Windhoek 'cheap' for expats

Residents may not agree

05 July 2019 | Local News

Windhoek was ranked as one of the world's least expensive cities for expats working abroad, according to Mercer's 25th annual Cost of Living Survey.

Ranked 204 among 209 cities globally, Windhoek is not only one of the least expensive cities for expats in the world, but also in Africa.

The capital has moved 'down' eight points from 196 since last year's survey.

The survey found that a number of factors, including currency fluctuations, cost of inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices, contribute to the overall cost of expatriate packages for employees on international assignments.

According to the report, N'Djamena, Chad takes the lead as the most expensive city in Africa.

Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (22) is in second place in Africa, while Libreville in Gabon (24) is the next African city on the list, followed by Lagos in Nigeria (25).

Luanda in Angola (26) still remains in fifth place.

Meanwhile, the top 10 least expensive cities in Africa are Algiers in Algeria (184), Johannesburg in South Africa (185), Harare in Zimbabwe (188), and Gaborone in Botswana (189).

Also among the top 10 are Nouakchott in Mauritania (192), Blantyre in Malawi (193), Lusaka in Zambia (196), Windhoek in Namibia (204), Banjul in Gambia (204) and Tunis in Tunisia (209). “Contrary to the perception that the African market is very volatile, certain factors like currency fluctuations and housing costs contribute to varying Cost of Living differentials in developed economies,” said Yolanda Sedlmaier, the principal of Africa Mobility at Mercer.

“Each African country has its own unique economy and this is why multinationals need not approach their expatriate packages for Africa with one single strategy. Let's look at it this way, a city like N'Djamena in Chad has been listed as the 11th most expensive city in the world, whereas Mali comes in at the 124th position in terms of cost of living,” Sedlmaier, added.

According to the survey, eight out of the top 10 of the world's most expensive cities for expatriates are Asian cities, resulting from high costs for expatriate consumer goods and a dynamic housing market.

Tokyo (2), Singapore (3) and Seoul (4) top the list, while the costliest city in the world for the second consecutive year is Hong Kong (1).

Other cities appearing in the top 10 are Zurich (5), Shanghai (6), Ashgabat in Turkmenistan (7), Beijing (8), New York City (9), and Shenzhen (10). The world's least expensive cities for expatriates are Tunis (209), Tashkent in Uzbekistan (208), and Karachi (207).

Mercer's widely recognised survey is one of the world's most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

New York City is used as the base city for all comparisons, and currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

The survey includes over 500 cities throughout the world; this year's ranking includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

The figures for Mercer's cost of living and rental accommodation cost comparisons are derived from a survey conducted in March 2019.

Exchange rates from that time and Mercer's international basket of goods and services from its Cost of Living Survey were used as base measurements.

ELLANIE SMIT