Overall African countries are some of the poorest and least developed in the world, with relatively low local cost of living expenses; however the cost of importing and transporting the international standard of goods that expatriates expect to purchase in the cities in this region makes it extremely expensive to maintain the lifestyle that they are used to.
Despite the fact that the Angolan New Kwanza (AOA) is approximately 32% weaker against the US Dollar compared to a year ago, extremely costly safe expatriate accommodation, imported produce and international private schooling has kept Luanda as most expensive city to live in the African region. The dramatic weakening of the Kwanza has however resulted in Angola dropping from the most expensive country in the world in 2015, to third most expensive in 2016, behind South Sudan and Venezuela. The capital of Angola, Launda, has however remained the second most expensive city in the world for expatriates. A rented house in a guarded community (recommended due to the threat of violent crime) can cost between US$8 000 and US$12 000 per month, international private schooling up to US$40 000 a year and the requirement for either a 4x4 to navigate the roads (which are being improved) or for a driver can be costly.
Xpatulator.com has been created to calculate expatriate pay using online calculators and an extensive database of cost of living and hardship indexes, for 780 international locations. The database is updated quarterly. Subscribers use this information to ensure expatriate salary spending power is maintained when on an international assignment. Salary spending power is affected by cost of living, hardship and exchange rate differences between the home and host location.
Asmara in Eritrea is the second most expensive city in Africa (and fourth most expensive in the world). This is mainly due to the fact that the Nakfa (ERN) is fixed against the US Dollar which has strengthened during 2015. Asmara is particularly expensive for groceries, furniture and appliances, and transport. The economy of Eritrea is small (less than 650,000 people) and is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 80% of the population involved in farming and herding. Drought has often created difficulty in the farming areas. As a result, the cost of importing and transporting international goods and services that expatriates expect makes it extremely expensive to maintain an expat lifestyle in Asmara.
Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the third most expensive city in Africa. While the DRC has vast potential due to its natural resources and mineral wealth, the country is poor and lacks infrastructure. Kinshasa is particularly expensive for expatriates for the communication, education, furniture & appliance, and transport baskets.
Accra in Ghana is the fourth most expensive city in Africa. The economy of Ghana is primarily based on resources such as gold, timber, cocoa, diamond, bauxite, and manganese. The Ghanaian New Cedi (GHS) has weakened approximately 20% against the US Dollar during 2015 making imports of expatriate goods and services more costly, in addition the inflation rate is currently over 17% as a result of local price increases.
Maseru in Lesotho is the cheapest African city. Lesotho has long been one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy of Lesotho's economy is based on diamonds and water sold to South Africa, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, and to some extent the earnings of labourers employed in South Africa.
For more, read a free cost of living review for the following locations in Africa:
- Addis Ababa
- Cape Town
- Dar es Salaam
- Port Elizabeth
- Port Louis
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