We reported recently on the likely boost in French property in Paris and Lille due to the introduction of a new Eurostar train service. But Eurostar connects to more than just Paris. There is a direct service to Brussels in Belgium with connections on to Brugge, Namur, Antwerp and Ghent.
Brussels in now less than 2 hours from St Pancras station and is already seeing an increase in interest from British buyers keen to snap up a bargain before everyone jumps on the band wagon – or should that be railway carriage?
According to the Telegraph, Restored studio flats a few yards from the Grand Place can be picked up for as little as €70,000 (£50,000), and vast, contemporary loft-style duplexes in former industrial buildings go for €500,000 (£360,000).
Since the introduction of the Thalys high-speed train link to Paris (30 minutes shorter than the London trip), thousands of Parisians have already decamped across the border. “Property here is five times cheaper than in Paris,” claims Quentin Vander Auwera of Century 21 agency in Brussels. “Parisians have come here in their thousands to live, escaping the higher taxes, worse traffic and much higher prices back home.” Now he expects similar interest from Britons. “We’ve sold places to five British people this year, and we have another 20 looking,” he says.
Brussels herself hosts the headquarters of most of the European Union’s institutions, the political seat of NATO, the Western European Union and EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, meaning a large pool of medium-term rental tenants, and many British buyers are merely speculators. Many consider Brussels to be the de facto ‘capital of the EU because of its history of hosting the European Union’s institutions, although the EU has not declared any official capital city. The city plays host to the official seats of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union and three quarters of the work of the European Parliament takes place in the city.