This is the Rent or Buy Calculator. I found an awesome developer who has helped me put it together – and basically, we’re trying to give you a South African version of the American Buy V Rent Calculator that you can find over at the New York Times.

[Disclaimer: I do try and keep the background calculations here as up to date as possible, for changes in tax code, etc. But do bear in mind that this is just a tool, not a rule. So please don’t send me emails to say that you bought a townhouse on the back of this calculator, and now you’re suing me because you think the calculations are wrong, or because the post didn’t mention the downside of noisy neighbours and interfering Body Corporates. At your own risk, folks – at your own risk!]

How it works

There are so many variables that affect your decision to buy a house. There’s the price of the house, the mortgage, interest rates, insurances, renovations, transfer fees, capital appreciation rates – the list goes on and on. And because there are so many unknowns, it’s almost impossible to try and work out whether or not you shouldn’t just rent instead.

And this problem gets worse when you try to think about more difficult questions like “How long am I going to stay in the house?” and “But what if I did something different with the money – what impact would that have?”

So we’re here to help.

What this calculator does: it takes you through a list of all the big questions of home ownership, and it calculates the monthly rental you’d have to be paying before it makes more sense to rather buy the place.

And what we like most: the monthly rental cost will shift as you change your answers. So if you wanted to see the impact of a change in the size of your downpayment, you can!

Here goes…