Angola Is World’s Most Expensive Expat City: Survey

LUANDA ~ Angola’s capital Luanda has again been rated the most expensive city in the world for expat workers, followed by Tokyo, according to a survey published this week.

The latest Cost of Living Survey by human resources consultancy ECA International saw Luanda maintain top spot on the world priciest locations for foreigners, while Maseru in the small mountain state Lesotho was the cheapest.

The next three cities in the ranking after Luanda and Tokyo were all in Japan – Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe – according to the report.

Oil rich Angola’s has enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom since a 27-year civil war ended in 2002 which has attracted an influx of foreign workers.

The country’s war-damaged industry and poor infrastructure means the bulk of food, construction materials and other goods have to be imported, driving up costs.

Decent Luanda apartments with water and electricity go for upwards of US$15,000 a month, a basic meal out can top $100 and imported European cheese sells for over $15 a piece.

The high prices sit incongruously next to the rest of Angola’s population, with two thirds living on less than $2 a day.

Maintaining their position in the top 10 were Copenhagen in Denmark, Oslo in Norway and the Swiss cities of Geneva, Zurich and Basel.

ECA’s cost of living data, conducted twice a year, compares a selection of 125 consumer goods and services in over 370 locations worldwide.

A separate survey, meanwhile, listed Vancouver as the world’s easiest city to live in while Harare is the toughest.

Canadian and Australian cities hold six of the top 10 slots in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability poll, which ranks cities on five factors: healthcare, stability, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

“At the other end of the ranking, most of the poorest-performing locations are in Africa or Asia, where civil instability and poor infrastructure present significant challenges,” said the survey’s authors.

In ratings ranging from zero (intolerable) to 100 percent (ideal), Vancouver scores 98 percent, “benefiting from strong Canadian infrastructure,” while Harare languishes on 37.5 “thanks to the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe.”

At the top end of the global easy-living scale, Vienna is in second place followed by Melbourne, Toronto, Perth, Calgary, Helsinki and Geneva, with Sydney and Zurich in joint ninth place.

The Japanese city of Osaka is just outside the top 10 on 13th place, and Tokyo is at joint 19th with Frankfurt.

European cities where life is generally not hard include Stockholm and Hamburg, Germany in 14th place, as well as Paris in 17th spot, Frankfurt in 19th, Copenhagen in 21st and Berlin in 22nd.

“With the exception of high scores in Australasia and some Asian centres, most of the better-scoring locations are based in the more developed regions of western Europe and North America,” said the study.

A string of US cities fill the rankings from 30th to 50th position – Washington DC in 35th place, Los Angeles in 48th – followed by another smattering of European conurbations: London is in 51st spot, Rome 52nd while Athens has western Europe’s lowest showing in 63rd spot, on 81.2 percent.

Any city with a score above 80 percent “will have few, if any, challenges to living standards,” said the survey.

Lower down the orders come Moscow in 69th spot, Beijing in 76th, Johannesburg on joint 92nd with Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and Bangkok in 100th place.

The bottom rankings are occupied by a swathe of Asian and African cities: Manila in 108th, New Delhi in joint 114th spot with Cairo, Mumbai in 120th, Nairobi 122nd and Lusaka 126th.

Cities scoring below 50 percent – which “present daily challenges to living standards” according to the authors – include Tehran in 129th place, Karachi, Pakistan in 135th and Lagos in 136th.

The bottom three are Algiers, Dhaka and Harare – where President Robert Mugabe called Sunday for leaders to “make Africa a continent of opportunity for all its people,” as Zimbabwe struggles to emerge from an economic meltdown.

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