Durban is South Africa’s third largest city. It sits on the Indian Ocean, enjoying a subtropical climate and yet Durban is only a 90-minute drive from the majestic Drakensberg mountains and snow. It has the largest container port in Africa and is the ninth-largest port in the world. The city has a relaxed holiday atmosphere, with miles of sandy beaches, Victorian architecture and modern skyscrapers.
If you are considering moving to Durban, the various costs listed below will help you make an informed decision on what costs are involved when moving and living in this laid-back city in KwaZulu Natal.
Quick Durban Facts:
- Population: 3.721 million (2018 estimate)
- Official Language: South Africa has 11 official languages, however, English and Zulu are the most spoken languages in Durban. Other languages being spoken include Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, French, Portuguese and German.
- GDP Per Capita: $15,575 USD
- Bunny Chow: You can’t visit Durban without eating a bunny chow. It’s a hollowed-out loaf or half loaf of bread, filled with curry.
- Currency: South Africa Rand (R, ZAR). As of early 2023, $1 USD = R18.42, €1 EUR = R19.56, $1 CAD = R13.57, $1 AUD = R12.40, £1 = R22.30
1. Moving and Shipping Costs to Durban
Sample container shipping rates to Durban from various other countries
2. Durban Housing Costs
Due to many reasons, including the decline in the value of the Rand, property prices in Durban are very reasonable, especially when you compare them with the majority of cities around the world. Prices obviously vary from area to area but the figures below will give you an indication of what’s available at what price.
Monthly Rental Prices in Durban:
- 1 bedroom flat (apartment) in City Centre: R6,300+
- 1 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: R5,200+
- 3 bedroom flat in City Centre: R11,700+
- 3 bedroom flat outside the City Centre: R10,900+
Durban Home Purchase Prices:
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy in City Centre: R11,600+
- Price per square metre (10.7 square feet) to buy outside City: R14,900+
Durban Housing Cost Comparison:
This is how rents in Durban compare with other cities around the globe.
- London is 83.7% more expensive
- New York is 89.2% more expensive
- Los Angeles is 85.4% more expensive
- Toronto is 77.8% more expensive
- Vancouver is 79.3% more expensive
- Sydney is 80.8% more expensive
- Melbourne is 72.5% more expensive
- Cape Town is 43.1% more expensive
- Paris is 74.9% more expensive
- Dubai is 78.1% more expensive
How to Save on Housing Costs:
- Share a Flat or House: Durban has a large selection of houses and flats which can be shared. With a house share you will have your own room, or, for a cheaper option, you can share a room. The bathroom/s will be shared with other people in the house. To find your perfect flat/house/roommate have a look at the following sites – Gumtree and Private Property.
- Different Areas – Different Prices: Sadly, like everywhere in South Africa, some areas are safer than others. It is a country with security problems, so care must be taken when choosing a place to live. For this reason, gated communities are very popular in the Durban area. Most houses and flats have security systems which give you peace of mind. Pricewise, generally, the northern suburbs of Durban are the most expensive. There are some spectacular houses and apartments in Umhlanga, La Lucia and Durban North. Many companies have moved from the CBD and now have their offices in Umhlanga. In fact, there really isn’t much going on in the CBD any more. Closer to the CBD, there are houses and flats available in the older suburbs of Musgrave and Berea. To the west of Durban are the lush, leafy suburbs of Westville, Hillcrest, Waterfall and the environs. Houses vary in size but the plots are usually large with beautiful gardens and very affordable. The southern suburbs of Durban are suffering the same fate as the CBD and many people are moving to the western and northern suburbs.
3. Durban Food, Grocery and Restaurant Costs
Durban has many average restaurants and a few that stand out in the northern suburbs. The selection of food, especially fruit and vegetables, is not as good as Cape Town, Johannesburg or Pretoria.
- Inexpensive Restaurant: R150.00
- Takeout Coffee: R31.00
- Bottle of Coke: R16.00
- 1L of Milk: R18.90
- Loaf of Bread: R15.00
- 12 Eggs: R28.00
- 1kg Chicken: R75.00
- 1kg Beef: R115.00
- 1kg Apples: R23.00
- 1kg White Rice: R25.00
This is how restaurants and food prices compare with other major cities in the world.
- London restaurants are 58.7% more expensive and groceries are 51.1% more expensive than Durban.
- New York restaurants are 68.2% more expensive and groceries are 73.8% more expensive than Durban.
- Los Angeles restaurants are 64.2% more expensive and groceries are 65.3% more expensive than Durban.
- Toronto restaurants are 58% more expensive and groceries are 60.6% more expensive than Durban.
- Vancouver restaurants are 55.4% more expensive and groceries are 62% more expensive than Durban.
- Sydney restaurants are 59.4% more expensive and groceries are 65.6% more expensive than Durban.
- Melbourne restaurants are 57.5% more expensive and groceries are 66% more expensive than Durban.
- Cape Town restaurants are 0.7% more expensive and groceries are 6.8% more expensive than Durban.
- Paris restaurants are 53.8% more expensive and groceries are 64% more expensive than Durban.
- Dubai restaurants are 55.7% more expensive and groceries are 45.5% more expensive than Durban.
Bonus Tips for Cheaper Food, Restaurants and Groceries:
- Know Your Supermarkets: There are some good supermarkets in Durban; the best and most expensive is Woolworths. This Woolworths is no relation to FW Woolworths. In fact, it was modelled on the UK’s Marks and Spencers and has been stocking M&S Food for many years. The other leading supermarkets are Pick and Pay, Spar and Checkers. There are a few independent grocers and mini supermarkets which sell organic and fresh produce. There are a few good farmer’s markets which are worth visiting – Shongweni Farmers Market, The Morning Trade, The Litchi Orchard, Foodies Market and Umhlanga Farmers Market.
- Find Cheap Eats: Eat Out and Food24 all have their own guides to cheap eats in Durban, which include everything from pizza to excellent curries.
4. Durban Alcohol Costs
Durban has many bars, pubs and clubs. The following is a list of basic prices of beer and wine from the supermarket and restaurants.
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a restaurant/pub: R32.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a restaurant/pub: R40.00
- Pint (0.6L) domestic beer at a supermarket: R20.00
- Bottle of imported beer at a supermarket: R30.00
- Mid-range bottle of wine at a supermarket: R70.00
How To Drink For Less in Durban:
- Keep an eye on the local papers and websites for specials over weekends and public holidays
- There are various bars and clubs that offer cheap drinks on certain days or at certain times. Have a look at the following site to see which ones take your fancy – Trip Advisor.
5. Durban Transportation Fares
Anyone who can afford a car buys one to get to and from work. There are minibus taxis, trains and buses but, to be perfectly honest, not only are they unreliable, but there are also safety issues to consider.
Here are some example ticket costs.
- Adult single – R20.00
- Monthly season ticket for the bus – R780.00
- Day pass – R16.00
How To Save Money on Public Transport:
- Buy a Muvo Smartcard and save on fares
- Buy a bike. Depending on where you live and work in Durban, cycling to work may be an option. There are very few cycle lanes and lots of freeways, where cyclists are obviously not allowed.
- Walk. If you live close to where you work, then walking is certainly an option.
6. Cost of Internet in Durban
Internet in South Africa is expensive and contracts usually run for two years. Coverage is good throughout the country. Here are some sample broadband internet prices from early 2023 for unlimited downloads, based on a 24-month contract:
- MWeb: R374.00 a month (10 Mbps)
7. Cost of Clothing, Personal Items, Gym and Leisure
Durban has a subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers, and warm and dry winters. Durban’s rainy season usually begins around mid-November and lasts until April. It has some spectacular thunderstorms, with torrential rain. The average annual rainfall is 1,009mm. February is the hottest month, with an average high of 24.5°C, although the temperature can soar into the 30s and that, coupled with the humidity, can be very uncomfortable. June is the coldest month with an average temperature of 15.5°C.
Here are some clothing prices, together with other useful prices.
- Pair of Jeans: R750.00
- Summer Dress: R500.00
- Running Shoes (Trainers): R1,300+
- Business Shoes: R1,200+
- Short Doctor’s Visit (15 mins): R370.00
- Deodorant: R30.00
- Shampoo: R45.00
- Toilet Paper (4 rolls): R25.00
- Gym Membership: R300.00 – R800.00 per month
- Movie (cinema) Ticket: R100.00
Source: Numbeo and Expatistan
8. Cost of Owning a Car and Driving a Car in Durban
Everyone in South Africa drives on the left. Many people use their cars to get to and from work, which makes peak periods very congested.
If you’re moving to Durban from within South Africa, you’ll be able to keep your license but need to change your address to your new Durban one.
If you have become a Permanent Resident of South Africa, then you will need to get a South African Licence within 12 months of receiving your permit. You don’t need to take a driving test but you do have to apply in person with your driving licence, proof of address, two photographs, and a cash payment.
Here are some other sample costs of owning and operating a car in Durban:
- Volkswagen Golf: R350,000+
- 1 litre (¼ gallon) of Gas (petrol): R22.66
- Registration Fee (if any): R120 one time
- Other Fees (if any): Vehicle Licence – annual. The cost varies depending on the type and size of vehicle
Source: Expatistan, Gov.za
Ways To Save Money on Driving in Durban:
- Car sharing or pooling is one way to save money. Try Gumtree, Carpoolworld and Locanto.
- Taxis can sometimes be a cheaper option, especially if you are going to have to park all day. Try Uber.
9. Taxes in Durban
No matter where you live in South Africa, you will pay the same rate of tax. To learn more about the different taxes, go to the South African Revenue Services site.
Sales Tax, or VAT (Value Added Tax) is 14% in South Africa and is added to most goods and services throughout the country. Unlike in some countries, it is always included in the marked price.
Whether you own or rent your home, you will be subject to municipal rates based on the area in which you live and the size of the property you live in. Payments include refuse removal and water usage.
Finally, if you decide to buy a flat or house in Durban you’ll have to pay transfer duty. While there’s no tax on the first R900,000 of your home value, the marginal rate increases gradually and peaks at R933,000 + 13% of the value above R10,000,000.
10. Flight Costs from Durban
If you do make the move to Durban, here’s approximately how much it will cost to fly to other major world cities based on lowest, one-way fares from Skyscanner as of early 2023:
- New York: R3,100
- Los Angeles: R3,700
- London: R1,600
- Toronto: R3,300
- Vancouver: R3,800
- Dubai: R1,900
- Sydney: R3,900
- Melbourne: R3,900
- Hong Kong: R3,700
Other Tips on Moving to Durban:
The costs and pricing above should give you a good idea of the cost of living in Durban but perhaps the following extra tips will make your move go smoothly.
11. Moving to Durban Alone
Moving anywhere can be a lonely experience, but moving to a new city can be rather daunting. Here are a few tips about settling in Durban.
- Meetups: Durban has lots of free meetup groups you can find on Meetup.com. Join groups such as Durban Critical Thinkers, Durban Surfers, Learn to Meditate, Hiking for All and many more.
- Attend Local Events: There is always something going on in Durban. Show Me, IOL and Vibe Scout will give you some ideas of what’s out there.
12. Moving to Durban with a Family
Durban has a lot to offer families. Beaches with golden sand, mountains only 90 minutes away, game parks close by, wonderful weather, good schools and a choice of excellent housing options. Just remember that security is an issue in South Africa.
- New Parents (or parents to be): Have a look at Netcare.
- Live in a Family-friendly Area: Durban has many areas which are perfect for families. Most of the houses have large tropical gardens with avocado trees, lemon, orange and pawpaw trees. Many have swimming pools and some of the larger ones have a tennis court. The most expensive areas are to the north of Durban, these include Umhlanga, La Lucia and Durban North, all of which have excellent schools, shopping malls and the beach. To the west of Durban, you’ll find a mix of expensive and cheaper properties, most of which are on good-sized plots with lovely gardens. Westville is closest to the middle of Durban and is near good schools and a large shopping mall. A little further out, you have Hillcrest, Waterfall and, all the areas in between, which are close to several nature reserves but still only 20 minutes (out of rush hour) from the centre of Durban. For those of you who enjoy horses, there are equestrian estates in Waterfall and Shongweni.
- Find Things To Do With The Kids: Getaway and Travel Start all have great ideas for activities and events your kids will love.
13. Moving to Durban for Work
Moving to Durban for work is one of the most common reasons people choose to move. While it is possible to move without a job, it makes sense to ensure there are jobs in your field before you make the move.
The hospitality and tourism industries are big employers in Durban. Other major employers are the port, the manufacturing industry, finance, law, retail, education, healthcare and government.
Here are a few things to consider when moving for work:
- Salary: Salaries in Durban are nowhere near as high as in other major cities around the globe but the cost of living is also low compared with those cities. The costs we outlined above should give you a rough idea of how much more you’ll want to be making to make the move worthwhile. You can also check salary ranges on sites such as Glassdoor and Payscale.
- How to Find Work: If you want to have a job lined up before you move to Durban, but aren’t sure where to begin, the following sites are good places to start: Indeed, Gumtree, Careers24 and PNet. You may also want to Google recruiters in your industry, as they can often help land you some initial interviews as well.
14. Moving to Durban from Australia
There’s a small group of Australians living in Durban, if you’re thinking of joining them, here’s extra food for thought.
- Size Comparison: If you compare the size of Durban’s population with a city in Australia, you’d be looking at a city a little larger than Brisbane.
- Join Expat Groups: Both InterNations and Expat.com offer ways of meeting up with other Australians in Durban.
15. Moving to Durban from Canada
While you won’t find a huge number of Canadians living in Durban, there are a few. If you’re considering making the move from Canada here are a few things to consider.
- Size: If you compare the size of the population of Durban with a city in Canada, you would be looking at a city a little larger than Montreal.
- Expat Groups: Try finding fellow Canadians by looking at Internations.
16. Moving to Durban from the United States
There’s a small group of Americans living in Durban. If you’re thinking of joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Durban with a city in the States, you would be looking at Chicago.
- Expat Groups: If you want to meet up with fellow Americans who are already living in Durban, InterNations and Expat.com will point you in the right direction.
17. Moving to Durban from the United Kingdom
Durban has lots of Brits. There are those who have been there for generations, and those who have just arrived. If you are thinking of joining them, here are a few bonus tips:
- Size: If you compare the population size of Durban with a city in the UK, you would be looking at a city over twice the size of Birmingham.
- Expat Groups: Meeting up with people from home is always a good way to learn the ropes in a new country. The following sites will allow you to meet fellow Brits – InterNations, Brit Meetup and Expat.com.
Hopefully, the tips and costs above are helpful. If want to get started pricing out how much it will cost you to move to Durban you can start by comparing moving quotes here.