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 than in other expat destinations, life in the city is still easily affordable, especially if you earn in a foreign currency such as the US dollar.

The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Johannesburg at 205th out of 227 cities worldwide. Cape Town costs about the same, coming in at 210th. Compared to other major South African cities, you tend to enjoy a higher standard of living in Johannesburg due to better 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 your money will go much further here than in Cape Town. Johannesburg housing is not only cheaper but often roomier. You can easily afford to rent or buy multi-bedroomed houses that typically come with a spacious yard, pool, and garage.

That being said, accommodation costs in Johannesburg are also affected by the area or suburb you 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. The country's favourable climate allows a wide range of fruit and vegetables to flourish. Fresh produce can be extremely affordable as long as you stick to whatever is currently in season. As for meat, chicken and pork are cheap, but beef and lamb tend to be more expensive. Quality varies between grocery chains.

Three popular chain stores are present throughout the country: Checkers, Pick 'n Pay, and Woolworths. On the affordable side is Checkers, which offers good value for money, while Woolworths is the most expensive supermarket but has consistently high-quality goods. Pick 'n Pay is pricier than Checkers but significantly cheaper than Woolworths, and their produce is of average quality.

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 in inland cities such as Johannesburg. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Bolt are available throughout most of Johannesburg. A couple of short trips won't break the bank, but if used often, these services can be a pricey way to get around.

As for public transport, the Gautrain, which runs between Pretoria and Johannesburg, can be a fairly inexpensive way to commute if you happen to live and work close to the train line, which only has 10 stops.

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 you should find plenty to do in the City of Gold. Eating out is quite affordable, and you 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 you might expect, though. It usually works out significantly cheaper to buy items such as laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles abroad, even in countries where the currency conversion isn't in South Africa's favour.

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 that charge fees or have other forms of income can offer excellent education. That said, you would likely send your children to private or international schools, which offer superlative education at high premiums. You should budget accordingly and apply early to beat the waiting lists.

Cost of healthcare in Johannesburg

As the public healthcare system is generally considered inadequate, like many locals, you may opt for private healthcare services. 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 you take out a comprehensive medical aid policy with either a local or international health insurance provider.

Cost of living in Johannesburg chart

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Johannesburg in April 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreZAR 14,550
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreZAR 12,200
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreZAR 7,850
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreZAR 6,500
Food and drink
Dozen eggsZAR 50
Milk (1 litre)ZAR 20.65
Rice (1kg)ZAR 30
Loaf of white breadZAR 18.40
Chicken breasts (1kg)ZAR 55
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)ZAR 55
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantZAR 815
Big Mac MealZAR 90
Coca-Cola (330ml)ZAR 19.65
CappuccinoZAR 40
Bottle of beer (local)ZAR 25
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)ZAR 1.80
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)ZAR 690
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)ZAR 2,400
Taxi rate/kmZAR 20.70
City-centre public transport fareZAR 40
Gasoline/Petrol (per litre)ZAR 25

Expat Health Insurance

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