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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Johannesburg: The World’s Worst Expat Destination

Johannesburg is the world’s worst city for expats (50th out of 50 cities) and is outperformed by Cape Town in all respects.

The city also ends up as the worst city worldwide in the Quality of Life Index (50th). Expats are extremely unhappy with the affordability (25% unhappy vs. 15% globally) and availability (39% vs. 17% globally) of public transportation. Close to three in five (59%) do not find it easy and safe to get around by foot and/or bicycle (vs. 13% globally) — 32% even describe it as extremely unsafe, eight times the global average (4%). The city ranks last worldwide for both this factor and personal safety in general: 62% do not feel safe in Johannesburg, compared to 9% globally.

Johannesburg ranks 49th in the Working Abroad Index, only ahead of Istanbul (50th). Expats rate the local job market (38% unhappy vs. 27% globally) and their personal career opportunities (29% vs. 22% globally) negatively, and about a quarter (24%) say that moving there has not improved their career prospects (vs. 18% globally). Since expats in Johannesburg also tend to be dissatisfied with their job security (34% unhappy vs. 20% globally), the state of the economy (36% vs. 17% globally), and their work-life balance (23% vs. 19% globally), it is no surprise that 24% are unhappy with their job in general (vs. 16% globally).

Interestingly, while only a slightly above average share of expats feel they are not paid fairly for their job (22% vs. 20% globally), results in the Personal Finance Index (47th) look much worse. Expats are unsatisfied with their personal finances (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally), and 44% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally). In fact, Johannesburg ranks last worldwide (50th) for both factors.

At least housing is affordable, according to 46% of expats (vs. 39% globally), which is one reason why Johannesburg still lands in 36th place in the Expat Essentials Index. On the other hand, expats rate the availability of administrative/government services online negatively (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally), and 34% struggle to open a local bank account (vs. 21% globally).

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