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Up my street: The Bulletin's neighbourhood guide to Ganshoren
While overlooked by expats seeking nightlife, culture on tap and a youthful atmosphere, Ganshoren makes up for its lack of cutting edge with some beautiful architecture, reasonable property prices, a village feel and plenty of peace and quiet. We asked Bulletin readers to tell us what it’s like to live in this northwestern Brussels commune.
“My husband and I wanted to buy a place in Brussels and when we did the math, we saw that for the same price of an apartment in Ixelles, we could afford a house and a garden in the north or west of Brussels,” says Méabh from Ireland. “So we saved a lot of time by narrowing our search. And although it was tempting to buy somewhere to do up, we also really wanted to find something that was ready to move into. We had no time to sit at home waiting for builders to show up. I had heard of Jette before, as I’d been there once for a dance class, but knew very little about that part of the city. My whole life was based in other parts of the city, so I started taking walks around these areas to get a feel for them and spoke to Belgian friends about them. They told me that lots of young people were starting to move to Jette and Ganshoren and that these neighbourhoods had serious potential."
Ganshoren is a lovely, safe neighbourhood with a village feel, she says. “I think it’s perfect for young families and couples and older people as you have everything you need on your doorstep and you have the woods and park nearby. But for single people or young people who want to go out a lot, it would be way too quiet. I don’t mind, as my husband and I love hosting and usually have our house and garden full of people. As well as that, we’re not too far from the centre. I often walk downtown and all around the city from here. The only thing missing for me in this area is somewhere to get a nice cappuccino, read the newspaper, check my mails and meet new people.”
Having moved here six years ago, Samuel Ndingi from Cameroon is also happy to call Ganshoren home. “It’s an incredibly calm and fantastic commune to raise a family, with great social services,” he says. “There’s easy accessibility to shopping, sports facilities and parks. The staff at the town hall are very helpful, and services are provided efficiently with little delay.”
The neighbourhoods are mixed in style. Rural Ganshoren, with its 17th-century farmhouses, meadows and fields, is surrounded by urban Ganshoren, with its Art Nouveau and Eclectic neighbourhoods, garden cities from the beginning of the 20th century, Art Deco neighbourhoods of the 1920s to 40s, the Mid Century Modern (known in Belgium as Style Spirou) of the 1950s and 60s, and the public housing towers of the 1960s and 70s.
“Ganshoren is very green with lots of Art Nouveau houses and a few very nice restaurants, and it’s within easy reach of the city centre,” says Francis Gevers, a Belgian with a British wife who has lived in the area for 25 years. “It’s very Belgian, with few foreign residents.” Fellow Belgian Marie-Laure agrees: “You have the facilities of a big city and the quiet of a village. It’s a little bit out of the way, though, and there isn’t enough public transport.”
Property prices in Ganshoren are cheaper than in many other areas of the capital. Monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment averages about €750, for example, while one-bedroom flats can be as little as €500 and a three-bedroom duplex can be had for €1,100. Property website Immoweb lists several large houses (four or five bedrooms) with gardens or roof terraces for sale for around €400,000.
“We were super lucky and found our place after a couple of visits,” says Méabh of her experience of buying a house here. “We had to move fast though. As soon as it was put online, we arranged a visit and told the agency how interested we were. A few days later, we visited with a friend who is an architectural technician and said we wanted to buy. Four months later, we moved in. The former owners had kept the house and garden immaculate, so all we had to do was paint and give the place a fresh new look.”
Restaurant Les Potes en Toque • Rivieren castle (pictured) • Bij Joss for frites and rotisserie chicken
- Quiet, friendly and welcoming
- Varied architectural styles
- Reasonable property prices
- Close to the city centre
- Lots of green spaces and sports facilities
- Traffic congestion, particularly on Avenue Charles Quint
- Boring, with a lack of good cafes, cinemas and shops