The estimated population of Accra is about 1.5 million. When you dig deeper into the demographics, the number of people under the age of 24 is said to be about 56%.
If you’ve lived in Accra for long enough, you will notice a trend of high rise and “luxury” apartments springing up and being constructed in most neighbourhoods in the city. But if you’re looking to rent a room in one of these places, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
The cost of living in Accra appears to be getting higher. According to Mercer, Accra is currently the 63rd on the ranking of the cost of living in the world. It’s more expensive than cities like Madrid, Seattle, and Toronto.
The cost of living factors includes the availability of employment, class disparity, poverty rate, quality and housing affordability, and hours of work.
If you want to rent out a 2 bedroom space in the Villagio building, it will cost you about $3,500 a month. By our math….$3500 a month will be about 18,900 GH…
Data is a bit scarce but according to nomadlist, the cost of living for a family (middle class, 4 person family) is estimated at $6000 while living single is about $1,600.
With all these costs and estimates, it’s no wonder and no surprise that you find most inhabitants of Accra either living in compound homes, living with their parents or just choosing to live on the outskirts of the city where it’s cheaper.
Although there are MANY new apartment buildings springing up all over town, trying to rent out space in one of them doesn’t come cheap.
If you want to rent out a 2 bedroom space in the Villagio building, it will cost you about $3,500 a month. By our math (and conversion rate), $3500 a month will be about 18,900 GHC (and that’s being generous by using 5.4 as the exchange rate)
This is not to call out Villagio but to just point out the high cost of trying to get a room to rent out in these new “luxury” apartments.
There are many apartment buildings and condominiums being constructed as we speak and we can almost guarantee the lowest price to rent is going to be about $1000 (~5000 GHC) if you’re lucky.
But you could argue that those are “luxury” apartments? What about apartment living for the average folk?
This bring us to “Affordable Housing“.
What Happened To Affordable Housing?
To be honest, many people (including me) have lost count on the number of times that the Government of Ghana has made promises to construct “affordable housing” for the masses.
By definition, Affordable housing is housing that is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below as rated by the national government or a local government by a recognized housing affordability index.
Well, according to Ghana’s national policy, when the annual carrying cost of a home exceeds thirty percent (30%) of household income, then it is considered unaffordable for that household. (Housing Policy – PDF)
Tema, Prampam, Cape Coast could all be potential places for an affordable housing boom if Accra gets overcrowded and residents need new places to live and work….
In 2019, the cost of a 55m square one-bedroom single-family house costs about GH¢108 800 (Source: Housing Africa).
The current minimum wage in Ghana is currently 11.90 GHC in Ghana. If we use an exchange rate and compare that to the dollar (close your eyes because it’s kind of scary), the minimum wage would be $2.11 (5.4 as the exchange rate)
The Money Laundering Rumors
The rumors are out there and we have to address it. There has been an increase in the number of apartments in the city but the economic lives and wages of Ghanaians aren’t increasing at the same rate. With the going rate of some of these new apartments (which are mostly quoted in USD), it begs the question:
Who is building all these apartments? Or better yet, who is RENTING these apartments?
One answer could be “expats“. Expats currently living in Ghana and earning high salaries ( $1000+/month) from multinational companies could be able to afford most of these rooms and apartments.
But are ALL the expats living in these apartments? It’s a bit far fetched.
Again, these are rumors but is it ridiculous to think that this could be a Panama situation where the increase in high rise apartments couldn’t be linked to illicit activities?
Maybe Living In Accra Might Not Be Worth It
Unless you make decent money, “living” in Accra can be a financial nightmare.
At the moment, there is the recent trend of building a city “within a city” as championed by the likes Appolonia City (starting prices are estimated at GH₵ 478,500 to buy a home) where there is ongoing construction to build a “gated city” if you will where there will businesses, hospitals, and even schools.
Tema, Prampam, Cape Coast could all be potential places for an affordable housing boom if Accra gets overcrowded and residents need new places to live and work. Unfortunately, Accra is the hub of everything and most businesses (and people) prefer to choose the capital city to do business.
Unless businesses decide to set up shop in neighboring cities and provide facilities with an encouraging environment for workers and Accra city dwellers to move in, the conversation about moving out of Accra can’t even get started.
In the long term, unless Accra becomes more affordable, you’re better off planning to live in a place other than Accra which doesn’t gobble up your bank account like a black hole.
*Written by Joseph Kuuire for Labari Media. Published January 9th 2020.