should be aware if you’re thinking about moving over and making this country your new home:
Belgium is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe with around 10 million people crammed into an area smaller than California. Though large cities such as Brussels and Antwerp aren’t nearly as crowded as something like Tokyo or Singapore, it’s not advisable to buy a property on the outskirts of any town but especially so for those looking to live in rural areas. Brussels itself is particularly expensive – especially the center.
Belgium is known for its high taxes. The sales tax of 21% on new homes is one of the highest in Europe, but it’s not just that which makes living here expensive. There are some property taxes to pay every year based upon the value of your home, you’ll be paying a hefty income tax bill if you make more than €2,950 per month and there are lots of other small costs such as higher tariffs on electrical bills due to green energy policies. Fortunately, people who move here from an EU country don’t have to worry about visas or permits though they will need residency permits after three months. As an EU citizen, if you’re able to speak Dutch then you can also benefit from free university education – which is paid for through taxation.
What else do I need to know about buying property in Belgium?
Belgium isn’t part of the Schengen Agreement so if you’re planning on travelling around Europe after moving here then avoid taking your passport off into another country or it could be seized by customs officers. There are, however, no restrictions upon entry for EU nationals and there are plans to remove border controls between Belgium and its neighbors France, Germany and Luxembourg. If you’re an American national interested in buying property in Belgium (https://www.bluehomes.com/Immobilien-Belgien/B/de/debut.html), don’t expect the same level of customer service that you would get in America. Business hours are usually much shorter – especially when it comes to banks which might shut at lunch times as early as 12 pm! Also keep in mind that Belgium is a very bureaucratic society so procrastination will be rewarded.
Taking all of the above into consideration, why should I buy property in Belgium?
Despite its many problems, Belgian bureaucracy still beats American bureaucracy! Filing taxes for Americans can be complicated and frustrating due to the complex tax code but if you move to this country then you’ll get an automatic 33% tax rebate on your annual income until it reaches €34,990. This makes the process slightly less painful, though it’s still wise to seek professional advice when dealing with any legal issues concerning purchasing residential property. There are fast-track procedures which enable foreigners who buy a house here to apply for permanent residency within just three months providing they’ve lived in their home for 50% of the year and can speak Flemish or French.
Unsurprisingly, Belgians love their beer! The country has over 1,000 breweries and is known for its distinctive varieties such as lambic which is made from unmalted wheat and spontaneously fermented by exposure to wild yeasts. Beer isn’t just a national drink but also an important aspect of Belgian history as it was drunk as far back as the 12th century – long before water was considered safe to drink. Another reason why Belgium might be an attractive option for those thinking about buying property abroad is that every village here seems to have its own band – some boasting over 100 members! This includes trumpeters, saxophonists, trombonists and more who play music which is very different from what you’ll hear in most other cities.
How do I go about buying property here?
Belgians love their paperwork and everything here is done by the book so it’s best to get all your documentation in order before speaking with real estate agents. A broker will need copies of your passport, a recent utility bill and evidence of funds (in the form of bank statements or a letter from your employer) plus any details about your current home if you’re currently renting one out. Belgium has plenty of real estate agencies situated both centrally and around more rural areas where prices can sometimes be more affordable. The country also has many long-term rental options and student accommodation available. Be aware that finding short-term housing in cities like Brussels is difficult. If you need to stay in a hotel then start looking for accommodation two months before your move and expect to pay at least €100/night.
How much will I have to spend on buying property here?
That depends on where in Belgium you’re interested in (potentially) living! There are many historical buildings which can be purchased for very little money or restored back to their former state but finding somewhere like this might take some time. In general, prices increase the closer you get to France and lots of modern real estate developments can be found around areas such as Antwerp – especially if you want waterfront properties with access to boats. This makes it easier for people from countries without direct access to water transport to own a holiday home or investment property. The coastal regions are best avoided if you’re looking for somewhere to buy residential real estate because the market here fluctuates rapidly and it’s not uncommon for people to sell their home just one hour after it’s bought!
How much does it cost to maintain property in Belgium?
Belgians have an unusual love of bureaucracy which makes life difficult but also keeps rent prices low. There are many costs involved when buying, selling or renting real estate here so getting professional advice is strongly advised before committing any money to your new purchase. You might have heard tales about properties being sold for half of their original price after ten years but this isn’t always the case with most modern buildings. However, keep in mind that maintenance costs can be very high and you may need to employ a local contractor. This means that it’s advisable to get advice from someone who understands the area and knows which tradesmen to speak with. Some brokers can also help you here and they’ll make sure all utilities are installed before moving in: TV, phone, internet etc.
What else do I need to know about buying property in Belgium?
Don’t expect everything here to run according to plan because there’s often something which throws a spanner in the works – such as political issues or royal decrees! Property agents can give you more information on this but what it basically means is that if one person objects then your sale could be delayed for months or even years. You might have heard about the infamous Château des Amerois which was for sale for €1 until a French resident claimed it belonged to him and prevented current owners from continuing with the sale.
The Belgian real estate market can be difficult so you might need to hire a lawyer or agent who knows how to get around this problem. You should also expect houses here to be old and potentially lacking in modern amenities. If you’re looking at long-term investment then there’s nothing wrong with this but if you’re used to more spacious homes then it’ll take some getting used to!
Many people choose not to buy property in Belgium because of these issues but if you know what you’re getting yourself into then it could be the perfect opportunity for an interesting life experience. After all, nobody said that moving abroad would always be convenient!
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