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Rent vs Salaries – Here are SA’s most affordable destinations

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Despite consumer inflation being at a 16-year low, the prices of most basic goods are still higher than they were a year ago. With new restrictions set in place to combat the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, South African families are anxious about how the economic climate will affect their incomes and purchasing power over the next year and beyond. Along with food prices and the fuel cost, which is continuously on the rise, it appears as though the cost of accommodation is also still on the rise. 

In October 2020, Adzuna analysed income data and compared it to average rental prices in the country’s leading hubs. It was found that the average South African family spent as much as 28% of their salaries on rent. At the start of February 2021, Adzuna analysed the same statistics and was able to pinpoint where some of the most cost-effective destinations for South Africans to live and work in. 

The PayProp Rental Index (Q1 2020) indicated that rental growth was at 3.2% year-on-year by the end of 2020. With these figures in mind, Adzuna drew a comparison between the average rental price and average salaries offered in South Africa’s main city centres. The findings indicated that South African families spend anywhere between 17% and 32% of their wages on rent every month. 

Cheapest places to rent in South Africa

After comparing income and rental prices in South Africa’s ten biggest cities, the most affordable cities to rent in were Rustenburg, Polokwane, and Port Elizabeth. All three towns see renters spending less than 20% of their salaries on rent every month. 

CityAverage RentAverage Salary% of Salary Spent on Rent
RustenburgR6 100R36,00017%
PolokwaneR5 500R32,00017%
Port ElizabethR5 500R30,00018%
BloemfonteinR6 500R32,00020%
NelspruitR6 200R31,00020%
KimberleyR5 000R25,00020%
JohannesburgR8 700R40,00022%
DurbanR9 000R35,00025%
PretoriaR8 000R30 00026%
Cape TownR13 000R41,00032%

Salaries have remained unchanged since October 2020 while rental costs have increased across the board. In cities like Cape Town, families are spending as much as 32% of their monthly income on rent. 

Cape Town is still the most expensive destination in South Africa. Capetonians that choose to reside just outside the city centre might spend between 25% and 27% of their income on rent. However, these costs are still much higher than average rental prices in other main hubs like Pretoria and Johannesburg. 

One of the most significant changes Adzuna noticed was the increase in rental cost in Pretoria. In October 2020, Pretoria residents spent roughly 18% of their monthly salaries on rent. 

This year, residents are forking out almost 10% more than they did in 2020, with the average family now spending up to 26% of their salaries on rent. 

Cheapest province for renting in South Africa

Although rental prices vary from one city to the other, there is also quite a dramatic difference in the amount a family in the Eastern Cape, for example, must spend on rent compared to a family living in KwaZulu Natal. 

Province Average Rent Average Salary % of Salary Spent on Rent
North West R5,000 R31,000 16%
Free State R6,500 R36,000 18%
Gauteng R8,000 R39,000 20%
Limpopo R7,000 R33,000 21%
Northern Cape R8,000 R35,000 22%
Western Cape R9,000 R40,000 23%
KwaZulu-Natal R8,000 R32,000 25%
Mpumalanga R7,500 R30,000 25%
Eastern Cape R8 500 R32,000 26%

Even though rent in the city of Cape Town is sky high, the province has a significantly lower average rental cost. In 2020, the Western Cape was one of the most expensive areas to rent in, but this year, the Eastern Cape is one of the most expensive destinations for families to live and work in. 

On the other side of the scale, the North West and Free State are still two of the most cost-effective destination for South Africans looking to strike a balance between rental costs and their monthly income. 

Final Thoughts

Lower rental prices can no longer be the only deciding factor for considering where to rent a property. Since salaries have remained unchanged since the end of 2020, it is now essential to consider job availability and average salaries before blindly making a move. 

Even though salaries offered in Polokwane and Rustenburg seem incredibly high, these stats are affected by the technical and mining sectors, which means that job competition could be fierce here and landing a job in these destinations might not be easy. 

Western Cape, for example, has much more on offer as far as job opportunities are concerned, and salaries tend to be very high, but one also has to consider the fact that you could be spending up to 32% of that hard-earned salary on rent. 

*Adzuna’s analysis was also compared to average property prices provided by Property24 and Numbeo*

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