The most expensive cities in South Africa in 2019: Joburg vs Cape Town vs Pretoria

 ·7 Jan 2019

Data group Numbeo and expat portal Expatistan have published their Cost of Living indices for 2019, listing the cheapest and most expensive cities to live in across the globe.

The indices compare the cost of living across the world relative to a reference city – New York City for Numbeo and Prague for Expatistan – which has an index score of 100 (100%). The index looks at the relative costs across several categories, including rent, the cost of food, transport and entertainment.

It also takes the local purchasing power into account.

If another city has, for example, a rent index of 120, it means that on an average in that city, rents are 20% more expensive than in New York City. If a city has a rent index of 70, that means on an average in that city, rents are 30% less expensive than in New York City.

Numbeo’s index assesses 433 cities, while Expatistan looks at 327 cities.

In the Numbeo Index, Swiss cities rank as the most expensive in the world, with prices up to 30% higher than in New York – while Indian cities rank as being some of the cheapest, with prices less than a fifth of those in New York.

With Expatistan, relative to Prague many US cities are ranked as being the most expensive, with Swiss cities also featuring. The trend of Indian cities being cheapest, however, is consistent on both lists, although the Ukraine, Argentina, Turkey and Mexico also feature.

South African cities

South African cities rank in the middle, globally, with Pretoria ranked as the most expensive city in the country on both indices.

Johannesburg is ranked second, and Cape Town third, with Port Elizabeth fourth on Numbeo’s index and Durban fifth. In the Expatistan rankings, Port Elizabeth and Durban are switched around.

# Numbeo Expatistan
1 Pretoria Pretoria
2 Johannesburg Johannesburg
3 Cape Town Cape Town
4 Port Elizabeth Durban
5 Durban Port Elizabeth

Cost of living in SA

The rankings list specific data on the cost of living in South African cities.

The table below covers five categories (transport, rent, salaries, utilities and entertainment) which contain the average prices across all four major cities covered by Numbeo and Expatistan.

City Average disposable salary Monthly transport costs Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre Basic utilities Meal for two people at a restaurant
Pretoria R15 481 R1 200 R4 897 R1 273 R500
Johannesburg R18 126 R700 R6 281 R1 395 R500
Cape Town R16 306 R370 R10 709 R1 009 R500
Durban R15 124 R350 R4 839 R1 093 R400
Port Elizabeth R11 833 R460 R3 727 R1 152 R400

The graphs below outline how the average salary is portioned across South Africa’s major cities.



Cape Town


Port Elizabeth

Read: South Africa’s most dangerous cities to live in

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