Battle of the Cities: Cape Town versus Joburg developer salaries in 2018

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South Africans love comparing their two major cities; now even CNN has taken to comparing Cape Town with Joburg: the natural beauty of the Mother City with the pulsating buzz of the former gold mining town. On CNN, Laurice Taitz, publisher and editor of Johannesburg In Your Pocket City Guide, says: ‘A friend of mine summed it up perfectly. If Joburg and Cape Town were on a dating website, Cape Town would be the blonde in the bikini and Joburg would be the one with the really great personality.’ But how do these two great cities compare when one looks at developer demand and developer salaries. Cape Town versus Joburg developer salaries in 2018: who comes out tops?

Cape Town Ahead for Junior Developers

OfferZen, a recruitment company, has conducted research into Cape Town and Joburg developer demand in 2018 and found some interesting stats. In Cape Town, entry level salaries are on average 14% higher than their Northern cousins. Joburgers starting out in the developer profession can expect to earn about R22k per month, while developers in Cape Town earn R25k per month on average. Good news for those residing in the Mother City! Here’s a graph comparing Cape Town versus Joburg developer salaries in 2018 by years of experience.

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Why is this the case? Here’s a potential explanation. Despite Cape Town being known as Silicon Cape due to high number of start-ups (and having, for example, its own EdTech incubator, Injini), there are many more developers in Joburg than Cape Town: approximately 30 000 to 10 000. This high supply in Joburg leads to fierce competition from companies like Amazon.

Joburg Developer Demand in 2018: Getting Ahead

However, when it comes to experience and Cape Town versus Joburg developer salaries in 2018, Joburg developers take the lead as far as money goes. Salaries increase similarly for both South African cities up to the 4-6 year mark; however, at this point, Joburgers race ahead. With more than 6 years of experience, the average monthly salary for Joburg developers is R61,240, whereas Cape Town developers with the same number of years of experience earn on average R54,750 per month. One potential reason for this is the high number of large financial institutions in Joburg.

Number of Years Worked

Cape Town



R25,000 / month

R22,000 / month


R32,000 / month

R33,000 / month


R54,750 / month

R61,240 / month

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But bear in mind the cost of living in either of these cities- to maintain the same standard of living, you would need R36,788 in Cape Town and R34,000 in Joburg, states Numbeo, a large database of user-contributed data. Rent prices, for example, are 54,17% higher in Cape Town than Joburg; similarly restaurant prices are 6,31% higher in Cape Town than up North.

Top Programming Languages by City

When it comes to programming languages, there is a high demand in both cities for the following languages:

If one examines the trend a little more closely, there is a lot more demand for .NET in Joburg than in Cape Town. On the other hand, Cape Town currently has ‘high demand for UX Designers, Python, and PHP developers,’ states co-founder Philip Joubert from OfferZen in My Broadband.


In conclusion, whether you are in Cape Town or Joburg, it is clear that software engineers and developers earn some of the highest salaries in the country. CareerJunction’s latest salary review, as discussed in My Broadband, states that ‘salary offerings for software developers fall under the top 25 highest salaries, based on an analysis of 116 occupational fields.’ The cost to company on average for intermediate software developers is between R33,352 and R43,523, whereas senior software developers earn an average salary of between R41,726 and R53,253 per month. Not bad!

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