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South Africa vs India Which Is a Better Country to Live In

South Africa vs India: Which Is a Better Country to Live In?

On a global average, South Africa and India are some of the cheapest countries to live in. They have a lesser price of commodities and better job opportunities compared to most nations around the world.

However, pitting the two against each other brings an interesting question: Is South Africa better than India or is it the other way around? 

South Africa vs India: Which Country is Better to Live In?

In terms of cost of living, India is 51% less expensive than South Africa.

In terms of job opportunities, India is better than South Africa since it has a 6% unemployment rate. Meanwhile, it reaches 33.6% in South Africa.

In terms of monthly income, South Africa has three times bigger salaries compared to India. Their annual income reaches up to $6,530 while it’s $2,150 in India.

In terms of safety, India has a lesser Crime Index of 44.43% compared to South Africa’s 76.86% as of 2023 data from Macrotrends.

In terms of tourist arrivals, South Africa garnered a total of 2.8 million tourists in 2020. While India reached 2.74 million, with only a slight difference between the two.

In terms of education, South Africa is better than India with a 95% literacy rate in 2019. The latter had a 74.4% literacy rate in 2018.

In terms of healthcare, South Africa has a better quality private system than India. However, India offers cheaper treatments than South Africa.

In terms of infrastructure, India has created more than South Africa with over three times more construction made. It has 68,155 kilometres of railways built while South Africa has 20,986 kilometres.

In terms of economy, South Africa is doing better than India with an annual GDP of $418,907,000 in 2021. While India has $3,176,296.

In terms of cricket, India has a better record than South Africa in the T20 World Cups. It had 13 winning streaks compared to the nine wins of the latter.

Is South Africa cheaper than India?

South Africa is not cheaper than India because its cost of living is 51% more expensive. Check out the different tables below to see the difference in prices between the two countries.


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When looking through a general approximation of food costs between South Africa and India, the former is 29% more expensive than the latter. Refer to the table below for a breakdown in the United States Dollar ($).

TypeSouth AfricaIndiaPrice difference
Basic lunchtime menu with a drink$7.70$4.57-$3.13
500 grams of boneless chicken breast$2.53$2.10-$0.43
1 litre of whole fat milk$0.88$0.67-$0.21
12 large eggs$2.37$1.10-$1.27
1 kilogram of potatoes$1.19$0.39-$0.8


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Housing expenses in South Africa could reach up to 87% more than in India. Browse through the table below to see the difference in the monthly rents of various kinds of accommodations in both countries.

TypeSouth AfricaIndiaPrice difference
Monthly rent for 900 square feet furnished home in an expensive area$930.02$574.33-$355.69
Monthly rent for 900 square feet furnished home in a non-expensive area$732.07$329.72-$402.35
Monthly rent for a 480 square feet furnished studio in an expensive area$596.83$304.80-$292.03
Monthly rent for a 480 square feet furnished studio in a non-expensive area$419.88$175.08-$244.8


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As for prices in clothing pieces, South Africa is relatively more expensive than India with a 30% rate difference. Here are some examples.

TypeSouth AfricaIndiaPrice difference
1 pair of jeans (from brands similar to Levis)$48.28$31.71-$16.57
1 summer dress (from brands like Zara or H&M)$33.62$31.37-$2.25
1 pair of sports shoes (from brands such as Nike or Adidas)$92.81$51.94-$40.87
1 pair of leather business shoes for men$77.45$37.53-$39.92


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In general, the difference in the transportation fees between South Africa and India is as high as 60%, with the former being pricier than the latter. The table below shows the distinction between the price of gas and public transport.

TypeSouth AfricaIndiaPrice difference
1 litre of gas$1.31$1.32+$0.012
Monthly ticket in a public transport$37.23$14.24-$22.98
Taxi ride with an 8-kilometre distance$9.66$2.63-$7.03

Personal Care

Personal Care
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As for personal care items, it’s 45% more expensive in South Africa compared to India.

TypeSouth AfricaIndiaPrice difference
Cold medicine for 6 days (from brands like Tylenol or Frenadol)$5.22$1.54-$3.68
1 box of antibiotics$12.50$3.02-$9.48
2-in-1 hair shampoo$3.89$3.26-$0.63
Tube toothpaste$1.36$1.08-$0.28

Which has better job opportunities, South Africa or India?

Job opportunities are better in India with its 6% unemployment rate. However, South Africa offers a higher monthly income compared to the former.

South AfricaIndia
Standard work week45 hours48 hours
Total labour force18.69 million484.34 million
Unemployment rate33.6%6%
Top sectorsServices (45%)Agriculture (30%)Industry (25%)Agriculture (60%)Industry (17%)Services (23%)
Average monthly income$544$179
Average annual income$6,530$2,150

Is it safer in South Africa or India?

It is relatively safer in India. It has a Crime Index of 44.43% and a smaller Murder/Homicide Rate of only 2.95%. 

Meanwhile, South Africa has a higher Crime Index in 2023 with around a 30% difference, according to Macrotrends. Its most serious crimes include murder, rape and assault, among others.

Refer to the table below for more details.

South AfricaIndia
Crime Index76.86% (as of 2023)44.43% (as of 2023)
Murder/Homicide Rate33.46% (as of 2020)2.95% (as of 2020)
Political stability41 (out of a 100 score)53 (out of a 100 score)

Which has a better education system between South Africa or India?

South Africa seems to have a better education system, with a higher literacy rate of 95% in 2019 than India which was only up to 74.4% as of 2018. Additionally, Nation Master found the following pieces of data.

South AfricaIndia
Average years of schooling of adults6.15.1
Gender parity index0.9130.726
High school enrolment rate93.5285.13
Primary education teachers per 1,000 students4.643.21

Does South Africa have better healthcare than India?

Does South Africa have better healthcare than India
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South Africa has a better private healthcare system compared to India. It’s known to be the best in the African continent.

Additionally, it has over 200 private hospitals all over the country. They offer different private health insurance for residents as well, suitable for different clients of various ages and income brackets.

That said, India has a broad healthcare system where the quality of the services differs in rural and urban areas, whether it’s public or private healthcare. However, it’s known to have lower costs but with still good quality treatments in its private hospitals.

India also has good healthcare insurance offered for its residents. They are eligible for tax reductions if they start paying for insurance for themselves – provided that they are under 60 years old and that they include their family.

In the table below, you can know more about the healthcare situation of the two countries. It includes the comparison of the number of hospital beds and the rate of different cases of various diseases.

South AfricaIndia
Hospital beds (per 1,000 inhabitants)2.800.53
Physicians (per 1,000 inhabitants)0.910.78
Tuberculosis cure rate78%85%

Which made more infrastructures, South Africa or India?

India has created more infrastructure than South Africa. The two have a big gap in terms of number of developments which can be seen in the table below.

South AfricaIndia
Roadways750,000 km6,371,847 km
Railways 20,986 km68,155 km
Harbours105 km1,801 km
Passenger airports2282

Is India poorer than South Africa?

India is considered poorer than South Africa because it has a lesser gross domestic product (GDP) for 2021 compared to South Africa.

As seen in the table below, there is a large gap between the two countries. South Africa’s GDP per capita is 105% more than India’s.

South AfricaIndia
(2021) Annual GDP$418,907,000$3,176,296
(2021) GDP per capita$6,965$2,280

Who is better at cricket, South Africa or India?

Who is better at cricket, South Africa or India
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India has a better-winning record in cricket than South Africa in the T20 World Cups. It won 13 matches while the latter only got nine, out of 22 games in total.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in South Africa?

Good opportunities for expatriatesHigh crime rate
English-speaking countryBig cost of living
High literacy rateSlow internet connection


1. Good Opportunities for Expatriates

Working or studying in South Africa is great for expatriates since there are many options to choose from. They offer various jobs related to education, photography and tourism among others.

2. English-Speaking Country

Dubbed as one of the cheapest English-speaking countries, South Africa is a great place for people who want to visit or stay in the nation without worrying about the language barrier. 

According to World Data, 9.6% of residents speak English in South Africa as of 2022.

3. High Literacy Rate

High Literacy Rate
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In 2019, South Africa reached a literacy rate of 95%, meaning a big majority of its residents could read and write. They also spend 5.96% of their country’s GDP on the education of their people.

This number is 88% more than India which only allocates 3.17% of its GDP to education. South Africa ranked 28th in the world with this expenditure while India is 44th, out of 194 nations surveyed by the Nation Master.


1. High Crime Rate

High Crime Rate
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Despite a good police force, South Africa has a high crime rate where various acts of violence often happen. 

Although it is still fairly safe to visit the country, tourists are highly discouraged from going out at night without a companion for any possible dangerous scenarios.

2. Big Cost of Living

Compared to India, it costs more to live in South Africa. It has generally bigger monthly expenses in contrast to the formerly said country, despite its higher monthly salaries.

3. Slow Internet Connection

Slow Internet Connection
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Although South Africa has a total of 4,761,000 internet servers all over the country, it still has concerns with the speed of the connection. 

According to South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), they struggled with bandwidth because of limited access from international providers like Telkom and Virgin Media.

As a result, websites had longer loading times. Moreover, the lack of investment in internet-related infrastructure adds to the challenge of fixing this connectivity issue.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in India?

Low cost of livingLesser monthly salaries
Low unemployment rateCloser to the poverty line
Cheap healthcare servicesHeavily populated


1. Low Cost of Living

Known as one of the cheapest countries in the world, India has a low cost of living with rent costs ranging from $300 to $500 a month for 900 square-foot homes. Additionally, its daily expenses are less expensive compared to South Africa.

2. Low Unemployment Rate

With a 6% unemployment rate, India offers various opportunities for workers. In 2022, Statista found that over 522 million people were employed across the country.

3. Cheap Healthcare Services

Despite claims about the inconsistent quality of healthcare services in India, it is a known fact that their treatments are cheaper than in most countries. 

It’s also often visited by medical tourists because it’s 50% less expensive than most Western counterparts.


1. Lesser Monthly Salaries

Although India has a low unemployment rate, it has a lesser monthly income that reaches only up to $179 on average.

2. Closer to the Poverty Line

Closer to the Poverty Line
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As of 2011, 21.9% of Indian residents were living below the poverty line. Although food subsidies have been given to people from India, this was not able to completely resolve the problem.

3. Heavily Populated

Heavily Populated
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With over a billion residents, India is ranked second next to China in being the most populated country in the world. This issue leads to more problems like lack of traffic control and shortage of available resources.

Frequently Asked Questions about South Africa and India

The Verdict

Choosing a place to live is a big decision with lots of factors that you need to consider like living costs, job opportunities and overall safety. 

Either South Africa or India are good options with their own unique attractions, but the deal breaker between the two would ultimately depend on your non-negotiables.

If you still haven’t made your choice, consider going through more references about these two countries to know more about them.

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