Cost of Living in Cape Town

cost of living in cape town

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With its rich history, stunning scenery and vibrant culture, Cape Town, South Africa, is easily one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

And, despite being one of the biggest hubs for tourism in the world, the Mother City’s cost of living is surprisingly low when compared to other major cities around the world.

In this article, I’ll explore why moving to Cape Town is such an appealing idea when you look at the cost of living in the city and how it compares to 10 other major cities around the world.

Finally, I’ll also answer the commonly asked question: Is it worth living in Cape Town?

Let’s find out.

Cape Town’s Economy

Apart from being a tourist hub, Cape Town is also responsible for producing 9.8% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which makes it one of the most financially important locations in the country.

It also has a super diversified economy, which means that the 9.8% of GDP comes from different sectors. As a result, it’s the city with the second-highest employment rate in South Africa.

It also brings in a ton of digital nomads who want to settle down for a month or two.

Job opportunities

Cape Town has a diverse job market. The biggest employers include the South African government, Woolworths, and Shoprite. But it’s also a place where you can earn a living doing almost anything. Uber drivers, open-air markets, and working in tourism are all ways to make money without needing to have any previous job experience.

In many ways, you can make it if you dream, believe, and work (really) hard.

cost of living in cape town

Cost of Living in Cape Town

The cost of living in Cape Town is quite high when compared to the rest of South Africa. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the city caters more to tourists than locals since tourism is one of the biggest sources of revenue.

Another important factor to note is that South Africa is a developing country, so inflation is high.

But if you’re visiting from abroad, the good news is that other currencies are generally quite strong compared to the Rand.

According to Expatistan, the average cost of living in Cape Town at the time of writing is R25,019 for one person and R47,808 for a family of four.

To understand these costs better, I’m going to break down the main expenses that make up them up.

Prices in Cape Town vary from area to area, so each expense will have a result for a single person, as well as a family of four. On top of that, I’ve also broken each expense up into high-end and low-end costs, to give you an idea of the different price points you can expect.

Housing (monthly)

Housing makes up the majority of expenses anywhere in the world, and Cape Town is no different.

Single person

  • Low-end: R8,200
  • High-end: R12,500
  • Average: R10,350

Family of four

  • Low-end: R11,800
  • High-end: R23,000
  • Average: R14,450


Food makes up the second highest expense. Depending on where you shop, your costs could differ.

Single person

  • Low-end: R1,828
  • High-end: R4,480
  • Average: R3,150

Family of four

  • Low-end: R4,040
  • High-end: R9,940
  • Average: R6,990

Utilities (monthly)

Thanks to load-shedding, the cost of utilities has gone down for a lot of people since they can’t use electricity. And, with a focus on shifting to solar power, utility costs could be even cheaper if you have renewable power sources.

Single person

  • Low-end: R610
  • High-end: R1,220
  • Average: R915

Family of four

  • Low-end: R1,380
  • High-end: R2,760
  • Average: R2,070

Transport (monthly)

Cape Town’s MyCiti bus service is the most affordable way to get around the city. Second to that is the use of Ubers, followed by private vehicles.

Single person

  • Low-end: R543
  • High-end: R6,050
  • Average: R3,300

Family of four

  • Low-end: R2,180
  • High-end: R6,880
  • Average: R4,530

Healthcare (monthly)

South Africa’s healthcare is the best on the continent, which applies to private and public care. Unfortunately, public hospitals and clinics can be crowded. But some hospital plans can cover visits to private hospital chains.

Single person

  • Low-end: R1,800
  • High-end: R4,820
  • Average: R3,310

Family of four

  • Low-end: R3,764
  • High-end: R11,300
  • Average: R7,532
penguins in cape town

Cost of Living In Cape Town vs 10 Major Cities

Compared to the other parts of South Africa, Cape Town can be expensive.

But, like I said earlier, the cost of living in Cape Town is a stark contrast to the cost of living in other major cities around the world.

Below are 10 major cities and a comparison of the cost of living in Cape Town.

1. New York, United States of America

At the top of the list is New York. The city that never sleeps is a popular destination for people looking to make their big break and is home to 8.8 million people. With one of the highest costs of living, most New Yorkers are living from paycheck to paycheck.

Despite being the home of $1 pizza slices, the cost of living in the Big Apple is 225% higher than in Cape Town.

2. London, England

Home to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge, London is fast-paced, vibrant, and steeped in history. It has a population of 9,648,000 people as of November 2023. While it has great public transport systems, it also has one of the highest costs of living in the world.

Whether it’s because of Brexit, housing issues, or being one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, the cost of living in London is 210% more expensive than in Cape Town.

3. Singapore, Asia

Sovereign nation Singapore is home to some of the world’s best public and private healthcare systems, and has super clean and efficient public transport (I’ve never seen a cleaner train anywhere else – seriously!).

With strict laws on littering, singing explicit lyrics, and chewing gum, Singapore is one of the cleanest cities in the world. However, it also has a really high cost of living.

In fact, living in Singapore is 203% more expensive than in Cape Town.

4. Sydney, Australia

The corporate cousin of Melbourne, Sydney is one of Australia’s thriving hubs. Here, you’ll be able to see the Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. With that being said, the weather can dip to around -10°C, the traffic is notoriously bad, and housing is also expensive.

If you want to move to Sydney, go for it. Just keep in mind that it’s 143% more expensive than Cape Town.

5. Paris, France

Ah, the city of love. From its boutique bakeries to the looming Eiffel Tower, Paris is one of the top culinary capitals in the world and home to the largest expat community in France.

But nothing comes without a price in Paris. You can’t go anywhere without dressing up (not even shopping!), it’s vital to learn some French, and things are just generally expensive. Traffic is also nothing short of ridiculous.

While it’s not as high as others on this list, the cost of living in Paris is 132% more expensive than in Cape Town.

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is known for a lot of things. Legalised marijuana, red-light districts, and bicycles (seriously, there are so many bicycles), Amsterdam is a great place to live.

It’s diverse, vibrant, and home to corporate hubs. But it’s not without its problems, either.

Crime is a slight problem (I had to lock my backpack while I was out and about), and it can be tricky to pick up the language – even for Afrikaans and German speakers.

Also, the cost of living in Amsterdam is 126% more expensive than in Cape Town.

So I’d visit it for a holiday, but I don’t think I’d stay long-term.

7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

If you want to experience life in the fast lane, you should move to Dubai.

I’ve been a few times, and I can tell you there’s a lot to love. It’s super safe, has a humid environment, and is home to a thriving nightlife. It’s also home to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (so far), and the Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world.

But all that glitters isn’t always gold in the Venice of the Gulf (that’s a nickname for Dubai). Dubai is also home to very strict laws and censorship. Seriously, you need a permit for just about everything.

While there are fancy cars and magnificent malls, Dubai’s cost of living is 94% more expensive than Cape Town’s.

8. Glasgow, Scotland

For completely unbiased reasons, I love Glasgow. It’s full of friendly people, and an amazing art scene. And it’s also the birthplace of the founding members of AC/DC!

Unfortunately, this beautiful city is experiencing a massive housing crisis. The weather is also not particularly tropical (to say the least), and there can be some unexpected taxes.

While I do love good old Glasgow, it’s still 74% more expensive than living in Cape Town.

9. Venice, Italy

Experiencing Venice is something everybody has to do at least once in their life. Gondola rides through the canals, vibrant cultural events, and (of course) the food are reason enough to get me on a plane.

But while it’s stunning, I wouldn’t live there.

Venice is cramped, narrow, and filled with tourists. Around 20 million people visit it every year! There’s also the issue of flooding between October and January. And it can be difficult to find true Venice underneath a sea of overpriced gondola rides, trinkets, and tourist-trap restaurants.

And, being 49% more expensive than Cape Town, I’ll have to pass on a permanent residence (even though I do love pizza and pasta).

10. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Home to the world’s largest urban forest (the Tijuca Forest), Rio de Janeiro is a tropical city with high humidity year-round.

While it’s truly a beautiful place, Rio is also home to some of the highest poverty rates in the world. Utilities like electricity are notoriously high, the traffic is hectic, and there’s a really competitive job market. Not to mention the crime rates.

Despite that, the cost of living in Rio de Janeiro is still 24% more expensive than the cost of living in Cape Town.

cape town at night time

Is It Worth Living In Cape Town?

This question depends entirely on who you ask. From one person to the next, you’ll get a different answer.

The Mother City isn’t without its flaws.

If you choose to move to Cape Town, you’ll find that it does take some adjusting. There is an issue with crime, and the weather can be unpredictable. And of course, there’s load-shedding.

But these are issues that you can adapt to. Being vigilant, carrying a sweater, and buying an inverter are ways to get around these problems.

The city is taking steps to make sure that Cape Town is a safer place, with a better quality of life for everyone. The prices in Cape Town are significantly lower compared to other global cities and it’s seriously stunning. You won’t find views like this anywhere else.

With the low cost of living and the fact that it’s so full of opportunity, I think you’d be crazy not to move to Cape Town!


What are the most affordable areas in Cape Town?

Cape Town’s a massive area, so lots of suburbs fall inside of it. I recommend looking at Durbanville, Vredekloof, and False Bay. These areas are mostly much more affordable than living in Cape Town itself.

What are the most expensive suburbs in Cape Town?

While it’s affordable, Cape Town is also home to some super expensive areas, including Clifton, Bantry Bay and Fresnaye (the President of South Africa has a house here). The average cost for buildings in these areas sits at around R76.6 million.

Fun fact: The most expensive suburbs in South Africa are all found in Cape Town. Crazy!

Is Cape Town cheaper than Johannesburg?

Yes! Living in Cape Town actually ends up being around 13% cheaper than living in Johannesburg. The biggest differences can be seen in the cost of transport (around 29% cheaper than Johannesburg) and food (around 7% cheaper than Johannesburg)

How much does it cost to live comfortably in Cape Town?

As a general rule of thumb, it would cost around R30,000 a month to live comfortably in Cape Town. But it varies depending on where in Cape Town you are, and what your expenses look like. Many Capetonians live on an average of R15,500 a month.

What’s the biggest disadvantage of living in Cape Town?

The biggest disadvantage of living in Cape Town is definitely the crime. Unfortunately, crime rates in Cape Town are quite high. However, the city is working to improve its safety and security, and it’s fairly safe to be out and about, as long as you aren’t flashing jewellery and cellphones.

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