Investing in real estate in Rwanda as an expat

As someone who works in real estate, one of the questions I often get is, “Do you think buying a house in Kigali makes sense for me as an expat?” My answer to this question has varied over time to the point where the need to reflect on this issue is now at the forefront of my mind.

As someone who works in real estate, one of the questions I often get is, “Do you think buying a house in Kigali makes sense for me as an expat?”

My answer to this question has varied over time to the point where the need to reflect on this issue is now at the forefront of my mind.

 

The one constant in my response to the question of whether an expat should invest in property in Rwanda has been to point out that I am not qualified to provide professional advice on investments. Outside of that, my answer has wavered:

 

I have not lived here long enough to provide a good perspective;

 

My business focuses on rentals, not sales, so I am not as clued into the ownership market;

Rwanda is the most stable African nation at the moment. If Africa is where you want to invest then Rwanda is one of the surest bets;

Kigali is obviously growing, now might be a great time to get into the market;

The Lake Muhazi region seems like such an untapped area. A beautiful home along the lake could be used for the dual purposes of weekend getaway and vacation rental property.

Today though, I can say that my response is more direct. Yes, I think buying property in Kigali makes sense. Rwanda has a history, it is not a secret and it is well documented.

A large number of people lost their lives and the country lost many of its professionals along with its growth and development prospects. But, this is the past. It is now over twenty years later and, unlike most other developing nations in the world, Rwanda has been on an upward trajectory for the last decade or more.

Unlike many other African nations, Rwanda has a plan, it has leadership with a vision and it has processes and systems which do not readily facilitate bribery and corruption.

Similar to nearly every other nation on this planet, Rwanda has a bureaucracy. Yes, that awful snail’s pace, frustrating system which allows civil servants to create fiefdoms and exasperates the rest of us who just want to get on with our lives.

Outside of the bureaucracy, which we all hate, Rwanda functions. It moves along and does so with an efficiency which is the envy of many of its fellow developing nations. No need to bribe someone to clear goods coming into the country, no need to pay hoodlums who want to extort for ‘protecting’ your property.

When one runs a Google search for the considerations to keep in mind when buying a property overseas, there is a myriad number of responses. There is the Huffington Post telling you to consider your choice of apartment versus house; traffic patterns; views from the place as well as city living versus the suburbs.

Then there are the other articles which suggest that you ensure that the following are in place and these include;

Stable governments, relatively stable exchange rates, clean and orderly cities, regular garbage pick-ups, reliable electricity and water supply and available persons to manage the property while you are out of the country.

With this list, Rwanda becomes high on the list of places to invest in real estate. Being considered the best place to do business in East Africa and being in the top five within the continent also certainly helps.

A nation with a plan and a clearly articulated vision brings confidence to potential investors. There is also the fact that with the expansion of RwandAir, Kigali is now a hub city from which to fly to other locations in the region.

This is a consideration if one is looking to buy property to use as a vacation home. If access to Southern Africa as well as West Africa is available then vacationing in Rwanda allows for ease of travel.

What of properties not for vacations but to use for rental income? This is also potentially a good investment. The number of expatriates in Kigali as well as the growing middle class provides a captive group of tenants.

A properly constructed house with a great finish, a good location and the right price will always find a tenant in Kigali. So yes, investing in property in Rwanda is a good idea in 2016.

The writer is the owner and operator of Forrest Jackson Relocation Services

Twitter @NatsCR

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