Salary vs rent in South Africa’s biggest cities

 ·19 Aug 2020

Jobs portal Adzuna has published new data showing the cost of living and working in South Africa’s largest cities.

The data is based on a comparison of more than 100,000 job listings and rental costs from some of South Africa’s biggest property websites.

Adzuna analysed average salary data and compared it to the average property value in each of the country’s main city centres.

The report shows that while thousands of South Africans face salary reductions and retrenchment, the cost of accommodation in the country’s major cities is still on the rise.

According to the latest PayProp Rental Index (Q1 2020), rental growth stands at 3.2% year-on-year. South Africans already have to juggle price increases on everything from medical care to fuel and rent.

The findings were indicative of the fact that the average household spends anything between 16% and 27% of their monthly income on rent, Adzuna said.

When compared with the average monthly salaries and average rental prices, these are South Africa’s most affordable cities to rent in:

  • Bloemfontein – 15% of monthly income spent on rent;
  • Polokwane – 16% of monthly income spent on rent;
  • Rustenburg – 17% of monthly income spent on rent;
  • Pretoria – 19% of monthly income spent on rent;
  • Nelspruit – 19% of monthly income spent on rent.


“With more remote jobs in South Africa, where you stay is less and less connected to where you work,” said Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna South Africa.

“Even though salaries in Cape Town are higher, renters in the Western Cape fork out as much as 27% of their wages on rent every month.”

On the opposite end of the scale, Cape Town is still the most expensive city for renting a property in the country, unchanged since May 2019, Green said.

The data shows that Capetonians spend an average of 27% of their salaries on rent every month if they choose to live just outside the city centre.

“Rental costs within the city’s centre are even more expensive and can easily demand up to 35% of a renter’s monthly earnings.”

When considering where to rent property in South Africa, low rental prices should not be the only factor that South Africans base their decisions on, Green said.

He said it is also essential to consider how many jobs are in offer in the area you intend to live in and what the average salary demographics look like.

“The average salaries in areas like Polokwane and Rustenburg, for example, is affected by the mining and technical sectors, which pay higher than average wages. Still, not everyone will be able to secure employment in this field.

“Cities like Nelspruit and Pretoria tend to provide excellent value for renters, offering enough job opportunities and rental costs at or below 20% of monthly earnings.”

Destinations like Cape Town will see renters forking out the most significant chunks of their earnings towards rent every month, he said.

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