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Deciding where to live in the city will be one of the most important decisions that new arrivals to Antwerp will make. Various factors will need to be taken into account including budget, proximity to work and public transport connections.
Most expats look for property close to the R10 ring road that circles the city centre. The districts around a series of streets called De Leien are also popular. These form sections of the N1 road that runs from Brussels in the south through Antwerp’s city centre and north to the Dutch border. The benefits of living in one of these areas include easy access to transport infrastructure and a wide variety of shopping and entertainment options. However, properties are expensive and traffic congestion can be a problem.
On the other hand, outer suburbs like Merksem, Deurne and Zurenborg offer a good range of accommodation options for expats. Despite their distance from the city centre public transport links are generally very good, making a car unnecessary in most cases.
These are some of the most popular areas for expats in Antwerp.
Popular expats areas in Antwerp
Once inhabited by dock workers, Den Dam in the city centre is now a multicultural residential area. It retains a little of its edgy character and is ideal for those employed in the industrial areas to the north of Antwerp, without being too far from the city centre. Expats with children will enjoy spending time at the Park Spoor Noord, a rejuvenated rail yard that has sports facilities and cycling paths. The area’s strategic location is probably its biggest plus, but some find it less appealing than the beautiful tree-lined streets in many other areas of the city.
A redeveloped museum district in the city centre, Zuid is popular among young residents who want to live close to the city’s nightlife and restaurants. Expats who live in this riverside area are likely to have pleasant views from their apartment windows and there are plenty of galleries, museums, monuments and designer stores to keep them busy. Getting around on public transport won’t be a problem, but it can get busy and may not be well-suited to families.
Merksem is a fairly large district just over the Albert Canal to the north of the city. Much of it is industrial, but it also has affordable accommodation and several large parks. Public transport links are good and parking is less of a problem than in other parts of the city. However, traffic can get congested, particularly around Bredabaan. Crime is also more of an issue than elsewhere in Antwerp.
Deurne is best known for being home to Rieverenhof Park, one of the city’s largest green spaces. Consisting of 20 neighbourhoods and split into four sub-districts, Deurne has mostly townhouses and apartments, but there are also a few houses to rent. Its cultural attractions include museums, monuments and events. Public transport links are good, as is the cycling infrastructure. The Albert Canal area can get very congested, especially along Bischoppenhoflaan and around the stadium.
Hugging the R10 to the southeast of the city centre, Zurenborg is best known for its classic architecture. The area is split by a railway line. The northwest section has a village-like atmosphere that attracts younger residents, while the southeastern section, also known as Cogels-Osy, boasts quirky townhouses. The area’s aesthetic appeal is its biggest attraction and residents have easy access to several modes of public transport. It’s also far enough from the city centre to be fairly quiet, but not so far that there aren’t plenty of things to see and do. The biggest downside is that property in the area is usually quite expensive.
►See accommodation in Antwerp for all you need to know about renting an apartment in the city.
"As an expat, I would recommend checking out a neighbourhood where the shop-keepers are friendly, where there's places you can find a sense of 'home'." Read more of Di's thoughts on expat life in Antwerp.
"We lived in the area around Middelheim within the Wilrijk postcode, which I would definitely recommend for families." Learn more about Nina's expat life in Antwerp.
Photo credit: Antwerpen, Belgium by Thomas Konings. Sourced from Unsplash.
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