Relocating to a New Town: Should You Rent or Buy?

How to decide whether you should rent or buy when relocating to a new area.

Relocation is a common occurrence in a world where humanity is in constant pursuit of new career and business opportunities, security, a better environment, education opportunities, new experiences and possibly, new love interests. Moving to a new town is one of the hardest things to do. Uprooting your life and starting another one comes with a mixture of feelings: part of you might feel optimism for opening a new chapter in your life while another part of you may feel anxious because of the uncertainty that’s to come. Regardless of whether you get a job in a new place or just need a change, there comes a time when you have no choice but to relocate.

One of the most difficult tasks in this process is securing affordable, secure and suitable accommodation for yourself and possibly family members. Before you even decide whether to rent or buy, there are some key factors worth considering.

Things to consider before you rent or buy


In a country like South Africa with such high crime levels, security is everything. The last thing you want to lose is your life and possessions. Check out the crime stats in the area and possible security measures as well as resources available in a particular neighbourhood.

Budget and Affordability

It’s always a good idea to look into a residential area that falls within your allocated budget. You’ll find that areas with more amenities tend to be more expensive. Determine your needs and priorities then compare them within you budget.

The Purpose

The property that would make a perfect home for an independence-seeking recent graduate who is planning to enjoy bachelorhood and solitude for a while is not a choice that would likely be considered by a family man who is looking for a better home for his loved ones or even newly-weds looking for their perfect home.


The length of time it takes you to get to work or back home can be a determining factor in your decision to move to a new home. Some residential areas offer a nearby reliable network of public transportation. You might want to consider buying a home there, even if you own a car.


Nearby healthcare facilities are always an important factor to consider when looking for your perfect home. Choose an area with a reliable and nearby hospital, polyclinic or healthcare centre as this will ensure you can get immediate help in case of emergencies.

Shopping facilities and other amenities

Its not always possible to find a home which is a stone’s throw away from shopping facilities but its always important to have convenience when it comes to shopping facilities. Find a home not very far from shopping facilities and other social amenities.

Should you buy or rent?

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, however, property experts suggest renting for a few months before buying a house in a new city. This is based on the reasons outlined below:

• Being an informed buyer means knowing the market or inventory of houses and the intricacies of different neighbourhoods. Buying real estate is not only a huge investment; it’s a commitment to the home and the area. You can’t be an informed buyer unless you’ve spent some time exploring the neighbourhoods. Take some reasonable time to learn the different parts of town and the characteristics of the various neighbourhoods. Each week, explore a new restaurant in a different part of town. Go for a walk or do your grocery shopping in another. Also, take time to learn about city politics and government.

• Imagine buying a home not long after you hit town, only to discover in six months that you hate your new job and your former employer wants you back. Or, you’ve received an offer for an even better job in the metro area, but it requires commuting by freeway, and you’ve bought a home in a part of town that’s as far from the freeway. And there you are, stuck with a new mortgage and a home that won’t be easy to unload.

• Moving is never easy. Too much change at once is hard to deal with, and focusing your energies on finding a home to buy leads to additional stress and anxiety. It’s easy to make a bad purchasing decision under stress. On the other hand, renting a home can give you flexibility, simplicity and clarity of mind to make a decision. The stakes are so much lower, because you know that wherever you chose to live is only temporary. And after your lease is up, you can likely rent month-to-month.

Buying or renting therefore comes down to giving yourself the time to get grounded in your new life by renting a home or apartment instead of buying, so that you’ve got the flexibility to make adjustments you hadn’t anticipated. Give yourself a chance to test the water, get a feel of the city, and find the perfect place to call your home.