What is the Monthly Cost of Living in South Africa?

Living in South Africa is more affordable than in many other countries, with living costs and rent typically 50% or more cheaper than in most countries. Of course, it depends on where you live, your family size, and your standard of living. However, wages can also be low, so it’s essential to understand those costs and how they affect your budget.

Let’s examine the monthly cost of living and look at some great tips for reducing your monthly expenses.

What Is the Average Cost of Living in South Africa?

The monthly cost for a family of four in South Africa is estimated to be 37,302.8R (USD$1,964.3), but this number varies between cities. Let’s take a closer look to see how it differs. 

Johannesburg

The estimated monthly costs (food, utilities, transportation, etc.) for a family of four are R41,316.7 (USD$2,167.92) plus anywhere from R11,565.17 to R13,369.57 (USD$606.83-$701.51) to rent a three-bedroom apartment, depending on the apartment and whether it’s located inside or outside of the city center. 

A single person in Johannesburg has an estimated monthly cost of living of R11,878.8 ($623.29USD) plus R6,079.38 to R7,324.00 (USD$318.99-$384.30) for a one-bedroom apartment.

Cape Town

Cape Town is the most expensive city to live in. Compared to Johannesburg, the cost of living is slightly lower, but rent is higher. A family of four pays about R38,128.3 (USD$2,000.62) for general living expenses plus R15,921.88 to R25,129.03 (USD$835.43-$1,318.54) for a three-bedroom apartment. 

A single person has an estimated monthly cost of R10,877.4 (USD$570.75) plus R8,002.94 to R12,054.05 (USD$419.92-$632.49) for a one-bedroom apartment.

Pretoria

Pretoria is a more affordable option where a family of four can expect to pay about R37,312.0 ($1,957.79USD) for general living expenses plus R11,650.00 to R12,315.79 (USD$611.28-$646.22) for a three-bedroom apartment. The cheapest places are inside the city center, unlike most cities. 

The estimated monthly living costs for a single person in Pretoria are R10,770.4 ($565.13) plus R6,064.71 to R7,111.11 (USD$318.22-$373.13), with the higher costs for those inside the city center. 

Durban

Living expenses in Durban are lower than in the other three cities we examined. A family of four estimated monthly living costs are R35,035.9 ($1,838.36) plus R11,000.00 to R11,944.44 (USD$577.18-$626.73) for a three-bedroom apartment. 

A single person in Durban can expect to pay R10,421.7 ($546.83) for living expenses plus R5,682.35 to R6,250.00 (USD$298.16-$327.94) for a one-bedroom apartment.

Accommodation

Rent is always the largest monthly expense. But overall, rent in South Africa is about 65% lower than in the United Kingdom, 74% lower than in the USA, and 55% lower than in Germany.

The cost of accommodation in the country varies widely depending on the location and the type of apartment you are looking for. Of course, you can expect to pay more in the cities than in most drops nationwide. 

A three-bedroom apartment could cost anywhere from about R8,500 (USD$446.00) in Soweto to about R25,000 (USD$1311.77) in Cape Town. The highest rents in the country are found in the upscale apartments in the Waterfront in the Cape area, with the average rent for a 2-bedroom upscale apartment being about R32,000 (USD$1,679.07). This is still low compared to most countries.

One-bedroom apartments cost from R5,250 (USD$275.47) in Bloemfontein at the low end of the scale to about R12,000 (USD$629.65) in Cape Town. 

Utilities

Bloemfontein is the least expensive town to live in. You can expect to pay an average of R633.33 (USD$33.23) for monthly internet bills and R1,333.33 (USD$69.96) for monthly utility bills (electricity, gas, water, garbage). 

Utilities do not vary much since, in Cape Town, you’ll only pay an average of R755.19 (USD$39.63) for internet per month and R1,636.87 (USD$85.89) for your monthly utilities.  

Food

Generally, food costs about R2,000 to R4,000 (USD$104.94-$209.88) per person per month nationwide, although that can vary with your location and diet. 

You can expect to pay about R17 (USD$0.89) for a loaf of bread and anywhere from R200 to R1,030 (USD$10.49-$54.04) for a meal in a restaurant in Bloemfontein. Those same expenses are similar in Cape Town, the most expensive city. There, you can expect to pay R17.28 (USD$0.91) for a loaf of bread, and interestingly, you’ll spend less to eat in a restaurant, anywhere from R150 to R700 (USD$7.87-$36.73) for a meal in the Cape. 

Transportation

Most people can expect to spend about 10% to 16% of their monthly expenses on transportation, more than utilities but less than rent. 

The cost of transportation doesn’t vary much throughout the country. For example, a one-way ticket costs R20.00 (USD$1.05), a 1km taxi ride R15.00 (USD$0.79), and 1L of gasoline R23.28 (USD$1.22) in Cape Town. In Bloemfontein, those same expenses are R14.00 (USD$0.73) for a one-way ticket, R12.00 (USD$0.63) for a 1km taxi ride, and R22.50 (USD$1.18) for 1 L of gasoline.

The cost of buying a new vehicle ranges between R200,000 and R606,000 (USD$10,494.16-$31,797.30), with only minor variations throughout the country. 

Leisure Activities

South Africans spend about 6% of their monthly expenses on leisure activities, and these costs don’t vary widely around the country. For comparison, in Cape Town, a cinema ticket costs R107.00 (USD$5.61), and a monthly fitness club fee costs R660.94 (USD$34.68). In Bloemfontein, you can expect to pay about R100.00 (USD$5.25) for a movie ticket and R525 (USD$27.55) for a monthly fitness club fee. 

Average Monthly Salary

Nationwide, monthly salaries are lower than those of the rest of the globe, which makes sense since the cost of living is lower. However, salaries vary widely, depending on the profession and where you live. 

In Bloemfontein, the average monthly salary is R12,333.33 (USD$647.14) after tax, compared to R28,831.21 (USD$1,512.80) in Cape Town, R28,034.10 (USD$1,470.97) in Johannesburg, R18,375.00 (USD$964.15) in Durban, and R27,931.14 (USD$1,465.57) in Pretoria. 

Effective Ways To Reduce Your Cost of Living in South Africa

Plan Your Meals

Rather than impulse buying and eating in restaurants, you can significantly reduce your monthly expenses by planning and preparing your meals in advance. That way, you have a specific shopping list and avoid those impulse buys. 

Try making large meals and then freeze the extras in the right proportions for you or your family to prevent those busy days when you don’t have time to cook and may have eaten in a restaurant instead. 

You can also buy non-perishables like dried rice, beans, pasta, and canned goods in bulk. This will save you lots of money at the grocery store and prevent trips to the store when you only need one or two ingredients. 

Work From Home

Working from home can save you a lot of money, especially considering you can pay between 10% and 16% of your income on transportation. 

Working from home has additional financial benefits, including not buying that daily coffee on your way to work and not eating lunch in restaurants; instead, you can eat your pre-planned meals at home.  

Switch to Alternative Energy Sources

Using alternative energy sources will reduce your carbon footprint and other forms of pollution compared to fossil fuels and save significant money simultaneously. The forms of alternative energy (wind, solar, hydro, etc) that are available in any area can vary significantly. However, solar power does not vary with location since we have abundant sunshine throughout the country.    

Solar Power

Investing in solar does come with an upfront investment. However, after the solar payback period of about five years, your power will be free, potentially saving you thousands of rands yearly. The added bonus is that you’ll never have to worry about those annoying load shedding blackouts ever again! 

You’re halfway to energy independence when you invest in an EcoFlow Portable Power Station for battery backup. Now, pair that with EcoFlow Solar Panels, the foundation of any photovoltaic system, and you can recharge your batteries using free, clean, and green solar energy. That’ll save you thousands of rands and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

Alternatively, to make it easier to buy and install, you can purchase an EcoFlow Solar Generator, which provides complete off-grid electricity generation and storage solutions. They come in various sizes and capacities to suit your energy needs. Whether you live alone and have a small energy footprint or a large family in a large home with many energy-hungry appliances, you can easily find one that’ll work for you.

Live Sustainably

Using solar energy is a great start to saving money and living sustainably, but there are other ways to live sustainably while saving your rands. Let’s take a look at some things you can do today.

  • Switch to LED light bulbs throughout your home.
  • Reduce your household electricity use by sealing doors and windows, turning off lights and electronics while not in use, taking shorter showers, and only running full laundry and dishwasher loads. 
  • Mind your thermostat better; don’t turn the air conditioner too low or heat too high, and make sure you turn both down when you are going to be out of the house. 
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances, also called Energy Star appliances.
  • Use water-saving shower heads and other water-saving fixtures.
  • Grow some of your own fruits and vegetables; you can even grow food in pots on your property.
  • Reuse, reuse, reuse. Don’t throw something out until you are certain it cannot be used for anything else. 
  • Mend your clothing rather than throwing it out; you can also consider doing clothing swaps with like-minded friends, a great solution for getting ‘new’ clothes at no cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Money Do You Need per Month To Live Comfortably in South Africa?

Living comfortably in South Africa will cost about R18,000 (USD$944.47) for a single person or R48,000 (USD$2,518.60) for a family of four in Durban. Cape Town will cost about R20,000 (USD$1,049.42) for a single person or R60,000 (USD$3,148.25) for a family of four.  

How Much Should Food Cost per Month for One Person in South Africa?

The cost of food in South Africa can vary widely, depending on your diet and where you live. In general, however, the cost of food per month per person is between R2,000 and R4,000 (USD$104.94-$209.88). 

How Much Is Rent Per Month in South Africa?

Rent varies widely in South Africa depending on how big of an apartment you need and its location. One-bedroom apartments are from R5,250 (USD$275.47) in Bloemfontein to about R12,000 (USD$629.65) in Cape Town. A three-bedroom apartment is from about R8,500 (USD$446.00) in Soweto to about R25,000 (USD$1,311.77) in the Cape.

Final Thoughts

Living in South Africa has many advantages. It’s a gorgeous country with fantastic weather, abundant sunshine, and diverse cultures. It’s a very affordable place to live; however, wages can be low, so understanding the costs is essential to help you budget accordingly. 

Living more sustainably will reduce your carbon footprint while saving you money. Investing in one of EcoFlow’s Solar Generators will save you thousands of rands and allow you to avoid those annoying load-shedding blackouts at the same time.

ECOFLOW
ECOFLOWhttps://www.ecoflow.com/
EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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