The cost of living in South Africa: Your ultimate guide (2018 Update)

cost of living in south africaThe cost of living in South Africa is a main concern for many of our clients. It’s not surprising. Anyone who is considering emigration wants to know that they’ll be able to maintain – or better – their lifestyle.

The good news is that we’ve done all the research for you. It’s all right here. All you have to do is read this article to the end to know how much you’re likely earn and how much:

  • Housing;
  • Utilities;
  • Transport and
  • Groceries are on average in South Africa.

Let’s start with salaries:


Your salary will depend on your industry, qualifications and experience. To get an idea of average salaries in South Africa, do a search on PayScale for your occupation.


You have two options when choosing a home – renting or buying. Many expats choose to rent a place while looking for somewhere to buy, so let’s explore rental prices first.


Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban are South Africa’s largest cities. The average rental prices in each city are:

Cape Town Johannesburg Pretoria Durban
1-bedroom apartment in city centre R10 694 R6 972 R4 777 R4 680
1-bedroom apartment outside of city centre R6 952 R5 462 R4 553 R5 060
3-bedroom apartment in city centre R21 667 R14 096 R8 501 R8 464
3-bedroom apartment outside of city centre R13 782 R10 763 R10 033 R10 269

You can explore specific areas in each city, or other areas around South Africa, on any of South Africa’s big property sites, such as Property24 and IOLProperty.


John Loos, a household and property strategist at FNB, said in a recent interview that property agents expect average house prices to increase by 3.9% in 2018. In 2017, average house prices in South Africa ranged from R503 305 to R2 892 000.

To do suburb-level research, it’s easiest to again turn to the likes of Property24.

At the moment, Property24 is showing average house prices in South Africa’s four biggest cities as follows:

City Average House Price (as at end February 2018)
Cape Town R9 059 041
Johannesburg R2 789 979
Pretoria R2 094 306
Durban R2 609 105

Heed the hidden costs

Buying a house involves many hidden costs. In South Africa these are:

  • Bond registration costs and a bank initiation fee, but only if you’re using a bond (mortgage).
  • Taxes and bank charges, if you’re transferring money into South Africa for the transaction.
  • Attorney fees.
  • Transfer costs, deeds office fees, posts and petty costs.


The main utilities for any home would be water and electricity. Of course an internet connection is also considered essential in this day and age.


Water charges in South Africa is anything but straightforward.

Residents are charged on a sliding scale per kilolitre (1000 litres) – the more you use, the more you pay – and tariffs are further influenced by a property’s value. To add to the complexity, charges are not standard across the country:

The focus in South Africa has definitely shifted towards using less water though. The country has been gripped by droughts. Cape Town has been hit hardest recently and has implemented severe water restrictions.


Electricity prices, just like water prices, are calculated on a sliding scale. Another similarity is that electricity charges vary from city to city:

Gas is not widely used in South Africa. You would most likely have to install gas appliances in your home if you prefer gas to electricity. Shop around for gas products on The Gas Company and Afrox.

Some major retailers and brands also stock gas appliances in South Africa. Try Game as well as Smeg.


South Africa offers a wide selection of internet service providers, each with its own price and service offerings.

Some of the prominent ISPs are:

You can find a complete list of South African ISPs here.


South Africa has a public transport system but it is not as developed, or reliable, as its European counterparts. As such, many South Africans choose to drive where they need to be.

New or used cars are easy to find. There are hundreds of dealerships countrywide as well as many online autotraders.

Here are a couple of prices for new cars to start your research with:

  • Hyundai Grand i10 – From R149 900
  • Honda Jazz – From R211 900
  • Kia Rio Sedan – From R224 995
  • Ford Focus – From R256 300
  • Alfa Romeo Gulietta – From R319 900
  • Audi A3 Sedan – From R459 900

What about insurance and fuel?

South African drivers are covered by third party insurance as part of the Road Accident Fund (RAF). The RAF does not however cover all claims that may arise as the results of an accident. It is thus advisable to take out a comprehensive auto insurance policy.

You can shop around for insurance providers on The site also has a car insurance guide to help you make sense of auto insurance in South Africa.

As for fuel, you can stay up to date on prices by checking the AA’s site regularly. The current wholesale prices of petrol and diesel are:

Reef Price Litre Coast Price Litre
Unleaded 93 R 13.90 R 13.49
Unleaded 95 R 14.12 R 13.63
LRP (Lead Replacement Petrol) R 13.90 R 13.63
Diesel R 12.60 R 12.21

Please note: The price per litre at fuel stations may vary slightly.


Numbeo is a great site to check average grocery prices in South Africa. You’ll find prices for all kinds of items, from eggs, cheese and chicken breasts to milk, beef and tomatoes.

The site let’s you search South Africa and allows you to also search by city or do city comparisons.

Here’s a bonus tip on the cost of living in South Africa

Use PriceCheck to compare prices of computers, appliances, phones, furniture, and much more to delve deeper into the cost of living in South Africa.

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