Moving to a new country can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges, particularly when it comes to finding suitable accommodation. As an expat or foreigner, navigating the rental market in an unfamiliar place can be daunting. From understanding local laws and customs to negotiating rental agreements, there are numerous factors to consider. In this article, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive guide to renting as an expat or foreigner, covering everything from budgeting to dealing with landlords and property agents.

Planning and Budgeting

Determine Your Housing Budget

One of the first steps in your rental journey should be determining your housing budget. It’s crucial to have a realistic understanding of your financial means and to factor in the cost of living in your new location. Generally, it’s recommended to allocate no more than 30% of your monthly income towards rent and utilities. However, this percentage may vary depending on the city or country you’re moving to.

Research Rental Costs and Neighborhoods

Once you’ve established your budget, it’s time to research rental costs in different neighbourhoods. Rental prices can vary significantly based on factors such as location, amenities, and property size. Consider your commute, proximity to essential services, and personal preferences when selecting potential areas to live in.

Finding a Rental Property

Online Listings and Real Estate Agents

In today’s digital age, online listings are a popular and convenient way to search for rental properties. Websites like Rightmove, Zillow, and local real estate portals can provide you with a wide range of options. However, be cautious of fraudulent listings and always verify the legitimacy of the listing and the property owner or agent.

Alternatively, you can enlist the services of a reputable real estate agent. While this may come at an additional cost, agents can streamline the process and offer valuable local expertise.

Networking and Word-of-Mouth

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and word-of-mouth. Reach out to expat communities, colleagues, or friends who may have connections or insider knowledge about available rentals. These personal connections can often lead to hidden gems that may not be widely advertised.

Viewing Properties and Making an Offer

Scheduling Viewings

Once you’ve identified potential properties, it’s essential to schedule viewings. During these viewings, assess the property’s condition, amenities, and any potential issues. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and take notes or photos for future reference.

Negotiating the Rental Agreement

After finding a suitable property, it’s time to negotiate the rental agreement. Read the agreement thoroughly and ensure you understand all the terms and conditions. Don’t be afraid to negotiate aspects such as the rental price, lease duration, or any additional fees.

Moving In and Settling Down

Setting Up Utilities and Services

Once you’ve secured your rental, it’s time to set up utilities and services. This may include electricity, water, internet, and cable/satellite TV. Research local providers and make arrangements for the installation or transfer of services well in advance.

Understanding Local Laws and Regulations

As an expat or foreigner, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations related to renting. This may include tenant rights, security deposit requirements, and any specific rules or restrictions imposed by the landlord or property management company.

Building a Positive Relationship with Your Landlord

Communication is Key

Open and honest communication with your landlord is essential for maintaining a positive relationship. Keep them informed of any issues or concerns you may have, and be respectful when addressing any problems.

Being a Responsible Tenant

Being a responsible tenant can go a long way in building trust and goodwill with your landlord. This includes paying rent on time, keeping the property clean and well-maintained, and respecting any rules or guidelines outlined in the rental agreement.

Cultural Considerations

Respecting Local Customs and Traditions

As an expat or foreigner, it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions of your new home. This may include adjusting to different cultural norms, social etiquette, and even dress codes.

Language Barriers and Communication Strategies

Language barriers can pose a significant challenge when renting as an expat or foreigner. Consider learning basic phrases in the local language or enlisting the help of a translator or language app to facilitate communication with landlords, agents, or service providers.


Renting as an expat or foreigner can be a rewarding and enriching experience, but it requires careful planning, research, and preparation. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the rental market in your new home and find a suitable living arrangement that meets your needs and preferences.

If you’re on the hunt for a luxurious property in Accra, Ghana, consider the exceptional offerings from VAAL Ghana, a reputable real estate development company. With three major developments to choose from – the Harmonia Residence, Legato Heights, and Nirvana Villas – you’re sure to find a rental that perfectly suits your lifestyle and budget.

At VAAL Ghana, we understand the unique needs of expats and foreigners, and our dedicated team is committed to ensuring a seamless and stress-free luxury apartment experience. Contact us today to explore our exceptional luxury apartment opportunities and embark on your journey to a comfortable and fulfilling life in Accra.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is it necessary to have a local guarantor or co-signer when renting as an expat? 

The requirement for a local guarantor or co-signer can vary depending on the landlord or property management company. Some may require it as an additional security measure, while others may be more flexible, especially if you can demonstrate a stable income and good credit history.

  1. How do I set up utilities and services if I don’t have a local credit history or ID? 

Many utility providers and service companies may require some form of identification and proof of residency. In such cases, you may need to provide alternative documentation, such as your work permit or visa, along with a letter from your employer or landlord confirming your residency.

  1. What should I do if I encounter discrimination or unfair treatment during the rental process? 

Discrimination based on race, nationality, or other protected characteristics is illegal in most countries. If you encounter such behaviour, document the incident and report it to the appropriate authorities or organizations that handle fair housing complaints.

  1. Can I negotiate the rental price or lease terms if I’m willing to sign a longer lease?

 Yes, in many cases, landlords or property managers may be more open to negotiating rental prices or lease terms if you’re willing to commit to a longer lease period. This provides them with more stability and reduces the risk of frequent tenant turnover.

  1. How can I ensure my security deposit is properly handled and returned at the end of my lease? 

When moving in, thoroughly document the condition of the property with photos or videos. Keep copies of all communications and agreements related to the security deposit. Upon move-out, request a walkthrough inspection with the landlord or property manager to assess any potential deductions from the deposit.