Where do I build that dream house?

Photo: Sophia Kafui Teye is the author of the following books: Start Right: A Guide to Financial Investments in Ghana, and other books

Typically, in Africa, a house is one of the major properties that parents leave for their children when they die. People actually arrive at the conclusion that a man has lived his life well when he owns his own house and has other properties to his credit. A house is important because it provides us with shelter to the family and it can be rented out to generate rental income.

This article seeks to comment on some common trend in typical African settings when the man owns just one house and is not well resourced to build an additional house in the city where he lives and work and another one in his hometown. This article does not consider people who are well resourced to build multiple houses at any location of their choice. It also seeks to make some recommendations on how people can plan their family life to make life easy for themselves during retirement and how their dependents can live comfortably when they pass on to eternity.

What the case used to be

Several years back when government workers used to live in government bungalows, they enjoy all the basic amenities to life and they may forget the need to build their own house. The desire to build one’s own house becomes really paramount when they are approaching retirement. This is because reality begins to dawn on them that they would be vacating a place they have long called a home.

Some of these people may not have acquired any land in the city or town where they are living and working. They then may decide to and start a building project in their village because the land in the village is free. Some of these people actually start the foundation to their building and pause because they have run out of cash.

When they eventually retire they take their lump sum funds and then invest the entire amount in their building. Some even take up contract at their work places so they can buy time to finish the building projects they have started in their village. Some actually finish the building and relocate to their villages because the cost of living there is lower compared to the city and they may build some shop for their wife to sell and then the man may engage in some backyard farming.

In some unfortunate cases too, the man may not finish the build but dies shortly after. Right after the funeral, it becomes challenging for the family to relocate to the village because the children may be in school or may be working in the city. It even becomes worst if the surviving spouse is not from the man’s hometown. The family may fight her and even accuse her of probably killing her husband etc.

The trend now

So much awareness has been created on how people can retire comfortably when they start to plan their retirement early. So many young people have increased desires to own houses in the cities where they work. This has been made possible because of the exorbitant rent that tenants pay to their land lords in the city.

Some companies actually buy huge parcels of lands and sell to their staff at concessionary rates and they pay over a long period of time. This has made it possible for them to own homes before retirement.

Another good thing that is making it for people to own and live in their dream homes before retirement is the availability of mortgages for people to access. They three tier pension scheme is also playing a good role in this regard. Staff of companies that have tier three funds can access them in the tenth year without penalties and this money is huge enough to make them acquire a land and start working on their primary residence.

What is recommended when a person can afford to own just one house?

It would be great for such a person to build their primary residence at where they currently live and work because their children and spouse have lived their entire life there. They children may even be schooling in the city. So when they eventually have to move to the village where they may not have access to quality affordable education and for their children that may be of age would have less employment opportunities in the village than in the city.

Even if the person in question is not from a typical village where there are no social amenities but they can have access to everything they have in the city, then it is worth considering. It is would be great for couples to thoroughly discuss issues around where to locate their primary residence for them to weigh the pros and cons before they do.

Personally, I would prefer building first in the city before the hometown because house in the city has much more value than the same building in the village. In the city, it can be rented and income from it come be used by the landlord as a supplementary income when they retire. It provides a place for the children and surviving spouse to live comfortably when the other spouse passes on.


It is good to own a house but the location is key. Decision on where to locate that house should be taken with a long term view in mind. Consider the effect of the choice of locating that house on your children, spouse and yourself at retirement.

If all your friends are in a location and even the church you have long served with is where you are now, how would life be for you at retirement when you have to move to your village because that is where your building is.

Think about and make that choice that would be in your best interest and that of your family.

By all means, build! But choose your location wisely.

>>>The writer holds a BSc, MBA, GSE Cert. and is a student member of CA Ghana. She is also the Author of the under listed books;

  • Start Right: A Guide to Financial Investments in Ghana
  • Overcoming Infertility: What to do When Childbirth Delays
  • Contemporary Parenting
  • Stepping up Your Life

Email Address: [email protected]

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of the organization she works for.

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