Categories > Guides and Tips

South Africa vs Nigeria Which Is Better

South Africa vs Nigeria: Which Is Better?

South Africa and Nigeria are both developing countries so it’s safe to say they stand on the same ground in that aspect. However, pitting them against each other shows their distinct differences.

Taking our personal bias out of the picture – as locals from the rainbow nation – choosing which is better to live between the two options would depend on where your priorities lie.

If you’re looking for something cheaper to live in and have a better work-life balance, South Africa is a better choice than Nigeria. 

However, if you prefer a place with more employment opportunities and a relatively safer environment, Nigeria is the better pick.

If you’re wondering how we came to this conclusion, we’ll show you below as we compare the two countries with different factors in mind such as cost of living, real estate and more.

Cost of Living in South Africa vs Nigeria

Cost of Living in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
South Africa is generally 22.5% cheaper than Nigeria with its consumer prices and rent. However, it has 48.5% higher restaurant prices than Nigeria.
Meanwhile, groceries are 11.6% lower in South Africa than in Nigeria.

In case you’re wondering how we were able to calculate the rates between the two, here’s a breakdown of common expenses in both countries, based on Numbeo’s data.

ExpensesSouth Africa Cost RangeNigeria Cost Range
Restaurant Food
Meal in an affordable restaurantR150 (₦3,801.78)R27.62 (₦700)
Combo Meal at a fast food restaurantR75 (₦1,900.89)R109.06 (₦2,764.20)
0.5 litre of local beerR35 (₦887.08)R15.78 (₦400)
0.33 litre of imported beerR40 (₦1,013.81)R23.67 (₦600)
Regular cappuccinoR31.17 (₦790.08)R39.50 (₦1,001.09)
0.33 litre of soda (e.g. Coke and Pepsi)R15.77 (₦399.81)R6.75 (₦170.99)
0.33 litre of bottled water R11.83 (₦299.92)R4.35 (₦110.38)
1 litre of regular milkR17.72 (₦449.23)R50.06 (₦1,268.75)
500 grams of fresh white loaf breadR15.78 (₦400.06)R23.01 (₦583.18)
1 kilogram of white riceR24.27 (₦615.04)R44.73 (₦1,133.73)
12 regular eggsR31.01 (₦785.90)R34.74 (₦880.56)
1 kilogram of local cheeseR118.60 (₦3,005.91)R70.78 (₦1,794.01)
1 kilogram of ground beefR120.04 (₦3,042.46)R81.73 (₦2,071.48)
1 kilogram of applesR25.07 (₦635.30)R57.80 (₦1,464.85)
1 kilogram of potatoesR18.86 (₦478.13)R37.59 (₦952.79)
Transportation (Fare)
One-way ticket for local transportR25 (₦633.63)R11.84 (₦300)
Monthly pass (regular price)R700 (₦17,741.66)R394.55 (₦10,000)
Taxi per 1 kilometre (normal tariff)R15 (₦380.18)R31.56 (₦800)
Clothing and Shoes
1 pair of regular jeansR795.09 (₦20,151.66)R310.33 (₦7,865.38)
1 summer dress from stores like Zara and H&MR522.85 (₦13,251.75)R453.73 (₦11,500)
1 pair of Nike running shoes (mid-range)R1,476.45 (₦37,421.02)R1,033.17 (₦26,186.05)
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill)
Electricity, Water and Heating for an 85-square-metre apartmentR1,776.66 (₦45,029.84)R440.30 (₦11,159.52)
1 minute of prepaid mobile usage (local)R1.81 (₦45.88)R0.72 (₦18.36)
Minimum 60 Mbps internetR826.72 (₦20,953.39)R858.77 (₦21,765.81)
Housing (Average Monthly Rent)
1 bedroom apartment in the city centreR7,710.21 (₦195,417.03)R17,399.43 (₦440,992.41)
1 bedroom apartment outside of city centreR6,304.69 (₦159,793.86)R10,109.58 (₦256,229.66)
3-bedroom apartment in the city centreR14,406.22 (₦365,128.95)R51,759.40 (₦1,311,853.51)
3-bedroom apartment outside of the city centreR12,697.64 (₦321,824.57)R26,060.82 (₦660,517.24)
Childcare Tuition
Preschool for 1 child (monthly)R3,311.74 (₦83,936.91)R1,664.86 (₦42,196.21)
International primary school for 1 child (yearly)R70,242.99 (₦1,780,324.28)R38,230 (₦968,948)

As you can see from the table above, there’s a big difference between South Africa and Nigeria for most expenses.

South Africa is generally cheaper with its lower consumer prices and rent, making it an ideal place to live in for middle-income families. 

But Nigeria has more affordable transportation fares and school tuition fees for children so choosing on where to stay between the two would depend on your priorities and family context.

Real Estate in South Africa vs Nigeria

Real Estate in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by George Becker from Pexels
South Africa’s house prices are 128% cheaper than Nigeria’s. South Africa also has cheaper apartment rentals, with rates 15.02% lower than Nigeria’s. 

When comparing the real estate prices of South Africa and Nigeria, the former is the better option since it’s relatively cheaper. The country has more housing options, especially for the middle-class sector.

The table below illustrates the price differences between the two for single-family homes and apartments for sale.

Property TypeSouth AfricaNigeria
Single-Family Home R877,000 (₦22,019,463.92)R3,982,964 (₦100,000,000)
Apartment in the city centre (price/square metre)R17,301.49 (₦438,510.11)R20,110.67 (₦509,709.36)
Apartment outside of the city centre (price/square metre)R12,965.39 (₦328,610.82)R9,937.48 (₦251,867.56)

Diversity and Demographics in South Africa vs Nigeria

Diversity and Demographics in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels
Nigeria has more diverse ethnic groups than South Africa. The former has 8 different minorities while the latter is mainly dominated by Black South Africans.

Although South Africa and Nigeria are both found in the African continent, there are still notable differences between them.

For one, South Africa is bigger in terms of land area but has a lesser number of inhabitants compared to Nigeria. Additionally, there is only a slight difference in the distribution of their population into male and female sexes.

You can learn more about this in detail by referring to the table below.

South AfricaNigeria
Geographic LocationTip of AfricaWest Africa
Size (Area)1,219,090 square kilometres923,770 square kilometres
Population 59,392,000213,401,000
Female Population 51.1%49.31%
Male Population 48.9%50.69%
Median Age 27 years old18 years old
Life Expectancy at Birth 64 years old59 years old

Age-wise, South Africa has a higher median age and life expectancy than Nigeria. However, Nigeria is more diverse in their racial composition, with most of its population divided into different ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, South Africa has four main racial groups. Refer to the table below for more details, sourced from Statista.

Racial Composition South AfricaRacial Composition Nigeria 
Black African81%Hausa30%
Coloured South African9%Yoruba15.5%
White South African8%Igbo (Ibo)15.2%
Other 24.7%

Career Opportunities in South Africa vs Nigeria

Career Opportunities in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by fauxels from Pexels
Based on the 2021 Bloomberg report, South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the continent at 34.4%. Nigeria’s is slightly lower at 33.3%.

With a lower unemployment rate, Nigeria is a substantially better country to work in since there are more job opportunities. 

However, it’s important to note that South Africa (Why does South Africa have high unemployyment rate?) has a higher monthly net salary after tax than Nigeria. See the table below for more details.

South Africa Nigeria 
Average monthly net salary (after tax)R22,433.43 (₦566,143.53)R2,930.66 (₦73,959.96)

When it comes to work-life balance, a survey among expats (How to get a job in South Africa as a foreigner) found that 60% of them are satisfied with their jobs in South Africa. In Nigeria, the satisfaction rate is only at 41%.

South Africa is a great choice if you prefer a better work-life balance. But if you want a country with more job openings, Nigeria is the ideal pick.

Crime Index in South Africa vs Nigeria

Crime Index in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by Jonathan Petersson from Pexels
According to Numbeo, it’s safer to live in Nigeria with a lower Crime Index of 65.32%, compared to South Africa’s 75.28%.

Arguably, the situation in Nigeria and South Africa (is South Africa safe to live in) are similar with generally high levels of crime in both countries. 

However, South Africa scored 34.75 on the Safety Scale while the Nigeria scored 24.70. A lower score indicates a higher perception of safety, which means people deem Nigeria as a safer place to live in.

Refer to the table below for a closer look at the different crimes rampant in both countries along with rates, as found by Numbeo. 

Type of Crime South Africa Nigeria 
Using or dealing drugs72.40%63.82%
Vandalism and theft77.55%69.15%
Assault and armed robbery80.94%72.93%
Corruption and bribery84.03%84.93%

Lifestyle in South Africa vs Nigeria

Lifestyle in South Africa vs Nigeria
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels
South Africa is the ideal place to live if you want to experience different seasons, have lots of things to do in your spare time and get good private health care. 

To get a closer look at the different lifestyles offered by the two countries, we compared each city in detail with their weather, activities and health care below.

Weather in South Africa vs Nigeria

Although both South Africa and Nigeria are located on the same continent, they experience different kinds of climate conditions. The former has the typical four seasons, while the latter only has two: the wet and dry seasons.

If you’re wondering how that’s possible, it’s simply because of South Africa’s geographical location (Why does south africa have different climates?).

It’s in the middle of two big oceans: the Atlantic Ocean on the western side resulting in colder weather while the Indian Ocean is on the east, leading to warmer temperatures.

However, when comparing the two countries’ daily temperatures, they have only a few differences. Here’s a summary of typical temperatures based on World Data.

South Africa Nigeria 
Daytime temperatures24.7 degrees Celsius33.3 degrees Celsius
Nighttime temperatures11.6 degrees Celsius22.2 degrees Celsius
Rain days4.77.8
Sunshine hours per day8.56.3

Things to Do in South Africa vs Nigeria

Both South Africa and Nigeria have beautiful tourist attractions like pristine beaches and lush mountains. However, South Africa has more to offer in terms of popular spots, beautiful landscapes, and activities.

According to World Data, South Africa boasted the third highest tourist arrivals in the continent in 2022 with an estimate of 6.8 million international tourists. 

It has various beautiful attractions, fit for any kind of traveller. If you’re thirsty for adventure, visiting the Kruger National Park or surfing at Coffee Bay Beach is a good idea.

But if you’re more into historical (What is south africas famous landmarks: Top # Most Famous Landmarks in South Africa) spots, you should visit the Union Buildings and the Cradle of Humankind.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has more underrated spots like Coconut Beach and the Obudu Ranch for people who want to go off the beaten path.

Healthcare in South Africa vs Nigeria

South Africa has a generally better private healthcare system index of 63.48 compared to Nigeria’s 48.59, having a 26.57% difference between the two.

Although they have near-similar private healthcare system indices, it’s safe to say that South Africa still has better healthcare based on data from Numbeo. Below are the different factors considered to calculate the final index score of both countries.

South Africa Nigeria 
Skill and competency of medical staff70.64%52.68%
Speed in completing examinations and reports66.81%49.54%
Equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment72.66%42.69%
Accuracy and completeness in filling out reports68.94%54.86%
Friendliness and courtesy of the staff63.11%51.64%
Responsiveness in medical institutions56.61%33.80%
Satisfaction with the cost for patients47.96%47.41%
Convenient location for patients76.59%57.27%

However, when it comes to public health care, both countries face significant issues.

South Africa’s biggest challenges are overcrowding and long wait times in public facilities. 

In Nigeria, the most pressing problem is the low ratio of doctors to patients with only 1 per 2,000 inhabitants. They also often complain of being overworked and underpaid.

South Africa vs Nigeria: How They Stack Up

Overall, each country has their own sets of strengths that make it stand above the other. That’s why picking between them is no easy feat.

It would solely depend on your preferences, especially in terms of lifestyle. On that note, here’s a quick review of everything we’ve discussed to help you see the better fit for you.

Factors The Better Country Why 
Cost of LivingTied (depends on your lifestyle)South Africa is 22.5% cheaper than Nigeria for consumer prices and rent. 
But it’s 48.5% more expensive to dine out.
Real EstateSouth AfricaThe average house prices are 128% cheaper in South Africa than in Nigeria.
Diversity and DemographicsNigeriaNigeria is more diverse in terms of ethnic groups than South Africa.
Career OpportunitiesNigeriaWith a lower employment rate and bigger labour force, there are more career opportunities in Nigeria than South Africa.
Crime IndexNigeriaNigeria is relatively safer than South Africa, with a lower Crime Index of 65.32%.
LifestyleSouth AfricaSouth Africa has more variety in climate conditions, fun activities and good private health care.

Related topics