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Nairobi moves up list of most costly cities

Nairobi sits exactly halfway on the list of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriate business people, according to a new survey released on Wednesday.

Mercer’s 21st annual Cost of Living Survey ranks the price of items, from housing and transport to clothes and entertainment in 207 cities globally to help companies and governments calculate living costs for their employees.

It finds that Nairobi has moved up 13 places to 104 this year although Kenya’s capital is still inexpensive compared to other sub-Saharan cities.

Luanda, Angola’s capital, is the most expensive city in the world for expats with Chad’s N’Djamena also in the top 10 and Kinshasa at 13.


In contrast, other East African cities, Dar es Salaam at 179 and Kampala at 184 are relatively inexpensive.

Nairobi’s ranking puts it above European cities such as Berlin, Madrid, Glasgow and Stockholm and above Seattle in the US.

Mercer says that several cities in Africa continue to rank among the most expensive.

Despite climbing five spots, Cape Town (200), in South Africa, continues to rank as the least expensive city in the region reflecting the weak South African rand against the US dollar.

“As the global economy has become increasingly interconnected, close to 75 per cent of multinational organisations are expecting long-term expatriate assignments to remain stable or increase over the next two years to address business needs,” said Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s Talent business.

“Sending employees abroad is necessary to compete in markets and for critical talent, and employers need a reliable and accurate reflection of the cost to their bottom line.”


The world’s least expensive cities for expatriates, according to Mercer are Bishkek (207), Windhoek (206), and Karachi (205).

Mercer’s survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinationals and governments determine compensation for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city, and all cities are compared against it.

The survey includes 207 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.