It costs more to live in Luanda than in New York


Angola’s capital city, Luanda has emerged, for the third year running, the costliest city in the world ahead, trumping mega cities like New York and London, according to Mercer’s 21st annual Cost of Living Survey. However, unlike other countries represented in the top five, more than half of the Angolan population lives below poverty line.

Luanda is Angola’s most populous and important city, a primary port and major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Expatriates pay as much as $400 per night for a decent hotel room in the city and up to $75 for a basic lunch. In order to keep up appearances, the Angolan government has been clearing the city of its poor, it called it “war against chaotic urbanization“.

An estimated one-third of the Angolan population lives in Luanda, where many were forced to run to in order to escape the country’s 27-year civil war. The gap between the rich and the poor in the city mirrors that of the rest of the country. The Angola government has been criticized for fighting the poor rather than fighting poverty.

Although the country currently struggles to fund its budget and growth forecasts have been cut due to falling oil prices, Angola has enjoyed years of wealth from its oil. But during these years of abundance, President José Eduardo dos Santos had been accused of enriching the ruling class at the expense of the poor.

The southern African country’s public facade in Luanda hides the despair of millions of Angolans who struggle daily to access basic infrastructure.

Another African city, N’Djamena made the top ten most expensive cities list. Like Luanda, the Chadian capital has some of the poorest people in Africa. The United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks Chad as the seventh poorest country in the world. Despite this, its capital city came tenth in the ranking. Chad would ordinarily be considered as an inexpensive city, but the cost of imported goods and safe living conditions in the country are available only at a steep price.

The economic state of the people of the two African cities that made the top ten mirrors the widening gap between the rich and the poor in Africa. Factors considered by Mercer for the ranking include instability of housing markets and inflation for goods and services, which the global consulting firm says impacts the overall cost of doing business in a global environment.

Hong Kong (2), Zurich (3), Singapore (4), Geneva (5), Shanghai (6), Beijing (7), Seoul (8) and Bern (9), top the list of most expensive cities for expatriates.

Mercer used New York as the base city for the survey, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

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.

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