The cost of living in Belgium

Leuven Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 78 › view all entries
A parade that happened to walk past my house while I was writing.
Lydia and I were chatting on the train about how the cost of living was so much cheaper here in Belgium than it was in the US, when Nadia looked up and questioned us in surprise "but I've always heard that the cost of living was cheaper in the US!". It is an interesting question, which place has a cheaper cost of living? As we were discussing it I think it came down to - it depends.

It depends on who you are, your job, your personal context. If you are on the bottom of the heap, better by far to be in Belgium, if you are on top of the heap you'll have more wealth and power in the US than you could ever aspire to in Belgium. Taxes are higher in Belgium, but you get a lot more out of them - I find it mystifying when Americans vote for a larger initial paycheck but then have to spend 17% of their income, on average, on private health care and a whole lot more on education. I guess if you are very young, a student or have children, if you are sick or elderly, your lifestyle will generally be better in Belgium than it would be in the US. While if you are young, already educated, employed in a good job, healthy and have no children, well then the extra money that gets taken out of your pay in Belgium isn't an immediate benefit to you.

But it also depends on what constitutes quality of life to you. For Lydia and I, it seemed without question that we could have a better quality of life in Belgium for a lower cost than it would take in America. Good food, beautiful buildings, an apartment in the city centre facing historic buildings, respect for work-life balance, great public transport, personal safety and amazing opportunities for travel. Oh, and that extra year of life is nice too. But looking deeper, that assessment is based on the things we find important. Different priorities would provide a different analysis. If someone truly valued a big car, cheap gas and junkfood, the McMansion and new DVDs and gadgets every week, well then they would not be wrong if they contended that it is cheaper to have a better lifestyle in America.
delsol67 says:
This is all so true. I am American and have lived in Amsterdam for 2 years now and my life has changed in the positive ways you describe.
Posted on: Mar 03, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
A parade that happened to walk pas…
A parade that happened to walk pa…
photo by: Chokk