Expat Insider 2017: Africa's top expat hubs mapped

Cape Town – Travelling opens our mind to the world, exposing us to countries we’ve only ever experienced through media and allowing us to come to our own conclusions about the places we visit.

While not everyone has the luxury of travelling for leisure, many people get to explore the planet while pursuing a career or seeking employment.

Perhaps this is the reason why, despite research indicating that a few African countries prove to be politically unstable and personally unsafe, expats continue to move to these countries for jobs.

ALSO SEE: Cape Town has the second lowest cost of living for expats globally

According to InterNations, global network and information site for people who live and work abroad, expats in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda “worry about political stability and personal safety” but overall, find job satisfaction in these countries, as well as social happiness.

InterNations conducted a survey, ranking of 65 destinations based on how these countries were rated by their expat residents.

“For these ratings, we looked at more than 40 individual factors that influence an expat’s experience of living in a foreign country, from family life to finances,” says InterNations. Other factors such as quality of life, working abroad, and settling in were included in the survey.

SEE: How satisfied are South Africans abroad?

For Africa, the Expat Insider 2017 survey reveals that Kenya ranked 37, South Africa came in at 42, Uganda ranked 46, and Nigeria placed close to the end at 63.

Top 10 destinations for expats in 2017 are Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.

The countries featured in the bottom three for expats are Greece ranked 65th for high daily expenses, Kuwait at 64 for poor quality of life, and Nigeria at 63 due to safety and security concerns.

Check out some of the results:

Where African countries fit in

See how African countries in the survey are rated below:

Personal safety

According to the survey, expats feel unsafe in most African destinations, with only 1% of expats in Nigeria and 2% in SA giving personal safety a high rating, compared to 43% of global expats worldwide.

An Australian expat in South Africa says “I would like to go out to social gatherings, but I do not feel safe to go out alone.”

ALSO SEE: Saffas down under, SA needs you!?

Political instability

The political situation was considered a disadvantage by 53% of expats in Nigeria, 45% in Kenya, 33% in SA, and 29% in Uganda - compared to only 14 percent of expats worrying about this factor worldwide.

Only 9% of the expats in Nigeria rate the political stability favourably, whereas the majority of expats across the globe (56%) rate the political situation in their host country positively.

Working long hours

Although all African countries surveyed in 2017 rank below average in terms of working abroad, one of the most popular reasons for moving to Africa is work.

Kenya and Nigeria seem to attract working expats, with 24% of those country’s expats having relocated by their employer, and 14% and 21% respectively have found a job on their own.

SEE: The Cheapest countries for expats

Even though working hours are above the global average (44.3 hours per week) in Nigeria (47.8 h), Kenya (48.1 h), and Uganda (48.9 h), the overall job satisfaction remains fairly high.

InterNation found that despite extended working hours, Nigeria and Kenya rank among the top 20 destinations in terms of job and career.

“More than six in ten expats throughout these countries state to be satisfied with their work, and in Nigeria, even 75% agree,” says InterNation.

SEE: US visa restrictions for African countries over deportations

One US American living there expresses contentment because their work “may be making a difference”. 

Working hard and long to ugrade transport infrastructure, Kenya recently linked Nairobi with Mombasa with a R41.5 billion railway, making it the country's biggest infrastructure project since its independence. 

A post shared by LA HAPPY NANA (@lahappynana) on

Work-life balance

In Kenya, 60% of expats and in Nigeria 68% believe that they are “financially better off with regard to employment income than they would be at home”. However, a quarter of expats in both countries rate their work-life balance negatively.

InterNation found that for better work-life balance, expats should rather opt for South Africa or Uganda, where up to 67% of expats rate these countries positively.

A German expat in South Africa, for example, appreciates the “better work life balance and outdoor activities” available.

Adding to a healthy work-life balance, there are many cultural places of interest throughout South Africa, with the the latest hype around the Zeitz MOCAA Museum opening in Cape Town.

A post shared by Zeitz MOCAA (@zeitzmocaa) on

Good weather

Expats considered the climate and weather to be the biggest advantage. In Kenya 91% of expats rated the weather positively, while South Africa and Uganda both achieved 93%.

A Dutch expat’s highlights of life in Uganda include the “climate, green spaces, options for activities and leisure, as well as the environment for children”.

Green spaces and the pleasing climate make for ideal outdoor activities. One of the popular things to do in Uganda is "gorilla trekking".

Friendly people

All four African countries perform better with regard to welcoming expats than the global average, and expats find making local friends easy

Uganda ranks 8 out of 67 destinations for “ease of settling in” - making it the only African country to rank among the top 10 in any area. In Uganda, 79% of expats describe the local population as welcoming, compared to a global average of 55%. Nigeria also received 79%, while Kenya received 76% and South Africa 57%.

SEE: #AfriTravel: How Africa’s visa-free passport aims to boost tourism and trade

“My favorite thing about Kenya is meeting amazing people who welcome you with open arms, making Nairobi feel like home,” says a US American expat.

According to InterNation, this might be one reason why despite all the security and political issues more than seven in ten respondents in all four African destinations are happy with their life in general.

What to read next on Traveller24:

#AfriTravel: How Africa’s visa-free passport aims to boost tourism and trade

US visa restrictions for African countries over deportations

The Cheapest countries for expats

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