The cost of living in Johannesburg is around half that of European cities such as London and Paris. While the average salary in Johannesburg is comparatively lower, the city is still fairly low cost compared to many expat destinations in the world. The 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Johannesburg at 193rd out of 227 cities worldwide. Cape Town costs about the same, coming in at 194th.

Compared to other cities in South Africa, expats in Johannesburg generally enjoy a higher standard of living as a result of having higher purchasing power, especially when it comes to renting and buying housing.

Cost of accommodation in Johannesburg

The pricing of housing in Johannesburg is very reasonable, and expats' money will go much further here than in Cape Town. Johannesburg housing is not only cheaper but often roomier.

Accommodation costs in Johannesburg are also affected by the area or suburb expats choose to live in. High-income city-centre areas such as Sandton are notoriously pricey, while slightly less glamorous but still pleasant areas like Randburg can offer great value for money.

Cost of groceries in Johannesburg

The cost of day-to-day grocery shopping in Johannesburg is similar to that of most South African cities, with the same popular chain stores being present throughout the country. On the affordable side is Checkers, while Woolworths is generally the most expensive. Pick n Pay falls somewhere between the two.

Cost of transport in Johannesburg

With cars being the main mode of transport in Johannesburg, it's important to consider expenses such as the cost of petrol and maintenance. In South Africa, petrol in coastal cities is slightly cheaper than petrol in inland cities such as Johannesburg. Beyond this, transport expenses in Johannesburg are largely the same as those in Cape Town.

Cost of healthcare in Johannesburg

As the public healthcare system is generally considered inadequate, most expats will do as locals do and opt for private healthcare services instead. Though trips to the GP are reasonably priced, specialist treatment, surgery, hospital stays and chronic medication costs can be high. To cover these extra expenses, we advise that expats take out a comprehensive medical aid policy with either a local or international health insurance provider.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Johannesburg

The cost of leisure activities in Johannesburg is similar to other major cities in South Africa, and expats should find plenty to do in the City of Gold. Eating out is quite affordable, and expats should have no problem finding something to do across a range of price points. Imports like electronics, games and books go at a higher cost than expats might expect.

Cost of education in Johannesburg

In general, no-fee public schools in South Africa have a way to go to meet international standards, but some public schools which charge fees or have other forms of income can offer excellent education. That said, most expats send their children to private or international schools, which offer superlative education at high premiums. Expats should budget accordingly and apply early to beat the waiting lists.

Cost of living in South Africa chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Johannesburg in October 2022.


Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

ZAR 13,400

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

ZAR 12,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

ZAR 6,600

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

ZAR 6,300


Eggs (dozen)

ZAR 36

Milk (1 litre)

ZAR 18

Rice (1kg)

ZAR 25

Loaf of white bread

ZAR 15

Chicken breasts (1kg)

ZAR 77

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

ZAR 51

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

ZAR 69

Coca-Cola (330ml)

ZAR 16


ZAR 32

Local beer (500ml)

ZAR 39

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

ZAR 600


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

ZAR 2.13

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

ZAR 860

Basic utilities (per month for small household)

ZAR 1,900


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

ZAR 16

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

ZAR 30

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

ZAR 25.12

Expat Health Insurance

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Cigna Global

If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.

Get a quote from Cigna Global

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