Cape Town real estate is unaffordable to buy and rentals are equally highly priced, so it comes as no surprise that it is the most expensive city to live in. A report has revealed that locals pay up to 38% of their monthly salary on rent, and this does not even cover the rest of their living costs.

After analysing the latest job listings and rental data, Adzuna SA found Polokwane to be the most affordable town in South Africa for working renters. The online job aggregator compared average salaries of more than 100 000 online job listings with average rental prices in cities across South Africa to compile a list of the most and least affordable places for the modern renter to live.

According to the research, employees can generally expect to spend about 20-26% of their monthly income on rent – this is on par with the PayProp Rental Index weighted national average of 24%.

The most affordable South African cities to rent in include:

– Polokwane: 11% of monthly income spent on rent

– Bloemfontein: 16% of monthly income spent on rent

– Port Elizabeth: 17% of monthly income spent on rent

– Johannesburg: 18% of monthly income spent on rent

– East London: 19% of monthly income spent on rent

Jesse Green, country manager of Adzuna SA, said that some of the results were surprising. “It is interesting to note that Johannesburg comes up as one of the most affordable cities for renting employees. The results we see here could be because employment in Johannesburg offers much higher salaries when compared with job opportunities in cities such as Bloemfontein, for example.”

Cities such as Pretoria, Durban, Paarl, Pietermaritzburg and George came in as the “best value cities for renters”, as employees in these areas typically pay less than 22% of their wages towards rent.

At the other end of the spectrum, Capetonians can expect to put a whopping 38% of their pay cheque towards their rent, while those in Sandton spend at least 37% of their wages on their monthly rental.

“Sandton is a difficult one to interpret, because most employees in Sandton apparently do not live there, with the majority commuting daily to the area,” said Green.

It also comes as no surprise to find that many employees who work within the higher-priced city centres, such as Sandton, choose to reside in more affordable areas, outside of the city centres, to keep rent down to a minimum.

The most expensive cities to rent in include:

– Cape Town: 38% of monthly income spent on rent

– Vanderbijlpark: 38% of monthly income spent on rent

–  Sandton: 37% of monthly income spent on rent

–  Richards Bay: 26% of monthly income spent on rent

City Average Monthly Rent (1 bedroom apartment) Average Monthly Salary % of Income Spent on Rent
Cape Town R11050 R28927 38%
Vanderbijlpark R5000 R12829 38%
Sandton R10833 R29146 37%
Richards Bay R5400 R20475 26%
Centurion R6833 R28479 23%
George R4375 R19799 22%
Pietermaritzburg R3500 R15778 22%
Paarl R5750 R26894 21%
Durban R4896 R22811 21%
Pretoria R4764 R23754 20%
East London R4277 R21961 19%
Johannesburg R6305 R33261 18%
Port Elizabeth R3875 R22338 17%
Bloemfontein R3750 R23207 16%
Polokwane R3200 R28789 11%

“Although some employees are paid higher monthly salaries, they actually have a lot less to show for it since they have to deal with high costs of living and local property premiums. Alternative locations, like East London, offer a much more attractive deal that can help renters save money. The extra cash they save on rental prices can be used to save up for a deposit to buy a home of their own,” Green said.

According to the latest online job listing, which shows that the average disposable salary in South Africa is R30 396, the average earner looking to rent should be budgeting around at R7 300 per month.

The cost of rental in different provinces and salaries earned:

Province Median Rental Price Average Salary % of Salary Spent on Rent
Western Cape R13500 R29519 45%
KwaZulu-Natal R9500 R22275 42%
Mpumalanga R7400 R22184 33%
Limpopo R7798 R23143 33%
Gauteng R9000 R28938 31%
Eastern Cape R6000 R22157 27%
North West R7280 R26365 27%
Free State R5995 R21771 27%
Northern Cape R8800 R34823 25%


Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.