The cost of living in South Africa

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When planning to move internationally, one of the most fundamental pieces of research you need to do is into the cost of living at your destination. 'Will I be able to afford my new lifestyle?' is one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself, as it is vital that you budget your funds correctly. Use this guide to the cost of living in South Africa to help budget for housing, transport, healthcare and more. 

South Africa is one of our most popular international destinations due to how affordable it is to live there, especially in comparison to the UK and other European countries. To prove this, data taken from October 2022 suggests that South Africa is 45% cheaper to live in than the United Kingdom. However, it is important to remember that the cost of living varies from city to city, with Cape Town and Johannesburg being the most expensive. 

What is the average cost of living in South Africa?

Depending on where in South Africa you choose to move to, it is estimated that for a single person the average cost of living, excluding rent, could be as little as ZAR8,875 which is equivalent to around £429.44. For a four-bedroom property, you may be looking at something similar to ZAR30,775 per month, excluding rent, which is equivalent to approximately £1,488.25. Please note that these conversion rates are as of October 2022.  

Property prices and the cost of rent throughout South Africa are generally lower than what we see here in the UK, especially compared to London prices. As a result, you may find that your money can stretch a little further when it comes to properties. For example, the monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment just outside of Cape Town may cost you around ZAR14,036, which is approximately £678.77. Let's take a look at the average housing costs in South Africa in more detail. 

Housing costs in South Africa

Renting a property in South Africa is very cost-effective for expats who are looking to live in the city's suburbs, however, the rental fees in the city centers will be higher. In saying this though, if you are used to rental prices in London, then you shouldn't have a problem renting in the likes of Cape Town and Johannesburg. The price that you rent your property for will depend on where in South Africa you are going to live and how large your property is. To give you an idea of how much this may cost, to rent a larger home in or near to Johannesburg it could cost up to ZAR8,500 - ZAR30,000 (£410.00 - £1,488.00.) 

If you are looking to purchase a property in South Africa, then you may also be in luck. The property prices are significantly lower than most European countries, as well as much of Australia, the USA and Asia. As well as this, there are no regulations as to who can purchase a property in South Africa, so expats are allowed to do as they please, as long as your property is registered correctly as non-residents have to pay tax when they come to selling their property. 

Healthcare costs in South Africa

Although South Africa have a public healthcare service, however there is still a large difference between public and private healthcare services. The South African Government are in the process of making healthcare free for everyone in the country, but, for the moment, it is recommended and advised to take out private healthcare and private healthcare insurance. 

The cost of private healthcare and private healthcare insurance varies, but you may be able to get this through your employer. When taking out private healthcare insurance you need to ensure you read the policy thoroughly to see what it covers and keep in mind that most insurance policies only cover you for around five years. 

For state healthcare, as of October 2022, a doctor's consultation would cost you approximately ZAR55 (£2.66), whereas for a private doctor's consultation could cost you around ZAR350 - ZAR400 (£16.95 - £19.37), however this price difference may be worth it. 

Transport costs in South Africa

The cost of public transport in South Africa differs depending on where in the country you live. South Africa has its very own metro rail network, which is one of the largest in Africa. Metro rail prices are determined by the region you start your journey in and how far you are travelling. For a short journey, you could be looking at paying ZAR7.00, which is equivalent to 34p, and for longer journeys you may be spending around ZAR12, approximately 58p. This is considerably lower than transport costs in the UK, with a short journey costing between £3.00 - £5.00. Bare in mind that, if you are travelling for work, then commuter trains will cost considerably more. 

If you will be travelling regularly, for work or personal reasons, then you may want to consider purchasing a metro rail monthly ticket. This is bound to save you some money and will be more convenient than buying a ticket every morning, in a rush to get to work on time! 

Another way of getting around South Africa is via bus. You will find two types of buses: the minibus or the normal bus we are used to seeing. The minibus taxis are often the most cost-effective way to get around, however this is not necessarily the safest way to travel. Normal bus prices vary, similar to how the metro trains do too. Fares can cost around ZAR8 - ZAR30 (39p - £1.45).

Tax costs in South Africa

After you have been living and working in South Africa for more than 183 days (around six months), then you will be required to pay personal income tax on your personal income. Calculating how much income tax you need to pay can be complex. Each tax bracket has as set taxable rate, as well as a percentage of earnings over the amount set by each tax bracket. To make it a little simpler, tax rates in South Africa can vary between 18% and 45%. 

You are required to pay taxes in South Africa if you are a permanent or temporary resident, are a homeowner (even if you are a non-resident) or earn more than ZAR1.25 million in foreign employment income as a tax resident. 

Food costs in South Africa

It is estimated that on average you should expect to spend roughly R3,800 per month on grocery shopping in South Africa, which is around £179.45. To put this into context, the average monthly shop in the UK came to £371 (according to data from 2021), so you will be saving a considerable amount of money in South Africa. 

However, the price you pay for your grocery shop depends on where in South Africa you live. The price also varies dramatically depending on different income groups too. 

To conclude, South Africa's cost of living is considerably lower than that of the UK and so your budget may be different to what you are used to. 

If you are considering moving to South Africa, then get in contact with us today to arrange your international removal.