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Renting Accommodation in South Africa-Furnished and Unfurnished

South Africa is one of the most beautiful and diverse places to live. Relocating to a new country is always stressful, however, and finding a place to stay (besides perhaps buying a car) is at the top of that stress list. How to find the right accommodation in the right area at the right price is always a struggle. Here is some advice to make your relocation to South Africa a little easier.

When you first arrive in South Africa:

When first arriving in South Africa, it’s practical to rent a holiday apartment or self-catering, furnished apartment for a few weeks. This will give you time to find your feet in the city, and explore the appropriate rental options. Before you consider buying, it is definitely a better idea to rent a property to test out various regions, towns and neighbourhoods before making a long-term commitment.

Renting accommodation in South Africa – where to start:

Property sales and rentals in South Africa are usually managed by agents, and this remains a popular method as they take care of all the paperwork and legalities. You can also easily contact the agent for any problems or necessary property maintenance required.

Once you have decided on the area that you want to live, you will need to approach the estate agent for that area, and inform them of the type of accommodation, your budget and the duration for which you would like to rent. Rental leases are typically signed on a six-month to two-year basis. Rental listings are also listed in the major local newspapers in South Africa, and on a wide variety of websites like Private Property,, Property24, Seef or Gumtree (a big classifieds site in South Africa)

Different types of accommodation options to rent in South Africa:

The standard of accommodation in South Africa varies depending on the location and area, but it is possible to find relatively spacious properties with a garden at a reasonable price in certain suburbs. There is a wide variety of accommodation options available in South Africa.

Apartments and bachelor flats: Apartments have two or three bedrooms, and bachelor flats have one bedroom or an open plan bedroom-lounge. These are usually relatively small, and include a lounge-dining area, kitchen and bathroom. It is common to live in city apartments in the bigger cities, like Cape Town or Johannesburg.

Townhouses: These can be either a simplex (one floor) or a duplex (two floors), and are usually in a complex of 20 to 30 homes. An upkeep levy is frequently required, but this is usually included in your rent.

Cluster house: This is a house that is generally in a complex, which might include a fee for the complex upkeep. You will usually have a private garden which you will have to maintain. There will be facilities like pools, club houses etc., for the complex to share.

Houses: These can be one or two stories, but many houses are single stories.

Guest houses or cottages: A smaller house away from the main house inside a large property. This is an affordable option and designed for those who will be in the facilities short-term.

Security villages or estates: This is seen as a way of escaping the relatively high crime rate in South Africa. These estates usually comprise numerous homes within the gated area. The gate is controlled by security guards who only let residents and their visitors come and go. This is a more expensive option.

House-sharing: This is renting an individual room in a larger house shared with other people. This is popular in South Africa, particularly with students and young professionals. This is a cheaper option and is a great way to meet new people.

Rentals will vary from street to street, for example in university locations rentals will often be higher if the accommodation falls within a security patrolled route.

Furnished versus unfurnished accommodation options to rent in South Africa

There is a choice of renting furnished and unfurnished accommodation in South Africa. Seeing Cape Town has a major harbour and the country is surrounded by water, you might consider shipping in your furniture from overseas. Despite all the obvious benefits, shipping your furniture to South Africa can be an expensive and timely process.

When looking for accommodation in South Africa (especially if you’re planning to spend a limited amount of time in the country), it might be a better idea to find accommodation that is already furnished. Furnished accommodation can however be a bit more expensive than unfurnished accommodation, due to the fact that landlords are aiming at tourists and foreign visitors.

Should you decide to rent unfurnished accommodation, keep in mind that basic furniture and electronic kitchen appliances, like a bed or even a fridge or a stove, will not be provided. These necessities can be costly when buying new; however second-hand shopping is an option. If you are lucky, you can find great deals on house hold goods in second hand stores or in the small ads. Try to stay away from the small second hand shops, as they are known to rip foreigners off, particularly when buying electric appliances. Warranties given with the purchase in those shops are also dodgy and often useless.

Where to rent and costs involved when renting accommodation in South Africa:

In order to calculate your budget and get a feel for the cost of living in South Africa, you need to decide how much you will spend on renting property. Rental costs can range from R3000 (228.28 Euros, 196.57 pounds, 305.59 US dollars) depending on the type of accommodation, size, facilities, and area. Choice of area is a big consideration when it comes to rental rates. Even properties a few roads apart can vary a lot in rental price.

Water and levies are usually included in the rental. Electricity is usually for the renter to pay on a monthly basis or via a prepaid meter. Because of the low Rand rate, most expats will probably be able to afford to rent in a middle- or upper-scale area, or in one of the many preferred security estates. Moving into a security estate is not a necessity, but one does need to get a good idea of the neighbourhood before making any decisions.

Security when renting accommodation in South Africa:

Home security is a concern when choosing a home in South Africa. If one takes the appropriate precautions, and remains careful, there is no need to be overly concerned. It is recommended that one gets some form of perimeter fencing, door locks and security gates, burglar bars on the windows, as well as an alarm system. There are some fantastic security companies, like Chubb, and Princeton. These security companies offer great deals on alarm systems, and will include a patrol and armed response service for a monthly fee.

There are certain parts of the city that are “no-go-areas”. When looking for a place to stay in the Cape Town area, it is suggested you look at Bloubergstrand, Claremont, Bishopscourt, Constantia, Hout Bay, Noordhoek and Kommetjie. You should try to avoid living east of the M3 as the crime rate is higher there. When looking for a place to stay in Cape Town city centre, make sure that there is off-the-street parking and appropriate security.

Requirements when renting accommodation in South Africa:

Once you have chosen your appropriate accommodation, you will be expected to prove you can afford to pay the rent. You might need to prove that your income is at least three times that of the monthly rent required. The estate agent will require references from employers and previous landlords to ensure that you are reliable.

Additional costs involved when renting accommodation in South Africa:

As an initial cost it will be required that you pay six weeks’ rent as a deposit, plus the first month’s rent in advance. Do not agree to pay more than six weeks; some deceitful rental agents might ask for up to six months’ rent as a deposit from innocent expats. You will most likely be required to pay a R500 (50US dollars, 32.76 pounds, 38.05 Euros) registration fee for the rental agreement, as well as another R500 (50 US dollars, 32.76 pounds, 38.05 Euros) for the reference check.

For more information regarding renting and relocation to South Africa, please feel free to contact us.