Life compared to the Big Apple

Living in Namibia might be cheaper than in New York, but the country remains rather expensive compared to the rest of Africa.

17 July 2019 | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy – Consumers’ burden over the past 12 months has lightened somewhat compared to fellow shoppers elsewhere in Africa: Namibia is currently rated as the 7th most expensive country out of 20 on the continent compared to the 4th a year ago.

This is according to the latest set of figures released by Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user contributed data about cities worldwide.

Numbeo’s indices are relative to New York City, which means that for the Big Apple, each index should be 100. If another city has, for example, a cost of living index of 90, it means that on an average in that city, the cost of living is 10% less expensive than in NYC.

Numbeo’s cost of living index for Namibia for the middle of 2019 is 44.10. This means that Namibia’s capital is 55.9% cheaper than New York.

According to Numbeo, you would need around US$2 533.58 or about N$35 191 in Windhoek to maintain the same standard of living that you can have with US$7 800 in New York, assuming you rent in both cities.

Numbeo’s cost of living index includes groceries, restaurants and local purchasing power.

With a cost of living index of just 25.34, Tunisia is the cheapest on the continent, where life on average is 74.66% cheaper than in New York. Seychelles, with a cost of living of 72.75, is the most expensive. Here life on average is only 27.25% cheaper than the Big Apple.

Shopping list

The Numbeo database compares prices from 9 020 cities around the world ranging from a litre of milk and a head of lettuce to a pair of jeans, rent, basic municipal services, school and gym fees, as well as cars.

Market Watch picked a basic food basket consisting of a litre of milk, a loaf of white bread, 1kg of beef, 12 eggs, 1kg of apples and 1kg of potatoes. On average, this will cost a consumer in Windhoek N$198.37.

The price tag for the same basket in New York will be N$473.83. In London, the average bill will come to N$291.09, while in Berlin, a consumer will have to fork out N$300.17.

Moving closer to home, the same basket will be the most expensive in Angola and Zimbabwe. In Luanda, the bill will be N$348.46. In Harare, it will come to N$298.51.

The cost of Windhoek’s basket doesn’t differ much from that of Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, where the average consumer will pay N$198.09 and N$199.52 respectively.

The cheapest baskets are offered in Lusaka in Zambia and Gaborone in Botswana. In the Zambian capital, the basket will cost N$163.58. Consumers in Gaborone will come off the lightest will a bill of only N$109.38.


Numbeo’s rent index is estimation of prices of renting apartments in a city compared to New York City. If the index is 80, Numbeo estimates that price for renting in that city is 80% of price in New York.

Numbeo’s rent index for Windhoek currently is 16.87.

Rent for a three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre ranges from N$7 000 to N$15 000, with Numbeo’s monthly average coming in at N$11 108.08.

In New York, the same space will go for a whopping N$47 719.85. In London, it will cost N$35 099.37 and in Berlin N$18 106.84.

Renting in Luanda is even more expensive than New York. A three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre rents for N$70 471.72 a month.

In other neighbouring countries, the comparable figures are: Cape Town (N$14 781.25), Johannesburg (N$11 710.30), Harare (N$9 149.70), Lusaka (N$8 810.45) and Gaborone (N$7 127.76).

Buying power

The local purchasing power index for Namibia is 60.16.

This index shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average wage in that city. With a domestic purchasing power of 60.16, the inhabitants of Namibia with the average salary can afford to buy on an average 39.84% less goods and services than New York City residents with an average salary.

Namibia currently has one of the highest ratings on Numbeo’s local purchasing power index in Africa. Only three countries have bigger purchasing clout: Botswana (67.57), Zambia (69.40) and South Africa (81.30).

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