Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban are South Africa’s largest cities. These four cities are also the most popular with foreign nationals looking to settle in South Africa. Especially Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Seeing as this is the case, we decided to compare living costs between these cities. After all, determining if you’re going to be able to afford to live in your city of choice is a big part of immigration and relocation research.
Please note: All costs are in South African rands.
Let’s start with what you can expect to earn
When investigating how much it’ll cost you to live somewhere, you have to know how much you’ll earn. These are the average annual salaries in all four cities according to PayScale:
|Average Annual Salary||246,000||275,000||240,000||212,000|
Now let’s see how far you’ll have to stretch those rands.
1. Rent and utilities
Let’s say you’re single and you want to live in the city centre. In this case, Pretoria has the most affordable rent. Cape Town is the most expensive city by far!
Families who immigrate typically prefer to live in the suburbs. Suburban life in South Africa offers families more space and easier access to schools.
When you rent a 3-bedroom apartment outside of the city, Durban is the most affordable.
1-Bedroom apartment in the city centre
|1-bedroom Apartment in the city||10,556.92||6,462.50||5,483.33||5,375.00|
|Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection||1,537.07||1,866.18||1,576.00||1,587.28|
|Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)||822.66||903.50||898.94||842.23|
3-Bedroom apartment in the suburbs
|3-Bedroom apartment outside of city centre||13,867.65||11,140.00||11,906.25||12,038.46|
|Utilities and Internet||2,395.73||2,769.68||2,474.94||2,429.51|
When shopping, a basket of 14 everyday items is going to cost you the least in Durban. You’ll spend R30.04 more on the same basket in Cape Town.
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread||13.67||14.48||14.14||14.41|
|1kg White Rice||21.02||23.99||22.56||22.00|
|1kg Local Cheese||111.86||118.02||110.05||108.61|
|1kg Chicken Fillets||76.79||72.61||70.95||69.50|
|1kg Beef Round||115.84||110.07||112.28||112.86|
3. Buying a car
Most people choose to buy a new car once they’re in South Africa. It’s much cheaper than importing one from overseas!
You can see that there aren’t massive variances in car prices. The same is true for petrol, which costs around R17 per litre in all cities.
|Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent new car)||283,750.00||300,000.00||277,000.00||300,000.00|
|Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or equivalent new car)||347,506.25||333,382.76||320,125.00||349,927.27|
4. Sending your children to school
Many immigrants choose to send their children to private schools. These schools often have teaching and learning methods similar to the country from which the family emigrated.
Durban’s preschools and primary schools are the most affordable by far. Most immigrants settle in either Cape Town or Johannesburg, though. When looking at these two cities, you can see that sending your children to school in Johannesburg will be the most expensive.
|Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child||3,398.25||3,647.30||3,599.00||
|International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child||79,146.67||83,108.57||58,333.33||
5. Going out for a meal
South Africa offers plenty of opportunities to unwind, and South Africans are especially fond of enjoying a meal with family and friends. Durban comes out tops for value for money each time.
Lunch at a local restaurant
When you’re popping out for a quick lunch to catch up with a friend, this is how much you’ll have to set aside:
|Restaurant meal at an inexpensive restaurant||150.00||160.00||140.00||120.00|
|330 ml Domestic beer||40.00||40.00||25.00||30.00|
|330 ml Coke||13.66||14.40||15.00||15.82|
Dinner at an up-market restaurant
This is how much the evening at an upmarket restaurant is going to set you back if you take a bottle of wine with:
|3-course Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||600.00||600.00||550.00||545.00|
|Bottle of wine||80.00||70.00||79.00||70.00|
While Durban has the lowest average annual salary, it offers residents an affordable lifestyle. The city has the cheapest groceries, the most affordable school fees, and it’s where eating out costs the least.
However, remember that each of the four cities we looked at has something different to offer in terms of quality of life. That’s why you should consider your family’s wants and needs, along with the cost of living in a city.
Note: All of the costs are from Numbeo, December 2021.