A Guide on Cost of Living in South Africa

10 minute read
A Guide on Cost of Living in South Africa

South Africa, situated at the southern tip of Africa, is a developing country with a surprisingly high standard of living, surpassing that of certain European nations. The cost of living in South Africa is around ZAR 10,755 per month without rent for a single person, and it can vary according to the selection of living standards of a person. In addition, the average cost of rent in South Africa is approximately ZAR 8000 per month.


South Africa’s economy is the second largest in Africa and the continent’s most industrialised, technologically advanced, and diversified. South Africa is one of just eight countries in Africa with an upper-middle-income economy. If you plan to move to South Africa, this blog we will help you in provide details about living costs there. The cost of living in South Africa is generally low, enabling a good and healthy lifestyle. Keep reading this blog to understand the cost of living in South Africa in complete detail. 

Also Read: Cost of Living in Seoul: A Comprehensive Guide on Seoul’s Expense

List of Cost of Living in South Africa  

On average, the cost of living in South Africa for international students is around ZAR 18,700. Moreover, this country has a lot to offer for international students. You will be exposed to career opportunities and the country’s beautiful culture and stunning scenery. But you should know the expenses you must bear in South Africa before you move there.

So, let’s have a look at the general breakdown of the cost of living in South Africa in detail for various categories:

Cost of Transportation in South Africa

The cost of Transportation in South Africa for the public, with a one-way ticket, is around ZAR 30. Moreover, transportation within the country can be challenging, particularly due to the unreliability and disorganisation of local buses.

For a safer and more convenient experience, renting a car, taking a taxi, or opting for an escorted tour are better options. The cost of transportation here comes under the overall cost of living in South Africa. Have a look at the table given below to get an idea of the average cost of Transportation in South Africa which you will be paying for transportation in South Africa:

Mode of TransportMonthly Cost
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)ZAR 30.00
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)ZAR 800.00
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)ZAR 20.00
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)ZAR 18.00
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)ZAR 90.00
Gasoline (1 liter)ZAR 23.30
Source: numbeo

Cost of Food in South Africa

When it comes to dining, even for tourists, restaurants need not be overly expensive. The cost of food in South Africa at inexpensive restaurant is around ZAR 150 while mid-range restaurants charge around ZAR 700 for two people. This inexpensive cost of food in South Africa will not affect your cost of living there.  

Cost of Grocery in South Africa

The total cost of groceries in South Africa is around ZAR 790, which is generally very affordable, making it cost-effective to cook at home. These grocery costs might impact the cost of living in South Africa as it is a daily expense. Have a look at the table below to know the average price of food and grocery items in South Africa:

Grocery ItemsApprox. cost
Milk (regular), (1 liter)ZAR 18.76
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)ZAR 17.13
Rice (white), (1kg)ZAR 26.58
Eggs (regular) (12)ZAR 38.35
Apples (1kg)ZAR 25.83
Banana (1kg)ZAR 24.98
Oranges (1kg)ZAR 24.05
Tomato (1kg)ZAR 26.23
Potato (1kg)ZAR 20.81
Onion (1kg)ZAR 24.34
Lettuce (1 head)ZAR 18.21
Water (1.5 liter bottle)ZAR 16.52
meat, egg, drinks and Other itemsZAR 510
Source: numbeo

Cost of Utility in South Africa

Regarding utilities, the monthly average cost of utility in South Africa is around $97, which covers electricity, heating, cooling, and water. While cell phone services are reasonably priced, high-speed internet can be relatively costly, averaging around $47 per month.  

Look at the table provided below to know the average utility expense in South Africa:

Utility TypeApprox Monthly Cost
Basic (Electricity, Water, Garbage, Heating, Cooling)ZAR 1,912
1 minute of Prepaid Mobile Tariff LocalZAR 590
Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)ZAR 759
Source: numbeo

Cost Housing Rent in South Africa

In the city centre, the cost of housing rent in South Africa for a one-bedroom apartment is up to ZAR 8,155; the cost of housing rent depends on the area a person selects and the costs of living in South Africa, including apartment rent in different areas, can be different. Look at the table given below to know the average monthly rent you can expect to pay in South Africa:

Apartment LocationApprox Monthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre8,155 R
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre6,273 R
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre15,546 R
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre12,033 R
Source: numbeo

Also Read: Cost of Living in Italy

Average Tuition Fees in South Africa 

Along with the average cost of living in South Africa, students should know the average tuition fees. The annual cost of studying in South Africa is directly tied to the specific course and university you select. Tuition fees may vary across universities and courses. On average, the annual tuition fee is around ZAR 55,900.

To alleviate financial strain, you can explore opportunities such as scholarships and part-time jobs in South Africa.These options can help reduce the financial burden associated with studying abroad. By knowing the tuition fee, you can manage your cost of living in South Africa.

Why Choose South Africa to Study Abroad?

South Africa is rapidly turning into a popular destination for international students who are seeking educational opportunities abroad. The country provides a unique and enriching experience for students with its stunning natural beauty and cultural history. Let’s have a look at some of the major reasons why you should pursue your higher education in South Africa:


South Africa presents a cost-effective opportunity for studying abroad, distinguishing it from numerous other favoured locations. This significant aspect appeals to international students who ponder whether they should choose South Africa as their study destination. 

With its lower tuition fees, cost of living, and even travel expenses, the country becomes an appealing choice for students seeking excellent education without incurring excessive expenses.

Unique and Diverse Educational Opportunities 

Along with affordable cost of living in South Africa, it hosts prestigious universities providing an extensive array of academic programs, spanning from business and engineering to wildlife conservation and African studies. Immersing yourself in this lively nation offers a unique outlook on your chosen field of study and opens doors to research opportunities that might be scarce in your home country. 

Among the top institutions in South Africa catering to international students are the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University. These universities offer a diverse range of degree programs and ample resources to assist international students throughout their academic journey.

Networking and Career Opportunities

South Africans are renowned for their gracious hospitality, creating a welcoming atmosphere that helps international students forge meaningful connections. Additionally, South African universities frequently foster robust relationships with both local and international businesses, offering students abundant chances for networking and career advancement

Choosing to study abroad in South Africa can prove to be a valuable asset on your resume, unlocking opportunities for future job prospects, and helping you overcome the hurdle of the cost of living in South Africa.

Cultural Immersion

South Africa presents a diverse and culturally rich setting for international students with its 11 official languages and deep historical heritage. The population encompasses various native African groups such as Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, and more, along with South Africans with ancestral ties to the Netherlands, India, and Malaysia.

This cultural diversity is also evident in the cuisine, which reflects a blend of multicultural influences, featuring traditional braais and Cape Malay curries, among other delights. Knowing the cost of living South Africa helps you make smart choices while enjoying the local life of south africa.

Personal Growth and Development

Studying in South Africa presents a chance for personal advancement and self-improvement. Understanding the approximate cost of living in South Africa and then choosing to live and study there can offer valuable opportunities to cultivate resilience, adaptability, and independence, which can have personal and professional advantages.

Embracing various activities not commonly accessible in your home country will challenge and stretch your capabilities, leading to substantial growth that can shape and enhance your life in the long run.

Also Read: Cost of Living in Sydney: A Comprehensive Guide on Sydney’s Expense

Things to Know When Moving to South Africa 

Be it the beautiful beaches or career opportunities, there are numerous reasons why South Africa attracts so many students and expats. While it must be really exciting for you to move to this amazing nation, there are certain things that you should know in advance before you move there.  

Overall, the cost of living in South Africa is affordable for expats who wish to move there, but you must manage your expenses according to your budget and here we have given here are some of the things you should know when moving to South Africa: 

Amazing Beaches

South Africa boasts an ideal location, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the south and southeast, making it a perfect destination for stunning sandy beaches and abundant sunshine. Spanning 1600 miles of coastline between Namibia and the Atlantic Ocean, the country is home to a plethora of highly esteemed beaches. In the last season, an impressive 51 of South Africa’s beaches earned the prestigious Blue Flag title. 

Visiting to these amazing beaches might affect the cost of living in South Africa but exploring these beaches is a must, as they are just as incredible as you remember. Among the must-visit beaches are Boulder Beach in Cape Town, the Golden Mile in Durban, Kogel Bay on the East Coast, and Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast.

A Slower Pace of Life 

It’s important to understand that South Africa, for the most part, adopts a more relaxed pace compared to many other places around the world. While Johannesburg offers a modern, metropolitan lifestyle, most other parts of the country tend to be slower and laid-back. 

South Africans generally value patience as an important virtue and are not particularly inclined towards a fast-paced lifestyle. However, those willing to embrace this slower way of life will soon realize why it is so appealing. Life in South Africa is meant to be savoured, and you won’t experience the same level of hustle and bustle as you would in cities like London or New York.

English is the Most Common Language 

For those who have been raised in South Africa, it’s common knowledge that English is widely spoken. Although other languages are also used based on families and specific regions, English stands out as one of the country’s official 11 languages and is arguably the most prevalent. 

Whether you’re at tourist attractions, shops, businesses, or other places, you’ll hear English being spoken. This means you can rest assured that you won’t lose the nuanced understanding of English you’ve cultivated, as it remains widely used throughout the country.

Various Leisure Activities 

After understanding and managing your cost of living in South Africa, one of the remarkable aspects of South Africa is the abundance of opportunities for exciting and enjoyable activities, often described as a vast playground. The country offers diverse possibilities, ensuring you have a great time regardless of your preferences.

You can indulge in activities such as wine tasting, mountain running, or spending a whole day at the beach. Whether you choose to travel by car or plane, South Africa allows you to explore at your own pace, offering beautiful towns, vibrant countryside, and stunning beaches within just a few hours of travel. The variety is truly astonishing.  

For thrill-seekers, South Africa provides an array of options to keep boredom at bay, including hiking, snorkelling, white water rafting, bungee jumping, skiing, and the world’s best locations for hot air ballooning.  The country also boasts numerous amusement and water parks, such as Gold Reef City and uShaka Marine World, ensuring that fun and excitement are never in short supply.

Career Opportunities

If you’re seeking an incredible career opportunity, South Africa offers a plethora of options to kickstart a new career or leverage your existing skill set upon returning home. The cost of living in South Africa is negligible compared to the minimum salary there.

The country has a demand for various essential skills, including professions like accountants, electricians, and chefs, but there are numerous other skill sets that require talented individuals. If you possess sought-after skills or possess a wealth of high-end qualifications, securing a job in South Africa should be a seamless process.

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Cost of Living in Cambodia: A Guide on Expected ExpensesCost of Living in Perth: A Comprehensive Guide
Cost of Living in Brussels: A Guide on Expected ExpensesCost of Living in Scotland: A Guide on Expected Expenses


Q1. What is the Cost of Living in South Africa ?

Ans. The average cost of living in South Africa for expats is around ZAR 18,700, including rent. Moreover, it can vary according to the location and type of accommodation you choose.

Q2. How costly is it to live in South Africa?

Ans. How much money do I need to live comfortably in South Africa?
For a single person, the cost of living in South Africa is around ZAR 18,700 per month. It means the money you need to live comfortably in South Africa is around ZAR 18,700. However, the minimum salary in South Africa is around ZAR 30,000 or more. This income would allow you to live comfortably in South Africa, and you would have to save some or invest.

Q3. Is it expensive to live in South Africa?

Ans. The cost of living in South Africa for a single person is estimated at around 10,756.8R, and this is without rent. On average, it is around 53% lower than cost of living in the United States.

Many Indian students dream of pursuing education in foreign nations due to the exposure and career growth they offer. Consider joining a free counselling session with Leverage Edu if you are also planning to study abroad

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