A Guide on Cost of Living in South Africa

8 minute read

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.

South Africa’s economy is the second largest in Africa and the continent’s most industrialized, technologically advanced, and diversified. South Africa is one of just eight countries in Africa with an upper-middle-income economy.

It is distinguished by a number of distinctive ecosystems. It contains ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 10 National Parks, three capitals, and eleven official languages. The nation is well-known for its breathtaking landscapes and variety of African wildlife.

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: Study in South Africa: Application, Colleges, VISA & More

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 

South Africa 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.

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. 

Engaging with local music, dance, historical landmarks, and museums will provide you with ample opportunities to fully immerse yourself in South African culture, fostering a broader global perspective and enriching your personal experience.

Personal Growth and Development

Studying in South Africa presents a chance for personal advancement and self-improvement. Choosing to live and study in South Africa offers valuable opportunities to cultivate resilience, adaptability, and independence, which can have both 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 Studying in Germany

List of Cost of Living in South Africa  

South Africa has a lot to offer to international students. You won’t only get exposed to career opportunities but also the beautiful culture and stunning scenery of the country. But you should be aware of the expenses you will have to bear in South Africa before you move there. 

So, let’s have a look at the expenses you can anticipate in South Africa in detail: 


Transportation within the country can be challenging, particularly due to the unreliability and disorganization 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. 

Public transport fares are relatively expensive, with a one-way ticket costing over $1.4. Have a look at the table given below to get an idea of the average price you will be paying for transportation in South Africa: 

One Way Ticket Price  $1.42
Price of Monthly Pass $39.90
Gasoline $1.30


When it comes to dining, even for tourists, restaurants need not be overly expensive. Inexpensive eateries offer meals for around $8, while mid-range restaurants charge around $35 for two people.  

For a budget-friendly experience, it’s advisable to patronize restaurants frequented by locals. Additionally, South Africa boasts a well-established wine industry, making it a must-try for wine enthusiasts.  

Grocery prices are generally very affordable, making it cost-effective to cook at home. Have a look at the table below to know the average price of food and grocery items in South Africa:

Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant) $8.55
Water (0.33 Liter) $0.67
Eggs (12) $1.77
Milk (1 Liter) $0.99
Loaf Bread (500g) $0.89

Utility Bill

Regarding utilities, the monthly cost for an average-sized apartment is just above $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:

Basic (Electricity, Water, Garbage, Heating, Cooling) $97.24
1 minute of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local $0.10
Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) $47.63


The monthly rental prices for apartments, studios, or houses vary depending on the city, neighbourhood, and type of accommodation. In the city centre, a one or two-person apartment can cost up to $440, while larger family apartments may be twice as expensive or more, depending on the area.

Look at the table given below to know the average monthly rent you can expect to pay in South Africa: 

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center $433.37
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center $361.46
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center $820.69

Also Read: Cost of Living in Italy

Average Tuition Fees in South Africa 

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 can range from $799 to $1940.

For international students, the monthly living expenses in South Africa are estimated to be around $302 to $742. The overall student living costs in the country will depend on your individual lifestyle and spending habits. 

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.

Also Read: Cost of Living in France: Rent, Food, Expenses and More

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.  

So, 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 2022/2023 season, an impressive 51 of South Africa’s beaches earned the prestigious Blue Flag title. 

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 

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 a diverse range of possibilities, ensuring you have a great time no matter 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 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.

Also Read: Cost of Living in London for Students


Q1. How much does one need to live comfortably in South Africa?

A. While most South Africans earn just $1,369 per month, it is estimated that an income of $2,568 per month is required if you want to live comfortably in the country. 

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

A. It is not very expensive to live in South Africa. As per the estimates, the cost of living in South Africa is 50.8% lower than in the United States. 

Q3. Is food costly in South Africa?

A. The prices of both restaurant meals and grocery items are very affordable in South Africa. For instance, inexpensive eateries offer meals for around $8 in the country. 

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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