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Cost of living, weather and language

Cost of living

Previous students have informed us that they were surprised by the high cost of living in Belgium. Be aware for potential misconceptions. Costs such as restaurant visits, food, public transport and recreation are certainly not cheap. For example, a simple diner at a restaurant can easily cost 35€ all included; a movie theatre ticket amounts to 10€; a train ticket to the capital Brussels costs 14,60€.

Overview of the costs at IOB:

  • Enrolment fee (registration fee): please check the website
  • Study materials: A total amount of approx. EUR 400 needs to be budgeted for the purchase of books, lecture notes, copies, etc.
  • Accommodation: The rent of a student room with common facilities (kitchen and sanitary) amounts to EUR 330 until EUR 380 per month. The rent of a student room or studio with private facilities amounts to EUR 380 until EUR 450 per month. Students should budget two months of rent for the deposit.
  • General expenses: Besides the above expenses, students need to budget EUR 400 per month for expenses for food and beverage, medical costs, recreation, visits and personal expenses.
  • Health insurance (compulsory by law): membership fee will be paid by the University for VLIR-UOS scholarship students. Other students can register at a health insurance company for EUR 80 a year. The health insurance covers up to 60% of medical expenses (doctor’s visits and medicines). The health insurance only reimburses expenses; this means that students always need to advance these costs.

It is estimated that a single student will be able to live in Antwerp on a monthly budget of minimum EUR 800. This monthly budget is a guideline and is estimated based on minimal expenses.

Weather

The Belgian weather is very unstable and erratic. During the month of September, the weather should still be pretty nice, although the rain starts to fall by the end of the month when fall begins. October and November can be quite chilly, even though the real cold usually only gets to Belgium by the end of November. December and January can be very cold (between 10°C and -5°C) as winter then arrives with its hail and possible snow. Winter lasts until March 21 when spring starts. From then on, the weather should get less chilly and sunnier. The highest temperatures (around 25°C) are reached during the summer months July and August. It very often rains in Belgium and it can get very cold, especially for people who are used to tropical temperatures, so a useful advice is to bring along some warm clothes, rain protecting clothes and an umbrella.

Language

Basically, Belgium has three official languages: Dutch (Flemish), French and German. The Northern part of Belgium (north of the capital, Brussels) is Dutch-speaking. The Southern part of Belgium (south of Brussels) is French-speaking. A small part in the east of Belgium is German-speaking. Belgian’s capital Brussels is bilingual; Dutch and French. You will be staying in the Flemish part of Belgium, where Flemish is the lingua franca. Although quite some Flemish do speak English (certainly young people), we have received complaints from former students about communication problems with local Belgian people. We will offer an online crash course Dutch language in order to allow you to learn some basic words which are useful in daily life.

Information about Belgium (history, politics, health, economy, education, etc.) is available on http://www.belgium.be/en/ and www.visitbelgium.be