Houses: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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When it comes to making the decision on whether to rent or buy a house, there are many things to consider. More often than not it’s a financial matter and buying is not always a realistic prospect. Renting for life has always been a popular choice in Europe, and while the South African approach usually leans in favour of acquiring a house as your very own, many are now opting for the rental option for more than just money reasons. 

Renting also offers more flexibility and the ability to move around more freely. Buying however, is obviously an investment and ideally the money you spend will come back to you eventually. There are pros and cons on both sides of the argument, but the good news is that either way you can craft a beautiful and livable home. 

Renting a House

Why should I rent a house/apartment? Some people are forced to rent for the entire lives even though they might actually want to buy a house or apartment, for others it’s a matter of choice. There are many attractions to the rental life and while you don’t get a return from your investment (other than a beautiful home to live in) you can actually end up spending less that you would if you purchased a home. There are no interest rates on your rent—well, not directly. Renting also gives you more freedom to move, so if you’re not the type to settle down in one street, town, city or country, buying could be counterproductive for you.   

Why should I not rent a house/apartment? Renting in South Africa is not that cheap. If you want to invest your money into something that will benefit you in the long run, buying is probably the best approach for you. Of course, you need to have the money in the first place but if you do, you should definitely consider which approach is better. The average one-bedroom apartment in a city centre in South Africa costs R5,749.17 per month, if you want three bedrooms you’re looking at R11,819.93. You get a bit more for your buck once you’re in the suburbs, with a one-bedroom setting you back R4,681.31 and a three-bedroom R9,517.83. If investing is your goal, it’s all about buying.   

Buying a House 

Why should I buy a house/apartment? As we stated above, buying comes with a lot of benefits if it’s the lifestyle you’re looking for. As long as you don’t extend yourself beyond your means and invest a whole lots more Rand that you’ve actually got, you can have a sense of security that you won’t lose your home, that you’ve got an investment for yourself or your children later in life and that you can make any modifications you wish without having to worry about owner permission. 

Buying a house or apartment in South Africa can actually be quite expensive, but if you’ve already got a little bit or money or are willing to get a (sensible) loan then it’s certainly doable, you just have to be flexible regarding exactly where you choose to settle. The average price per square metre in a city-centre in South African cities is R13,771.53, just a little bit higher than the average monthly rental cost. The average price in the suburbs is R10,376.51. So if you buy and then rent your home out immediately, you’ll be on your way to paying it off significantly faster.   

Why should I not buy a house/apartment? If you want the freedom to move around, you don’t want to wait decades for an investment to pay off or you simply aren’t attracted to the idea of being in debt to the bank, then buying a house might not be for you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t craft a home however, with rentals being a sustainable and Rand-friendly option in many parts of South Africa. Cape Town and Johannesburg prices might be a bit out of control, but Pretoria and Durban are still pretty reasonable.   

Building a House

Why should I build a house? In South Africa, we are blessed by the fact that our country is expansive, beautiful and full of land perfect for homes. Whether you want to live in a tightly-knit city, on the beach, on an expansive property or somewhere in between all three, our stunning landscapes offer solutions for all tastes. 

Building also allows you to tailor everything to your specific tastes, save money on material costs and and ensure that everything is built to the best possible standard. With plenty of modular and prefabricated options in all major cities (Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban), you can also mix and match regarding how much you design yourself and how much is “ready bought,” so to say.   

Why should I not build a house? The process of building a house can be an ongoing, expensive and difficult one. If you aren’t experienced and have no idea where to start, you’ll likely run into a lot of road stops. So, if you don’t have the patience for the entire undertaking, it could be better and ultimately more affordable to stick to.    

What should I consider when moving into a new home?

The actual move: Depending on how far you are moving and what exactly you have to move, you might like to consider contacting local moving companies and shopping around to get a good rate. If you don’t have much to move, hiring a van and doing it yourself with a couple of mates probably the most affordable option. Get ready to sweat, especially if you’re doing the move in summer! 

What to take: Regardless of the actual season in which your move will take place, there’s no better time for a “spring clean”. This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of clutter and unnecessary items in the house (we recommend donation or recycling) and prepare for a fresh start in your new abode. It’s this simple—if you don’t use it, don’t keep it.   

Be prepared: Make sure you do your research and check everything that needs to be done before you move—both at your old home and the new one. You’ll probably need to make arrangements regarding electricity, gas, water, internet and various other utilities. Also make sure you change your address everywhere necessary… we all know how annoying it is when mail turns up at the wrong address.   

How big should the house be? 

How many rooms? This strictly depends on how big your family is and exactly what you need to do from home. If you’ve got kids, you’ll probably want extra rooms for them. If you regularly have guests coming to stay, you’ll likely want to invest in a spare room. If you work from home, you’ll need a home office or at least an area carved out where you can comfortably work. If you’re keeping it simple and laid back, you might only need two rooms. Take a look at your needs and work out exactly what size suits you best.   

Which rooms are necessary? This again depends on your specific requirements but generally speaking, the only rooms necessary are a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. If you’ve got more space to work with and more money to spend, you might also like to have a laundry, home office, spare bedroom, balcony, indoor garden or games room. If you’ve got less than two children, you might be able to manage with just one room for them to share, but if you’ve got more than three you’ll probably need at least two bedrooms for them plus one for you. If your parents or grandparents will also be living with you, or staying regularly, it’s definitely necessary to have a comfortable space in which they can stay. If you happen to have a big enough backyard, you might even like to build a granny-flat or extension for them.   

Which style should I choose? This is all about personal preference, so your best bet is to take a look at examples from all styles and see what suits your taste and price range best. In terms of the interior and the exterior, the five key styles, broadly speaking, are modern, country, classic, Scandinavian and rustic. Modern homes stick to on-trend styles and the latest architectural developments, often featuring clean lines and bold colours. 

Country style houses have the timeless charm we’re all familiar with gable roofs and a colonial look. Classic homes are similar but are usually a bit bigger, featuring several stories and pillars on the exterior. A Scandinavian or Nordic look will comprise plenty of white finishes, minimal furniture and light coloured wood tones, while rustic is usually made up of earthier wooden tones, brick, wooden beam ceilings and antique pieces. 

In conclusion, when it comes to renting, buying or acquiring your new home there are many elements to consider and many things that you need to take into account. At the end of the day, it’s all about determining what you want, what is possible for you, what you can truly afford and how you intend to plan for the future.