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

Two cost of living data groups, Expatistan and Numbeo, have updated their city data for June 2018, showing which South African cities carry the highest cost of living in the country.

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 539 cities, and Expatistan ranks 347, 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 including average salaries and the cost per square metre of property.

At the start of the year, both rankings featured Pretoria as the most expensive city in the country, but for the mid-year update, Johannesburg has edged past Pretoria to top the Expatistan list.

Pretoria has held the title of South Africa’s most expensive city since 2016, when it took the top spot from Johannesburg, which took the top spot from Cape Town in 2015.

Port Elizabeth featured in both rankings at the start of the year, but has since dropped off Expatistan’s table. With Numbeo’s data, PE has dropped under Durban, to be ranked Fifth (down from fourth at the start of the year).

This is how South Africa’s cities rank:

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

On the Numbeo index, Pretoria ranks as the 336th most expensive city in the world, with Joburg ranked 345th, Cape Town at 367th, Durban at 378th and PE at 385th.

On the Expatistan index, Johannesburg ranks 204th, just ahead of Pretoria at 209th, Cape Town at 232nd and Durban at 252nd.

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 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
Johannesburg R20 587 R625 R6 265 R1 423 R450
Pretoria R15 111 R1 000 R4 605 R1 167 R500
Cape Town R14 919 R310 R10 808 R828 R500
Durban R15 923 R300 R4 748 R1 097 R400
Port Elizabeth R10 788 R460 R4 181 R990 R400

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



Cape Town


Port Elizabeth

Read: These are the 10 biggest risks for South Africa – and how much they’d cost the country each year

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