To Buy, Build or Rent in Africa

Many starting out on the road to home ownership do have a decision to make when it comes to buying or building. Or keep renting for the foreseeable future. Whatever one opts for, it is a big financial decision. So it’s important to get it right. This article aims to help you in this decision.

Africa is a continent of many different cultures, economies and landscapes. In Africa, you can find yourself in a bustling city one day and trekking through the jungle or desert on safari the next.

If you are looking for that perfect place to call home, or a property for investment, there is plenty of options available.

The cost effectiveness of renting, buying or building depends on many factors. Housing market prices, quality of schools nearby, availability of public transportation options. If it’s a commercial property, the neighborhood matters as well.

The following outlines some of the main ones:

  • What is my goal for this type of venture (income generating, permanent resident, or temporary abode)?
  • What is the size and type of house I want?
  • Do you plan on having children? If so, are you better of in a single family home or an apartment complex setting?
  • Can I afford the monthly mortgage and maintenance fees?
  • What is my financial and employment situation, do I have a steady income that can support this property type ?
  • Does my job need me to be near an airport or other major city. How far away from my work place, am I willing to live?
  • What kind of neighborhood do you want your children living in?

Let’s go over these 3 options to have a clearer understanding of each.


The low cost associated with renting makes it an attractive option for someone starting out. It is ideal for those unable to afford building or buying. It’s also an option if one is unsure of what they want but still want some flexibility over how long they stay in a place.

Renting gives you many options of properties in the market to pick from. If it’s just a short-term or temporary solution that you are looking for then renting will probably be your best bet. It is often much cheaper than buying or building.

Another benefit of renting is being able to move out anytime without any penalties (this depends on contract terms). This is makes it very attractive when one has an uncertain future.

Renting comes with certain restrictions. This depends on the agreement terms. For example, some places do not allow pets, and don’t allow fixtures or adjustments. Other places limit the number of people living together.


Buying a property requires some significant capital upfront. But it offers a more stable long-term solution for many people. This is the option to go for if one is looking for a quick transition towards a permanent setting.

Buying requires one to have a sizable amount of money if it’s an outright buy. This is common in may parts of Africa where mortgages are not common or easily accessible. If it is a mortgage, a down payment is still required. This is a percentage of the value of the property.

Prices of homes vary greatly. So it’s worth doing some research beforehand to find out what options there are within your budget. When buying, it’s important to research what your taxes may include so as not to get any unpleasant surprises at tax time. This could make your investment go over budget in the long run.


Many pursuing home ownership in Africa take the path of building their property from ground. Building requires significant capital upfront, but it is a fulfilling and rewarding journey once accomplished.

The process of building your home is a long and arduous journey. It’s important to have detailed schedules so you can keep an eye on the progress as it happens, not only when problems arise.

A schedule will help organize certain steps in advance. For example, building professionals often need months worth of scheduling before commencing construction. Having a detailed plan allows builders to know what their finish line looks like. They’re able to tell if they’re going off track or over budget at any point during the project with minimal effort.

Construction takes months or even years before one has anything to show for it. So one has to be patient for the long haul.
Building a property gives you control over many factors. You have the option to buy land in a desired area of preference. You can go for any preferred home design, and include many features right from foundation.

Keep in mind that there are many costs involved in property construction. Some notable ones are; Cost of land, architectural fees, plans and permits, labor and material costs, etc.

As seen in the article, there’s many factors to consider when thinking about whether you should rent a home, build or buy one. As the old saying goes, “Knowledge is Power”. Knowledge will be your best friend in coming to an informed conclusion on which option would work out best for you.
Whether this is an investment property, a temporary or permanent home. Either way remember research and preparation always comes handy in making wise and informed decisions.

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