Cost of living in South Africa

The cost of living in South Africa compared to UK, the beautiful and varied landscape, and a melting pot of cultures continues to attract tourists and expats to Africa’s southernmost country.

Cost of living in South Africa

Where to live in South Africa

Each year, South Africa grows in popularity with British expats in search of a life in the sun. The warm climate, stunning beaches and breath-taking scenery are just a few of the main attractions, on top of the fact that English is widely spoken throughout South Africa.

South Africa is widely regarded as an inexpensive country to live in, with Mercer’s 2021 Survey on Cost of Living ranking Cape Town (the capital) as the 178th expensive city out of 209. Popular locations for expats who want to take advantage of the cost of living in South Africa include Cape Town, nearby Stellenbosch, as well as cities such as economic hub Johannesburg and Durban, the largest port in Africa.

The currency used in South Africa is the Rand, with 1 British Pound equalling approximately 21.12 rand (as of 12th January 2022). It’s a good idea to become familiar with the GBP to ZAR exchange rate so you can quickly convert prices from Rands into Pounds.

(All figures taken from Numbeo.com and exchange rates calculated on 12th January 2022 at 13.43pm.)

 

How much does accommodation cost in South Africa?

Property prices and the cost of rent throughout South Africa is generally much lower than in the UK, especially when compared to London. As a result, expats may find their money can go much further on property in the country, which can be helpful when considering other aspects of the average cost of living in South Africa. Below are tables providing the average cost of rent or buying a property in South Africa in a few locations that are popular among British expats.

 

Cape Town

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£502.43 (R 10,610.61)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£353.88 (R7,473.44)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,034.18 (R21,840.31)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£664.66 (R14,036.49)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£1,483.70 (R31,333.33)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£1,001.16 (R21,142.86)

 

Johannesburg

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£304.35 (R6,427.41)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£290.48 (R6,134.53)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£654.04 (R13,812.38)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£601.35 (R11,243.75)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£613.41 (R12,954.35)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£559.81 (R11,822.36)

 

Knysna

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£260.44 (R5,500)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£272.27 (R5,750)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£639.25 (R13,500)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£710.28 (R15,000)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£710.28 (R15,000)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£568.22 (R12,000)

 

Stellenbosch

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£527.03 (R11,130)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£182.31 (R3850)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£797.09 (R16,833.33)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£631.36 (R13,333.33)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£1,444.24 (R30,500)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£733.96 (R15,500)

 

Cost of transport in South Africa

Transport is relatively inexpensive throughout South Africa with public transport providing an affordable option in most cities via rail or bus. Minibus taxis are cheaper than cabs, although they are generally regarded as unsafe. Services such as Bolt and Uber are available in some cities. However, the cost of buying a car, as well as the price of petrol, is much lower than in the UK, which may add to the attraction of the relatively low cost of living in South Africa for expats from the UK. Owning a car is the most convenient and reliable form of transport, and is popular with expats and locals alike.

Single bus ticket

£1.18 (R25)

Monthly public transport ticket

£30.78 (R650.00)

Petrol (1 litre)

£0.86 (R18.17)

Volkswagen Golf

£14,205.60 (R300,000)

Toyota Corolla

£16,179.26 (R341,680.57)

 

What is the cost of living in South Africa compared to the UK?

Many expats moving to the country make a pleasant discovery about the cost of living in England vs South Africa – living in South Africa is significantly cheaper than in the UK. This can be seen when visiting restaurants, supermarkets, pubs, cafes and cinemas, as you to get more for your money. Below is a list of the average prices of a few amenities and miscellaneous items you can find in South Africa.

Milk (1 litre)

£0.77 (R16.25)

Bread (500g loaf)

£0.67 (R14.22)

Eggs (12pk)

£1.42 (R30.03)

Water (1.5 litre bottle)

£0.72 (R15.31)

Chicken Breast (1kg)

£3.43 (R72.49)

Cappuccino (regular, in a restaurant)

£1.36 (R28.70)

Beer (500ml, in a restaurant/pub)

£1.42 (R30.00)

Cinema ticket

£4.59 (R97.00)

Gym membership (monthly)

£24.04 (R507.70)

Preschool/Kindergarten (monthly)

£155.28 (R3,279.34)

Primary School (yearly)

£3,435.41 (R72,550.46)

 

Cost of living in South Africa for international students

Studying in South Africa offers international students many opportunities to make memories that last a lifetime. The University of Cape Town is within the top 300 places in the Shanghai ranking of world universities. The University of the Witwatersrand is within the top 400 places. Both of these institutions as well as other South African universities are open to applications from students from other countries.

The cost of living in South Africa for international students from the UK and other regions is relatively low. The cost of university studies depends on the selected courses as well as the level of study. The best way to estimate the cost of studying in South Africa as a foreign student is to consult the student fee handbook of your chosen university and then use the information provided by the Numbeo website.

 

The currency in South Africa

No discussion of the cost of living in South Africa would be complete without a mention of the country’s official currency, the Rand. Shown using the ZAR currency code, the Rand derives its name from the Witwatersrand (white waters ridge), a ridge rich in gold deposits.

The Rand replaced the South African Pound on 14 February 1961, three months before the Union of South Africa declared itself a republic. One Rand is divided into 100 cents. Banknotes and coins are available. The banknotes available in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200, and the coins are available in denominations of 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, and R5.

Unlike Pound Sterling, the Rand is a floating currency. This means the value against other currencies fluctuates continually.

After you’ve taken the cost of living in South Africa into consideration, you’ll want to ensure you get the most out of your money when making the move. A moneycorp international payments account offers you excellent exchange rates, low transfer fees and expert guidance on your international currency exchange.

 

Making the most of your international payments account

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