Finding Housing in Belgium
Posted on September 11, 2019 by Anna Mazurek
Belgium has a lot to give: there’s a bustling social life for students, exciting art and history, and so many places to discover. There is something for everyone and activities are guaranteed to fill the time. At the end of the day, though, you’ll need a place to rest your head, and it’d be great if that place was comfortable, clean, and within budget.
If you’re going to be looking for a place to live in the Belgian city of your choice, you have to familiarise yourself with the word ‘kot’. A kot is a Flemish word that signifies a small and primitive space that is now used to describe student housing - most student homes aren’t exactly grandiose palaces, after all.
Want to know the ins and outs of finding a kot to call home? Look no further.
As an incoming student at a Belgian university, it is worth looking into the university’s own housing options. In general, student accommodation in Belgium costs around €400. There are often rooms available in residences that are either managed by one university or multiple universities in the city itself. These rooms include students sharing kitchens and bathrooms, though sometimes the room is equipped with a kitchenette or a private shower. The prices are often pretty low and the koten are an easier way to get settled into your new life.
In cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent, your possibility of getting a kot with your university vary depending on what you study - some students will receive priority based on scholarships that they are receiving, for example. With these conditions in mind, it’s good to check out what housing options are available to you as an international student.
The most popular way to find a kot in any Belgian city is through the private market - this is where local and international students alike find gems in the rough to make their home. The good thing, and perhaps the bad thing, is that you can find a wide variety of places to live. From rooms in houses where the landlord still lives, to studios where you can live in peace, and a kot in a house with many other students. So, everything you could possibly think of.
The prices here vary wildly depending on the area in your city of choice and size of the room, among many things. It also depends on the situation that you end up in: are you joining an existing house full of students, or deciding to look for a house with a handful of friends? Are you opting for a studio, a furnished room, or a small room that just fits the necessary bed so you have a place to sleep? The private sector is what you make for it: there is bound to be something that ticks all your boxes.
Some of the most popular websites to find a home are iKot, Student.be, KotWeb, Brik and KotWijs. Make sure to look at your university’s website; some of them have their own database with trusted landlords.
Top Tips for Landing the Kot of your Dreams
Finding a perfect home is often a combination of luck, precise searching, and a dash of extra luck. There’s no controlling how lucky you may get, but you can maximise your searching skills by keeping some things in mind.
For one, there is no rush to start too early. The kot-market in Belgium has been stimulated highly by the universities and policymaking, meaning that the offering of rooms is not as small as you may think. If you’re starting your studies in the fall, aim to search between them months of May and July. Starting much earlier means you risk the landlords raising the prices on you.
Finding a kot while you’re still living abroad is especially hard, so if you’re afraid of getting scammed by landlords, you should consider arriving in your new city a little early to be able to visit several homes. This way you can ensure that the kot is legitimate, but also that it’s safe and up to living standards.
Unfortunately, it can still happen that you don’t find a permanent place to live by the time the academic year starts. However, there’s a high chance of finding something fitting throughout the semester, as people will not make it or drop out - keep an eye out throughout September, October, and November.
Have you got the word ‘kot’ on your mind now? There’s so much more than only that about studying in Belgium. Check out these five things you must know about studying in Belgium and how to fund your studies there.