Numbeo has published its Cost of Living Index for mid-year 2019, ranking the most expensive cities in the the world, including five from South Africa.
The Numbeo index compares the cost of living across the world relative to New York City, 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.
At mid-year 2019, Pretoria is still ranked as the most expensive city in South Africa, where enough data is available to form statistical certainty.
This is followed by Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and then Durban.
Pretoria’s index score climbed in 2019 to 49.18 (from 45.89 in 2018) – trend seen across all South Africa’s cities, showing the effects of the rising cost of living in the country due the various economic factors that have kept growth subdued.
Johannesburg’s score rose to 47.47 (2018: 45.51), Cape Town was up to 45.00 (2018: 41.58), and Port Elizabeth (42.15 from 39.41) shot past Durban (40.61 up slightly from 40.68) to be ranked fourth.
On a global scale, the rising cost of living in South Africa has seen its cities rise in the overall rankings, but they remain in the middle range, and well below the cost of living in the base city of New York.
Globally, cities in nations like Switzerland and Norway are ranked as the most expensive, with life in Basel, Switzerland being about 29% higher than New York.
On the lower end, it is mostly Pakistani and Indian cities which rank as the cheapest to live in, with relative cost of living being around 80% cheaper than in New York.
The table below outlines where South African cities rank in the global list (out of 377 cities covered).
Other South African cities
Numbeo’s data reflects similar numbers published by the expat cost of living index by Expatistan.
In this ranking Johannesburg has overtaken Pretoria as the most expensive city (now ranked second), and this is followed by Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Similar to Numbeo, Expatistan looks at costs across a wide variety of categories, including rent, food, transport and entertainment.
However, instead of using New York as its base city, the Expatistan index uses Prague.
Outside of the global ranking of major cities, Expatistan also provides more local data, showing how many of the smaller cities rank. Of the 31 cities covered, Expatistan ranks the top 10 based on the quality of the data (ie, there is enough data to accurately gauge the cost of living in those areas).
In the table below we’ve included all 31 South African cities covered by Expatistan, and highlighted where the top 10 fits into the local picture. Note that outside of the top 5 and top 10 mentioned about, the data for these cities is not enough to provide a completely accurate picture of the cost of living, and it’s just for illustrative purposes.