Top 10 Tips for Discovering an Affordable Apartment

Finding a suitable apartment on rent in South Africa is never an easy task. However, what is even more daunting is the idea of finding an affordable apartment. This is your plight: On the one hand, you like apartments but they are expensive. On the other hand, you find cheap apartments but they are not worth living in. You are wondering if there’s a middle ground! The good news is: yes, there’s a middle ground. You can find good apartments which are affordable. It’s possible. If you are wondering how, your quest comes to an end with this post. We have put together top 10 tips for finding a cool apartment at an affordable rent. Let’s get started:

1. Define Affordable

This is quite important. The reason is that you need to define exactly what you can afford and then look for an apartment that matches your budget. However, the starting point would be to know precisely what is affordable for you. Now there are various factors at work here. To start with, it’s all about your income. The thumb rule is that you should not spend more than 30% of your salary on rent. The reason is that you will need to spend the rest on regular expenses and other things. If you spend a lot on rent, it will not be possible for you to allocate budget for essential expenses such as grocery, school fees for your children, healthcare, transportation etc. Once you calculate what’s 30% of your salary, you will be able to figure out what affordable means in your context. The next thing is about expenses. It will depend on the city that you choose to live in. If you choose to live in a big city, the expenses would be more. For every small thing, you will need to spend a lot. It means that you will need to allocate higher budget for monthly expenses. Whatever remains is the amount that you can pay for rent. So the remaining amount will precisely define what is affordable to you.

2. Work out Priorities

Since you are trying to get the best possible apartment at a cheap rate, you got to admit that you may not get everything you hoped for in the apartment. You will need to stop hoping for a perfect apartment and start thinking about it more realistically. To start with, list the priorities you have in mind regarding the apartment. For instance, you may be hoping to get the apartment in a particular location because it is closer to your office or your children’s school etc. In the same way, you may be hoping to get a 3 bedroom or 2 bedroom apartment for a variety of family reasons. In this way, you will have a set of things that you want to see in your next dream home. List all the things and then compare the new, prospective apartments against this list. You may not find an exact match for all your priorities. However, if you can get most of your priorities addressed by the new apartment, you can consider selecting it. But it all starts by listing your priorities so that you can compare them with the new apartment and then make a decision. So list all the things you consider non-negotiable and then look for an appropriate apartment that fulfills these criteria. In this way, you will be able to find some or the other apartment in some or the other area that meets your set criteria. Rather than trying to get a perfect apartment, you should focus on getting one that fulfills most of your criteria. This way, you will be able to find something less expensive and yet worth living in.

3. Look elsewhere

At times, people fixate on locations and neighbourhoods. They tend to equate living well to a particular location. They think that if they don’t get a good apartment in a particular neighbourhood, it’s not worth it. Or they just give up after searching for a good apartment at affordable rate in a neighbourhood of their liking. But it’s not a great strategy. You should keep an open mind and look for an apartment in different neighbourhoods. It’s possible that you may find it really expensive to rent an apartment in a location of your choice. However, no city can be expensive across the board. So look elsewhere and find out a neighbourhood you have not yet explored. Focus on such a neighbourhood and try to find a decent apartment at affordable rate in this area. It is possible that you may be able to find a considerably cheaper apartment in a different neighbourhood. Therefore, you should explore the relatively less explored areas and try to search for your new dream home in different neighbourhoods across the city.

4. Explore Developing Areas

While you look elsewhere, you must not forget to explore the new areas which are developing at the moment. It’s difficult to find an apartment at a cheap rate in neighbourhoods which are fully developed and are central to the business and industry in a city. Instead, if you look into areas which are still developing, you will find that it takes a lot of time before such an area becomes overcrowded. There’s a good change that you may be able to find an apartment at cheaper rates. However, you have to make sure that these areas are not too far away from where you work. Moreover, you should take into account safety concerns in the developing areas. If you take care of these concerns, you can definitely find an affordable apartment in the developing areas.

5. Time it to Perfection

At times, people get the timing wrong and that’s why they find it difficult to rent an apartment at an affordable rate. Study the neighbourhood properly and consider the trends of renting. For instance, if you are considering living closer to a university or college, it will not be possible to find an affordable apartment at the time a new academic year or semester commences. So you should explore apartments after student population settles down. Likewise, avoid looking for an apartment during or before festive seasons. Whether it’s Christmas or any other festive occasion, you will find apartment rents quite expensive. So make sure you look for an apartment in a period of lull between festive seasons when nothing is happening. If you can time it to perfection, there is a good chance that you can find out some pretty good apartments at fairly affordable rates.

6. Take Care of Hidden Costs

When you look for an apartment, you will have to consider the hidden costs as well. You might wonder what these hidden costs could be and how much they could be. When it comes to renting an apartment in South Africa, you need to consider every small cost associated with renting an apartment such as gas, electricity, water charges, and Internet connection etc. It may happen that you may just consider the rent and if it does not include these charges, it could take a toll on your budget. Therefore, you should look for an apartment wherein all these charges are included in rent. This will make sure that your budget does not go topsy-turvy because of these charges. If they are not included in the budget, they should at least be reasonable or minimal. You should bargain with your landlord to either reduce the rent or do something about these additional charges. There is a good chance that you will able to save some amount from these additional charges. It means that your budget will not go awry. This will ensure that you will be able to reduce the cost of renting an apartment. In other words, it suddenly becomes a little less expensive for you!

7. Be Flexible

Well, it’s a good thing to list the priorities but it would be a good idea to remain flexible. At times, you can miss out on a good apartment because you rigidly stick to a particular item on your priorities. For instance, let’s say, you are looking for a furnished apartment. A furnished apartment is likely to be more expensive. In certain areas, the rent is likely to be twice as much compared to unfurnished apartments. So if you rigidly stick to this and look for only furnished apartments which are affordable, it may not be possible to find one. On the other hand, if you remain flexible and keep an open mind, you may be willing to explore even the unfurnished apartments. You might able to spot an opportunity in renting an unfurnished apartment at a considerably lower cost and seize it too. Likewise, you may have your list of other such priorities and set criteria but you would do well to remain flexible about them as well. This will enable you to find and grab opportunities that you would otherwise miss if you remain too rigid about your priorities. So remain flexible and adjust a little and see how your prospects of finding an affordable apartment change overnight!

8. Negotiate

Don’t you negotiate for everything in your life and work? Consider this scenario: your boss gives you a deadline for a task and you shrewdly negotiate by stating how it is difficult and how he needs to give you a little more time. There’s a lot that you can manage if you have the requisite negotiation skills Likewise, it applies to rent an apartment as well. A lot of people don’t know how to negotiate regarding rent and end up paying higher rent. There’s no reason to believe that you have to accept the rent that the landlord proposes to you. You can always bargain and negotiate in order to get some sort of relaxation either in rent or utilities or something else. It may not be easy to convince the landlord but if you do some background research, you will find a convincing argument as to why the rent should be lower. Negotiation could be a minor but important factor in getting an apartment at an affordable rate. So learn to negotiate and get an apartment at affordable rent.

9. Join Facebook Housing Groups

As most people use social media sites such as Facebook, it’s natural that they will use it to communicate all kinds of information including the bit about apartments available on rent. If you are on Facebook, you can explore social media sites and find relatively affordable apartments in South Africa. There are some dedicated Facebook groups on housing which you can join. These groups contain posts and news regarding apartments available on rent in South Africa. The best part is that you get all the information without any charges. You don’t have to make special efforts as you check your Facebook anyway. While you log in, you can just explore Facebook for information regarding apartments on rent. You can explore not just Facebook but also a few other social media sites for getting useful information on apartments on rent. This could very well turn out to be the key to finding affordable apartment that you are looking for!

10. Search Online

Businesses have gone online and users also explore different products and services online. What makes you think that you cannot find affordable apartments online? All you got to do is search online and explore. You will be surprised by what you will find there. There are various sites where you would find apartment listings that you can explore. The good thing about technology is that you can customize according to your needs. So you can go to these different sites which serve as a sort of search engines for apartments on rent. You can enter your query based on different parameters such as rent, location, number of rooms etc. This is different from an ad in the newspaper that you see. In the case of an ad, you have nothing else to compare with. In the case of such a website, you can compare the rent of similar apartments in different locations and see how apartments are available at comparatively affordable rate in certain areas. However, you need to find the right kind of websites in order to access the accurate and real-time information. So take your search for affordable apartment online and find amazing apartments at cheap rates!


Finding an affordable apartment in South Africa can be quite challenging. However, if you analyze the rental market in South Africa and use the right strategies in these different ways, you can surely find an apartment at affordable rate. These tips will help you navigate the rental market and enable you to identify the right sort of renting opportunities. In spite of all the odds, you will be able to discover a decent apartment if you explore these tips and implement a few of these ideas. In any given rental market, it is never easy to find an affordable apartment. However, if you follow some of these tried and tested tips and tricks, it would be possible for you to find your dream home sooner! So explore these tips and find the affordable apartment that you are looking for!