Cost of Living
in Johannesburg

Although the cost of living in Johannesburg has risen sharply over the last couple of years, it's still a relatively "cheap" city in which to live.

Two of the items where Jo'burg came out tops in different surveys, were size of property and
having your own swimming pool

A number of surveys, called a Cost of Living Index (COLI), are conducted in which a comparison is made between different cities, to ensure a certain standard of living is maintained, regardless of where a person lives.

Although the Cost of Living Index can give a good indication of expected costs, the strength and volatility of the local currency, in this case the South African Rand (ZAR) can also play a major role in decision making.

A Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), should be looked at yearly to adjust expat salaries according to changes in the Cost of Living Index.
This forms a buffer between the money earned and the changes in this Cost of Living Index.

Mercer's Cost of Living Survey, which is released in March each year and is regarded as the world’s most comprehensive, looks at 214 cities worldwide and compares prices of over 200 items in each location - including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
In previous surveys, cost of living in Johannesburg ranked at #143 in 2009, at #151 in 2010 and in 2011 at #131.
In the 2012 survey, Johannesburg fell 23 places – to become the 154th most expensive city - due primarily to the weakening of the South African rand against the US dollar in the past year.

New York, which was used as a benchmark against which other cities were judged, is the 33rd most expensive city.

Tokyo is now the world's most expensive city for expats (up from #2), followed by Luanda in Angola.
Osaka is 3rd, Moscow 4th and Geneva 5th.

Singapore came in at #6, Sydney at #11, and London as the UK’s most expensive city at #25.

In other surveys, Johannesburg rated tops for the size of property on which you'd live, having your own swimming pool, domestic help and staff, nicer cars, more luxurious holidays and excellent private healthcare.

Looking at actual figures, the purchasing power of the Rand in Johannesburg, is 103% of that in New York, rent is a quarter and grocery and restaurant costs are roughly half.

Mercer's 2012 Cost of Living Survey
Company website

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