Cost of living

The price of life in South Africa

Just how much does living in South Africa cost on average? From eating out to utilities, we’ll take a look and see how far you can expect to stretch that paycheck.

It’s a fact that living in South Africa is not as cheap as it used to be. The rand’s fluctuating strength, combined with an economy that imports a great deal of products, means that expats who arrive expecting to find developed standards of living without the pricetag, are in for a shock. Add in rising fuel costs, and the prices on most products have seen increases in the last few years.

Comparing London to Johannesburg, the cost of some luxury items and services such as dining out and cinema tickets are between 35% and 50% lower in South Africa. Clothing and consumer items like electronics are closer in price, but marginally cheaper in South Africa.

Dining out

Typical price range (Rand)

Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant

55.00 - 100.00 R

Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, 3-course

250.00 - 400.00 R

Whilst areas of the country remain very underdeveloped, the prosperity of popular areas of major cities has caused property and rental prices in suburbs of Johannesburg and Cape Town to rise sharply in the last decade. With both the domestic and expats markets occupying a lot of the same areas, the demand driven price rises will probably continue for the foreseeable future.

Rental categories

Monthly rental price range (Rand)

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre

3,000 - 6,000.00 R

Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre

2,500 - 4,500.00 R

Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre

5,500 - 12,000.00 R

Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre

5,000 - 8,500.00 R


Monthly price range (Rand)

Basic (Electricity, Gas, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment

700 - 1,500.00 R

1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)

1.50 - 2.50 R

Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)

349 - 888.00 R

Food prices on groceries in South Africa are fairly cheap when compared with Europe, with locally produced fruits, vegetables and meat giving the greatest savings. Imported and specialty items, including the humble potato, are appropriately more expensive given South Africa’s distance from major producing nations and the growing strength of the Rand.

Common grocery items

Price (Rand)

Milk (regular), 1 liter

10.00 R

Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)

9.38 R

Rice (1kg)

16.00 R

Eggs (12)

18.00 R

Local Cheese (1kg)

62.00 R

Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg)

48.00 R

Apples (1kg)

15.00 R

Oranges (1kg)

12.06 R

Tomato (1kg)

13.75 R

Potato (1kg)

10.75 R

Lettuce (1 head)

9.00 R

Water (1.5 liter bottle)

12.00 R

Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)

47.00 R

Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)

12.00 R

Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle)

15.00 R

Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro)

30.00 R


Average price range (Rand)

One-way Ticket (Local Transport)

8.80 - 15.00 R

Monthly Pass (Regular Price)

300.00 - 600.00 R

Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)

12.00 - 50.00 R

Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)

5.00 - 10.00 R

Taxi 1 hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)

50.00 - 80.00 R

Gasoline (1 liter)

10.00 - 12.00 R

Costs will depend to a large extent on the lifestyle an expat is looking for. Essential costs can be greatly reduced by your choice of area and managing your expectations and budget carefully. Transport can be an important factor for expats as owning and maintaining a car can be expensive, but is often a necessary part of living in sparsely populated areas away from public transport links.

The tables above outline the nationwide average prices for a number of products including rent and groceries. They should only be taken as a guide as they are subject to local variation and fluctuation due to world markets.
(Figures from , updated Feb. 2013)

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Other comments

  • Debbie, 16 December 2009 Reply

    Cost of utilities

    • Randy 20 Jan 2010, 12:24

      cost of living

    • Bob 25 Feb 2010, 12:27

      Cost of Living

  • Warren, 11 January 2010 Reply

    Underestimated costs

    • karmen 21 May 2010, 09:32

      update the cost of living schedule..

    • Shan 06 Jun 2010, 08:15

      Living cost

    • nicci 19 Dec 2010, 12:28

      i agree very much with this comment

  • Proudly South African, 30 January 2011 Reply

    Cost of living?

    • Chris 02 Feb 2012, 07:54

      cost of living sa 2012

    • Thomas 30 May 2012, 02:23

      VERY expensive to live in South Africa, concidering all the extras you need there