South Africa’s best city to work and live: Joburg vs Cape Town

Global expat network InterNations has published its latest ranking of the best and worst cities for expats, which includes South Africa’s two major cities: Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The report ranks Joburg 59th globally, with the Mother City 65th on the list.

Nairobi ranks 45th as the top city to move to in Africa, with the only other African city making the list being Lagos, Nigeria (79th).

“The African cities all rank in the lower half of the overall table with Lagos even in the bottom 10 worldwide,” InterNations said. “When it comes to the Quality of Urban Living and the Urban Work Life Indices, they can all be found among the bottom 20 cities worldwide.”

InterNations noted that the cities perform slightly above average in terms of getting settled, finance and housing, as well as the local cost of living, with two exceptions: Nairobi is the third best city worldwide in the Getting Settled Index, while Lagos rank 67th in the Local Cost of Living Index.

Joburg’s cost of living is lower than Cape Town, while the economic hub also has a higher urban work score and sits higher on the finance and housing index.

Cape Town is an easier city to settle in as an expat, while the quality of urban living is higher. Overall, people tend to be slightly happier in Joburg than in Cape Town, InterNations said.

Cost of living in SA

Data from Numbeo and Expatistan meanwhile, highlighted the cost of living in South African cities.

The table below covers five categories (transport, rent, salaries, utilities and entertainment) which contain the average prices across all four major cities covered by Numbeo and Expatistan.

City Average disposable salary Monthly transport costs Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre Basic utilities Meal for two people at a restaurant
Pretoria R15 481 R1 200 R4 897 R1 273 R500
Johannesburg R18 126 R700 R6 281 R1 395 R500
Cape Town R16 306 R370 R10 709 R1 009 R500
Durban R15 124 R350 R4 839 R1 093 R400
Port Elizabeth R11 833 R460 R3 727 R1 152 R400

The Expat City Ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations, which is with more than 20,000 respondents in 2019 – one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad.

In 2019, 82 cities around the globe were analysed in the survey, offering in-depth information about five areas of expat life: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, Finance & Housing, and Local Cost of Living.

Taken together, the first four areas make up the Expat City Ranking, which reveals the best and worst cities to move to in 2020.

Globally, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, and Singapore took the top spots in 2020, followed by Montréal, Lisbon, Barcelona, Zug, The Hague, and Basel.

“While each city is appreciated by expats for different reasons, they have some aspects in common: they typically rank highly in the Urban Work Life, the Quality of Urban Living, and the Local Cost of Living Indices. What is more, expats find it (very) easy to get settled in most of these cities, but not so much in the Swiss cities of Basel and Zug,” InterNations said.

On the other hand, expats are unhappiest in Kuwait City (82nd out of 82) as well as in both Italian cities surveyed, Rome (81st) and Milan (80th).  Lagos (Nigeria), Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Lima, New York City, and Yangon (Myanmar) also join the bottom 10 cities worldwide.

The full ranking is embedded below:

Best Expat Cities 2020 by BusinessTech on Scribd

Read: The richest cities in South Africa vs the rest of Africa

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South Africa’s best city to work and live: Joburg vs Cape Town