The 15 Most Expensive States to Live in Africa Revealed

As an expatriate looking to relocate to Africa, cost of living is undoubtedly one of your top considerations. Some African states have a significantly higher cost of living than others due to factors like availability of goods and services, housing costs, and overall economic prosperity. If budget is a concern, you’ll want to consider avoiding some of the most expensive states on the continent.

Luanda, Angola

As the capital city of Angola, Luanda is also the most expensive city to live in the country. According to Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey, Luanda ranks as the 2nd most expensive city in Africa and the 18th most expensive city in the world.

  • Housing costs in Luanda are extraordinarily high. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages $6,500 per month, while a three-bedroom apartment costs around $10,000 per month. These exorbitant housing costs are due to limited supply and high demand.
  • The overall cost of living in Luanda is 61% higher than in New York City. Groceries, transportation, and healthcare in Luanda cost two to three times more than in most other African cities. A meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $50, while a one-way ticket on public transit is $2.
  • Only the most affluent Angolans and expatriates can afford to live comfortably in Luanda. The high costs are driven by Angola’s oil wealth and the presence of many wealthy foreign workers. However, the majority of Luanda’s residents live in extreme poverty.
  • If you plan to move to or visit Luanda, be prepared for significantly higher living expenses compared to most other places. Renting an apartment, buying groceries, and getting around the city all cost a premium. Factor in a much larger budget if Luanda is your destination.

The exorbitant cost of living in Luanda makes it challenging for anyone but the most well-off to reside in Angola’s capital city. With limited housing and infrastructure, soaring prices are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. For most, Luanda’s charms come at too high a price.

Victoria, Seychelles

As the capital city of the Seychelles, Victoria is also the cultural and economic hub of the island nation located in the Indian Ocean off East Africa. However, its desirability comes at a cost. According to recent surveys, Victoria ranks among the most expensive cities to live in Africa due to the following factors:

  • High costs of living: Rent, utilities, and groceries in Victoria are quite pricey, especially given the small size of the city. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a decent area of town averages around $1,500 per month. The city’s heavy reliance on imports also drives up costs.
  • Limited housing: There is a shortage of affordable housing in Victoria, which contributes to high rental and property prices. Demand far outstrips supply for middle-income housing. New developments are aimed at high-end buyers and vacationers.
  • Dependence on tourism: Victoria’s economy depends heavily on tourism, especially luxury tourism, which can make the city expensive for residents. Restaurants, activities, and amenities are geared toward high-spending visitors.
  • Isolated location: As an island nation, the Seychelles depends on costly imports for most goods. This isolation and dependence on shipping and air transport translates to higher prices for residents.

While the natural beauty and tropical climate of Victoria are appealing, the reality of living in this small city can be challenging for those on a budget. For most, the trade-offs of residing in this island paradise may prove worthwhile despite the high costs of living.

Port Louis, Mauritius

Cost of Living

Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean. As the economic and cultural hub of the country, the cost of living in Port Louis is quite high. According to recent surveys, Port Louis ranks among the top 15 most expensive cities to live in Africa.

The high cost of living is largely attributed to the island’s heavy reliance on imports. Nearly all consumer goods and food products are imported, resulting in inflated prices. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages around $500 per month. Basic utilities like electricity, heating, and air conditioning can cost up to $200 per month.

Groceries and dining out are also pricey compared to other African cities. A meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $30. A one-week supply of groceries for a single person runs about $75. Healthcare and transportation costs are significantly higher than average. A visit to a general practitioner is around $50, while a monthly public transit pass is $40.

While the overall standard of living in Port Louis is high compared to other African capitals, the cost of living remains out of reach for most locals. The majority rely on the tourism industry for employment, with an average salary of only $500 per month. Expats and foreign workers find that their money does not go as far in Port Louis. Careful budgeting and financial planning are required to offset the city’s high costs.

In summary, the cost of living in Port Louis is among the highest in Africa due to heavy reliance on imports, high rent, expensive healthcare and dining, and limited high-paying job opportunities for locals. For those considering a move to Mauritius’ capital city, significant financial means are necessary to maintain a comfortable standard of living.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cost of Living

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa, the cost of living in Cape Town is quite high compared to other cities on the continent. Housing costs are a major contributor, with rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averaging around $500 per month. Utility bills can also be expensive, especially water which is scarce in the region.

Groceries and dining out are pricey as well. A meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant costs around $30, while a week’s worth of groceries for one person runs $50-$70. Alcohol and tobacco products are heavily taxed, making them significantly more expensive than in other parts of the world.

Transportation

Public transit in Cape Town consists primarily of busses and trains, though coverage is limited. Fares range from $1-$3 per ride. Taxis and ride-sharing are popular but can cost $10 or more for a single trip. Owning and operating a vehicle in the city is costly due to high fuel prices, parking fees, and tolls.

Healthcare

Healthcare in Cape Town is of high quality but expensive, especially for expats and travelers. Consultations with doctors and specialists average $50-$100. Hospital stays and procedures can cost thousands. Most expats choose private health insurance to cover these costs, with premiums of $200-$500 per month for a single person.

While the overall cost of living in Cape Town is quite high, its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and Mediterranean climate continue to attract new residents. With some budgeting and cost-saving measures in place, one can enjoy an enviable lifestyle in this cosmopolitan city at the southern tip of Africa.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Cost of Living

As the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is also the most developed and expensive city to live in. According to Numbeo’s cost of living index, Addis Ababa ranks in the top 15 most expensive cities in Africa. Some of the highest costs are for rent and utilities. Expect to pay between $200 to $500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center.

Transportation

Public transit in Addis Ababa consists primarily of busses and taxis. A single bus fare is about $0.25. Taxis are more expensive, costing between $2 to $5 per trip within the city. If you need to travel farther, minibusses and shared taxis offer service to destinations outside the city for $3 to $10 per seat.

Food

As in any large city, the cost of food in Addis Ababa depends greatly on where and what you eat. You can find inexpensive local cuisine like injera bread and shiro wat (chickpea stew) for under $2 per meal. Mid-range restaurants will cost $5 to $10 per meal. Upscale dining at international restaurants starts around $15 per meal. Groceries from local markets and shops cost between $25 to $50 per week for basic staples.

In summary, while Addis Ababa has a relatively low cost of living compared to other major cities, its position as the political and economic hub of Ethiopia makes it the most expensive city in the country. Rent, transportation, and imported goods in particular contribute to the higher costs of living in the capital. However, there are still many affordable options if you live like a local, take public transit, and eat at smaller Ethiopian restaurants.

Nairobi, Kenya

Cost of Living

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and one of the most expensive cities to live in Africa. According to Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey, Nairobi ranked 15th in Africa in terms of cost of living for expatriates. Some of the factors that contribute to the high cost of living in Nairobi include:

  • Housing: Rent in Nairobi can be quite high, especially in desirable neighborhoods. For a two-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can expect to pay between $500 to $1500 per month. Buying a house in Nairobi is also expensive, with prices for a decent home starting around $100,000.
  • Food: While there are cheap local food options, imported goods and dining out at restaurants catering to expats can be pricey. Groceries from major supermarkets often cost two to three times more than in other parts of Kenya.
  • Utilities: Utility costs like electricity, water, and internet in Nairobi are higher than in other African cities. Internet service, in particular, can cost up to five times more than in neighboring countries.
  • Traffic and transit: Traffic congestion and lack of efficient public transit options mean most expatriates rely on private cars, taxis, and ride-sharing services to get around Nairobi which contributes to high living costs.

In summary, while Nairobi has a relatively low cost of living compared to other major cities around the world, its high costs for housing, food, and utilities make it an expensive city to live in by African standards. For those moving to Nairobi, especially expatriates, it is important to understand these costs to develop a realistic budget.

Cairo, Egypt

Cost of Living

As the largest city in Africa, Cairo is an appealing place to live for many. However, the cost of living in Cairo can be quite high due to its popularity and amenities. Housing costs make up a large portion of living expenses in Cairo. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages around $500 per month. Utilities add another $100-$200 per month.

Groceries and transportation also contribute significantly to the cost of living in Cairo. A single person can expect to pay $200-$300 per month for groceries. Public transit is very affordable, around $0.25 per ride. However, traffic and congestion are major problems, so many choose to drive their own vehicles, costing $200-$500 per month.

Healthcare and education are provided by the government at low cost. Private schools and hospitals are available for those who can afford them. Entertainment and dining out can cost as little or as much as one chooses. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant is around $5, while upscale dining costs $20-$50 per person.

In summary, while certain essential costs of living like rent and food are quite high in Cairo, government-provided services and cheap public transit help balance the overall cost of living for residents. The city offers a range of options at various price points for housing, healthcare, education, and leisure activities. For those with a moderate income, Cairo can be an affordable place to call home. For higher standards of living and greater amenities, higher salaries are typically required.

Algiers, Algeria

Cost of Living

Algiers, the capital of Algeria, is the most expensive city to live in within the country. According to Numbeo’s cost of living index, Algiers ranks in the top 15 most expensive cities in Africa. Rent and groceries tend to cost more in Algiers compared to other areas of Algeria.

Housing

Rent in Algiers is quite high, especially in the city center. A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around $500 to $700 per month. Rent is more affordable on the outskirts of the city, around $300 to $500 per month for a one-bedroom. However, transportation costs would increase due to the longer commute.

Food

Groceries and dining out in Algiers are more pricey compared to other cities in Algeria. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant can cost around $10 to $15 per person. Groceries from stores like Carrefour or Metro cost 10-30% more in Algiers versus other areas of the country. Staples like milk, eggs, and vegetables tend to cost the most.

While the cost of living in Algiers is the highest in Algeria, it is still lower than most major cities in North Africa and other parts of the world. The city has a relatively high quality of life for its cost. The Mediterranean climate, coastal location, and vibrant culture attract many residents and expats despite the higher costs. With an average salary in Algiers, one can live comfortably while still enjoying various leisure activities around the city.

Casablanca, Morocco

Cost of Living

Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and one of the most expensive cities to live in Africa. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Casablanca is 47.14% higher than the national average in Morocco. Rent and grocery prices are especially high compared to other cities.

Housing

Rent in Casablanca is quite pricey, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costing around $500 to $700 per month. Rent prices are lower on the outskirts of the city, around $300 to $500 per month for a one-bedroom. However, transportation costs would increase due to the longer commute.

Food

Grocery prices in Casablanca are higher than in other parts of Morocco, especially for imported goods. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost around $10 to $15. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is around $30 to $50. For those on a budget, street food and home-cooking are more affordable options.

In summary, while Casablanca offers well-paying job opportunities and an exciting city lifestyle, the high costs of living may make it difficult for some. Carefully evaluating your budget and priorities can help determine if the trade-offs of living in such an expensive city are worthwhile for your situation. With prudent financial planning, Casablanca can still be an appealing place to call home.

Accra, Ghana

Cost of Living

Accra, Ghana ranks among the most expensive cities to live in Africa due to the high cost of living. According to Numbeo, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Accra city center averages around $500 per month, while a three-bedroom apartment could cost up to $1,500 per month.

Transportation

Public transportation in Accra is limited, so most residents rely on privately-owned vehicles to get around the city. Gasoline and diesel prices are over $5 per gallon. Owning and maintaining a vehicle in Accra can cost up to $10,000 per year. For those without a vehicle, taxis and ride-sharing are available but fares are high compared to average wages.

Food

While basic local foods like rice, beans, and starchy vegetables are affordable in Accra, imported goods and dining out at restaurants comes at a premium. A meal for two at an upscale restaurant could cost $50-$100. Groceries from supermarkets often exceed prices in Western countries due to high import costs.

In summary, the major factors contributing to Accra’s status as an expensive city are pricey housing, limited public transit infrastructure requiring most to own vehicles, and reliance on imported goods and foods that drive up costs of living. For expats and locals alike, living in Accra requires a high income to afford rent, transportation, and other necessities. With economic growth and development, the cost of living in Accra is likely to continue rising over time.

Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria is the largest city in Africa with over 21 million residents. As such, the cost of living in Lagos is quite high compared to other areas of Nigeria and the rest of the continent.

Housing

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Lagos city center can cost around $500 per month. Buying a house in a decent area with necessary amenities and infrastructure can cost upwards of $50,000. The closer to the city center and business districts, the higher the housing costs become.

Food

While there are inexpensive local food options, imported goods and dining out at restaurants in Lagos comes with a premium. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs around $30. Groceries from supermarkets average $200-$300 per month for a single person.

Transportation

Traffic and congestion are major problems in Lagos, so many residents rely on public transit, taxis, and ride-sharing services. A one-way bus or shared taxi ride costs around $0.50. Taxis and ride-sharing can cost $3-$10 for a single trip within the city. Owning and maintaining a private vehicle in Lagos is expensive due to high fuel costs, tolls, and maintenance fees.

In summary, the densely populated city of Lagos, Nigeria experiences a relatively high cost of living compared to the national average and the rest of Africa. Renting an apartment, buying a house, dining out, and getting around the city all come at a premium in this bustling metropolis on the Gulf of Guinea. For those looking to relocate to Lagos for work or leisure, be prepared for living expenses on par with other large cities around the globe.

Dakar, Senegal

Cost of Living

As the capital city of Senegal, Dakar has a relatively high cost of living compared to other areas of the country. Rent and housing costs are particularly expensive, especially in desirable neighborhoods located near the coastline or city center. For a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can expect to pay around $500 to $1,000 per month. Outside the city center, rent drops to $300 to $700 for a similar apartment.

Utilities like electricity and water also cost more in Dakar compared to rural parts of Senegal. Internet access can be pricey, with many residents relying on mobile data plans to stay connected. While public transit is available, many middle- and upper-class residents prefer to drive, so fuel costs should be factored into your budget.

Food and Dining

As in any major city, you’ll find a range of dining options in Dakar from street food to upscale restaurants. Groceries and meals at home will cost around $200 to $500 per month for one person. Eating out at a mid-range restaurant will cost $10 to $20 per meal. Imported goods and alcohol also come at a premium due to high import duties.

Overall, living in Dakar provides access to modern amenities and an exciting city lifestyle, but at a cost significantly higher than in other parts of the country or region. If cost of living is a concern, living outside the city center or in a nearby suburb may help reduce your expenses. With some budgeting and planning, you can enjoy all that this coastal capital city has to offer without breaking the bank.

Abuja, Nigeria

Cost of Living

Abuja has the highest cost of living of any city in Nigeria due to its status as the capital city. Rent and housing costs are significantly higher than in other parts of the country. According to Expatistan, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Abuja city center is around $1,500 per month, while the same apartment outside the city center would be around $1,000.

Transportation

Public transit in Abuja is limited, so most residents rely on private vehicles, taxis, and ride-sharing services to get around the city. Gasoline and diesel are subsidized by the government, so fuel is more affordable than in other parts of the world. However, the costs of purchasing and maintaining a vehicle are still quite high.

Food

While there are open-air markets and affordable food options for those on a budget, imported and luxury goods in Abuja come with a premium price tag. A meal at an upscale restaurant for two can easily cost between $50 to $100. Grocery shopping at one of the city’s many supermarkets and grocery chains also tends to be more expensive than in other Nigerian cities.

In summary, Abuja’s designation as Nigeria’s capital city and center of business and government has led to a higher cost of living compared to other parts of the country. Rent, transportation, and food costs are significantly more expensive, especially if you aim to maintain a Western standard of living. For most expats and locals alike, living in Abuja requires a high income and budget to afford the city’s elevated costs.

Tunis, Tunisia

Cost of Living

Tunis, Tunisia ranks among the most expensive cities in Africa to live in, largely due to high costs for housing and transportation. According to Numbeo, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averages around $320 per month, while a monthly transport pass costs $22.

Groceries and dining out can also take up a sizable portion of one’s budget. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant runs about $6 per person. A loaf of bread is $1.30, a dozen eggs are $2.60, and a liter of milk is $1.50. Imported goods in particular tend to be pricey due to high import duties.

Healthcare and education likewise come at a premium. Private schools charge up to $5,000 per year in tuition, and while public schools are free, they are often under-resourced. A visit to a private doctor costs around $30, and medication may cost two to three times as much as in other parts of the world.

Considerations

Those moving to Tunis for work or study should carefully consider costs of living in the city and negotiate salary and benefits accordingly. Rent, transportation, and healthcare costs in particular can take up a large portion of one’s budget.

Some options for reducing costs include:

  • Living outside the city center where rents are lower.
  • Using public transit instead of taxis.
  • Shopping at local markets and cooking at home versus eating out frequently.
  • Choosing a more affordable private school or taking advantage of free public schools.
  • Purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan.

While life in Tunis may require certain financial sacrifices, the city offers a vibrant culture, Mediterranean climate, and gateway to exploring the rest of Tunisia. With prudent budgeting, one can achieve a high quality of life at a lower cost relative to other major African cities.

Harare, Zimbabwe

Cost of Living

Harare, Zimbabwe ranks among the most expensive cities to live in Africa due to hyperinflation and economic mismanagement. According to recent surveys, the cost of living in Harare is over 9 times higher than the average cost of living on the continent.

The high costs are largely due to the severe shortages of basic goods and services. Prices for necessities like food, housing, and transportation have skyrocketed. For example, a loaf of bread can cost up to $10 USD, while the average salary is only around $150 USD per month. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a decent area of the city averages $500 USD per month.

Public transportation and fuel are also expensive for locals. A one-way bus ticket costs $1 USD, while filling up a tank of gas is over $50 USD. Most residents walk or rely on overcrowded mini-busses and taxis to get around.

Medical care and utilities likewise strain most household budgets. Due to lack of government funding, even basic healthcare and medical insurance are considered a luxury for many. Water and electricity are unreliable, forcing most to pay high prices for private services.

In summary, the immense economic challenges in Zimbabwe have made the day-to-day cost of living in Harare virtually unaffordable for the average resident. With limited job opportunities and income sources, households struggle to keep up with the sky-high prices of essential goods and services. Major political and economic reforms are still desperately needed to provide relief and improve standards of living.

Most Expensive States to Live in Africa FAQ: Answering Your Questions on Cost of Living

What factors determine the cost of living in a country?

Several factors influence a country’s overall cost of living:

  • Housing costs: Rent, utilities, and home prices are major components of any household budget. Countries with high demand for housing and limited supply tend to have higher costs of living.
  • Goods and services: The prices of essentials like food, transportation, and healthcare contribute significantly to cost of living. When these basics are expensive, the overall cost of living rises.
  • Economic factors: Elements like inflation, interest rates, and tax rates play a role in determining how much it costs to live in a country. Strong, stable economies with low inflation and interest rates typically have lower costs of living.

Why are some African countries so expensive?

Some of the most expensive countries in Africa have strong economies and well-developed infrastructure, but limited housing and high demand contribute to increased living costs:

  • South Africa has a relatively strong economy but faces housing shortages and high demand in cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. Rent and home prices are significantly higher than surrounding countries.
  • Namibia’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, but much of the country is arid desert, limiting available land for housing and development. This scarcity translates to higher costs of living, especially for housing.
  • Botswana has a stable economy due to diamond mining, but much of the country’s wealth is concentrated among elites. For average citizens, the cost of basics like food and housing remains quite high relative to neighboring countries.

In summary, while a strong economy and stable infrastructure are desirable, limited availability of housing and land as well as economic inequality can make some African countries disproportionately expensive places to live compared to their regional neighbors. Cost of living depends on many interrelated factors, and there is no single explanation for why expenses are higher in some countries compared to others.

Conclusion

As you have seen, the cost of living in Africa varies greatly depending on the country and city you choose to call home. While places like Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon top the list due to high costs for housing, transportation and healthcare, other nations like Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia offer a lower cost of living along with natural beauty and vibrant culture. For those looking to relocate to Africa, do thorough research on the expenses associated with your desired location. Factor in costs beyond just housing, as other living expenses can quickly add up. While a lower cost of living is appealing, also consider political and economic stability, infrastructure, healthcare, and overall quality of life. Finding the right balance of affordability and desirability may lead you to discover your own little slice of paradise in Africa.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top