A total of 44,905 people left the Belgian capital in 2021 – the highest number since the administrative region's creation in 1989, says the Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (IBSA).
The figures were revealed in an annual demographic barometer; author Jean-Pierre Hermia told Le Soir that 4,000 more people left Brussels in 2021 than in 2020 and 2019, representing a 10% increase.
The barometer shows that the majority of people moved to the two nearest provinces which neighbour the capital: the Walloon and Flemish Brabant.
Most of those who moved were new parents aged between 25 and 39 years old. Two such couples that moved out of Brussels told Le Soir that they had done so for a "better quality of life" with "more space and greenery" and cheaper houses.
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RTBF recently revealed that housing in the capital is, on average, €700/m² more expensive than in the Flemish Brabant. CIB Flanders (the Confederation of Real Estate Profession) also reported that the pandemic's aftermath has resulted in many making the move from Brussels to Flanders.
The Belgian capital has nonetheless continued to gain inhabitants since 1996; in 2021 the region grew by 2,667 residents. The IBSA's barometer attributed this rise to two factors: high numbers of immigration as well as many young people flocking to the city to study at university.
Only time will tell what 2022's figures will look like, with Hermia expecting the war in Ukraine to have a significant effect on the barometer. He predicts that Ukrainian refugees moving to Brussels will see the number of new residents in Brussels shoot up, with fewer departures due to the energy crisis.