Hotel rates in South Africa vary according to the time of year, the location and the individual establishment, although you may be able to negotiate rates outside the high season and for long stays. In most rural towns, a single room in a three-star hotel costs from around R330 (€34) and double rooms from R410 (€42) per night. You should expect to pay at least twice as much in a major city, where cheap hotels are sometimes used as permanent accommodation. South Africa’s luxury hotels charge the same high rates as those in London, New York and other expensive cities.
Bed and breakfast accommodation is also available, although it isn’t usually budget accommodation. For budget accommodation (around R140/€15 per night) you need to choose a hostel or residence, which is similar to a hotel but contains self-catering apartments or studios. There are also apartment hotels, listed in the yellow pages and on the internet.
An alternative to renting is to exchange your home abroad with one in South Africa for a period. This way you can experience home living in South Africa free or for a small cost (if you use an agent) and may save yourself the expense of a long-term rental.
Although there’s an element of risk involved in exchanging your home with another family (depending on whether your swap is made in heaven or hell!), most agencies thoroughly vet clients and have a track record of successful swaps.
There are home exchange agencies in most countries, many of which are members of the International Home Exchange Association (IHEA). Home exchange companies in the US include HomeLink International, with over 12,500 members in around 50 countries (Tel. 800-638-384, www.swapnow.com). Two long-established home exchange companies in the UK are HomeLink International, 7 St. Nicholas Rise Headbourne Worthy Winchester SO23 7SY UK (Tel. 01962 886882, www.homelink.org.uk), which publishes a directory of homes and holiday homes for exchange, and Home Base Holidays, 7 Park Avenue, London N13 5PG, UK (Tel. 020-8886 8752, www.homebase-hols.com), which has a representative in South Africa.