Belgium is a small Western European country with about 11 million people as of 2020. While the cost of living in Belgium is high, the average salary is also high compared to most countries. Belgium’s high cost of living demands reasonable compensation for utilizing all the country has to offer. How much do you expect to earn while working in Belgium? Will your salary be able to meet your daily needs?
A net monthly salary of €2,100, which translates to €45,000 annually before tax, is a good earning for a single person living in Belgium. An average of €4,150 monthly or about €95,000 in annual salary is considered good for a big household of four people.
Most immigrants love Belgium because of its high demand for IT, health, and government-related jobs. Since Belgium workers are highly taxed, they take home considerably less than their gross monthly salary.
This equates to a low disposable income, hence the need to understand wages and expenses in Belgium in 2023. Learn about salaries in the Belgian capital, Brussels.
What is considered a good salary in Belgium?
A net salary of €3,000 is a good wage in Belgium. This translates to an annual wage of €36,000. Earning a net salary of between €3,000 and €3,500 is considered a decent living within the Belgian capital.
Being among the top ten countries with the highest salaries, Belgium is a good place for your business and career. For example, most employees in Brussels earn €3,510 before tax. Yet, the cost of living in the capital is higher than in other Belgium cities.
To achieve this, you must earn a gross salary of between €50,000 and €53,000. With a €52,500 gross pay, you make €3,000 monthly. People earning between €3,000 and €3,500 enjoy a good standard of living in the Belgian capital.
Also read: In-demand jobs in Belgium in 2023.
In Belgium, a family of three needs about €2,866 per month, excluding rent. A single person spends €796 without rent.
This means that a single person can live comfortably on their salary. However, for a family of four to live comfortably, two people must be working in the household.
To live comfortably in Belgium as a single person, your net salary should range between €25,000 and €29,000 annually because of the high-income taxes.
This equates to a €2,000 net monthly salary. With this income, you can comfortably rent an apartment, buy food, travel within the city, and save up some amount as follows:
- Rent – you can rent a one-bedroom apartment going for about €800 or lower within the city center.
- Transportation – at €60 a month, you can get around using public transportation.
- Health insurance – you can get public health coverage which is available to students, children, adults, and even non-residents.
- Energy bills – €30
- Groceries – depending on your eating habits, but as a single person, you will spend between €200 to €300 every month.
- Disposable income – with €500, you can travel for weekend getaways, eat out, and buy clothes.
- Savings – you will save up to €300 every month.
Starting your career with a bachelor’s degree in Belgium earns you an annual average of €36,573, 11% higher than the €32,800 earned by high school graduates.
If you work as a couple and own a home, a net monthly salary of €1,500 per person is a good wage in most places within the country. You will also get a tax refund annually.
With this income, you can afford a family vacation every year. However, if you pay the rent and your partner isn’t employed, a net monthly pay of €2,500 will be enough without the annual vacations.
The Belgian capital is the most expensive place in the country. To live a comfortable life in Brussels, you need about €3,000 net salary per month. You will be able to save for a home, live in the city center, and travel yearly.
|Housing||A one-bedroom flat in the city center will cost you €700 to €1,000 a month. However, you can spend less than €700 per month living in a one-bedroom flat outside the city center.|
|Groceries and food||€600 if you love cooking. If not, this goes to disposable income or savings.|
|Health insurance||You can get covered by public health insurance which is included in your salary. 13% of your annual salary is deducted to go towards health insurance. Alternatively, you can sign up for private insurance that will save you money.|
|Transportation||With Brussels’ public transport, you can spend €120 commuting to and from work monthly.|
|Disposable income||€1,000-1,500 – you can eat out, go for weekend getaways, pay for a gym membership, vacation, internet, and personal care.|
As a single with a net income of €3,000 in Belgium:
- You can afford a trip out of the city yearly.
- You will save up for a car or house and pay for private health insurance coverage.
Example of a good salary in Belgium
Let’s look at the income and budget for the family of three, assuming both parents are working:
- Total monthly net salary: €4,000
- Total annual net salary: €48,000
- Total annual gross salary: €94,000
If only one partner is employed, this income level can be achieved in some senior management level position or a white-collar job with about 3 years of experience.
With such an amount, living as a family in one of Belgium’s cities will be as follows:
|Housing||A two-bedroom house for rent in a good location costs about €1,300 per month. Utilities are about €135 per month. Internet – €50.|
|Transportation||€120 on public transport in total|
|Disposable income||€1,000 to spend on eating out, childcare, holidays, weekends, clothing, and personal care.|
- With this income, you will be able to save and buy a house or car.
- You can spend weekends and holidays out of the city.
- You can set an amount for a start-up business.
- With a total fixed cost of €3,200 per month, you will have €1,000 monthly for savings left for bigger investments.
Below are the common jobs in Brussels and their corresponding net monthly salaries:
In Antwerp, the typical jobs and their monthly salaries are:
- Project consultant: €2,675
- Medical researcher: €3,761
- Project engineer: €3,857
- Payroll consultant: €2,755
- Junior auditor: €2,300- €2,500
- Business analyst: €2,345
- Department manager: €2,591
- HR assistant: €2,792
- Restaurant manager: €2,200
- Sales representative: €1,976
What is a good salary in Brussels?
In the end, most expats move to Brussels, the Belgian capital, to seek better career opportunities. What level of income can you expect there?
A gross salary starting from €48,000 is considered good and above average in Brussels.
Read more in the full articles about salaries in Brussels.
Gross vs net
Gross salary is the amount that an employer and employer agree upon as set out in the employment contract. Net salary is the take-home amount after paying taxes and all contributions.
Employers deduct 13.07% of an employee’s gross salary and pay to social security authorities as a contribution. With income tax, workers earning higher wages are taxed more than those who earn less.
Income taxes for 2023 are as shown in the table:
|Income bracket (annual salary)||Tax rate|
|€0.01 – €13,870||25%|
|€13,870 – €24,480||40%|
|€24,480 – €42,370||45%|
Bonuses, holiday pay, and remuneration packages
Employees in Belgium receive a 13th-month pay from employers every year to spend during holidays. It is one-twelfth of the employee’s annual basic salary. However, these employees aren’t eligible for this bonus:
- Employees who receive another bonus which equals the 13th-month salary.
- Employees with managerial ranks.
- Nurses, private drivers, and servants.
- Employees under the civil service cover
- If you are paid on a commission basis or per project.
All employees are given ten paid public holidays annually. In addition, they are entitled to paid leave for specific occasions.
All employees are entitled to paid sick leave in case of illness or accident. This only applies to the first 30 days of the leave. Sick payment rates depend on the employment contract.
An employee is given two vacation days per every month worked in the previous year. If you worked for 12 months, you’re eligible for a paid 24-day vacation.
Salaries in Belgium
The typical Belgium monthly salary was €3,695 in 2022 (before tax). This is a slight increase from €3,651 in 2021.
The highest median wages are found in the chemistry and pharmaceutical sectors (€4,000), while the lowest are in the tourism, sports and leisure sectors (€2,500).
The highest-paying careers are in the Archaeological and Historical sectors, with an annual average wage of €186,019. Engineers and technicians are also top on the list, with an average income of €106,460 per year.
Facts about salaries in Belgium:
- Surgeons and doctors receive the highest salaries of about €21,000 and above per month. Workers in the hospitality industry receive the lowest pay.
- A gross salary of about €30,600 is considered low in Belgium. With this, your monthly take-home pay will be €1,721. This will place you among the bottom 30% of low-income earners nationally.
- The average gross salary for a full-time worker is €3,624 per month.
- The average salary for a part-time worker is €14 per hour in Belgium.
- A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Belgium earns an average of between €161,186 and €446,000.
The minimum wage in Belgium in 2023
The minimum wage in Belgium in 2023 is €1,955.04 per month for workers aged 18 and above, working between 38 to 45 hours per week.
Belgium’s minimum wage is on a monthly basis and not an hourly rate. Those whose payments are done on a weekly or hourly basis must base their salaries on a 38- hour week basis.
All interns aged 21 and above in Belgium are entitled to a minimum of €750 monthly allowance. However, some companies make interns work full-time without paying the standard allowance.
Most companies set their minimum wage based on agreements among employers. The minimum wage is set depending on:
There are provinces in Belgium that have minimum wage legislation. The minimum wage will depend on the province you work in.
Most companies group roles according to seniority. Those with junior positions are likely to get minimum wages.
The number of hours worked:
Some industries determine their minimum wage based on hours worked every week.
Industries have varying wages for new employees and those who’ve worked there longer.
Minimum salary for the residence and work permit
Belgium has specified a minimum “immigration salary” for non-EU citizens to qualify for work permits, some of which are reviewed annually.
Belgium increased immigrants’ salary as of January 2023. So far, Brussels and Flanders have set out the salary thresholds. This applies to nationals from non-EU countries as follows:
|Highly qualified employees||Management personnel||Blue Card holders|
Keep in mind that your application won’t be considered if it doesn’t meet the minimum wage requirements. Allowances and benefits shouldn’t be included in the minimum wage calculation.
The average salary in Belgium
The average monthly income of the employee in Belgium was €3,758 in 2019. That’s about €45,096 annually before tax and €29,127 after tax. This translates to a monthly net income of €2,092.
The pharmaceutical industry has a high average median wage of €4,000 per month. Low average salaries are in the hospitality and sports industries with €2,500 per month.
Salaries vary with gender. While men get €70,120, women receive €58,390 in average salary per year.
Employees with Doctorate Degrees receive an average of €77,618 per year. Those with Masters’s Degree have an average of €67,827 per year.
People with over 20 years of experience earn €105,049. Employees with the practice of between 15 to 20 years receive €98,257 on average income per year.
Here are some typical jobs and corresponding gross salaries in Belgium:
|HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER||€25,006|
Average expenses with the average salary in Belgium
Single-person expenses with a net monthly salary of €2,092.
- Rent: €800
- Transportation: €60
- Utility bills: €130
- Internet: €50
- Food and drinks: €300
- Groceries: €190
- Total: €1,530
- The rest can be spent on personal items, entertainment, and recreation
To meet the monthly expenses, set aside a disposable income, and save up some amount, you need to earn a monthly average of €3,500 and above (before tax) in Belgium. This depends on your monthly spending, eating habits, and lifestyle.
The cost of living in Brussels is higher than in other areas in Belgium. Antwerp is cheaper than Brussels, with housing being 20% lower. Groceries and food are also cheaper in Antwerp than in Brussels.
The price index in Brussels rose by 0.75 in February and is currently at 119.07. In January, it was at 118.32.
The health index is at 118.74, having increased by 0.53 from January. In April, salaries within the public sector will increase by 2%. The fuel and electricity costs have increased by 3.6% and 2.5%, respectively. Alcoholic beverages are 6.0% more costly, while vegetable prices have risen by 3.3%.
These figures show that costs have increased from the previous months. Therefore, people will be spending more of their income on monthly expenses.
Ordinary expenses in Brussels:
- 60 Mbps internet- €45
- Utilities – €150
- Public transport – €120
- Three-course meal – €60
- Beer – €4
- Gym membership – €44
- Capuccino – €3
- McDonald’s combo meal – €10
Two-bedroom apartment in Brussels costs an average of €1,250 within the city center and about €1,000 on the outskirts.
Water, electricity, garbage collection and internet will cost you an average of about €200 per month.
You will spend an average of €200 on groceries every month. If eating out, a meal in a good restaurant will cost you between €35 and €50.
With €50, you can use public transportation for a month in Belgium cities. However, if you own a car, you’ll spend between €1.20 and €1.50 per liter on fuel. Bicycles are fast and best for maneuvering through the city streets.
Everyone in Belgium has health insurance. Whether you choose public or private covers, healthcare payments are made through health insurance funds and social security. 7.35% of your annual gross salary goes to health insurance.
Health insurance for expats in Belgium
Expats need a health insurance solution when moving to Belgium. We recommend Cigna Global for international coverage. Because Cigna insurance is international, you can use your policy not only in Belgium but almost anywhere in the world.
In the long run, you can save a significant amount of money with private insurance. Its policy price doesn’t depend on your income as it’s with public companies.
With 74,000 employees, 200 years of experience, and more than 100 million customers globally, Cigna is one of the largest international insurance providers out there.
With that insurance, you can enjoy instant and easy access to healthcare facilities and professionals around the globe.
Highest paying jobs in Belgium
The highest-paying jobs in Belgium include:
- IT Directors
- Legal Department heads
- IT architects and testers
- Financial managers
- Managing directors
- Country Managers
- Call center directors
Is a gross salary of 70,000 EUR a decent salary to live in Brussels, Belgium for a couple?
With a gross salary of €70,000, you take home a net pay amounting to €2,800 per month after tax.
The average salary in Brussels is €3,510 per month before tax – about €42,000 annually. €70,000 for a couple is below the average. Yet, if you share housing, it’s a decent income to live on.
The current cost of living in Brussels:
- Family of four estimated monthly costs: €3,757
- Single person estimated monthly costs: €1,948
With this salary, your life in Brussels will look like this:
- Rent: A €700 one-bedroom flat outside of the city center.
- Utilities: €200
- Transportation: €100 per month for two monthly tickets.
- Food and groceries: €400
- Personal spendings: €300
- Disposable income: €250
- Health: €100
If you own a car, the transportation costs will be higher because the fuel prices have gone higher in Brussels. You’ll also have additional costs from repairs and insurance.
Considering both of you work and each earns a gross pay of €70,000 annually, buying a house, traveling outside the city, and saving up to about €5,000 is possible.
If you own a home and only one person works, with €70,000 in Brussels, you’ll be able to afford a decent living.
Is 4,000 EUR gross a reasonable salary to live in Belgium?
With a gross monthly income of €4,000, you take home €2,179. An average of €1,837 in monthly net salary is considered a good income for a single person living in Belgium. Therefore, a €2,179 net income is more than you need.
If you are an expat, you will need a fully furnished apartment that costs about €1,000, which you can get through property portals.
Although €4,000 monthly gross salary is a decent amount, Belgium’s cost of living and taxes are high. Eating in a restaurant will cost you €20 per meal, which is about €100 weekly if you eat out daily.
With €2,179 in Brussels:
|Rent||A one-bedroom apartment outside of Brussels city center and pay €700 rent per month.|
|Utilities and internet||€200|
|Transportation||€50 on public transport in total|
|Clothing and personal care||€200|
|Disposable income||€529 to spend on going out, hobbies, holidays, weekends, clothing, and personal care.|
With a gross salary of €4,000, you can live decently in Belgium but with minimum luxuries. You can even save up to €500 every month, travel out during weekends, eat out, and party.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Belgium?
A big family of four needs at least €3,853 per month for an average living in Belgium. A single person will need about €1,586 per month.
Unfortunately, 14% of Belgians face a poverty risk. These are people with a monthly salary of below €1,284. Brussels and Wallonia have a poverty risk of 27.8% and 18.2%, respectively.
You can find a suitable house that contains all the essential things for about €1,000.
A 3-bedroom apartment costs as follows in the different Belgian cities per month:
- Antwerp: €800-€1,200
- Brussels: €890- €1,500
- Gent: €750- €1,200
- Leuven: €800-€1,300
- Liege: €700-€1,100
- Bruges: €900-€1,050
When looking for an apartment to rent in Belgium, look out for contract durations. Most contracts last for nine months, while others are shorter. This doesn’t mean you have to rent the apartment for the entire contract duration. Long contracts offer cheaper rents than shorter ones.
The average cost for utilities in Belgium is about €144 per month. Although they vary with cities, utility costs will be around €136 monthly in Brussels.
The monthly average cost of groceries is around €190 per person. You are likely to spend an average of €300 on both food and groceries every month. Some basic foodstuff costs are as follows:
- 1 kg yellow cheese: €12
- 1 kg sausages: €2.00
- 1 liter of milk: €0.90
- white bread: €1.68
- 1 kg rice: €1.88
- a dozen eggs: €2.59
Eating in an inexpensive place will cost you about €15 per meal. You will spend about €35 to €50 for a three-course meal in a top restaurant in Belgium. There’s always a 10-15% service cost added to your bill.
Belgium cities use a unified ticketing system through which you can buy a ticket for the transport system you desire. These tickets cost as follows:
- One ticket: €1.60
- Five-trip card: €7.30
- An all-day card: €4.30
- Annual card: €583
- A three-day card: €9.20
- A Ten-trip card is sold for €11.20
- The monthly card is sold for €55.50
Trains and buses offer an affordable and reliable means of transportation. To get around the cities faster and easier, you can get a bike.
Taxis charges begin at about €5 in Brussels and then change to around €2 per kilometer.
If you have a car, gas costs about €1.30 per liter in Belgium. To buy a new car, you’ll need about €25,000.