The most expensive cities to live in: Joburg vs Cape Town vs Pretoria

Data group Numbeo and expat portal Expatistan have published their Cost of Living indices for 2018, listing the cheapest and most expensive cities to live in across the globe.

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

# Numbeo Expatistan
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

# Numbeo Expatistan
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:

# 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 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.



Cape Town



Port Elizabeth

Read: These are South Africa’s most expensive cities to live in

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The most expensive cities to live in: Joburg vs Cape Town vs Pretoria