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Accommodation in South Africa for international students

This aerial view shot in Johannesburg, on Mar. 29, 2020 shows the city skyline in the Hillbrow district. Source: Marco Longari/AFP

Studying in South Africa has many appeals — it’s affordable, beautiful and with many cultures to soak in. This emerging economy on the African continent is home to leading universities and boasts natural wonders that will stir your wanderlust.

All that aside, you still need a base, a home to crash after having one too many “boerewors” and Malva puddings and traipsing through the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. You may be wondering about your student accommodation options in South Africa and how much each would cost. Here’s a rough guide to your options: 

On-campus accommodation

On-campus accommodation is student housing located close to or on campus. The price varies between universities and their location. It’ll depend on whether you opt for single or double rooms, en-suite bathrooms and meal plans too — all of which will affect the final cost.

For a rough guide, at the University of Pretoria, single rooms cost between 46,000 South African Rand and ZAR60,000 per year, depending on the location of the residence and whether it is a ladies only, men’s only or mixed residences. Double rooms cost above ZAR43,000.

Private housing


There are plenty of private housing options for international students that offer you more flexibility to pick an accommodation that suits your needs as well as the flexibility to share the cost of rent between you and your housemates. Which city you decide to stay in will affect your cost.

Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index by City 2020 features four South African cities in its list — which are all in the bottom half — suggesting that they’re much cheaper to live in than many other cities in the world. The cost of living calculator notes that Johannesburg is the most expensive South African city at 159, while Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban are ranked 161, 163 and 174 respectively.

Meanwhile, cost of living database platform Numbeo notes that Johannesburg is the most expensive city in South Africa for rent. Its index estimates the prices of renting apartments in the city compared to New York City. For instance, if a Rent index is 80, Numbeo has estimated that the price of rents in that city is on average 20% less than the price in New York. Based on their data, Durban is the cheapest city for rent in South Africa.

Rent for private rooms in Cape Town can cost around ZAR4,000 and up, while a three-bedroom apartment can cost approximately ZAR25,000 and up per month. A three-bedroom apartment can cost approximately ZAR5,000 and ZAR19,000 per month in Durban. Do your homework and scour property rental platforms for the best deals. You can also check out our guide on how to save money on your student housing. Whichever option you choose, there are plenty of student accommodations in South Africa to suit all budget types.

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