How Expensive is Luanda for Expats?
Forget everything you've ever thought relating to the world's most expensive cities. I'm from New York, a city that's been known as one of the most expensive for years and I was shocked to find out that the city I'll be calling home for the next 2 months, located in western Africa, is now the #1 most expensive in the world. That city is Luanda (not to be confused with the country of Rwanda), the capital of Angola.
I've always been under the impression that to be an expensive city, the citizens should have relatively high incomes but that is not the case in Luanda where 68% of its citizens actually live below the poverty line, according to USAID. Not only that, the country has some of the lowest life expectancy rates and some of the highest mortality rates in the world. And to top it off, the country of 18.5 million was ravaged by civil war for 27 years after gaining independence from Portugal in 1975.
Cost of living comparison between Luanda and NYC
A bottle of Coca-Cola
A burger at a fast food restaurant
A natural juice
$12 (in my hotel)
A buffet dinner
$75 (in my hotel)
Monthly gym membership
A two-bedroom apartment in a luxury building
Why is Luanda So Expensive?
Evidently, Angola’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world and there are plenty of opportunities for foreign investment in industries such as infrastructure, oil agriculture and diamonds. The country is the 2nd largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa and the 7th largest to the United States. Angola is being built from the ground up however corruption prevails.
Companies see a lot of potential in Angola. Coca-cola now has two bottling plants in the country. American oil companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil invest in order to maintain oil production in Angola. China has a huge stake in the country, having granted loans for over $5 billion and is helping build stadiums and roads.
Mercer's 2011 Cost of Living Ranking - Top 10
- Luanda, Angola
- Tokyo, Japan
- N'djamena, Chad
- Moscow, Russia
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Osaka, Japan
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Singapore, Singapore
- Hong Kong, Hong Kong
- Sao Paulo, Brazil
Some Interesting Stats From Mercer's Cost of Living Survey
According to Mercer's 2011 cost of living survey:
- Luanda is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates and Karachi, the capital of Pakistan is the cheapest
- No U.S. city is even in the top 10 list
- New York is the costliest city in the U.S. but 32nd most pricey in the world. Los Angeles is at 77th place and Chicago is at 108th
- Singapore and Sao Paulo just joined the top 10 list