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I’ve already written two articles on owning your home vs. renting it. Here’s one and here’s the other.

But now we have a new take on the subject.

We sold our house about 5 years ago and have rented on an annual basis ever since. The result is that we are now living in our 5th rented property, a beautiful house in Knysna. Our garden flows into a forest and because the trees are on a steep downward slope, we look over them to the lagoon and, further away, the Outeniqua mountains. Paradise!

However, there are three downsides to this lifestyle.

  • Every year, starting about 2 months before our lease expires, Helen goes through hell looking for the next place to live. There are lots of rentals available, but very few that are what we look for. We only found this one after we’d extended our other lease by a month and put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad, which said what rental we were prepared to pay, persuaded the owners to move into a retirement unit that they owned and use our rent to take frequent holidays. They’re happy, we’re happy. But by April next year the whole problem starts again (we are adamant that we will keep moving, because we want variety and new experiences).
  • The search is made worse by the fact that Knysna is a holiday destination and most of the best properties are owned by foreigners who want to fly South every summer and are not prepared to let their property over December through January.
  • The other downside is that these upmarket rentals are hellishly expensive. Plus we have to pay for water, electricity and garden service.

Helen came up with a brainwave –

  • Next year, we are going to put most of our stuff in storage and rent AirBnB on a monthly basis.
  • We’ve already rented the storage (because it is in very short supply) and a single garage size only costs R1 250 a month.
  • If you rent AirBnB for a month you get huge discounts. For a modern 3 bedroom house, we’ll save about 1/3rd of our rental and won’t have to pay for water, electricity and garden service.
  • We can book a place for 2 weeks time (I’ve tested it), so no last minute scrambles.
  • In season the Knysna AirBnB prices go through the sky, so we’ll go somewhere else. Johannesburg looks like a good bet. Jo’burgers all head off to Durban, Plett, Knysna etc, so the AirBnB prices drop through the floor and the weather is great!

This looks like the final step to freedom. With this idea, we can live just about anywhere in the world and if we don’t like somewhere, we can move on. If we like it, we’ll stay another month.


  1. Merek Svacha

    A super way to look at it.
    A friend of mine ( English French National) has a 3-year contract in Reunion and has opted for a long-term Airbnb for a year at a time. Works out quite cost-effective.
    Their last contact was in JHB ( 5 years) and they bought a house but now the hassle of selling it and no water and lights issues no repair issues!
    I however looked at renting my place out on the farm to townies while I go off to rent monthly Airbnb abroad for 3 months at a time!
    The old saying ‘”The benefit of use without the burden of ownership” speaks to this for me.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hey Merek. And I thought Helen and I were unique! Maybe it’s because we almost have the same name that we also think alike?
      And by the way, we love Reunion. A little piece of France, and so accessible to us South Africans.

  2. Hey, Derek, great thinking there, and a very exciting lifestyle, but surely only for the very brave, insatiable traveller! Some of us still need a place to call home.

    1. Hi again Fred,
      You know the saying “Home is where your heart is” and we always say, “You take yourself wherever you go”, so you take you heart also.
      But it does take a major mind-shift and it’s difficult to get rid of all the stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years, like special books, and, in Helen’s case, loads of very special fabrics that she collected when she was heavily in to sewing. Hospice has done well out of us!
      And by the way, you don’t have to be a traveller. Our first three moves were to Rosebank, then Rosebank, then Morningside (which is right next to Rosebank). Then to Knysna and then to Knysna. We don’t necessarily change towns, or suburbs, just dwellings, although Franschhoek is calling.

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