Finding a place to live can be incredibly stressful, especially, in Dar es Salaam, where the affordable housing options are incredibly limited. Moreover, housing laws favor the ‘landlord’, and often you have to pay six months to a full year’s rent before you even move in. So, many would agree, ‘the struggle is so real’ when it comes to renting in ‘Dar’!
However despite the challenges, according to a study by Shelter Afrique, over 60% of people living in Dar es Salaam are renters. People rent because they:
- Moved from other regions to go to university or for a job
- Want independence from parents
- Need to be closer to work
Regardless of the reason, the majority of people in Dar are renters – this is true for many other cities in Tanzania. So, whether it’s your first time or you have years of experience, these tips will help you find a house for rent.
1. Set a budget
The first question you need to ask yourself is, can you afford to rent?
We can all get carried away by dreams of how we will design our new apartment, and the parties we will throw. But the first thing you need to do is set a budget, and save for your new place.
Remember, it is common practice to have to pay at least 6 months rent upfront. You also should consider the costs of moving, if you have to buy furniture, pay for water and electricity etc.
2. Decide what is most important to you
Once again, don’t get carried away with dreams of painting the walls red and having 100 guests at your new crib. Instead, think of the things that are most important to you.
Before you start your search, write a list of the essential things you need in your potential apartment or house.
- 2 bedrooms
- 1 master bathroom, and 1 guest bathroom
- A kitchen with a working oven
- A living room space
- Parking space
- Installed running water and lights
- The neighborhood should be close to supermarket?
Identifying the key things that will help you live a comfortable life, will keep you focused during your search.
3. Pick locations
Your budget will dictate where you can live.
While you may have pre-conceived notions of certain neighborhoods, be open-minded. Big cities like Dar es Salaam have more locations that suit your needs than you may expect. Often, people end up paying more money to live in a more popular area, but have the same standard of living as they would have in a lesser known area.
So, use online classifieds like ZoomTanzania’s real estate section to get an idea of the market price for different locations and expand your location options.
While many people choose to find homes on their own, there are many added benefits of using a real estate agent.
For one, they’ll have greater knowledge of market prices and can introduce you to more areas that you were not aware off.
They’ll also save you time and stress, as it’s their job to find and assess houses – so you don’t have to.
5. Be flexible
Situations may arise that may require you to makes some challenging decisions.
Maybe you or your real estate agent has found a place that has 74% of the things you are looking for. Is it still worth taking a look at?
Or maybe they found 100% of the things but the asking price is a bit higher, ask yourself, can you afford it in the long term?
Or sometimes you may realize that for your budget you can’t get half of what you are looking for, but you may be able to if you move in with someone else. Is a housemate a deal breaker?
Be prepared for unexpected decisions, and be flexible without compromising the core needs you have: to rent and be relatively comfortable.
6. Be proactive
Even if you have a real estate agent, don’t stop your own search efforts.
For instance, ZoomTanzania allows you to create alerts that notify you via email when there are new posts related to your housing search on the site (an apartment in the area and price range you want).
Additionally, word of mouth is old an school but still effective way of finding things. Let friends and family know you are looking. Also, put the word out on social media.
7. Ask questions over the phone
Once you start finding potential homes, before you make the trip to go see the house for rent, have a preliminary conversation with the owner over the phone. This is a way to tell if the person is sincere, and you can also figure out if there are any deal breakers before you waste your time visiting the place.
8. Visit the apartment
Once the potential landlord has passed the phone interview, set up a time to go and see the place with your real estate agent and a friend. Don’t rely solely on the recommendation of the real estate agent. Formulate your own opinion, but also get a third party, who cares about your well-being to weigh in on the matter.
Once again, this is a time to ask lots of questions. For instance, ask ‘what the neighbors are like?’. Because, if you are young person with a vibrant social life, maybe a quiet neighborhood filled with families isn’t for you. You don’t want to get noise complaints, or be restrained by having to keep your lifestyle PG 13.
Unless you are moving into an apartment complex with fixed rates, many landlords with private residences set renting prices at least 10% above what they are willing to get. So negotiate your rent price down. If you are using a real estate agent, tell them the price you are willing to pay, and let them do the talking.
10. Cover your paper trail
Unfortunately, scams are commonplace in Tanzania, so make sure you have all agreements recorded on paper (have copies) and signed by both parties. Once again, don’t pay any rent without a documented agreement.
Before you sign a lease, read it carefully. To be on the safe side, look up Tanzania renting laws to learn about your rights and what you should or shouldn’t agree to.
Comfort is key.
At the end of the day, we all want to come back to a home that we feel comfortable in. This is what you should have in mind as you are searching for places to stay. Whether you rent a house or apartment, you will spend a significant amount of time there. And while it may not be everything you want, following these renting tips will ensure it’s what you need.