The Cost Of Living In South Africa For Expats

Compared to the rest of the continent, South Africa is a pariah. On the one hand, it has a monopoly on the excitement and beauty of sub-Saharan Africa, offering rich landscapes and national parks teeming with biodiversity, while on the other hand it offers some of Africa’s highest-quality urban living, spread mainly between its three capital cities – Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Pretoria – plus the metropoles of Johannesburg (Africa’s eighth-largest city) and Durban.

But how does it fare in terms of the cost of living? Well, while it is fair to say the cost of living in South Africa is more affordable than in other parts of the world (particularly developed Western nations), this does not necessarily make it cheap. In this article, we’ll explore the cost of living in South Africa for expats, looking at some of the costs you can expect to pay and how the cost of living crisis in South Africa has affected the country.

The cost of living in South Africa

South Africa is also emerging as a highly-advanced nation attracting an ever-increasing number of expats to take part in its modernising economy – which, with an overall GDP of US$419 million, is the second-strongest in Africa (just behind Nigeria).

South Africa’s rapidly-growing tertiary sector is just one of the many reasons the country has attracted over 4 million expats. The diversity of its culture is reflected in the fact South Africa has eleven official languages, including English, Afrikaans and Zulu.

According to recent data, the cost of living in South Africa is 43% cheaper than in the United Kingdom. Expats moving to South Africa will therefore find the cost of everyday essentials to be significantly cheaper than in most Western countries, although expats moving from other parts of the region should be mindful that South Africa is one of the 10 most expensive countries in Africa.

This is especially true for expats moving to the major metropolitan areas. Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban rank as the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth most expensive cities in Africa, respectively. They also command some of the highest cost of living prices on the continent.