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A Tale of Two Cities Pretoria vs Cape Town

A Tale of Two Cities: Pretoria vs Cape Town

Pretoria and Cape Town are part of the three capital cities of South Africa, aside from Bloemfontein.

Despite their similarities, these two have different things to offer. Find out which is better between Pretoria and Cape Town in this article!

Is Pretoria better than Cape Town?

In terms of cost of living, it’s 14.1% cheaper to stay in Pretoria than in Cape Town. 

In terms of safety, it’s generally safer in Cape Town than in Pretoria.

In terms of transportation, commuting or travelling is 

In terms of healthcare, Cape Town’s is 3.26% better than Pretoria’s based on the . This entails better medical staff and more upgraded medical equipment.

In terms of quality of life, Cape Town’s Quality of Life Index is higher than Pretoria’s by 4.5%. 

Let’s go through each of these factors in more detail below!

Is Pretoria cheaper than Cape Town?

Pretoria is generally cheaper than Cape Town. Its cost of living is 14% lower than Cape Town’s. 

You would need around R 39,361.40 monthly to sustain a reasonable lifestyle in Pretoria; while you’ll most likely shell out R 45,000 in Cape Town for the same standard of living.

Below is the breakdown of expenses between the two cities, sourced from global database Numbeo.


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Eating in restaurants is slightly costlier in Cape Town than in Pretoria. However, groceries tend to be more expensive in Pretoria.

TypePretoriaCape Town
Meal in common restaurantR127.50R150
Combo meal in fast food restaurant (e.g. McDonald’s)R80P75
Regular cappuccino coffeeR29.32R32.38
0.33 litre bottle of soft drink (e.g. Coke or Pepsi)R15.14R15.68
1 litre of regular milkR18.26R17.17
500 grams of a loaf of fresh white breadR15R17.32
1 kilogram of white riceR23.28R26.05
1 dozen regular eggsR30.78R33.27
1 kilogram of applesR24.12R26.07
1 kilogram of tomatoesR24.54R25.08
1 kilogram of potatoesR20.46R19.44
1.5 litres of bottled waterR16.50R15.43


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Renting is significantly more expensive in Cape Town compared to Pretoria. Check out these average monthly rental figures for each city:

TypePretoriaCape Town
1 bedroom apartment in the city centreR5,750R12,173.08
1 bedroom apartment outside the city centreR6,006.25R8,176.92
3 bedroom apartment in the city centreR12,812.50R24,394.09
3 bedroom apartment outside the city centreR11,843.75R16,207.32


Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Monthly utilities are relatively pricier in Pretoria than in Cape Town, compared to other kinds of daily costs. However, it’s important to note that there is barely a 2% difference between the two – so for some people, the difference might be negligible.

TypePretoriaCape Town
Basic costs for electricity, heating, cooling, water and garbage disposal for an 85 square metre apartmentR1,642.67R1,324.18
1 minute of prepaid mobile calls for local numbersR2.22R1.45
At least 60 Mbps worth of InternetR859.70R769.29

Clothing and shoes

Clothing and shoes
Photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels

For clothing and shoes, costs vary depending on where or who you buy from.

Check out some sample prices in the table below:

TypePretoriaCape Town
1 pair of jeans (e.g. the Levis 501 or something of a similar brand)R773.53R842.26
1 summer dress from brands like Zara or H&MR634R565.74
1 pair of mid-range Nike running shoesR1,477.72R1,574.33
1 pair of leather business shoes for menR1,637.44R1,391.51

Is Cape Town safer than Pretoria?

Is Cape Town safer than Pretoria
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Cape Town is safer than Pretoria. It has a lower Crime Index of 73.60 compared to Pretoria’s 81.94 – a 10.72% difference.

Browse through the table below to see the crime comparison between the two cities. 

PretoriaCape Town
Level of crime88.1984.33
Crime increasing in the past 3 years85.7482.53

Which has cheaper transportation costs, Pretoria or Cape Town?

Which has cheaper transportation costs, Pretoria or Cape Town
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Local transportation in Pretoria is 26.28% cheaper than in Cape Town. The average transportation cost in Pretoria, while it’s R253 in Cape Town.

However, when it comes to hired cars or private transfers, there are more affordable options in Cape Town than in Pretoria.

Does Pretoria have a better healthcare system than Cape Town?

Does Pretoria have a better healthcare system than Cape Town
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Cape Town’s healthcare system is better than Pretoria’s. However, there is only a slight difference in quality between the two.

Here’s a comparison table for both cities’ Health Care System Index, as well as other pertinent determining factors:

PretoriaCape Town
Health Care System Index66.1168.30
Skill and competency of medical staff73.4576.17
Medical equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment76.0477.93
Friendliness and courtesy of the staff to patients64.1872.42

Which has a better quality of life between Pretoria and Cape Town?

Cape Town’s quality of life is 6.45% better than Pretoria. The former scored 146.04 on its Quality of Life Index while the latter scored 139.61.

The Quality of Life Index averages different indices such as Purchasing Power Index, Safety Index, Health Care Index, Climate Index and Pollution Index.

Below are the specific figures garnered by each city for each index:

PretoriaCape Town
Purchasing Power Index93.5475.16
Safety Index18.0626.40
Health Care Index66.1168.30
Climate Index95.8398.19
Pollution Index56.0439.01

What are the pros and cons of living in Pretoria?

What are the pros and cons of living in Pretoria
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels
Beautiful surroundingsHigh crime rate
English-speaking cityVery warm summers
Laid-back lifestyleMany public protests


1. It has beautiful surroundings.

​​Dubbed as the ‘Jacaranda City’, you can expect to see streets lined up with vibrant Jacaranda trees when you go to Pretoria.

With its beautiful surroundings, it’s a well-visited city in South Africa that’s home to breathtaking parks and unique zoos.

Apart from being close to nature, the city is filled with different kinds of infrastructure since it’s an industrial hub.

2. It’s an English-speaking city.

English is one of the most widely spoken languages in Pretoria. It’s an ideal location for foreigners who want to move to the city and quickly adapt to their new surroundings.

The other popular languages in this capital city include Tswana, Ndebele and Afrikaans.

3. It has a more laid-back lifestyle.

Compared to Johannesburg and Cape Town, Pretoria has a more laid-back lifestyle. It offers the same opportunities as nearby cities, but in a less intense setup.

Employees are able to maintain a leisurely lifestyle without overworking themselves to the bone since the city has a low cost of living and sufficient salaries.


1. It has a high crime rate.

With a rough estimate of 82 Index points according to Statista, Pretoria ranked first in the crime index in South Africa in 2022. Based on this score, the crime levels in this capital city are considered very high.

Common crimes in Pretoria include theft, assault and vandalism.

2. It’s very warm during summer.

Although it’s common to have hot summers in South Africa, it’s best to be prepared that in Pretoria, the weather reaches an excessive amount of heat to more than 35 degrees Celsius.

This can be quite challenging to deal with, especially if you are not used to it. Moreover, instances of heat waves are common in this city.

3. It has many public protests.

It has many public protests.
Photo by Edmond Dantés from Pexels

Pretoria is one of the cities in South Africa that stages many public protests and mass demonstrations. Since it’s the administrative capital of the country, many people use this as an opportunity to speak out and let their concerns be heard by the government.

While it’s great that people here are unafraid to make their voices heard, this notoriously causes traffic problems and work delays for those passing by the area.

What are the pros and cons of living in Cape Town?

Many universities and collegesTerrible traffic
Allows you to maintain an active lifestyleLimited public transportation options
LGBTQ+ friendly communityExpensive real estate


1. It’s home to many universities and colleges.

It’s home to many universities and colleges.
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Whether it’s private or public universities, there are lots of options found in Cape Town. They also have several technical colleges that allow students to hone their skills and find stable employment after graduation.

The city is known to have various schools that offer different courses including finance, marketing, art and design. Whichever you choose to study, you can enjoy good student life at Cape Town.

2. It allows you to maintain an active lifestyle.

If you love going outdoors, staying in Cape Town is a big win for you. The city has a vast selection of activities that you can try such as hiking, surfing, running and playing sports.

The most popular sports in the city include rugby and cricket.

3. It’s an LGBTQ+ friendly community.

. It’s an LGBTQ+ friendly community.
Photo by Elvis Yang from Pexels

Dubbed as the gay capital of South Africa, Cape Town is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer plus (LGBTQ+) friendly community.

It’s safe for members of the community to visit this city without having to worry about getting strange looks from other people or being discriminated against.

The city even holds Pride Week, a 7-day long event filled with various festivals and parties where members of the LGBTQ+ community parade the streets with their heads held high.

It’s a unique opportunity for everyone who wants to stay true to themselves and not hold anything back while having the best time of their lives.


1. It has terrible traffic.

It has terrible traffic.
Photo by LUNA from Pexels

Cape Town ranked first as the most congested city in South Africa, according to Inrix’s 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard.

On a global scale, Cape Town is ranked 43rd overall. From Inrix’s report, the city has an average of 59 hours’ worth of traffic congestion – that’s no joke! 

2. It has limited public transportation options.

Compared to other cities in South Africa, Cape Town has limited public transportation options. Apart from their MyCiTi bus system, there aren’t many choices for people to get around the city.

In turn, residents choose to have private cars since the roads are easy to navigate. However, this results in a worsening traffic situation in the city.

3. Real estate is expensive.

In contrast to other cities in South Africa, real estate prices are higher in most parts of Cape Town. People who want to live in beautiful neighbourhoods would have to pay a hefty sum to get the place they desire.

The most popular properties located near the mountains or the sea. It’s not budget-friendly for either foreigners or locals to stay in, but it’s a good investment for the future.

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