Demand vs. offer
Before you start a physical search for your new home, you should get a good grasp of the rental market so you know whether there is an abundance of suitable properties to choose from or that you will need to act quickly as properties come up for rent. Managing your expectations is an important element of preparing for your home search.
Ghana now has a proven record for peace, security and economic development, with a sizable domestic market. Accra is also becoming the regional hub for business in West Africa. With numerous foreign companies, entrepreneurs, multinationals and institutions coming in and/or setting-up regional HQ’s in Ghana and the “oil boom” only aggravating the situation, the number of expatriates has steadily been growing and so has the demand for rental properties of international standards. On the other end, the offer has evolved a lot with a residential real estate sector in full gear and on-going construction you will easily witness: condominiums and townhouses complexes, and single homes in a lesser extent, have been and are being built in all areas where expats live and in others.
Up to a few years ago, a most frequent comment about housing one would hear in Accra’s expatriate circles was as such: “The main problem in Accra is not only that rental prices are high but houses are of poor quality”. With the demand fueling construction, modern properties are now available, including in newer neighborhoods like East Legon in the north of the city.
In Accra, the vacancy rate is not close to zero as in Geneva for example: you do not need to rush into a decision on renting such or such property. Taking your time may help you find a property that is better than the first ones you viewed. Considering the sustained demand, we still suggest that you make-up your mind reasonably quickly after visiting a sufficient number of properties, especially in the case of detached houses in prime residential areas.
The offer of international standards properties can be divided in houses (less), townhouses (quite some) and apartments (mostly).
Most real estate developments built in the past decade in traditional expatriate areas are gated communities with 3-bedroom apartments. This has generated a shortage of houses in these areas and their quality varies as many landlords are reluctant to renovate older ones. Houses larger than 3-bedrooms (plus study) are rare, except in the newer area of East Legon. Most are self-compound but a few small gated communities offer interesting townhouses. Townhouse developments offer the feel of a house without the inconveniences of self-compound ones as property management and security is taken care of.
As 3-bedroom apartments are the standard, 2-bedrooms and 1-bedroom ones are more difficult to find but the situation has become better. They will also be found in a variety of buildings and standards.
Most new gated communities offer apartments with well-equipped kitchens and very rare are the properties coming without air conditioners. All properties offered on accraexpat.com have A/C, water supply and generators, except in very few special cases (a stand-alone house may come without a generator for example).
Furnished or semi-furnished accommodation is easy to find.
As said about budgets in the “What to consider” page, gauge what you can expect to get for your money when you are planning to rent. It is well-known that capitals of developing countries can match and even surpass rental prices in industrialized ones.
Furthermore, recent currency fluctuations have significant impacted the relative costs of renting across the globe but, despite the fall of the Cedi in the 2013/2015 period, rents in Ghana are initially priced in US Dollars.
Ghana’s success story makes Accra no exception to developing countries with a high cost of accommodation, with a sustained demand and a rental market that command high prices. However, unlike Lagos in Nigeria, the nearest city with a large expatriate community, security is not a major issue in Accra and accommodation costs do not come with the premium related to high security.
Ghana’s rental real estate is expensive: while most Manhattanites and Londoners might find it reasonable, the rest of us find it expensive. When planning your relocation and negotiating your compensation package, do avoid underestimating the cost of renting. However, rental rates have gone down during the past couple of years.
Here is what international-standard unfurnished accommodation should cost you or your company per month.
- Prime areas (Ridge, Cantonments, Labone, Airport Residential Area): US$3500/6000 for 3 bedrooms, US$5000/6500 for 4 bedrooms with swimming pools. Houses with gardens have become rare in these prime areas and rent can be up to $6000/8000, peaking at US$10000/12000 for exceptional properties on large plots with pools.
- Other areas (Airport West, Dzorwulu, Abelempke, Airport Hills): US$2500/4500,
- Newer residential areas (East Legon, East Airport):US$2000/3500 but size, standards and location may vary.
- 3 bedroom 21/2 bath apartments in recent gated communities in expatriate areas will cost US$2500/4000,
- 2-bedroom apartments range from US$1800 to US$3000,
- 1-bedroom range from US$1200 to US$1800.
For gated communities, a service charge of US$200 to 350 in average will be added to the rent if not included, and commonly cover 24/7 security, generator maintenance (and sometimes fuel), garbage disposal and common grounds/facilities maintenance and use (cleaning, electricity, maintenance, etc.).
Note that these rental rates are for leases of one-year minimum and payment of six months to one-year rent advance (service charge is paid in advance as well). Rates are higher for short-term accommodation and serviced apartments.
In 2015, we have noticed that the upward trend in rental rates has stopped. More landlords are also flexible with regards to the duration of lease and payment terms.
Note as well that advertised rents for properties can fluctuate and are typically higher just before the beginning of the school year. Accra is a family posting and many expatriates relocate during summer.
Many foreigners without such budgets for housing will be in a difficult position but can find a variety of solutions. Please see the “Affordable Housing” page of the guide.
Note on costs
International Cost of Living surveys focus on products and services typically bought by expats (food, basic purchases and general ones such as clothing, appliances and entertainment) but exclude costs such as accommodation, related services, transportation and schooling as these are generally covered by employers, either directly or through dedicated allowances.
2014 - New regulations on foreign currency transactions
The fall of the Cedi has prompted the government to enforce the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723). With the Notice of October 10, 2012, the Bank of Ghana reminded that that the Act forbids pricing, advertising and receiving foreign currency, unless licensed or authorized. Nothing really changed until February 4th, 2014 when new rules regulating FOREX accounts and operations were issued, followed by useful clarifications. These foreign exchange regulations have since been scrapped.
Lease agreements are now made in Ghana Cedis, using the prevailing exchange rate.
Rent income earners are paying a rent tax on the gross amount earned in a year of assessment. The rate of tax is 8% on the gross rent income. It is a final tax.
Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) impose to withold tax when paying rent invoices.
Should the lease agreement shows the rent amount as Gross, the Withholding Tax must be deducted and paid to GRA. Gross rent amounts are rarely used so rents are usually Net. This means that tenants have to pay 8% in addition.
This applies to the rent amount only. Withholding Tax on service charges is 5%. Should the service charge be included in the rent amount, ask for an invoice where the two amounts are shown and named.
Certain organizations and companies are exempt of tax payment (includin VAT) and must provide tax exemption certificates prior to transactions.
Should you not want to do a search yourself among all available rental properties in the Residential Rentals section, you may send in your requirements to accraexpat.com using the "Send your requirements" box and we will contact you with a shortlist of matching properties. Alternatively, you can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope this and the other pages of our Residential Rental Guide have been helpful and welcome your feedback and/or questions at email@example.com.
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