In northwest Europe lies a small but exceptionally beautiful and well-developed country by the name Belgium. It is a high-income economy and is a founding country of the European Union. So far as its standard of living, healthcare, and education are concerned, they are world-class and rank high on the Human Development Index. Moreover, it is regularly ranked as one of the most peaceful nations you will ever be in. But, all of these perks at a cost – you can’t have luxuries without paying anything in return.
The student population in Belgium is very well aware of that mantra. There is no denying that Belgium is expensive even by European standards, and this means students, particularly international students, face challenges in cutting down their overall expenses. While there may be tailor-made recipes to work out the expenses, a few are common and apply to all.
Here are a few tips on saving money in Belgium while studying.
Have patience while house-hunting
We are impulsive beings, and no one is more impulsive than a student. He wants quick results which often comes at a cost. Finding the right accommodation may not be an easy task especially when you are thinking of saving money. In Belgium, property rates vary dramatically from one part of the city to another. You should consider staying in those parts that do not fall at the center of the city and are well-connected through transport. Rents aren’t generally very expensive in Belgium in comparison to other countries, but you cannot throw out your money without adequate deliberation. Also, make sure you have your student ID with you as it can help you avail of discounted rates.
Avoid eating outdoors
It is always a better idea to cook food rather than eat outdoors. Belgian restaurants may become an expensive affair, especially at peak times. If at all you want to eat outdoors, consider eating during off-peak times. Avoid going to restaurants during festivals and weekends quite often as this decision will impact your budget deeply. Get groceries instead and cook at home. Yes, this may not be a quick option but certainly has long-term consequences. There are certain occasions when you should go out and eat. One such occasion is the organization of the Gastronomy Festival in the capital that makes a range of eating outlets accessible to you at discounted prices. Also, your university might offer subsidized food at its cafeteria such as the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).
Use websites to compare
A very wise move to regulate the budget in Belgium is to use websites that allow users to compare prices of various commodities at different sale points. In Belgium, these websites are quite popular among international students. These websites include comparateur-energie that is used for comparing prices of gas, electricity, etc; astel that provides necessary information on various media such as mobile phone and television; superbudget that helps you compare food prices, and troc for miscellaneous comparison options. These websites help immensely in the making of your budget.
Use Student Discounts
You are a student in a European country, and this means you are eligible for many student discounts. While your college ID may work at places, you should consider getting the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) that offers you discounted prices on accommodations, food, and transportation. Many sightseeing places such as Museums and amusement parks extend discounts to the holders of the said card. Moreover, you get round-the-clock access to the emergency helpline. Make sure you have done all the necessary paperwork before you leave for Belgium to ensure a hassle-free experience.
Save on transport
Your status as a student will come in handy. Belgium has an excellent public transportation network which comes with special benefits for students. All you need to show to the authorities is your proof of school attendance (your ID card essentially). For example, once you are verified as a student in Brussels, you become entitled to the annual access to Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles or STIB at a very reduced price. In case you won’t be traveling much, you should consider getting a MOBIB Basic Card instead.
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