Finding apartments in Accra as a foreigner can be a struggle if you don’t know what to expect. From the upcharging you may face once owners and property managers hear a foreign accent to navigating a renting system that differs greatly from what you may be used to, searching for apartments in Accra can be a hassle.
I went through the process of finding an apartment in Accra while I got my Master’s degree in Ghana for two years and have some useful tips and advice I’ll share to make the experience easier for you.
In this post I’ll talk about the common process of apartment hunting in Accra so you know what to expect, share how I found my apartment in Accra, and some helpful tips for finding an apartment in Ghana, especially if you are on a budget!
The Common Apartment Hunting Process in Accra
In the following sections I will break down what the common process of finding apartments in Accra is like. This will give you an understanding of the system and why what I did was so different.
Where to Look for Apartments in Accra
You can also use Airbnb as a tool for finding apartments in Accra. If you see a listing you like, message the owner through the Airbnb app and ask what the price would be to rent the unit monthly without booking through the app.
You have probably noticed that it is more expensive to rent a monthly Airbnb based on the price, so ask what the cost would be off the platform. Many owners are willing to discuss because it would be a constant source of income for them versus Airbnb bookings which can be inconsistent or depend on whether or not they get bookings.
When looking through online listings, understand that what you see in pictures online is 80%, not an accurate reflection of what you will see in person.
Please do not fall for thinking you can secure a place from abroad based on pictures and videos unless you have trusted people in Accra who can go see the place in person and vouch for it.
Even then, I highly recommend coming to Accra and seeing it first, as their standards may not be yours. There’s very little you can do from abroad to 100% make sure you’ll end up in a place you will like, and it is not worth the risk to be in a rush and try to have a place secured before you get here.
What to Do When You Find An Apartment You Like
Once you see an apartment you like, make a note of the number of the real estate agent from the website or send a message to the contact on the listing (it is usually an agent and not the property owner).
Even when apartment hunting and not trying to buy a home, it is common to go through an agent to secure a property you’re trying to rent in Accra.
Apartment Hunting Tip: Avoid using a non-Ghana number for messaging or calling the agent. That is one of the biggest no-nos you can make and the quickest way to have the rent go up on you before you’ve even seen the place. Agents will notice that you are a foreigner and are likely to automatically raise the price because that is, unfortunately, how things work here in Ghana sometimes.
I was trying to use a U.S. number at first and quickly stopped once I realized I was getting quotes at a higher rate than when I had my friend reach out and check! Wait until you get to Accra and have a Ghanaian number or have a friend who is already in Accra use their phone number to make inquiries on your behalf.
Also, beware that sometimes the “agents” are not agents. I’ve been told that many people will see a house, take a picture, and post it online without a real connection to the owner. Owners usually 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 apartments should happen after the showing.
Paying to See Apartments in Accra
Yes, you pay to see apartments in Accra that you may not even end up living in! Welcome to Ghana, and one of the many annoyances of this process.
Viewing fees differ from place to place. The fee amount should be listed in the description of the online listing, or the agent will let you know. From my experience, they were, on average, 70 GHS ($12). This was in August 2021, and since then, the cedi has dramatically depreciated, so expect prices to be higher, but you can imagine how these fees add up.
If you’re anything like me, you will need to see about 10 places before you make a decision, so hypothetically if you were viewing 10 places, that is already $120 you have spent looking for apartments in Accra 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 may end up 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.
How I Found My Apartment in Accra
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 ASAP.
I rented an Airbnb for a week and got to work searching for different apartments in Accra that suited my needs.
If you have time, I recommend renting an Airbnb for at least a month and give yourself more time to look, as you will most likely need it.
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.
Renting A Car
Before landing in Ghana, I had my friend rent a car for a few days, which cost around $60/per day. This was more efficient because having a rental allowed me to avoid waiting times, come and go as I pleased, pick up any real estate agents that needed rides to take us to showings, and take breaks as I needed to. I would have spent way more money using Uber while searching for apartments in Accra.
You could also hire a driver for the day, but it may be more expensive than renting a car yourself. As of October 2022, $50 is 650 GHS, so that should be enough for them a day, but 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 due to factors like wait times and traffic, so you may have to bargain the rate again. Traffic and wait times are normal in Accra since the traffic is always jammed, and they know this, so be firm with your rate if it was agreed to prior.
Door to Door Approach
Instead of using a real estate agent, 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 call them later.
When speaking to the owner, I asked if they were renting any units or have some available. If they said yes, I requested a tour. I never paid for a tour doing it this way, but you may or may not pay depending on how the person feels!
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’m thankful that wasn’t my experience, but prepare for the unexpected in Ghana.
It Helps to Have A Local With You
Having a local who knows how to navigate the system will help break many barriers when looking for apartments in Accra. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a Ghanaian, but someone who has lived in the country for a long time and knows how apartment hunting can be in Accra. Going with someone who has an African accent helps. I would not go with another foreigner.
Your foreign accent is not your friend while looking for apartments in Accra. It is a way for agents and owners to try to upcharge you.
If you come to Ghana and are all alone and don’t know anyone, pray for patience. You can and will 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 looking. It will make your life so much easier, but if you want to go through this process alone, it is definitely possible.
How Much Money I Saved Not Using An Agent
I only ever paid one agent $12 to see one place that was horrible and took care of his transportation to and from the showing. The transportation did not cost me anything because we had the rental. The rental car ended up being a lifesaver. The car I rented was also great on gas, so I only filled it up once in the few days I had it.
My Apartment in Accra
I found a 1 bedroom apartment in Accra for 2,000 cedis ($150/month). When 1 USD = 6 cedis when I first arrived in Accra in 2021, the cost was $333/month.
The name of my apartment in Accra is called Platinum Apartments in Ashaley Botwe. If you refer to the area as “Botwe School Junction” people in Ghana are likely to know where it is!
My apartment is a relatively good size for one person, but with furniture, I realized I would have been better off renting a 2-bedroom and using one of the rooms as an office and storage space, as it is pretty cramped for my liking.
Decorating the place was a hassle and what I had in mind for decor did not happen at all! I received the wrong colored couch, could not match curtains the way I wanted to, and the fake plants I wanted were very expensive.
I am happy with the price I got my apartment for, as my budget was no more than $300/month. Knowing what I know now, I could have gotten a 2-bedroom unit for 800 cedis ($61)/month!
My water and electricity do go off frequently. My electricity usually comes on within 2-8 hours, and my water within 24 hours. This is common in most areas of Ghana. If the electricity is a deal breaker for you, double-check that the place you want to rent has a generator.
My Cost of Living in Accra
This is a breakdown of my cost of living in Accra, Ghana:
Rent: 2000 cedis ($150/month)
Electricity: 100 cedis ($8)/month
Wi-fi: 400 cedis ($30/month)
Phone Data Bundle: 600 cedis ($46/month)
Groceries/Eating Out: Too much to include here lol.
Important Things to Know About Apartment Hunting in Accra
1. 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. This commission fee, in addition to paying showing fees and transportation for the agent, is another reason I avoided using an agent.
2. 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 upfront. I chose to only stay somewhere that allowed me to do monthly payments or payments up to 6 months because I may want to move and did not want to be stuck in a contract or out of money.
3. 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.
4. You might need to get your own wi-fi, so be prepared for that. Wi-fi is usually not included with housing in Accra. You can visit MTN or Vodafone and get a modem or portable mi-fi.
5. Make sure there are no issues with your unit, and ask questions about EVERYTHING. I had to have electricians come into my apartment and set up my washer machine, stove, etc. In the United States, all of this is always already done when you move in, so it was very new to me, but it can be normal here not to have these things set up.
6. 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 and don’t be like me!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Ghana?
The cost of an apartment in Ghana will depend on where you choose to live. This blog post focused more on finding a place to live in Accra, the capital of Ghana, which people usually visit and choose to live when they come because most of the “excitement” is in the city. However, there are so many other cities you can live in, like Cape Coast, Takoradi, Tema, etc. In Accra, the prices depend on the neighborhood you choose to live in.
Osu is a central location to the main attractions in the city, cafes, restaurants, and nightlife, so an apartment here can cost as much as $1000+ a month. This is the same for areas like Cantonments and East Legon. You’ll find apartments for $800- $2000. Of course, you can find a great deal or something for less, as there are those options, but they probably are not listed online.
Once you get away from the main neighborhoods in Accra and go towards the city’s outer areas, you can find an apartment for as low as $50/month. I believe there are apartments for all budgets in Ghana. It’s just a matter of what you like, where you want to live, and how much you are willing to pay.
Are there apartments in Ghana?
Yes, there are many apartment complexes in Ghana you can rent during your time in the country.
What is the cost of living in Ghana?
The cost of living in Ghana depends on your standards of living, what city you live in, and what you choose to do daily, but it is possible to live on $300/month if you are being frugal and live outside of Accra. In Accra, transportation alone can cost a pretty penny a month. I find that the prices for certain things like food mimic those in Florida, my home state. Expats who come from cities like California and New York will definitely find that the cost of living is significantly less.
Where is the safest place to live in Ghana?
The safest areas are typically considered to be Cantonments or Airport City. I believe this is because these are booming areas that typically have important government buildings around and heavy security. However, Ghana is relatively safe in general. Crimes like theft do occur (mainly from motorcycle riders who pass through quickly and may snatch your items) but keep your items close and tight, and you will be fine. You can ask locals around once you come to Ghana about neighborhoods about how safe they are.
Is Ghana cheaper than the USA?
Ghana is cheaper than the USA when it comes to certain things. Rent, fresh groceries, transportation, beauty services, and electricity/bills tend to be cheaper than they would be in the USA. With that being said, Ghana gets a lot of its products imported from other countries, which causes the cost to be higher than it would be in the USA. A bathroom cart that you could find at Walmart for $5 can cost you $60 in Ghana just because it was imported. Overall, Ghana is cheaper, but when you are looking for certain things, you may run into issues of high pricing.
How much does a meal cost in Accra?
An average meal for two at a casual restauarant is about 100 cedis ($8).
A street food meal costs about 20 cedis ($1.55).
A meal for two at an upscale restaurant costs 400 cedis ($30).
How do I find local houses for rent in Accra?
The process for finding local houses for rent in Accra is the same process as finding an apartment.
What is the best area to live in Accra Ghana?
The best area to live in Accra, in my opinion, is East Legon. East Legon is more of an uppity residential area that has a lot of restaurants, banks, shopping malls, and A&C Mall. It doesn’t take long to get to the main attractions from East Legon, and the traffic is moderate, so to me, it’s a great location to be in.
Are there mansions in Ghana?
Yes, I’ve actually been inside one, and it was gorgeous! Don’t think that just because you’re coming to Africa, that means there is a lack of certain things you may find. Ghana has stunning infrastructure in certain areas, and many homes in Accra are beautiful.
Give yourself time, grace, and be as patient as you can be while looking for your new home in Accra. 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!