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.
Luanda is the most expensive city to live in the African region, and world-wide as at October 2017. The extremely costly safe expatriate accommodation, imported produce and costly international private schooling are among the main factors that have kept Launda at the top of the rankings in Africa. 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.
Bangui in the Central African Republic is the second most expensive city in Africa. The economy of the CAR is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, plantain and sara. The security risk for expatriates in the Central African Republic is high, with almost no government control outside the capital Bangui resulting in a high risk. Risks include robbery and kidnapping by rebels as well as high levels of petty crime. Medical facilities are extremely limited. Bangui is particularly expensive for expatriates for the education, furniture & appliance, groceries and miscellaneous baskets.
Freetown in Sierra Leone is the third most expensive city in Africa. Freetown is particularly expensive for international education and recreation. The economy of Sierra Leone is slowly emerging from a protracted civil war and is showing signs of a successful transition. The country is very rich in minerals and has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. The security risk for expatriates in Sierra Leone is high. Risks include theft and violence. Other risks are related to the poor infrastructure, hazardous driving conditions, and unreliable electricity and water. As a result, the cost of importing and transporting international goods, and providing services that expatriates expect, makes it extremely expensive to maintain an expat lifestyle in Freetown.
Cairo in Egypt is the cheapest African city. The Egyptian Pound (EGP) has devalued by over 100% against the US Dollar in the past year after Egypt's central bank floated the pound in November 2016 in an attempt to stabilize its economy. The economy of Egypt depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism; there are also more than three million Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and Europe.
For more, read a free cost of living review for the following locations in Africa as at October 2017:
- Addis Ababa
- Cape Town
- Dar es Salaam
- Port Elizabeth
- Port Louis
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