More bang for your buck

Posted On Monday, 15 July 2002 02:00 Published by
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It's official: Joburg now takes the lead as the world's cheapest metropolis writes Simpiwe Piliso
Joburg just keeps getting cheaper! This week, two heavyweight international surveys confirmed that the city of gold is the cheapest on the planet.

A year ago, the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Joburg EIGHTH cheapest behind Tehran, capital of Iran, and Belgrade, capital of Serbia and Yugoslavia.

But in just 12 months Joburg has rocketed to NUMBER ONE in the cheap cost-of-living stakes.

The twice-yearly Economist Intelligence Unit survey - which excludes Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria - is intended as a guide for multinational companies who have employees living around the world.

US-based Mercer Human Resources Consulting also put Joburg top of the affordability stakes in its survey released this week.

Both surveys consider Joburg the best value for money in terms of food prices, municipal and other services, transport and recreation .

Private schooling, rent and even liquor and cigarettes are also a steal .

The reason for the city's affordability is quite simple: the WEAK RAND.

A shopping basket consisting of milk, bread, margarine, rice, potatoes, onions, carrots, eggs, a 1kg chicken, orange juice, face soap, two light bulbs and toothpaste would cost you R97.36.

The same basket in New York would set you back about R288 (28.84) and about R268 (£17.17) in London.

This week, financial experts said the surveys were good news for Joburg - and proved that things were not as bad as everybody believed.

Said economist Mike Schussler from the Tradek website: 'Overall, our cost of living is pretty good compared with these other cities. The only downfall to living in a cheap city is that you also get paid cheaply.'

Schussler said Joburg's affordability attracted foreign investors, tourists - and even people seeking medical help from overseas.

Economist Sandra Gordon said low prices were drawing visitors to the city.

Wealthy buyers and bargain seekers from abroad and from neighbouring countries visited Joburg just to shop for major appliances and cars. Some also snapped up property during their stay, she said.

'The reality is that a lot of things are cheaper in South Africa. But since a majority of South Africans earn low salaries, they feel the pinch every time they dig into their pockets.'

Joburg resident Mary Morar, a mother of two , said she believed the surveys' findings .

'When my husband's friends from Zimbabwe visit us, they often spend the entire time here shopping . . . They keep on telling us that prices here are very reasonable.'

'Joburg is still the best city to live in,' agreed Linden resident Lindelwa Sangweni.

'A lot of people leave our shores for the US and Europe. But when they realise the cost of living there, they come flying back.'

A few reasons to live in the Golden City

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit:

A Joburg resident shells out R1 000 for a three-course meal for four, compared with R3 875 (£250) in London and R4 500 (450) in New York.

A 750ml bottle of wine costs about R36 in Joburg, compared with about R75 (7.49) in New York and R62 (£3.99) in London.

A 330ml beer in a Joburg bottle store costs about R9, compared with R30 (3) in New York and about R26.36 (£1.69) in London.

A packet of cigarettes costs about R11 in Joburg, compared with about R50 (5) in New York and R62 (£4) in London.

Movies for four will cost about R80 in Joburg, R436.80 (£28) in London and R380 (38) in New York.

A taxi ride from Joburg International Airport to Sandton will cost about R140, compared with about R420 (42) for a 15km trip in New York and about R546 (£35) in London.

A tenant could pay about R5 000 a month for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in a middle-income Joburg suburb , about R35 000 (3 5000) in New York and R28 080 (£1 800) in London.

A Joburg resident could cough up R100 to visit a private doctor, compared with R1 500 (150) in New York and R1 248 (£80) in London.

New York
Malala's shopping list:

The Sunday Times's New York correspondent, Justice Malala, has no doubt that living in the Big Apple is a killer. Malala - who moved to New York from London in May - says even London was cheaper.

'New York is by far the most expensive city I've come across when it comes to rent, food and entertainment,' says Malala. He says prices in Joburg are 'ridiculously low'.
Loaf of bread - R17.90 (1.79)
Litre of milk - R21 (2.10)
Chicken (1kg) - R71.40 (7.14)
Rice (5kg) - R59.90 (5.99)
Movie ticket - R120 (12)
Bus or train journey anywhere in New York - R15 (1.50)
Meal for two at a steak ranch - R450 (45)
Telephone and cellphone subscription - R3 000 (300)
Domestic worker - R120 an hour (12)
Household insurance - R2 000 a year (200)
In Brooklyn, where Malala lives, a three-bedroomed townhouse built in 1900 costs a whopping R7.5-million (750 000).
According to an advertisement in the New York Times, a one-bedroom ed apartment on posh 57th Street is up for grabs at R6.3-million (630 000).
Renting a two or three-bedroomed home in New York's middle-income suburbs costs about R35 000 (3 500) a month, excluding municipal service charges.

Piliso's shopping list:

Metro reporter Simpiwe Piliso can't believe how cheap Joburg is compared with other cities.

Says Piliso: 'When I look at those other prices, I don't want to travel overseas.'

Loaf of bread - R3.30
Litre of milk - R3.99
Chicken (1kg) - R15
Rice (1kg) - R8.50
Movie ticket - R26
Steakhouse steak and chips for one - R45
Monthly telephone bill - R300
Domestic worker - R600 a month
Bus trip - R6
Car insurance - averages R6 000 a year
A three-bedroom house in a middle-class suburb costs R400 000. To rent a two-bedroom townhouse costs R3 500

Unsworth's shopping list:

OUR London correspondent, Andrew Unsworth, who moved to the city in March, is finally getting used to the high prices - and has stopped comparing South African prices with London ones. When in London, do as the Londoners do . . .
Loaf of bread - R10.92 (£0.70)
Litre of milk - R10.92 (£0.70)
Chicken (1kg) - R62.40 (£4)
Rice (1kg) - R23.40 (£1.50)
Movie ticket - R124.80 (£8)
Steakhouse steak and chips for one - R140.40 (£9)
Monthly telephone bill - R1 872 (£120)
Domestic worker - R78 (£5) an hour
Bus trip - R15.60 (£1)
Underground train trip - R28.08 (£1.80)
Car insurance - averages R6 240 (£400) a year
A municipal house with a terrace can cost a whopping R2-million (£200 000), compared with a suburban home which costs about R15.6-million (£1-million).
Renting a council home costs R12 480 (£800) a month and about R936 for water and electricity.

Sunday Times

Publisher: Sunday Times
Source: Sunday Times

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