Africa: Which cities in the continent are most sought after by expats?

By Conrad Onyango
Posted on Friday, 31 December 2021 16:22

A woman holds a multicoloured umbrella as she walks within the Jericho estate while a rainbow is cast on the sky in Nairobi, Kenya December 4, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Low costs of living, options for leisure and vibrant social life in Nairobi, Cape Town, Cairo and Johannesburg create the most ideal conditions for expatriates both from within and outside the continent.

By Conrad Onyango – bird Newsroom

If you are looking for the best cities in Africa to work in and start a new life in 2022, Nairobi should be your first choice, then Cape Town, followed by Cairo and Johannesburg, reveals a new global report.

Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, has been ranked top in Africa and 12th globally in the Expat City Ranking 2021 by InterNations, the world’s largest expatriate community. Expatriates rank the city’s social life headlined by a vibrant nightlife and ease of finding affordable housing highly.

According to the Index, nearly four in five expats in Nairobi (78%) describe the local residents as generally friendly compared to 69% globally, while 62% find it easy to make new friends compared to 48% globally.

“Expats in Nairobi agree 74% are happy with their social life, 17 percentage points more than the global average (57%),” says the ranking that surveyed 12,420 respondents in 57 cities.

Nairobi topples its African peers in Getting Settled (fourth) and Finance and Housing (sixth) Indexes that falls among the top ten cities in the world.

More than eight out of ten expats said they have no trouble finding housing, 49% find housing affordable in Nairobi, and there is an overall satisfaction of expats on their financial situation, disposable income and affordability.

Cape Town (41) also performs well in Finance and Housing (13th) Getting Settled (15th) and Local Cost of Living (18th) with unlimited leisure options in the South African city seen helping expats to enjoy social life and ‘at home’ feeling.

“Cape Town even places third in the Leisure and Climate subcategory with 81% satisfied with the local leisure options. A British expat notes that there is a “great outdoor lifestyle due to the good weather,” explains the survey report.

Friendliness and low cost of living continue to reverberate the continent with also Cairo and Johannesburg though ranked in the bottom ten of the overall ranking, showing better performance in friend-making and access to affordable food and housing.

Cairo (52) has its best ranking in the Local Cost of Living Index (7th), followed by Finance and Housing Index (19th) and Getting Settled Index (26th).

“Nearly three in five expats say finding friends in Cairo is easy and 70% describe the local residents as generally friendly,” according to the survey.

Johannesburg closed the top list of Africa’s vibrant and exciting cities to look out for, showing better performance in the Ease of Getting Settled (29th) and the Finance and Housing (24th) Indices.

All three African cities – Cairo, Johannesburg and Cape Town rank among the bottom ten in the quality of urban living and urban work life indices – except for Nairobi, which lands in 34th place in the latter index.

Most expats however would like to see improvements in the public transportation system in Nairobi, their job security and political instability in Cape Town, as well as health and environment in Johannesburg and Cairo.

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