Belgium popular place to live for Dutch people

Three times as many Dutch people were living in Belgium in 2006 as Belgians living in the Netherlands. Dutch people move to Belgium for affordable homes and the attractive countryside, while Belgians move to the Netherlands for reasons of work, study or relationship.

Belgium offers cheaper homes and countryside

More than 111 thousand Dutch people lived in Belgium in 2006. Most of them lived near the Dutch border. Cheaper houses are one of the main reasons to move to Belgium, just as a relationship with a Belgian partner. In addition, Dutch people are attracted to the quieter living environment and the attractive countryside in the Ardennes and German-speaking East Flanders. Many Dutch nationals live in Brussels, too.

The number of Dutch people living in Belgium has doubled in the last 15 years. The largest increases were in the districts Luxemburg, Limburg and Antwerp, but many people also moved to Brussels and its surroundings, and to the coastal regions. 

Concentration index per country

Concentration index per country

Belgians move to be with Dutch partners

Conversely, 36 thousand Belgians were living in the Netherlands in 2006. Most of them, too, live near the border. Single Belgians are more likely to live in the (university) cities. In addition to work and study, a relationship with a Dutch partner is an important reason for Belgians to move to the Netherlands. This is more true for women than for men: in two-thirds of Belgian-Dutch couples in 2006, the women were Belgian.

The number of Belgians living in the Netherlands has hardly changed. In recent years younger Belgians in particular have spread across the whole country. This has pushed down the spatial concentration of Belgians in parts of Limburg and North  Brabant in the last ten years.

Dutch people in Belgium slightly older

The average age of Belgians in the Netherlands is 43.5 years, compared with 45.7 years for Dutch people in Belgium.
One fifth of the Dutch in Belgium are 65 years or older. This is a slightly larger share than the average 17 percent for the total Belgian population. At 16 percent, the share of Belgian over-65s in the Netherlands is slightly smaller. This share is similar to that in the total Dutch population.

Elma van Agtmaal-Wobma and Carel Harmsen

In collaboration with Michel Poulain and Luc Dal ( Gédap, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium)