Is Brussels at the dawn of a big bang in urban planning? This is the opinion of the regional government. In 2020, the Brussels Region is expected to count 120,000 additional residents, which means it has to produce 6,000 new homes a year. However, the capital has been coping with a major exodus of its residents to the periphery for a number of years now.
A trend confirmed by the latest statistics of the Ministry of Interior: since the start of 2016, nearly 1,212 Brussels households have left Brussels-Capital Region bound for Wallonia. In the same period, 1,785 other moves to Flanders were recorded. A large part of these “émigrés” belong to the middle class (with an income between 20,000 and 50,000 Euro gross per year). Arrivals in the capital have been half as numerous as departures (572 households from Flanders and 565 from Wallonia).
However, Brussels has a lot of assets in terms of quality of life: green areas, a booming cultural scene, access to public transport, shops, leisure facilities, health care… and even soldiers in the streets. So, despite these advantages, how can we explain the departure of so many residents?
As is often the case, it is a question of money. For 40% of Belgians, the number one objective of a move is still the desire to invest in their personal welfare. Initially, the impulse destination of this “exodus” is still the nearby French-speaking residential belt including Waterloo, La Hulpe, Rixensart and Wavre, but once people have made up their minds to leave Brussels, the budgetary reality can lead them to move still further away. There’s no getting away from it: in Brussels a house costs on average 416,000 Euro, while its price comes to 195,000 Euro in the south of the country. “With the same budget, you go from an attached house with a little garden in Brussels to a villa in Wallonia”, one property broker sums up.