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Learn how a low cost of living in South Africa and favorable exchange rate makes it a most affordable and easy on the pocket destination

From a budget perspective, traveling to South Africa is very easy on the pocket for visitors, thanks to the country's relatively low cost of living and favorable exchange. That said, do not be blinded by the stereotypical view on South Africa. Contrary to what the media industry would have you belief, the country is not crippled by poverty and complete social and political turmoil.

South Africa is the economic powerhouse of the African continent and although its cost of living is very affordable, it is not as rock-bottom cheap as so many of the under-developed third world African countries. Yet you will still find the overall cost of your trip very reasonable.

Think more of South Africa as a country of duality. On the one hand it is a highly developed first world state that can rival any modern country in the world and on the other hand it is largely underdeveloped in the more rural areas.

The South African currency is called the "Rand" (indicated with the "R" symbol) in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 notes, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. Please note that the now worthless one and two cents coins have been removed from circulation, so they are no longer legal tender. When making a purchase, your goods will be rounded off to the nearest 5 or ten cent.

Now, onto the practical stuff...

The South African Rand Exchange Rate plays an important role in the cost of living for visitors,...

It is very likely that your plane ticket will be one of the most expensive elements of your trip. This can be regarded as a common cost element and you have more than 40 air carriers worldwide to compare and choose from. As far as the Rand exchange rate for your currency is concerned, it is largely its weakness against the US Dollar and the Euro that makes it so attractive for the visitor. It is that same weakness that causes the regular price increases (mainly on imported goods) that South Africans themselves so often have to contend with.

The banking system is highly efficient, so you can exchange currency at any of the major banks, and Visa and Master Cards are virtually accepted everywhere. Exactly how much value for your money will depend on the current exchange rate, which is pretty stable at the moment.

Use the Currency Converter below to check it out.

The Cost of Living in South Africa,...

The biggest chunk of daily budget will go towards accommodation. Now, the affordability of your trip will greatly depend on your preference; are you a budget traveler or a high roller? Budget to mid-range accommodation in South Africa is highly affordable.

Estimated cost per day for a budget traveler including meals in an inexpensive restaurant, public transport and a cheap hotel, would average out around R750,00 ($60.00 or €50.00) per day, assuming that you like camping, hostels and self-catering accommodation.

Estimated cost per day for the mid-range regular tourist or business visitor including meals in a mid-range restaurant, rented transport and accommodation in mid-range hotels, guest houses and B&B's averages out around R1950.00 ($156.00 or €130.00) per day.

The above two figures demarcate a huge grey area with a multitude of cost per day options that will meet the budgets of most visitors and tourists. For those that can afford to rake the luxury lane, things such as affordability and cost per day are much less of an issue. A stay in a luxury private game reserve for instance, can easily set you back R3500.00 ($300.00 or €230.00) per day and often way beyond that.

Just how much does living in South Africa cost on average? Lodgings aside, you will find that all the good things in life such as food, drink and shopping, are incredibly affordable, thanks once again to the exchange rate. A decent, world class bottle of wine can set you back a mere $5 (€4.50) . Unlike other developing countries, prices in the shops are fixed, so bartering will get you nowhere here. Instead, save your haggling skills for the street vendors.

The new Cradlestone Mall in Krugersdorp South Africa

To help you work out your budget, here are some examples to give you an idea what you will be spending in South Africa. The figures shown are in the South African Rand currency, use the currency converter to compare them in whatever other currency you want.


Inexpensive RestaurantR60.00 - R120.00
Mid-range RestaurantR125.00 - R250.00
McMeal at McDonaldsR40.00 - R60.00
Domestic Beer (0.5L)R15.00 - R25.00
Imported Beer (0.33L)R18.00 - R30.00
Cappuccino (regular)R15.00 - R22.00
Coke/Pepsi (0.33L)R8.00 - R14.00
Water (0.33L)R6.00 - R10.00
Milk (regular), (1L)R9.00 - R15.00
Loaf of Fresh White BreadR3.65 - R5.89
Rice (white), (0,5kg)R5.44 - R10.43
Eggs (12)R16.00 - R29.00
Local Cheese (0,5kg)R27.22 - R41.73
Chicken Breasts (0,5kg)R18.14 - R34.02
Apples (0,5lb)R5.44 - R10.43
Oranges (0,5kg)R4.54 - R9.07
Tomato (0,5kg)R5.44 - R9.75
Potato (0,5kg)R3.63 - R9.07
Lettuce (1 head)R9.00 - R15.00
Water (1.5 liter bottle)R10.00 - R16.00
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)R40.00 - R69.00
Beer (0,5L)R11.50 - R20.00
Packet of CigarettesR30.00 - R39.99
1 min. of Prepaid MobileR1.00 - R2.50
Gasoline (Petrol) 1LR12.00 - R14.00
B&B ppnR300.00 - R800.00
Cheap Restaurant - R60.00-R120.00
Mid-range Restaurant R125.00-R250.00
McMeal at McDonalds - R40.00-R60.00
Domestic Beer (0.5L) - R15.00-R25.00
Imported Beer (0.33L) - R18.00-R30.00
Cappuccino (regular) - R15.00-R22.00
Coke/Pepsi (0.33L) - R8.00-R14.00
Water (0.33L) - R6.00-R10.00
Milk (regular), (1L) - R9.00-R15.00
Loaf of White Bread - R3.65-R5.89
Rice (white), (0,5kg) - R5.44-R10.43
Eggs (12) - R16.00-R29.00
Local Cheese (0,5kg) - R27.22-R41.73
Chicken Breasts(0,5kg) - R18.14-R34.02
Apples (0,5lb) - R5.44-R10.43
Oranges (0,5kg) - R4.54-R9.07
Tomato (0,5kg) - R5.44-R9.75
Potato (0,5kg) - R3.63-R9.07
Lettuce (1 head) - R9.00-R15.00
Water (1.5 liter bottle) - R10.00-R16.00
Bottle Wine Mid-Range - R40.00-R69.00
Beer (0,5L) - R11.50-R20.00
Packet of Cigarettes - R30.00-R39.99
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile - R1.00-R2.50
Gasoline (Petrol) 1L - R12.00-R14.00
B&B ppn - R300.00-R800.00

The above information was sourced from the Numbeo.com website and the figures on this page can be out of date at the time that you read this. For more comprehensive and the most current information with regard to costs of living in South Africa, just click on the above Numbeo.com link to access a wealth of relevant information.

Picture Gallery,…

The Ndebele people are an offshoot of the powerful Zulu nation of the 1800s. They were in fact one of King Shaka's armies who, under the leadership of their general Mzilikazi, moved away to the north fleeing from a conflict situation with the King. The beautiful art form the Ndebele practice originated as a way of communicating their feelings, beliefs and experiences in the form of symbols and colors. They do this by painting the outside walls of their homes and producing beautiful colored pieces of beadwork.
Ndebele women in their colourfull dresses and beadwork
copyright © South African Tourism
Ndebele women in their colourfull dresses and beadwork The Ndebele people are an offshoot of the powerful Zulu nation of the 1800s. They were in fact one of King Shaka's armies who, under the leadership of their general Mzilikazi, moved away to the north fleeing from a conflict situation with the King. The beautiful art form the Ndebele practice originated as a way of communicating their feelings, beliefs and experiences in the form of symbols and colours. They do this by painting the outside walls of their homes and producing beautiful colored pieces of beadwork.
copyright © South African Tourism


Third largest city in South Africa and largest port on the African continent, Durban is situated at the country's eastern seaboard in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Founded in 1824 by a group of 25 settlers from the cape Colony led by British Lieutenant F.G. Farewell, the city has grown into a bustling metropolis. Known for its unique mixture of African, Indian and colonial cultures, its warm subtropical climate and extensive sun-drenched beaches, it is a major holiday destination for tourists and local South Africans alike.
Durban's waterfront at sunset
copyright © South African Tourism
Durban's waterfront at sunset Third largest city in South Africa and largest port on the African continent, Durban is situated at the country's eastern seaboard in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Founded in 1824 by a group of 25 settlers from the cape Colony led by British Lieutenant F.G. Farewell, the city has grown into a bustling metropolis. Known for its unique mixture of African, Indian and colonial cultures, its warm subtropical climate and extensive sun-drenched beaches, it is a major holiday destination for tourists and local South Africans alike.
copyright © South African Tourism


Just imagine yourself in a game drive vehicle with a huge elephant looming right next to it within touching distance. At first sight this can be quite scary. However, experience with thousands of game drive and elephant encounters has learned that you are fairly safe, provided you stay alert and take some precautions by listening to and following the instructions of your guiding game rancher. Elephants are among the world's most intelligent species. They have learnt to know and accept game drive vehicles as non-threatening and will, apart from maybe satisfying their curiosity, just ignore them. All you have to do is keep quiet and just be part of the vehicle.
Elephant and game drive encounter in Shamwari game reserve
copyright © South African Tourism
Elephant and game drive encounter in Shamwari game reserve Just imagine yourself in a game drive vehicle with a huge elephant looming right next to it within touching distance. At first sight this can be quite scary. However, experience with thousands of game drive and elephant encounters has learned that you are fairly safe, provided you stay alert and take some precautions by listening to and following the instructions of your guiding game rancher. Elephants are among the world's most intelligent species. They have learnt to know and accept game drive vehicles as non-threatening and will, apart from maybe satisfying their curiosity, just ignore them. All you have to do is keep quiet and just be part of the vehicle.
copyright © South African Tourism


Franschhoek ("French Corner" in Dutch) valley is South Africa's most well-known wine region. Originally known as "Olifantshoek Valley") it was put on the map by the French Huguenots who, after having fled from persecution under France's Louis XIV, were invited by the Dutch East India company (V.O.C.) of the Cape Colony to settle here. Hence the name "Franschhoek" (French corner). With the French came their knowledge of wine-making and so this beautiful valley became the cradle of South Africa's famous wine industry.
Vineyard in the Franschhoek wine valley
copyright © South African Tourism
Vineyard in the Franschhoek wine valley Franschhoek ("French Corner" in Dutch) valley is South Africa's most well-known wine region. Originally known as "Olifantshoek Valley") it was put on the map by the French Huguenots who, after having fled from persecution under France's Louis XIV, were invited by the Dutch East India company (V.O.C.) of the Cape Colony to settle here. Hence the name "Franschhoek" (French corner). With the French came their knowledge of wine-making and so this beautiful valley became the cradle of South Africa's famous wine industry.
copyright © South African Tourism


When the Alfred and Victoria basins of Cape Town's harbour became under-utilized as a result of the opening of the Suez Canal and the containerization of the shipping industry, the idea was born to re-develop this part of Cape Town's harbour environment. And so the V & A Waterfront came into existence as a huge shopping and entertainment complex, comprising almost 500 stores, giant shopping malls, 80 different restaurants, arts and crafts centers, an IMAX cinema and the internationally renowned Two Oceans Aquarium. Enjoy the harbour (which is still in operation) activities, live performances, helicopter and boat trips, a marine museum, a variety of festivals and many more in a setting of beautiful mountain and sea views.
The famous V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
copyright © South African Tourism
The famous V&A Waterfront in Cape Town When the Alfred and Victoria basins of Cape Town's harbour became under-utilized as a result of the opening of the Suez Canal and the containerization of the shipping industry, the idea was born to re-develop this part of Cape Town's harbour environment. And so the V & A Waterfront came into existence as a huge shopping and entertainment complex, comprising almost 500 stores, giant shopping malls, 80 different restaurants, arts and crafts centers, an IMAX cinema and the internationally renowned Two Oceans Aquarium. Enjoy the harbour (which is still in operation) activities, live performances, helicopter and boat trips, a marine museum, a variety of festivals and many more in a setting of beautiful mountain and sea views.
copyright © South African Tourism

Video Gallery,…

Situated at the tip of the African continent, South Africa is a country of unparalleled diversity. Ranked as number 6 among the 17 most diverse countries in the world, it borders the Indian and Atlantic oceans with a coastline of more than 2,500km. Boasting 291 conservation parks and 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is home to more than 20,000 different plant species, 299 mammal species, 850 bird species, 370 reptile and amphibian species 11,300 marine life species.


Filmed from a Drone, this video offers a unique aerial view perspective of the Garden Route, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in South Africa. Some of the highlights you will see are the shorelines of Plettenberg, Keurboomstrand, Bloukrans Bridge (famous for its bungee jumping), Storms River mouth, Robberg Nature Reserve and the Knysna Heads.


Fondly known as the Mother City by South Africans, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, with the world-renown Table Mountain as its backdrop and surrounded by the most stunning scenic beauty one can find.


Join us on a visit to the Kruger National Park, the flagship of South Africa's 21 national parks and experience untamed Africa as you imagined it, meeting the Big Five up close, discovering the unique Little Five, experience exhilarating bushwalks and game drives, learn about bird life, insects, reptiles, topography and ecosystems and much more.

Last but not Least,…

To further ensure an affordable trip, beware of the tourist trap. As with everywhere else in the world, destinations with a high density of tourists such as Cape Town and the Wine lands for instance are often considerably more expensive than the lesser frequented ones. You will often find two price levels in operation, one for locals and one for tourists and visitors. But with some planning and research before you embark to the wilds of South Africa, you can overcome these hindrances and have a very affordable trip indeed.

Last but not least, a VAT tax of 14% applies on all purchases and services, but to ensure even more affordable travel to South Africa, be sure to keep your receipts of any purchases over R250, as you will be able to reclaim your VAT at the Refund Office at your departure lounge.


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Girl enjoying one of the South Africa beaches

Family enjoying a beach holiday in South Africa

Aerial view of Cape Town and Table Mountain in South Africa

Modern highway network in Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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