Top 5 most expensive cities to live in South Africa

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Numbeo is a crowd-sourced global database of reported consumer prices, perceived crime rates, quality of health care and cost of living, among other statistics. The company has looked at the mid-year 2019 stats to determine a ranking between the most expensive cities in the world.

The Numbeo Index looks at comparative data to New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world. New York City has an index score of 100 (100%) and the index looks at the relative costs in cities across the world in several categories, including rent, the cost of food, transport and entertainment.

The cost of living in South Africa is 38.28% lower than in the United States (aggregate data for all cities, rent is not taken into account). Rent in South Africa is 57.19% lower than in the United States (average data for all cities).

In the comparative analysis, if any city’s rent index is 130, for example, that city’s rent is 30% more expensive than New York City. South African rent, on average, ranks as 57% less expensive than the USA.

According to the latest mid-year data from 2019, Pretoria (Tshwane) is the most expensive city to live in South Africa. This is taking into account transport, clothing and shoes, sports and leisure, markets, monthly utilities, rent per month and restaurants.

Johannesburg ranks second on the list followed by Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and then Durban.

Here are the rankings according to the city:

Pretoria’s index score has risen from 45.89 in 2018 to 49.18 in 2019. This seems to be the trend across all South African cities and can be attributed to the state of the economy, which has not seen much growth in the past year.

Johannesburg, the business hub of South Africa, rose from 45.51 in 2018 to 47.47 in 2019, Cape Town went up from 41.58 to 45.00, and PE went from 39.41 to 42.15 between 2018 and 2019 while Durban ranks fourth with 40.61 from 40.68 last year.

Pretoria sunset. Image by SA government.

South African cities, however, still rank in the mid-range compared to other global cities. It remains well below the cost of living in the base city of New York.

Around the world, Scandinavian countries like Norway and European countries like Switzerland rank the highest and most expensive. The cost of living in a city like Basel, Switzerland is about 29% higher than in New York.

Pakistan and India rank the cheapest cities to live in with the average cost of living being 80% cheaper than New York City.

Expatistan is another global database Index that reflects similar stats to Numbeo’s data. It provides far more detail on how the different cities rank across South Africa, although it does not have enough data to give an accurate picture of the cost of living in smaller cities. In their data, Johannesburg sits higher than Pretoria (Tshwane),

Here is the Expatistan top 10:

#             City                                               Index Score

1              Potgietersrus                                   152

2              Middelburg (Mpumalanga)         129

3              Johannesburg                                 116

4              Careletonville                                  110

5              Pretoria                                            109

6              Durban                                             98

7=           Orkney                                              97

7=           Cape Town                                       97

9              Polokwane                                       93

10           Port Elizabeth                                  91

Read the full statistics from Numbeo here.