Cost of Living in Brussels/Strasbourg?
July 14, 2014 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Hi everybody, I'm currently applying for an internship opportunity with a member of the EU Parliament. I'm a university student in the USA and the position would require me to live in Brussels and/or Strasbourg for 3 months. The position provides a stipend of €1200/month and I'm not sure how much that will get me.

I'm not looking for extremely fancy living arrangements--I just need an apartment where I can sleep and cook, a subway pass each month, and groceries (I would try to keep my restaurant dining to a minimum to save money). Is €1200 a month enough for this purpose?

Also, I realize that there will be costs associated with obtaining an EU working visa and also with the plane tickets to get to Europe in the first place, but I'm more concerned about whether €1200 is enough to live off of.

posted by jdgreen to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Is €1200 a month enough for this purpose?

No. You can probably rent a room for 450 - 500 with some digging, but there is no way you're getting your own apartment for that and eating and covering transport.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:57 PM on July 14, 2014

There seem to be quite a few sites offering rooms for rent in the €400-500 range, some quite near the EU buildings. This would cut back on the travel costs obviously but the metro/buses are only about €2 a trip anyway, less if you buy 10 at a time, so not crazy.

Do you know what might be required of you in terms of the Brussels/Strasbourg switch? If you need a place in both or to commute then things may be much more difficult.
posted by biffa at 3:19 PM on July 14, 2014

This PDF although from 2013 and aimed at Irish people has lots of info you might find interesting and useful.
posted by bimbam at 3:23 PM on July 14, 2014

A metro pass for the month costs €49 and includes buses, trams etc, very good value. I've known lots of interns here - it is totally possible to live on €1200/month. You can get a room in a 2-bed apartment or a bigger house for around €500/550 and it'll be quite decent. That'll leave you a lot left over, budget-wise. If you want your own apartment, it'll be more difficult - especially for 3 months. A studio apartment could cost €700/800 and there'll be additional charges, takes a couple of weeks to get internet installed (very slow customer service here)...not worth it for a short space of time, in my opinion. I live in Brussels - if you have any other questions, you can send me an email. Good luck!
posted by cornflakegirl at 4:54 PM on July 14, 2014

I just lived in Strasbourg for the past school year while making about €775/month net from my part-time teaching assistantship. While my monthly rent in a studio apartment cost me over half of that (it was also very close to the EU institutions), I was able to get by on that income without digging into my savings, albeit with no money left over for leisure travel. Strasbourg has one of the largest student populations of any city in France, so there is a decent amount of cheap housing if you're willing to live with roommates and in the area around the university campus (which is farther from the EU neighborhood). Since you would be staying in Strasbourg for a shorter period of time, though, you might want to check out AirBnB to find out what the monthly prices are for the kinds of places that will let you rent a room on a short-term basis without having to sign a year-long lease.

In Strasbourg, if you're under 26, you can buy a tram/bus pass for 23,20€/month (double that for ages 26 and up), and renting a public city bike costs just 25€ for a 3 month-period (30€/3 months for ages 26 and up). If you restrict your eating out to rare special occasions and plan to do most of your cooking in your home kitchen, the cost of food is not excessive, either (and groceries can be even cheaper in Kehl just across the river).

Overall, while I can't speak to the cost of living in Brussels, I believe that 1200€/month would be more than enough for living a modest student lifestyle in Strasbourg. Feel free to message me if you ever do end up there and have questions about getting around and saving money there!
posted by datarose at 10:34 PM on July 14, 2014

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