One of my favourite quote in Real Estate is by Willam Penn Adair. He says, “Find out where the people are going and buy the land before they get there.”
This quote resonates with me in so many ways and inspires my constant admonishing of clients, especially the middle class and below to consider acquiring properties outside of the main city centres like Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi and consider the outskirts and suburban areas.
The reason is that these areas are the future of the country and of the real estate boom. Today they may seem unattractive as compared to the big cities, but tomorrow they will become as valuable as the prime properties in the city centres of today.
Let’s face it, the very ideal properties in the city centres today are actually for very high-income earners and big investors because they can afford them and more importantly, maintain them.
So do not be worried when you hear about the huge cost of the properties in Accra, Kumasi, and Takoradi. Because the sub-urban constitutes a larger portion of the housing deficit in housing and industrial Real Estate in Ghana.
The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) projected about six years back that Ghana’s housing deficit will hit about two million even before 2020. The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Real Estates Developers Association (GREDA), Mr. Samuel Amegayibor, in an interview with Business Day Ghana in 2017 believed the figure of the GSS is modest. He projected the housing deficit for 2020 to be about 5.7 million.
He went on to add that the country will have to construct over 100,000 units annually to reduce the deficit to acceptable proportions.
This deficit is not just for city dwellers, but largely for sub-urban areas where there is potential for expansion unlike the major cities that are already congested.
To this end, believe me when I tell you that it is a good decision to plan your life; irrespective of which stage of life you are in; with the consideration of settling or acquiring properties out of the cities now, before it is too late.
About two decades ago, areas like Malam, Weija, Kasoa, Krokrobite etc towards Central Region; Adenta; Oyibi, Oyarifa, Teiman towards, Eastern region; Mataheko, Gbetsile, Afienya, Community 20 to 25 and Dawhenya towards Volta Region used to be outskirts of Major cities, but today they have almost become cities.
At the time, people were acquiring land there, it looked undesirable, but today properties in those areas are very costly. Even if you do not want to go to other regional capitals and districts, you can lurk around the outskirts of the major cities to take advantage of the two worlds; city and sub-urban.
Do not also discount the potential of other regional capitals and district capitals that are moving towards serious urbanisation; like Koforidua, Ho, Sunyani, Nkawkaw, Dodowa, Akropong, Nsawam, etc.
Properties in these areas have the propensity to appreciate in value in a short time as the area expands towards urbanisation.
Below is why you should consider acquiring properties outside major cities now and wait for the others like a boss.
All over the world, properties in the cities are much expensive than those far from the cities. For instance, an average two-bedroom apartment cramped in the busy city areas of Dzorwulu will cost more than a spacious three-bedroom house in a sub-urban area like Teiman or Oyibi. A space which is better to raise a family and build a more comfortable future as compared to the craziness that city life brings.
City properties are more desirable and so, irrespective of the cost and quality, their prices are higher than sub-urban areas. It is for this reason that more and more people are looking to not only rent properties in the suburbs and outskirts but also acquire them for the foreseeable future.
As a Real Estate Consultant and Developer, I always advise that even if you have a property in the city or can afford a city property; still invest in a property outside the city. It should not just be in your hometown, but other emerging sub-urban areas because the returns are worth it.
When we were growing up there was this sense of communal experience that was so priceless that shaped socialisation and interactions in a way that major cities are unable to provide.
This communal experience is what you find in a ‘proper community’; in the sense of the word. So, when acquiring or building a property, make sure that the first rule of Real Estate guides you; “Location, location, location.” – Harold Samuel
If the craziness of the city life is having a toll on you, you can imagine what impact it will have on your children. So, having the children grow in a quiet, calm , and serene community beats the craziness and hectic life that one experiences in city centres.
More so, sub-urban communities provide the opportunity for children to play and socialize with their friends and neighbours more personally and easily with less risk.
Contrary to fears that sub-urban areas may not have good schools and other amenities; it is becoming evident that more schools are moving in sub-urban areas to get bigger land to be able to provide more services to children.
Traffic congestion is one major headache of city dwellers. Spending hours over a journey of less than an hour because one is stuck in a traffic jam is a major turn off. The air pollution, the rage, the wear and tear, fatigue among others make the city a very difficult place to stay apart from the cost of acquiring property there.
It is true that acquiring a property in the sub-urban area may mean longer travel to work, especially for those who work in the city. However, the traffic stress makes it worthwhile to live further from the city.
The point is that you may only endure the traffic for work commutes only, as compared to another who will endure the traffic almost anywhere and every day because they live within the city. The simplest errands and activities will have to be a fight for space and time. Thereby leading to fatigue and stress all day and every day.
Whereas a sub-urban dweller will have all the errands done in a more relax and easily accessible environment.
Fortunately, Ghana’s decentralisation program is ensuring that more and more amenities and key services are in the sub-urban areas. So, we have more district hospitals and private hospitals today than a decade ago.
The same applies to schools and even markets and grocery shops. Real Estate Developers are also building what we call complete neighborhoods, and so people who move out of the city have access to amenities and services even at walking distances.
Serenity and Fresh Air:
A combination of congestion, traffic jams, vehicular fumes, industries and commercial emissions among others affect the quality of air around the city dwellers.
As the medical and environmental experts will say, poor air quality is a health risk factor that kills slowly. No matter how you put it, crowded cities always generated poor air quality which residents inhale into their lungs on a daily basis.
Health economists also say it is cheaper to live healthily and have a preventive health lifestyle than a curative one. To this end, it only makes sense to consider moving outside the city to guarantee unlimited access to quality air, thus fresh air for one’s self and family than to be stuck in the city centres where air quality is deficient.
Congested communities; which is usually the case for cities; are prone to flooding. Here, I am referring to Ghana. Accra, for instance, is so overpopulated that, it affects so many things including the right of way for water bodies.
Activities like, building in waterways, choked drainages, poor planning, indiscipline among others facilities perennial flooding. This can lead to loss of property and even lives.
On the contrary, living in sub-urban areas spares one the danger of floods. This is because such areas are not congested, pollution and bad human practices are minimal. Waste, sanitation, and other environmental issues are easier to manage by the local assemblies. Hence your property is well protected from the effects of flooding.
I could go on and on about why one should consider acquiring properties outside of the busy city centres.
However, I believe the few tips above are enough to guide you to make the best decision. Irrespective of your decision, always note that acquiring a property is very important for the survival and progress of your family.
As Robert Kiyosaki puts it; “Real estate investing, even on a very small scale, remains a tried and true means of building an individual’s cash flow and wealth.”
So, it is not just about the convenience in living outside the city, but also the quality it brings to your economic situation. So, do not just acquire the property, but acquire the right property, because when you make a bad choice even in a sub-urban property, you will not escape the consequences.
That is why whatever you do, talk to your Real Estate broker or developer to provide some counsel. You can talk to CBC Properties Limited or talk to a surveyor and ensure you go through the right processes to be able to enjoy your property in peace and not in pieces.
The writer is the CEO of CBC Properties Limited, a member of Ghana Association of Real Estate Brokers (GAR) and Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA); Email: [email protected] Cell: +233-20-422-5002