Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Cities in Africa

In 2020, four cities in Africa have enough respondents to qualify for the Expat City Ranking:

47. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo comes in 47th place out of 66 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2020, which is mainly due to its poor results in the Quality of Urban Living Index (58th) and the Urban Work Life Index (56th). The city ranks particularly low for its urban environment (65th), only ahead of Bangkok (Thailand), with 63% of expats rating this factor negatively (vs. 21% globally). What is more, expats are unhappy with the public transportation system (58th) and the local leisure options (59th). In fact, 20% rate the latter negatively (vs. 15% globally). When it comes to the Urban Work Life Index, job security seems to be an issue in Cairo. The city ranks 58th in this subcategory, and 39% of expats are unhappy with the local economy (vs. 18% globally).

On the other hand, Cairo performs well in the Finance & Housing Index (16th) and the Local Cost of Living Index (14th). According to a British survey respondent, there is “good quality of housing”; in fact, 46% of expats find housing affordable (vs. 41% globally), while 56% say that it is easy to find (vs. 55% globally). Lastly, Cairo comes 27th in the Getting Settled Index and even lands among the top 10 worldwide for the general friendliness of local people towards foreign residents (8th). Exactly three out of four respondents (75%) describe them as friendly towards expats (vs. 66% globally), with an expat from Romania pointing out: “The people are kind!”

56. Cape Town, South Africa

With the city coming 56th out of 66 destinations in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Cape Town’s main pitfall are in the Urban Work Life (60th) and the Quality of Urban Living (57th) Indices. In the latter, Cape Town ranks 59th in the Transportation subcategory and second-to-last for personal safety (65th), only ahead of Johannesburg (66th). Just 31% of expats feel personally safe in the city (vs. 82% globally), and more than half of them (51%) rate the political stability negatively (vs. 17% globally).

In the Urban Work Life Index, Cape Town ranks a low 62nd in the Job Security subcategory: 34% of expats rate their job security negatively (vs. 22% globally), and 56% are unhappy with the local economy (vs. 18% globally). An expat from Singapore comments that “there is a lot of poverty” in Cape Town. In general, the South African city seems to be financially unattractive for expats — 40% state that their disposable household income is not enough to cover daily expenses (vs. 21% globally). The city ranks lowest worldwide for this factor. However, as housing is easy to find (61% positive ratings vs. 55% globally), Cape Town still comes in 36th place in the Finance & Housing Index.

The only real highlight Cape Town has to offer seems to be the Leisure & Climate subcategory (4th). In fact, 93% of expats rate the local leisure activities, as well as the climate, positively (vs. 71% and 64%, respectively, worldwide). An expat from Nigeria says that the “weather is beautiful most of the year” and that there is “a huge number of available activities”.

60. Johannesburg, South Africa

Placing 60th out of 66 cities, Johannesburg performs worst in the Quality of Urban Living Index (64th). With the city coming last in the Safety & Politics subcategory (66th), 70% of expats rate their feelings of personal safety negatively (vs. only 9% globally). Additionally, the city comes 65th for transportation — just ahead of Nairobi (66th). Only 28% of expats view public transportation in Johannesburg positively (vs. 66% globally), and a Norwegian expat says that “there is not a lot of local transportation”. The South African city also performs poorly in the Urban Work Life Index (58th). Johannesburg comes in at 64th place for the state of the local economy, and more than three in five survey respondents (62%) rate its economy negatively (vs. 18% globally).

However, Johannesburg lands in the top 15 of the Finance & Housing Index (13th). In fact, 75% of expats say it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally), and 47% find the housing affordable (vs. 41% globally). Another upside that comes with living in this city is a factor in the Quality of Urban Living Index: 91% of expats are happy with Johannesburg’s local climate (vs. 64% globally). A German expat even thinks that “Johannesburg has the best weather in the world”.

62. Nairobi, Kenya

Overall, Nairobi comes 62nd in the Expat City Ranking 2020, placing among the bottom 5 destinations. The city ranks especially low in the Quality of Urban Living Index (65th), just ahead of Salmiya in Kuwait (66th). Kenya’s capital even ranks last for its public transportation system (66th), with 71% rating this factor negatively (vs. 24% globally). A British expat points out: “The road infrastructure is not good in Nairobi, so getting around can be difficult.” Nairobi also loses points for personal safety (64th), which 46% of survey respondents are dissatisfied with (vs. 9% globally). “Your personal safety is not always guaranteed,” says a Dutch expat. Additionally, close to one in four expats (24%) are unhappy with the availability of healthcare in Nairobi (vs. 13% globally), and 45% rate the urban environment negatively (vs. 21% globally).

In the Quality of Urban Living Index Nairobi only stands out — in a positive way — for the local climate and weather (93% happy vs. 64% globally). An Indian expat names “the weather and the warm friendly people” as the highlights of his life in Nairobi. In fact, the city performs well in the Getting Settled Index (20th). Nearly three in five respondents (58%) find it easy to make new friends (vs. 47% globally). Nairobi also performs above the global average in the Finance & Housing Index (20th), with about six in seven expats (85%) saying that it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally).

However, Kenya’s capital performs very poorly in the Urban Work Life Index (62nd), with only 48% of respondents rating their job security positively (vs. 59% globally). Moreover, over half the expats are dissatisfied with the local career opportunities (53% vs. 34% globally) and the state of the local economy (55% vs. 18% globally).

Further Reading