South Africa’s best city to live in

The annual global Quality of Living Index by HR consulting firm Mercer has upheld Durban’s place as the south African city which offers the best quality of life.

According to Mecer, Durban ranks above the country’s traditional economic powerhouse of Johannesburg, and tourist mecca, Cape Town.

The ranking is considered one of the most comprehensive of its kind, and is put out annually to help multinational companies and other employers compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.

The group looked at 450 cities across the world, and analysed them based on 10 categories that cover areas such as political stability, crime, banking services, medical facilities, quality of schools, infrastructure, entertainment and housing, among many others.

Durban was ranked 85th out of 230 cities – maintaining its rank for the third year in a row.

Durban’s higher ranking is mainly due to its high-quality housing, plentiful recreational offerings and good consumer goods availability. However, the city’s crime problems keep it from climbing higher on the list.

The city will host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Cape Town ranked 92nd – down one place from 2015, with Johannesburg ranked 95th – also one position lower in the ranking. Both cities have continued to drop on the list over the years.

On top of being ranked tops in South Africa, Durban was also ranked as the second best city in Africa, just behind Port Louis in Mauritius (83rd).

Best and worst cities

According to Mercer, Western European cities have continued to outperform the rest of the world when it comes to expat quality of living, with seven of the top ten spots being in the region.

Developing and dangerous war-torn cities make up the bottom of the rankings.

Here are the top and bottom 10, along with South Africa’s cities as ranked.

# City Country
1 Vienna Austria
2 Zurich Switzerland
3 Auckland New Zealand
4 Munich Germany
5 Vancouver Canada
6 Dusseldorf Germany
7 Frankfurt Germany
8 Geneva Switzerland
9 Copenhagen Denmark
10 Sydney Australia
85 Durban South Africa
92 Cape Town South Africa
95 Johannesburg South Africa
221 Conakry Guinea
222 Kinshasa DRC
223 Brazzaville Republic of Congo
224 Damascus Syria
225 N’Djamena Chad
226 Khartoum Sudan
227 Port au Prince Haiti
228 Sana’a Yemen
229 Bangui CAR
230 Baghdad Iraq

Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:

  • Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services)
  • Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
  • Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
    Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
  • Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc)
  • Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
  • Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
  • Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
  • Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

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South Africa’s best city to live in