Numbeo and Expatistan’s data is determined by user input on the respective sites, which opens it up to some doubt – however, it reflects a similar positioning to other rankings where objective data is measured.
Numbeo ranks 540 cities, and Expatistan ranks 338, using cost data covering a wide variety of items and activities, including rent, food, entertainment, transport and utilities. The rankings also take into account other factors, such as average salaries and the cost per square metre of property.
Both rankings feature the same five South African cities with Pretoria listed as the most expensive city in the country, a title it has held since 2016, when it took the top spot from Johannesburg, which took the top spot from Cape Town in 2015.
Johannesburg ranks second in both rankings, followed by Cape Town. Durban and Port Elizabeth alternate as third and fourth on the rankings.
Overall, Pretoria ranks 354th and 185th on the Numbeo and Expatistan ranking, respectively, showing that, even as the most expensive city in the country, South African cities are still relatively cheap compared to their international counterparts.
Globally, Scandenavian and US cities make up the top ranks as the most expensive cities, while Indian cities account for the cheapest places to live. While Swiss cities make up the bulk of the top 10, Hamilton, in Bermuda, tops both rankings in 2018 as the most expensive city to live in.
The table below outlines the 10 cheapest and most expensive cities according to both rankings.
10 most expensive cities
|1||Hamilton, Bermuda||Hamilton, Bermuda|
|2||Zurich, Switzerland||Geneva, Switzerland|
|3||Geneva, Switzerland||Zurich, Switzerland|
|4||Basel, Switzerland||Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands|
|5||Bern, Switzerland||Reykjavik, Iceland|
|6||Lausanne, Switzerland||San Francisco, USA|
|7||Reykjavik, Iceland||New York City, USA|
|8||Stavanger, Norway||Oslo, Norway|
|9||Lugano, Switzerland||London, United Kingdom|
|10||Oslo, Norway||Basel, Switzerland|
10 cheapest cities
|1||Thiruvananthapuram, India||Indore, India|
|2||Navi Mumbai, India||Bhubaneswar, India|
|3||Alexandria, Egypt||Kochi, India|
|4||Coimbatore, India||Jaipur, India|
|5||Kochi, India||Coimbatore, India|
|6||Visakhapatnam, India||Ahmedabad, India|
|7||Kharkiv, Ukraine||Cairo, Egypt|
|8||Bhubaneswar, India||Kolkata, India|
|9||Mysore, India||Tunis, Tunisia|
|10||Lviv, Ukraine||Madras, India|
This is how South Africa’s cities rank:
|3||Cape Town||Cape Town|
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||R18 699||R826||R4 722||R1 198||R500|
|Johannesburg||R23 372||R500||R7 136||R1 095||R500|
|Cape Town||R18 380||R340||R10 463||R782||R455|
|Durban||R14 941||R440||R4 371||R1 032||R429|
|Port Elizabeth||R10 071||R400||R4 187||R995||R400|
The graphs below outline how the average salary is portioned across South Africa’s major cities.