Expats Rank Best African Cities with Pictures

An Expatriate (often shortened to ex-pat) is a person residing in a country other than their native country. 

The term often refers to educated professionals, skilled workers, or artists taking positions outside their home country, either independently or sent abroad by their employers.  

In 2021, to identify the best and worst cities for ex-pats in Africa, more than 12,000 expatriates representing as many as 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries or territories across the globe provided information on a wide range of topics related to living abroad.

The respondents rated more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven, the derived ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 13 subcategories, used to draw up four topical indices:

  • Getting Settled/ Started
  • Quality of Urban Living
  • Urban Work Life
  • Finance & Housing

In addition to the four topical indices listed above, the survey also includes a Local Cost of Living Index. However, it does not factor into the overall ranking to avoid overrepresenting financial aspects. 

4. Johannesburg, South Africa.

Johannesburg, South Africa

According to the Expat City Ranking 2021, Johannesburg (55th out of 57) is one of the worst cities for ex-pats in the world.

It ranks in 14th place overall, and last in the Quality of Urban Living Index (57th) and two of its four subcategories: Transportation (57th) and Safety & Politics (57th). Approximately two-thirds are dissatisfied with public transportation and fear for their personal safety.

Due to security concerns, an Irish ex-pat believes he must “always be on guard.” Furthermore, Johannesburg is ranked 52nd in the Health & Environment Subcategory, with 32 percent of residents dissatisfied with the urban environment and ex-pats believing that healthcare is neither available nor affordable.

3. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is ranked 52nd out of 57 cities. It is in the bottom ten in both the overall ranking and two indices. Expats rate Transportation (52nd) and Health & Environment (57th) particularly negatively on the Quality of Urban Living Index (56th).

In fact, 67% of ex-pats in Cairo are not satisfied with the urban environment, compared to 16% globally. The “bad air quality and lack of green places,” according to an Afghan ex-pat, are the aspects of living in Cairo that he dislikes the most.

Furthermore, nearly one-third of people think medical care is of poor quality.

2. Cape Town, South Africa

Aerial View Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town ranks 51st in the Quality of Urban Living Index, with particularly poor scores in the Safety & Politics Subcategory (56th), where only Johannesburg (57th) performs worse.

In fact, 42% of ex-pats in Cape Town are unsatisfied with political stability, and 43% are concerned about their personal safety.

While public transit is a drawback, 93 percent of people appreciate the climate and weather. Even in the Leisure & Climate Subcategory, Cape Town has ranked third:

81 percent of respondents are satisfied with the local leisure alternatives. A British ex-pat observes that “thanks to the beautiful weather,” there is a “fantastic outdoor lifestyle.”

1. Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi is ranked 12th out of 57 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2021, with the highest ranking among African cities. It performs particularly well on the Getting Settled Index (4th): over three-quarters of ex-pats in Nairobi (78%) perceive the locals as generally pleasant, and 62% find it easy to establish new friends. “The people are kind and hospitable,” says one Indian ex-pat, who adds that he appreciates his “excellent social life.” 
Nairobi expatriates agree: 74 percent are satisfied with their social lives, which is 17 percentage points higher than the global average (57 percent ).

Before you go, check out this related Topic:

Moving To Africa: Is It Possible? The Best Places & Why You Should Consider It

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