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Unpacking the Costs of Living in Johannesburg

By · January 3 2022
Unpacking the Costs of Living in Johannesburg

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There’s no place like Johannesburg. As the heart and soul of urban South Africa, the city of gold attracts people of all backgrounds to its vibrant streets and roaring business landscape. But for those moving from elsewhere, it can seem a little overwhelming because you might not know what to expect.

In order to help out with this, we thought we’d unpack some of the detail around what it costs to live in the city. Of course, we’re going to be talking about averages here – so your mileage may vary, but hopefully, it gives you a sense of what a typical life in Joburg might cost you.

Accommodation

Housing in Johannesburg varies dramatically depending on the area in which you choose to stay. So, it’s important that you plan your suburbs of choice carefully depending on where you will be working and what access to various amenities matters to you and your family.

According to a 2020 study from Rode & Associates, the average rental for a bachelor unit is around R4,166 per month, with some of the more remote suburbs charging R2,300 a month, and the more expensive areas being anywhere up to R7,750 per month. If you need a little more space, you’d be looking at a range of R4,800 – R13,250 per month for a 3-bedroom unit with the average coming in at around R8,250.

Note that this will typically exclude water and electricity which is charged on a consumption basis. And don’t forget that Wi-Fi – which we all know we can’t live without.

If you’re looking to buy a place, then you’d be looking at around R14,136 per square metre according to Numbeo. This is quite high relative to the rest of the country, with the exception of the tourist-central suburbs of Cape Town that are marketed towards international visitors. Bear in mind though that the differences between suburbs are significant, so it’s a much better option to identify where you want to be first, and then you can find out what those costs might look like.

Internet / Data

None of us would be able to function without our home Wi-Fi these days and so it’s important to factor the costs of your internet connection and monthly data into your decisions. A decent uncapped fibre connection in Johannesburg is going to set you back somewhere between R700 and R1,500 depending on your speed of choice and the specific provider you are with.

There are some retail areas that offer free Wi-Fi, but these are not that prevalent so it’s worth making sure that you have your own means of getting on the internet – both for work and for leisure.

A good data plan on your cell phone is also a crucial component of staying connected as you’re out and about. This can cost you anywhere from R100 per month all the way up to R500 per month – it’s really up to how much data you need. These costs can creep up on you – so watch out. South Africa has some of the most expensive mobile data in the world.

Salaries

Johannesburg is known as the business hub of Africa for a reason, and the salaries that you can earn here are significantly higher than what you’ll find around the rest of the country. With that being said, a lot again depends on the type of company you’re working for and what position you’re able to secure.

The average gross annual salary in Johannesburg is around R447 857 according to research done by Adzuna. It’s worth noting though that is this heavily skewed by some of the outlying salaries on the high end earned by executives in large JSE-listed corporations. So, it’s worth tracking your specific profession to get a sense of what you might earn in Johannesburg. But it’s safe to expect at least a 15-20% increase if you’re coming from another city in the country (with the exception of Cape Town which might have a smaller gap).

Restaurants

One of the most compelling characteristics of Johannesburg is the quality of restaurant food that you can get at relatively competitive prices.

A fast-food meal will generally cost you between R50 and R100 per meal depending on where you go, which is mostly in line with the rest of the country. But you can also treat yourself to high-quality restaurant cuisines from around the world and spend anything from R100 – R600 per person per meal (excluding drinks).

If you’re looking for some recommendations for the best restaurants in the city, check these out (in no particular order):

  • Café Del Sol, for some amazing Italian food in a wonderfully intimate setting.
  • Koi will provide you with some of the best seafood and sushi that you’ll taste in an inland city.
  • The Cube Tasting Kitchen offers incredibly inventive and creative fine dining experiences for small groups of people.
  • Marble is the place to be seen and the food doesn’t disappoint either. A sparkling urban juggernaut, this restaurant is an experience you can’t miss.
  • The Grillhouse is a typical South African steakhouse with some of the best cuts of meat anywhere in the country. If you’re a red-meat fan, this is for you.

This barely scratches the surface of what’s on offer in Johannesburg, so be sure to ask some locals about the hidden gems that might just take your breath away.

P.S. The standard tipping etiquette in Johannesburg restaurants is 10% of the bill. Don’t forget to add that on!

Public Transport

Public transport in Johannesburg follows the same structures as the rest of the country. The informal minibus taxis ferry millions of people around the city on very affordable fares ranging from R5 – R100 depending on how far you’re going. They are also renowned for their ability to carve their way through traffic in some very “creative” ways.

The other alternative is to use ride-sharing apps like Uber or Bolt that will bring you a private vehicle to take you where you need to go. These are more expensive and tend to range from R50 – R300 for most journeys within the city.

Lastly, the most recent addition is the Gautrain which is a high-speed railway that connects OR Tambo International Airport with Pretoria, Marlboro, Midrand, Sandton, and Rosebank. This service is quite expensive (R150 – R300 per trip) but it offers incredible convenience and time-saving, especially when you’re arriving from the airport. Pair the train ride with an accompanying Gautrain bus and you might just find that you can get all the way to your door in no time.

Parking

Johannesburg’s economy is built around large shopping districts, so you’ll typically be driving into a paid parking area in most cases, as opposed to parking on the street. Parking fees tend to be quite reasonable, and you should never really be paying more than R10 – R15 unless you’re staying somewhere for a long time.

It’s also worth noting that in most parking areas, you’ll see car guards who watch your vehicles while you shop. These guards mostly rely on tips so if you’re there for a while and your guard is still there when you get back, a small tip will not go unappreciated.

Entertainment

Johannesburg is known for having a very eclectic mix of entertainment options for all occasions. Whether you’re looking for a quiet bar, or a raving club, a theatre show, or a stand-up comedy event, there is something for everyone. The cost ranges across the board depending on the type of event and where it is in the city.

Here are some typical sources of entertainment and a rough idea of what it might set you back:

  • Movies for two, plus popcorn: R400
  • Theatre show: R100 – R350 per person
  • A cocktail in a bar: R40 – R100 per drink
  • A beer in a bar: R20 – R60 per drink
  • Club entrance: R100 – R300 per person

But if you don’t want to spend money, there are a multitude of different parks, art galleries, hikes, and much more to keep you busy on a budget!

Ready to Move?

Well, there you have it! Hopefully, that gives you a decent sense of what life in Johannesburg might cost you. If you are looking to move to the city of gold, we’d love to help you here at Wise Move.

Our platform allows you to gather quotes from a number of different moving services, allowing you to get the best deal possible for your specific move. Forget having to do hours of research only for your chosen provider to pull out. With Wise Move, you can let us bring you the best of the best so that you can focus on what really matters – your new life.

Get in touch and let’s see how we can help.

We can’t wait to see you in Johannesburg!

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