Filled with recent graduates who’ve developed an affinity for the lively neighborhood they partied in during their student days, Ixelles signals loud and clear that the capital’s young professionals crave diversity. With its African Matongé Quarter, upscale streets boasting Art Nouveau architecture, college campuses, café-dotted squares, cinemas, and ample eateries, this area packs everything needed for an urban life lived to the fullest. You’ll find a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s who are sharing and renting the townhouses and apartments across the ponds from cultural center Flagey.
If money isn’t really an issue, laid-back Zurenborg on the southeast side of the historic core should be a strong contender for any young professional or family. One of Antwerp’s loveliest neighborhoods, this Belle Epoque quarter offers a delightful combo of quirky mansions, vibrant squares, and a diverse crowd. Despite the touristic appeal of its jaw-dropping Cogels-Osylei, its charming avenues are peaceful at night as locals gather at the Draakplaats’ cozy restaurants or on the Dageraadplaats’ plentiful terraces.
Not a neighborhood but a smaller city in the Antwerp province, Mechelen is going against the Belgian trend by actually having its population get younger instead of older. The influx of burgeoning professionals and young families has been picking up steam for years, bolstered not just by its central location and great railway connection to both Brussels and Antwerp but also by the low crime rate and welcome policies of the popular mayor, Bart Somers. Holding onto his seat for over 15 years now, Somers has earned international praise for turning what he has called the “Chicago by the Dijle” of the 90s into a growing hub that has learned to thrive on its diversity rather than cringe away from it.
Environmentally conscious people are bound to fall in love with Ghent’s “bicycle first” policy, and the city’s commitment is all the more tangible at Visserij. The tranquil canalside neighborhood is known for having one of Flanders’ very first bicycle streets, where the steel stag always takes precedence and can never be overtaken by a car. Its tree-lined quays and old townhouses make for a pleasant residential nook not too far from the historic center.