Movin’ On Up – Relocating to Brussels, Belgium

By - March 17, 2008 (Updated: July 2, 2017)

Well, it took its sweet old Belgian time, but we finally signed the rental contract on our new place.

There are a lot of mixed emotions floating around right now. Of course, primarily there is excitement. In my head I’m already unpacking and decorating and doing all kinds of city-girl things like going to the market and popping out for an espresso at the café on the corner.

I’m worried too (although you all know that I worry about everything anyway). Is living in the city going to be all I hope it will be? Will I miss the space, the yard… the donkey?

Then of course there is stress. I’m stressed about packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning and mostly about how badly our landlords are going to try and screw us over and how we are going to pay for everything.

All of that said, I can’t wait. I’ve wanted to get out of here for almost a year now and although I’m realistic about the downsides of living in the city, I am optimistic about the upsides too.


  • We will be smack dab between the two metro lines and each stop is a 5-7 min walk from our place.
  • We are also smack in the middle of central Brussels. It’s a 15 min walk to Grand Place.
  • That said, we’re on a small one way street that seems pretty quiet (fingers crossed).
  • The new flat is a penthouse with loads of windows and light (and yay, no one above us.)
  • White walls! No institutional yellow and NO TEXTURED WALLPAPER! Woot! We have also decided to paint a couple of walls this time around (even though we’ll have to paint them white again before we leave) just to put our own stamp on the flat (candy apple red here I come!)
  • Brand spanking new everything – the flat is still under construction which means all of the appliances will be new and under warranty. Speaking of appliances, we’ll have them all: dishwasher, flat top range, microwave (after 3 years without one), oven, washer and dryer.
  • We will be very close to shops – both of the major grocery chains, clothing stores, restaurants, and there is supposedly a market in the square twice a week.
  • Andrew will have the option of taking public transportation to work (we’ll see how that works out).
  • We met our landlord (who looks like a young Keanu Reeves) and he seems nice (although our current ones did at first too). He’s Flemish but speaks flawless French and English so at least we’ll be able to communicate with him. He and several of his family members run a property management company so at least he’ll know what he’s doing.


  • No more yard (although the not having to mow and weed is a giant pro so we’re on the fence about this). Our balcony isn’t as big as we would like either but the view is nice and open. We never use our backyard here, other than the patio and hopefully being able to walk to one of many parks will be enough greenery for us.
  • No garage. Andrew will have to park on the street. We will be given a parking pass so we don’t have to pay but only time will tell how annoying this is going to be.
  • Six flights of stairs (seven if you include the flight in our flat). This is a pro for getting Al and Drew in shape… that is if we don’t have heart attacks. Our flat is on the top floor of a four story Maison de Maitre. Here in Europe, the ground floor is called 0 so even though we’re four stories up, we’re called the 3rd floor. Unfortunately because of the design of the house, that equals six flights and no elevator. If you’re coming to visit, start working out now.
  • Privacy – I honestly don’t know how much of an issue this will be. We will have to be careful about noise since there will be people below us (so if we have parties we’ll just have to invite them.) You can see other people’s balconies from ours which means they can see us too. On the up side, with only 4 flats in our building, hopefully we will get to know our neighbours.
  • Space – The biggest and scariest con of all is just how much space we’ll be sacrificing. Here we have more space than we use but in the new flat we’ll be downsizing a lot. Some of our furniture will have to go and we will no longer have a dedicated spare bedroom. That said, the space that we do have is more efficient so hopefully it won’t feel like too much of a sacrifice.

So I’ll post some pictures but keep in mind that the space isn’t finished yet and we won’t take possession until May. The photos are from two different visits so you can see progress being made. Check out the gallery below.


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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 2 days ago


  1. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops March 17, 2008 at 17:57

    well … you might be CFA’s but finding your own castle way up on top is def a sign of euro acclimatization! … I think you are there … it’s beautiful and well worth the adventure, I’ll miss the donkey in the backyard and the hobby farm down the street but you have lots else to celebrate and enjoy … well done! … worth the pain … speaking of which, does this mean more ikea adventures too? … lotsalov … PP

  2. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops March 17, 2008 at 18:01

    ps … look for a copy of “The Not So Big House” which is about designing and building small with a big feel, it is very good and might have some layout and design concept and idea stuff that will help … have fun! … love … PP

  3. Comment by Alison

    Alison March 17, 2008 at 18:12

    Thanks for the suggestion PP. I’ll check it out. There will always be more IKEA adventures but this move will be more about getting rid of stuff then bringing more in…. hopefully 🙂

  4. Comment by Helen

    Helen March 17, 2008 at 18:24

    Hey, it looks amazing. I wish I could see it for real. Colour will be nice, You will love that kitchen, it looks so efficient. New appliances and better use of space will be a boon. You might want to rig up a pulley system for your groceries. Or hire a personal servant. I, on the other hand, will be in great shape by the time I get to your new home. Congrats, love and hugs

  5. Comment by Alison

    Alison March 17, 2008 at 18:28

    hmmm… pulley or servant, pulley or servant…. ya know, I think I’m going to have to go with the servant, although I do think a fireman’s pole wold be fun for fast getaways 🙂

  6. Comment by Jenn

    Jenn March 18, 2008 at 20:34

    I am so excited for you 🙂
    It looks like a great place.
    I better get back on the stairclimber if I’m ever going to visit 🙂
    HUGS to you both,

  7. Comment by Andrew

    Andrew March 19, 2008 at 00:42

    This is going to be a great adventure!!! Not only have we had to learn all sorts of fun legal words in french, but now we get to learn about movers in Belgium!! 😀 I am excited to move into the new place and equally as apprehensive about the things Alison lists. If only things in life were easy! But then we wouldn’t have the aforementioned adventures! 🙂

  8. Comment by Arvi

    Arvi April 12, 2008 at 14:07

    I’m not sure how, but I missed this post earlier. I’m sure you will love living in the city, although it will brings it share of annoyances. Perhaps Andrew become a real Euro and start taking the metro and train to work 🙂 And socialize with your Belgian neighbors in case you need a pit stop on your trek up. 🙂

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