Apartment Hunting in Accra 101: A Detailed Guide on Finding a Great Place to Live in Ghana

Finding an apartment in Ghana as a foreigner can be a struggle if you don’t know what to expect. I wish it were just as easy as researching “Places to Live in Ghana” or “Apartments in East Legon” then seeing the prices and visiting an official front office of an apartment complex, but that would be too easy for Ghana. Lucky for you, I went through the process and found a few loopholes to make the experience easier!

In this post, I’ll provide insight into the common process of apartment hunting in Ghana, what I did to find my apartment complex, and some helpful tips for finding an apartment in Ghana as a foreigner, especially if you are on a budget! 

BEFORE THE SEARCH:

Make a List of Your Non-Negotiables + Needs

This sounds cliche, but you’ll need to remember what they are at all times. You will most likely have to go view a lot of apartments and get frustrated and tired during the process, as it is a long and trying one. The list will help you know what to ask for while searching and stay focused on the end goal.

 

My Non-Negotiables were:

  • Absolutely no roommates 
  • No studio apartments. I wanted my bedroom to be separate from my kitchen and living room. 
  • No sharing of common spaces with anyone, especially not a bathroom. 
  • Ability to have guests at any hour of the day if I pleased.
  • Able to go in and out as I please without speaking to a guard or dealing with locked gates.
  • Paying no more than 6 months at a time for rent or paying on a monthly basis 

I ended up getting a one bedroom apartment!

My Wants were:

  • Electricity and water included in the rent*
  • $400/month or lower (I did not want to pay more than average rent in the U.S abroad) 
  • AC unit included
  • Fully furnished unit* 
  • 2-bedroom apartment* 

 

I put a “*” next to the qualities in a place I DID NOT end up getting with the unit I live in now. 

My list was very helpful when asking the owners questions about their place and helped me narrow everything down. Keep your list on the Notes section of your phone or write it down physically and carry it along with you. Things move fast in Ghana, and you want to make sure you ask everything you want to 

 

The following section is what the typical process looks like for Apartment Hunting in Accra: 

NAVIGATING ONLINE LISTINGS

Websites to Use to Find Bookings:

The first thing you will want to do is look online at apartments listed for rent online. The platforms that are most popular for this are:

 •Meqasa

•Jiji

•Tonaton

•Facebook Marketplace 

TIP: You can also use Airbnb as a big resource! If you see a listing you like, message the owner through the app and ask what the price would be to rent the unit monthly off the app. You have probably noticed that it is more expensive often to rent a monthly Airbnb based on the price, so ask about what the cost would be off the platform. 

Many owners are willing to have the discussion because it would be a constant source of income versus Airbnb bookings which can be a hit or miss for them depending on if they get bookings. 

Also, understand that what you see in pictures online is 80% not likely to be what you see in person. For that reason, I highly recommend coming to Ghana and seeing it first. Please do not fall for thinking you can secure a place from abroad based on pictures and videos. There’s very little you can do from abroad to 100% make sure you’ll end up in a place you will like and not worth the risk. 

Find an Apartment That Catches Your Eye?

Once you see an apartment you like, you take down the number of the agent from the website or send a message. I believe on MeQasa, your number shows up as well. 

TIP: DO NOT use your foreign number (anything that is not a Ghana number) to message or call the agent. That is one of the biggest no-nos you can make and a quick way to have the rent go up on you before you’ve even seen the place. I was trying to use a U.S number at first and quickly stopped.

It’s best to wait until you arrive in Ghana and get a Ghanaian phone number if you don’t have someone in Ghana who can contact on your behalf.

Agents will see that you are a foreigner and are likely to automatically raise the price. Those are the games played here in Ghana. 

Also, sometimes the “agents” are not agents. I’ve been told that many people will see a house, take a picture, and post it online with no real connection to the owner. Owners pay agents to list their sites for them and do the showings. NEVER pay a fee to see the house ahead of time. That’s how you get scammed. 

 

PAYING TO SEE THE APARTMENTS

Yes, you pay to see an apartment that you may not even end up living in 🙂 One of the many annoyances of this process. 

Viewings differ from place to place. The fee amount should be listed in the description or the agent will let you know. From my experience, they were on average 70 GHS ($12). You can imagine how this adds up. If you’re anything like me, you will need to see about 20 places before you make a decision, so hypothetically if you were viewing 20 places, that is already $240 you have spent on looking for apartments alone. 

You are also responsible for your agent’s transportation to and from the showing. This is even more annoying because if you don’t have a car you own or a rental, you are using Uber/Bolt. Uber/Bolt are reliable forms of transportation until they aren’t. Between the wait times for Bolt/Uber to show up, cancellations, and traffic, you are looking at only seeing 2-3 places a day in the course of 8 hours which is ridiculous. 

So, either way, you are looking at spending a lot of money. This may not sit right with you, and it did not sit right with me either, which is why after speaking to people living in Accra at the time, I did something different instead: 

 

MY STRATEGY

Thankfully, I knew people in Ghana before my move, so with their help, I was able to take their advice and get their help in apartment hunting in a way that makes sense. 

I have had HORRIBLE living situations before moving to Ghana, so I was not playing any games with inefficient systems. I decided that I was not going to do it. 

I gave myself one week to find a place. This is not recommended, but my Master’s program was starting in two weeks, and I wanted to be settled in ASAP. I rented an Airbnb for a week and got to work with searching for an apartment. If you have time, rent an Airbnb for a month and give yourself more time to look, as you will most likely need it. 

My

Airbnb

was pretty nice for my one-week stay while I looked for a more permanent place!

Renting A Car

Before landing in Ghana, I had my friend rent a car for a few days, which cost around $60/day. This was more efficient because having a rental allowed me to avoid waiting times, come and go as I pleased, pick up any possible agents that needed rides, and take breaks as I needed to. I would have spent way more money using Uber. 

You could hire a driver, but they might be complaining that they could be making more money accepting Uber/Bolt rides from customers versus spending hours taking you around (which is likely not true, but will feel that way to the drivers). $60 is 360 GHS, so that should be enough for them a day, but bargain and work out a fare that works for both you and the driver. Keep in mind that drivers that are hired for tasks like these tend to complain that they want more money after, so work it out with them! 

Door-to-Door Approach 

This is where I really did well. Whenever I saw an apartment unit, I would ask the security men at the gate to speak to the owner or get the owner’s number to talk to them later. 

When speaking to the owner, you ask if they are renting any units or have some available. If they say yes, you can request a tour and see if they will allow you. You may or may not pay, but way less likely to ask you to pay. 

When you see an apartment-like structure, just stop and do exactly what I said above! If it doesn’t meet your list, keep it moving. If it does, stay in touch with the owner. Things can move very slowly in Ghana. You can find a place, and the owner takes forever to get you settled in. 

I toured many places and took pictures and videos to do my comparisons later in the day.

Having a Local With You 

If you know someone in Ghana, please have them come with you. Having a local who knows how to navigate the system will help break many barriers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Ghanaian, but it can be someone with an African accent because it helps. I would not go with another foreigner. 

Your foreign accent is not your friend while apartment hunting in Ghana! Instead, it is a way for them to upcharge you. 

If you come to Ghana and are all alone and don’t know anyone, pray for patience. You can get it done, but you may get frustrated, so I recommend taking breaks from the process as it can get overwhelming. It is worth even hiring a Ghanaian (ask your Airbnb host if they have friends or are willing) to be with you while hunting. It will make your life so much easier!

Money Saved

I only ever paid one agent $12 to see one place that was horrible and take care of his transportation (which was easy because we had a rental). 

The rental car ended up being a lifesaver. Gas went pretty far overall. 

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW

•If you find a place through an agent, you have to pay the deposit + rent + your agent 10% of whatever the rent is. It’s not necessarily a scam, but I made a personal decision to avoid this if I could to rent an apartment. It is normal though here if you end up having to do this process. 

•In Ghana, rent is usually paid to the owner or property manager as much as one year in advance. If your apartment is $500/month, you need to have $6,000. I chose to only stay somewhere that was a monthly payment or 6 months because I may want to move and did not want to be stuck.

•I would make sure you get a contract or some type of written agreement before paying money to anyone. Ghana can be an interesting place, especially for those unfamiliar with the systems, so having receipts and contracts can possibly help you in the future.

•You might need to get your own wi-fi, so be prepared for that. You can visit MTN or Vodafone and get a modem or portable mi-fi.

How good your wi-fi works depends on where you are located so ask the owner what network works best in your area!

•Make sure there are no issues with your unit and ask questions about EVERYTHING. I had to have electricians come into mine and set up my washer machine, stove, etc. In the States, all of this is always already done when you move in, so it was very new to me, but normal here to not have these things set up.

•I would not see any apartments at night time. The one viewing I had was at night (don’t ask me why I went lol), but the power was off as well. Take that as a red flag.

——

Apartment Hunting in Ghana is stressful. Give yourself time, grace, and be as patient as you can be. You deserve to live somewhere you feel comfortable calling home at the end of every day, especially while you navigate life in a new country. 

Have any questions about the apartment hunting process in Ghana? Leave them below, and I will be more than happy to help you navigate this journey! 

 

Comments (2)

  • Amira

    March 13, 2022 at 3:26 am

    Hello,
    For $400/month how far away from Accra are you?

    1. beingchristinajane

      March 13, 2022 at 3:29 am

      Hi Amirah, it’s about $333 and I’m in Accra still! It’s about 15 minutes from East Legon!

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