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Johannesburg Ranks 1st In Study Finding Buying Property Has Become More Affordable

A new study from UK-based Online Mortgage Advisor has investigated where buying and renting property has become more or less affordable for average workers globally over the last few years, by comparing ever-fluctuating house prices and average salaries.

The research has revealed Johannesburg to be the city where buying a property has become most affordable to its residents in recent years. To determine this, we analysed how many square meters of property the average full-time employee could afford vs. in 2018 in 219 global cities. In addition, we explored where local workers are being priced out of the local rental market the fastest by looking at how much property prices have outgrown local wages during the same time period. We compared each city’s average monthly net salary to the average rental cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre to calculate its change in affordability during the same period.

Key Findings

  • Johannesburg ranked 1st and was crowned the global city where buying property became more affordable at the fastest rate for local residents worldwide since 2018.
  • In 2018, the average Joburg worker could afford 14.6 square meters of property, compared to 23.2 in 2022 – an increase of 8.6 square meters.
  • Johannesburg rental prices also became more affordable in relative terms, as the average worker had to spend 6.70% less of their annual salary on rental payments over the same period.

Please credit the information with a link to Online Mortgage Advisor’s research page should you wish to use the data for a story: 

Johannesburg property prices more affordable compared to average salaries since 2018

We analysed where in the world buying property has became more or less affordable, comparing the square metres an average employee could buy vs. in 2018, based on the average annual salary and average house price in each city.

  • Johannesburg saw the biggest positive change in property affordability, a the average Joburg worker could afford 14.6 square meters of property, compared to 23.2 in recent times – an increase of 8.6 square meters.
  • Edmonton in Canada, and Denver in the USA rounded out the top 3, as workers could afford 8.1 and 5.2 more square meters respectively.
  • It also became easier to buy in Cape Town, but residents could only afford 1.6 extra square meters in the same period.
RankCityCountrym2 affordable per salary 2018m2 affordable per salary 2022Difference between 2018 and 2022
1JohannesburgSouth Africa14.623.2+8.6
3DenverUnited States10.415.6+5.2
4LiverpoolUnited Kingdom4.28.6+4.4
16Cape TownSouth Africa5.36.9+1.6

South African cities where rent prices are now more/less affordable for the average worker

We also investigated where in the world rental prices have or have not kept up with average salaries, by comparing the percentage of salary which must go on rental costs in recent years. Here are our results for South Africa.

  • Cape Town became most affordable for renters, as workers spent 14.85% less of their salary on rent compared to 2018.
  • In Johannesburg, residents spent 6.7% less of their salary on rental costs, meaning rent has become cheaper in relative terms.
  • Port Elizabeth performed the worst in the analysis. Here workers now spend 22.6% more of their income on rent during the same period.
RankCityCountry% Salary on rent 2018% Salary on rent 2022Difference 2018 vs. 2022
1Cape TownSouth Africa67.54%52.68%-14.85%
2PretoriaSouth Africa31.63%22.58%-9.06%
3JohannesburgSouth Africa34.57%27.88%-6.70%
4DurbanSouth Africa31.98%36.87%4.89%
5Port ElizabethSouth Africa25.38%47.98%22.60%

-a negative value means that rents have become relatively cheaper, while a positive value means that they have become more expensive in comparison.


  • Data for each city in our analysis was obtained from Numbeo.
  • For each city in our purchase analysis, we compared the average price per square metre of a flat in the centre of each city to the average annual take-home wage in both 2018 and 2022.
  • For each city in our rental analysis, we compared the average monthly take-home pay in each city to the average cost of renting a one-square-metre flat in the centre of that city to calculate the ratio change between 2018 and 2022.
  • We considered the following metrics: the price of a flat (with only one bedroom or one room) in a city centre; the average monthly take-home wage (after tax); the price per square metre to buy a flat in a city centre; the cost of renting a one-bedroom flat in a city centre.
  • In our study we included 219 cities around the world to analyse their property purchasing power and 422 cities for the rental data.