At accraexpat.com, we know and always keep in mind that expatriates are all different from one another, as far as nationality, lifestyle and most of all, as far as financial resources. There are all kinds of expatriates, beyond the usual definition of or attributes usually associated to the word: indeed, you may not be the well-paid diplomat, working for a corporation or a development agency (surprisingly), coming to Ghana with a full-benefit contract.
While the foreign community continuously grows, its diversity does as well and what you, as an independent worker, young professional, starting entrepreneur, university researcher or student, NGO employee, volunteer, trainee, etc., may be looking for is affordable housing that is not necessarily of the highest standards and in areas beyond the high-end residential ones.
It depends on what you care for and can afford and which standards you are willing to accept as far as property (size and standards) and environment (access, infrastructure quality, privacy, noise, population density). Luckily, there are many areas in Accra suitable to live in and that command lower rental rates (see the “Where to Live in Accra” page).
You may find houses but in most cases, affordable housing comes as apartments in two or three- storey buildings or as bungalows in the back or sides of compounds where the owner lives. Rent levels can start as low as US$150/200 per month but the condition of the flat and the building may be low and the environment very local. You will be more likely to find a suitable flat in the US$ 350/700 range, depending on the number of rooms.
Furnished flats are available around town and searched after by those on a short or mid-term assignment, trying to avoid paying one-year rent in advance and/or who can’t afford serviced apartments. Expect to pay more for the convenience, up to US$ 1800/month for a fully-equipped recent one-bedroom flat.
Affordable housing is usually handled by local agents that are specialized in one or more specific areas. It is not handled by agents used by expatriates as they are not familiar with areas others than those where we live. As an indication, the lowest rent for properties accraexpat.com has handled is $600/month.
As a young person and/or single, a room may be all you need. Some landlords have built numerous rooms and sometimes small flats in their compound which they rent furnished by the month, with common kitchens and, most of the time, shared bathrooms: these places are called “Obroni Houses” and are favorites among volunteers, students and some young professionals. In the central and convenient area of Osu as an example, cost for a room ranges from US$250 to 450, utilities and cleaning included (laundry for a small extra fee), but the quality may vary: some will be in a crammed and/or unattractive compound, others will be in a nice setting with garden and a home feel, some will be fairly attractive, others older or in bad condition, some landlords have gone to the expense of installing air-conditioners, most have only fans and all are generally small (down to 9 sq/m - 80 sq./ft or less.). Management and cleanliness may vary as well.
They represent a good environment as well if you are new and alone as you will quickly meet others. These rooms are hard to find as highly searched for but very convenient.
Here are those we know of and have visited.
- below Lara Mart Supermarket, run by Auntie Cee at +233 (0) 242 101 994. This is a quite big compound.
- near Blue Gate, run by Mamie's at +233 (0) 266 145 341. Well-run.
Further away in Kokomlemle, near Nrkumah Circle.
- run by Rosalyn at +233 (0) 244 418 999. Location is not the best but very good value (AC, unlimited wifi internet, shared big kitchen, small gym, houseboy, washing machine...).
- run by Vail, Koko House has three bedrooms at $500 each (Jan 2017). See the website.
Osu is the best place in Accra to live for short-tem stays without a vehicle.
Room mating is another solution: either renting a property with one, two or more other singles or, even more practical, renting a room at someone’s home. See accraexpat.com’s dedicated Classifieds room mating category.
There are also many student hostels available in Accra, mostly used by Francophone students from Africa, with a low monthly for a shared room shared with 3 others or more rarely one, with common kitchen and bathroom. Location is very rarely central but maybe convenient.
Lastly, for the truest Ghanaian experience, you can be a paying host in a family (room & board or only room), but it can be a challenge in itself to live with a family you don’t know in addition to adapting to a country and lifestyle different than yours. Staying with a host family works best for a few weeks stay, such as a summer volunteer program or language course.
NB: a particular compound that offers short and long-term furnished and serviced accommodation at reasonable rates is Legassi Gardens. Nana Gayle offers very pleasant self-catering units, in a quiet and fairly accessible part of greater Accra, in Pokuase on the Nsavam/Kumasi road (north-west of Accra). Find out more about Legassi Gardens and how to contact Nana in the informative website.
Whatever solution you will choose, always remember the following issues: distance to work, traffic, proximity of shops to buy the basics and, should you use public transportation, good access to it. Security is an issue too, especially if you have to walk home at night (it gets dark in Accra by 1830, year round). Lastly, remember the long rainy season which affects the many non-tarred roads.
To locate any type of affordable housing, ask friends, colleagues and any of the numerous young foreigners in town but make sure to also ask the Ghanaians you work with.
We hope this and the other pages of our Residential Rental Guide have been helpful and welcome your feedback and/or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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