The complexity of housing foreign workers in Belgium

Curious about what goes on behind the scenes of international recruitment and expatriate housing? It seems like a simple question, but as always, reality is more complex than it seems. Dive with us into the world of external and internal factors that shape the overall cost of housing for foreign workers in Belgium. From the current tumultuous real estate market to the strategies we must employ to secure housing to the internal challenges we face.

External factors

The current real estate market

The total cost of a property for an international temporary worker is influenced by both external and internal factors. At Link2Europe, we do not base these costs on arbitrariness, but we find that many lack the proper feel for the real estate market. At a time when it is increasingly difficult to buy a home without assistance, prospective buyers are forced to rent longer. Especially for singles, with or without children, renting often appears to be the only financial option. Finding an affordable, energy-efficient home is also a major challenge after the 2021/2022 energy crisis.

An article from De Tijd reveals a fierce competition for rental properties, with sometimes 50 applicants for one property. Inflation is also contributing to the rise in rents, according to CIB East Flanders' latest rental barometer.

These price increases are expected to continue due to inflation and supply-demand imbalance, which is potentially problematic for companies in the international recruitment sector. The lack of affordable housing may mean that housing is not available for entry-level workers.

Internal factors

At Link2Europe, we not only experience external pressures, but internal factors also play a crucial role in determining our overall costs:

Competition for housing

As a company, we have to compete with others for every property we want to rent to our international temporary workers. Although we are financially stronger than individuals, this sometimes leads to rates that are not considered market-based. It is a constant trade-off between not starting a candidate or renting a more expensive property.

Professionalization and transparency

The professionalization of large-scale rental companies, both private and B2B, adds to costs. However, transparency of rates sometimes remains a challenge, making the overall cost picture more complex.

Impact of rental platforms

The rise of rental platforms such as Airbnb affects long-term housing availability for private tenants. Although sometimes a temporary option, rates are often 10% higher than the local market because of the revenue model for landlords and the platform itself.

Fluctuating energy prices

Fluctuating energy prices have a significant impact on the total cost of rented housing. During the energy crisis, these costs increased by 70%, which is difficult to estimate until the settlement a year later.

Financial obligations

Each property rented requires a security deposit, a significant financial commitment given the number of properties we rent per year. These guarantees vary between 1 and 3 months' rent per property.

Management of contents and maintenance

Every home's contents must be moved or stored regularly to meet fluctuating demand. In addition, damages are inevitable, resulting in additional costs.

The importance of a strong team

Last but not least, our Facility and Support team within Link2Europe play a crucial role. They search, check, maintain, and repair housing, plan start-up and stop of temporary workers, manage a mobility park, and provide support for all questions and problems. They guide temporary workers through all aspects of their stay in Belgium, which is essential for successful employment.

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