Student safety

KU Leuven staff and students form a small community, the University has an open and relaxed atmosphere where everyone can feel at home. Unfortunately, the open nature of the University also makes it a target for people with bad intentions.

One of the most important factors to secure before coming to Belgium is accommodation. To find a suitable accommodation in a safe area will ensure a stable and secure life throughout the academic stay. Therefore, students should not neglect on that and allocate a proportionate amount of financial means for that.

Certainly, there are some neighbourhoods that are more preferable over others. Doubtlessly, the price differences are obvious.

Brussels is made up of 19 communes and each of them has their own postcode and government officials, like a mayor. While each of the 19 communes has something special to offer, after being encountered with locals and expats, we have complied to the following list of the top four in terms of security

1. Etterbeek:

most expat families with young children consider Etterbeek the best neighbourhood in Brussels. Possibly because in this commune you’ll find the highest number of schools and institution sin the entire country. It provides great transportation system which eases the process of getting to the university. For example, for most of the Etterbeek area, it is possible to get on the metro either on Merode or Schuman ( line 1 and 5) and descend on Gare Centrale, resulting in approximately 10 minutes of commute.

2. Ixelles:

with its theatres, cinemas, restaurants and shops, Ixelles is probably the most interesting and diverse commune in Brussels. It is made up of various areas within the neighbourhood: from the African Quarter Mantonge to the University hub and…

3. Woluwe Saint Pierre

Although this commune is more distant from the centre, and correspondingly, from the university, it is also considered a safe area to reside in. It occupies almost 9 square kilometres of the city, including 180 hectares of parks and green areas. This area features a mix of large houses and compact apartments and it offers a large number of facilities and public amenities to its residents, like parks, sports centres and cultural activities to keep yourself busy at weekends.

4. Uccle

Uccle  is a beautiful and calm Brussels commune with huge houses and upmarket apartment blocks. Popular with expat families and home to a large international community, it has a village feel and is well situated for shops and several international schools. It is probably Brussels’ most leafy commune due to its close proximity to the Forest of Soignes and housing with generous gardens. In summer, concerts are held in the local Parc de Wolvendael.

With good public transport link in Brussel, it is easy to get around the city and also to outer suburbs in Brussels, making it plausible to live farther afield and commute into Brussels centre.

Some of the communes that are bigger than some  Belgian cities , like Molenbeek and Schaerbeek have differences between quartiers.

When looking where to stay in Brussels, you’ll find Schaerbeek in the north is a melting pot of cultures, architecture, art, food and living places — making it one of the most sought after neighbourhoods to live in Brussels. It has more than 130,000 inhabitants made up of some 140 different nationalities, which only add to the area’s vibrancy. Schaerbeek can get busy at times but it’s easy to escape to quiet alleys filled with stunning Art Deco and Art Noveau architecture Part of Schaerbeek around Rue Fraikin is quite nice compared to other parts. It is always good to check out google street view and compare the houses between the area of the apartment and parts to north/south from there.

Pickpockets .

Brussels is a beautiful city, but just like other major tourist cities, it’s got its share of pickpockets. The situations with pickpockets are fully avoidable if you are aware of the surroundings. There are actually many stories of people losing their things without ever having interacted with anyone directly, so be sure to keep your valuables somewhere it can’t be easily taken, maybe a zipped up pocket on inside of jacket for example. The train station is especially bad since it’s so crowded, and pickpockets tend to congregate there. But this seems to be the case in all touristy areas. 

Going out at night:

Brussels is – first and foremost – a city, so caution must always be exercised, especially at night. For instance, don’t linger in darkened alleyways, keep an eye on your belongings, don’t walk around on your own at night and remember to keep to the well beaten path unless you’re clued up on where all the crime spots are. For example, Gare du Midi is one of the areas that you might want to avoid after dark.

That said, we think Brussels is about as safe a city as they come.