The average salaries in 15 major cities across South Africa

New research by job portal Adzuna shows the average salary in 15 major cities across South Africa, and how expensive it would be to live in them if you were to rent a place.

The online job aggregator compared average salaries of more than 100,000 online job listings with average rental prices in cities across South Africa to compile a
list of the most and least affordable places for renters to live.

According to the research, employees can generally expect to spend about 20% to 26% of their monthly income on rent, which is on par with the PayProp Rental Index weighted national average of 24%.

The study assumes that the cost of monthly rent is carried by a single person occupying a 1-bedroom home within city centres of South Africa’s 15 biggest towns and cities.

The table below outlines the results:

City Average monthly rent Average monthly salary Rent as % of salary
Cape Town R11 050 R28 927 38%
Vanderbijlpark R5 000 R12 829 38%
Sandton R10 833 R29 146 37%
Richard’s Bay R5 400 R20 475 26%
Centurion R6 833 R28 479 23%
George R4 375 R19 799 22%
Pietermaritzburg R3 500 R15 778 22%
Paarl R5 750 R26 894 21%
Durban R4 896 R22 811 21%
Pretoria R4 764 R23 754 20%
East London R4 277 R21 961 19%
Johannesburg R6 304 R33 261 18%
Port Elizabeth R3 875 R22 338 17%
Bloemfontein R3 750 R23 207 16%
Polokwane R3 200 R28 789 11%

Least expensive cities to rent in

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

  • Polokwane – 11% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Bloemfontein – 16% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Port Elizabeth – 17% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Johannesburg – 18% of monthly income spent on rent
  • East London – 19% of monthly income spent on rent

According to country manager for Adzuna SA, Jesse Green, there are a few surprises among the results.

“It is interesting to note that Johannesburg comes up as one of the most affordable cities for renting employees. The results we see here could be because employment in Johannesburg offers much higher salaries when compared with job opportunities in cities such as Bloemfontein, for example,” he said.

According to the study, cities such as Pretoria, Durban, Paarl, Pietermaritzburg and George came in as the “best value cities for renters”, with employees in these areas typically paying less than 22% of their wages towards rent.

At the other end of the spectrum, Capetonians can expect to put a whopping 38% of their pay cheques towards their rent while those in Sandton spend at least 37% of their wages on their monthly rent.

“Sandton is a difficult one to interpret, because most employees in Sandton apparently do not live there, with the majority commuting daily to the area,” said Green.

It comes as no surprise to find that many employees who work within the higher-priced city centres, such as Sandton, choose to reside in more affordable areas, outside of the city centres, to keep rent down to a minimum.

Most expensive cities in SA to rent in

After comparing monthly rental prices and average salaries across South Africa’s major cities, the results of the study clearly pointed out which cities are the most expensive for tenants. These include:

  • Cape Town – 38% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Vanderbijlpark – 38% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Sandton – 37% of monthly income spent on rent
  • Richards Bay – 26% of monthly income spent on rent

“Although some employees are paid higher monthly salaries, they actually have a lot less to show for it since they have to deal with high costs of living and local property premiums. Alternative locations, like East London, offer a much more attractive deal that can help renters save money,” Green said.

According to the latest online job listings, which shows that the average disposable salary in South Africa is R30,396 in nominal terms, the average earner looking to rent should be budgeting around R7,300 per month.


Read: South Africa vs BRIC countries – average salaries, GDP and unemployment compared

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The average salaries in 15 major cities across South Africa