Cost of Living in Johannesburg, South Africa

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I have written about ‘Moving to South Africa‘ in great detail earlier (you can read the posts here), and have somewhat touched upon the cost of living aspect. However, I feel that this topic needs a little more detail. For anyone planning to move to a new country, this question of ‘how expensive it is’, is a very pertinent one. Not only does it prepare you in terms of what to expect in a foreign land but it also helps while negotiating a salary!

People’s spending habits usually tend to be vastly dis-similar and depends largely on individual preferences. In addition, monthly expenses of a couple will be very different to that of a family of four. Hence, this post will just broadly help you understand the basic prices of everyday things and the general cost of living in Joburg.

All prices are as of August, 2015.

Housing

Like any where else in the world, rentals will be the biggest component of your monthly expenses. Depending on where you are moving from, you might find it cheaper or more expensive in Joburg! Below are average rentals in good residential suburbs.

Monthly rents:

2-bedroom unfurnished apartment: R7000-R10000

3-bedroom unfurnished house: R9000-R14000

Unfurnished houses do not come with anything, except the stove and the light fittings and maybe a built-in braai (bbq). In some cases, there might be a few appliances such as a fridge or dishwasher thrown in.

Fully furnished options are also available. They would generally cost R2000-5000 per month more than the above rents. This would depend on the quality of furnishings, appliances, etc.

For a better idea, look on Property24.

Utilities

Electricity/Water – some houses come with a pre-paid electricity meter. This means that you put in a certain amount of money each month and when tat gets used up, your electricity s cut off until you pay some more. Kinda like a pre-paid mobile plan. But of course, no one waits until the power is turned off! On an average, a family of two will end up paying around R500-700 for electricity. Water is another R200-300.

Cable TV – the DSTV premium, that includes ALL the channels costs around R799 per month. Other channel bouquets will be cheaper.

Internet – depending on your usage, you can get a capped or an uncapped ADSl line. The monthly charges will vary between R499 to R999. Some of the service providers are Telkom and Mweb.

Mobile phones – There are a number of players in the market – Vodacom, Cell C and MTN to name a few. You can buy a phone on contract and pay for the phone and the monthly charges, or you can use your own phone and just pay the latter. There is also the option of pay-as-you-go. On an average, you will be looking at spending R300 to R600 on your phone.

Car

After the rent, your car will be the second biggest expense. Since it is impossible to live in Joburg and not have a car, you will need to allocate some money for this. This component will vary a great deal from person to person as it would depend on the type of car you buy, whether you buy it outright or get it financed, or whether you decide to lease a car.

Unless you are buying the car in cash, you will need to finance a part of the total price and this would mean that you will be paying the bank a monthly amount. In addition, taking out an insurance on the car is highly advisable. This breaks the expense into two parts:

Monthly loan repayments to the bank: R3000-R6000 (I am only considering regular cars and not premium/luxury models)

Insurance: R400-R1000

Even if you lease a car, you monthly expense will be around R4000-6000.

Petrol: the current price is R13/litre

Domestic worker

It is possible to employ a domestic worker at an affordable rate in South Africa. The average daily rate for normal cleaning and washing varies between R150-R200. This rate will be higher for live-in domestic workers and for those who are also supposed to look after children, drive, do the groceries, etc. A monthly salary can be worked out in these cases.

Please employ people from a reputable agency and after a thorough reference check.

Groceries

Milk 1 litre – R12

Bread loaf – R11

Eggs 12nos – R26

Butter 500gm – R38

Cheese slices 400gms – R41

Chicken 1kg – R80

Beef mince 1kg – R60

Coca Cola 1 litre – R13

Mineral water 500ml – R5

Nescafe instant coffe 100gm – R47

Cooking oil 750ml – R14

Eating out/entertainment

There are no dearth of eating places in Johannesburg. They range from cheap cafes to gourmet 10-course meals.

3-course meal for two in an average restaurant: R200-300

3-course meal for two in a fancy fine dining restaurant: R600-1000

Large Big Mac meal: R50

Local beer 500ml: R20-30

Glass of house wine: R30-40

Cup of coffee: R20

Cocktails: R45

Movie tickets: R78

Large popcorn: R35

Theatre tickets: R350

Tipping: 10% of total bill is standard in restaurants

Car guards and garage attendants should also be tipped as per discretion

Salons/Spa

Women’s haircut with blow dry: R400

Men’s haircut: R150

Mani-pedi: R300/200 (regular)

Full body massage: R600

Gym membership: R500 (monthly)

If I have missed out anything, or if you would like to know about a specific thing, please feel free to email me or comment below, and I will get back to you.

Happy moving to SA – I can guarantee that you will love it here!

9 thoughts on “Cost of Living in Johannesburg, South Africa

  1. the pricies are slightly below ours. But the remaining interesting question is about the buying power. To set these prices in relation, you need to know the average net income (afert having paid taxes, health insurance, pension fund and unemployment insurance contribution) per month/week or so. Thus, you can see, if the costs of living are hight oer lower in a certain country. The prices seem to be lower, then here. But, they might be enormous high for an anverage income worker, because he/she only earns i.e. 2000 ZAR a month

    • Very true…a real comparison can only be made with respect to purchasing power, which I think is lower in SA as compared to Germany. To be able to make that kind of a comparison, I will have to undertake an in-depth study of global economies!
      My main objective is to give a broad idea of living costs to people moving to SA, so that they can see whether or not their monthly net incomes will be sufficient and sustainable.
      Any other analysis will have to be taken up by professionals!

    • Thanks Merushka! Appreciate the input – will include them. Have left out school and children-related expenses deliberately as that is an entirely different dimension, and I don’t have first hand info! Also, most corporates pay for the schooling of expat children.

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