Can You Guess Which SA City Is The Most Expensive To Live In?

No, it's not Cape Town


Yamkela Mdaka |

Most of us have been in some sort of debate about which city in South Africa is the most expensive to live in, and true to human nature, we often think where we are tops the list. “Have you seen our rent prices!”, “No, but our entertainment scene is way too overpriced” — these are some of the arguments we throw around, but today we’ve got an answer based on facts!

Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries globally, recently published their Cost of Living Index for mid-year 2019. In this report, they compare the cost of living across the world relative to New York City and look at things like the rent prices, transport, entertainment and food.

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New York City has an index score of 100, and all the other cities are compared against this index. If, for example, a city has an index score of 65, it means that the city is 45% cheaper to live in than New York City. And if another city has an index score of 110, then it is 10% more expensive to live in than New York City.

And the most expensive city in SA is…

According to the report, the most expensive city in South Africa is… wait for it (drumroll)… Pretoria! Pretoria is currently sitting on an index score of 49,18 — a significant increase from last year’s score of 45,89.

The capital city is followed by Johannesburg (47,47) and then Cape Town (45,00) — wrapping the top 3 most expensive cities on our side of the border.

Port Elizabeth (42,15) and Durban (40,61) follow in fourth and fifth place.

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All the South African cities have seen a substantial increase in the overall cost of living from last year. But we didn’t need a statistic to tell us that. Have you bought toiletries lately? You’ll find yourself debating whether to get moisturiser or put down a deposit for a house (joking, not joking)! This is something our pockets have felt, what with the current state of our economy.

When taking a closer look between Johannesburg and Cape Town, it does reveal a more granular outlook on the cost of living. While the total cost of living in Johannesburg is higher, rent prices are shown to be just over 48% higher in Cape Town than they are in Johannesburg. And restaurant prices in Cape Town are shown to be about 3,7% less than they are in Johannesburg.

So it’s really about looking at what matters to you and comparing that against what it will cost you wherever you choose to live.

On a more global note, here are the top 10 most expensive cities in the world:

  • Basel, Switzerland
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Trondheim, Norway
  • New York, NY, United States
  • Bergen, Norway

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