Cape Town and Jozi in Top 20 cheapest cities in the world

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Cape Town - The Mother City and Johannesburg in South Africa has been named in the Top 20 cheapest cities in the world for expatriate employees to live and work in, according to a global survey done by Mercer Global

The list, ranking the world's most expensive and inexpensive cities for expatriates,compared expenses in 207 cities across five continents, based on the calculation of the prices of 200 goods and services including housing, entertainment, food, transport and education.

In this survey, Cape Town was ranked the eighth cheapest city, and Johannesburg placed at number 17.

It is important to remember, however, that Mercer calculated the cities' cost of living for expatiates according to the dollar, which is significantly higher than the South African Rand at the moment.

Hence, while Mercer calculated how much it would cost expats to enjoy the same standard of living in each city, South African cities' cost would have been lower from the get-go.

The rand-dollar exchange rate on Monday, 22 June was R12.14 to 1$. Mercer also used standards of living in New York city as a 'norm' to calculate the other cities' cost of living. 

The complete Top 20 cheapest cities for expatriates to live in, keeping in mind their respective relationships with the dollar and conditions compared to NYC, are as follows: 

20. Islamabad, Pakistan

19. Gaborone, Botswana

18. Tegucigalpa, Honduras

17. Johannesburg, South Africa


16. Yerevan, Armenia

15. Kolkata, India

14. Tirana, Albania

13. La Paz, Bolivia

12. Belgrade, Serbia

11. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovinia

10. Tbilisi, Georgia

9. Managua, Nicaragua

8. Cape Town, South Africa


7. Minsk, Belarus

6. Banjul, Gambia

5. Skopje, Macedonia

4. Tunis, Tunisia

3. Karachi, Pakistan

2. Windhoek, Namibia

1. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


The most expensive cities in the world, according to Mercer's survey, are:

1. Luanda, Angola

2. Hong Kong, China

3. Zurich, Switzerland

4. Singapore, Singapore 

5. Geneva, Switzerland  

6. Shanghai, China

7. Beijing, China

8. Seoul, South Korea 

9. Bern, Switzerland

10. N’Djamena, Chad


The costliest city for the third consecutive year, surprisingly, is Luanda, the capital of Angola. Despite being recognized as a relatively inexpensive city, the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in this country are available at a steep price, hence the hostile working and living environment for expatriates coming into Luanda. 

The Mercer survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. 

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