These are the most expensive South African cities to live in

Numbeo has published its Cost of Living Index for mid-year 2020, ranking the most expensive cities in the the world, including five in 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 2020, Johannesburg has taken over from Pretoria as the most expensive city in South Africa, where enough data is available to form statistical certainty.

Joburg ranks 342nd on the overall index, with a score of 40.64, implying the cost of living in the city is around 60% cheaper than in New York. South Africa’s overall score is 37.52.

The economic hub is followed by Pretoria (361st, with a score of 38.6), Cape Town (367th with a score of 38.0) and Durban (396th. with a score of 34.9). Port Elizabeth was not featured in 2020.

# City 2020 Index Score (2019)
342 Johannesburg 40.64 (47.37)
361 Pretoria 38.60 (49.18)
367 Cape Town 38.09 (45.00)
396 Durban 34.86 (40.61)

The cost of living score for all South African cities in the ranking have dropped significantly from mid-year 2019, showing that the country has become increasingly cheaper to live in.

Globally, cities in countries like Switzerland and Norway are ranked as the most expensive, with Basel, Zurich and Lugano, Switzerland around 30%  more expensive 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 around 80% cheaper than in New York.

Expatistan data

Numbeo’s data for the first time differs significantly from numbers published by the expat cost of living index by Expatistan.

In this ranking Pretoria ranks as the most expensive city in the country, followed by Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

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).

Note that outside of the four cities listed in the overall rankings, the data for other cities is not enough to provide a completely accurate picture of the cost of living, and it’s just for illustrative purposes.


Read: South African households are getting poorer, while the cost of living continues to rise

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These are the most expensive South African cities to live in