Cape Town and Johannesburg. Johannesburg and Cape Town. You can’t have one without the other. In fact, the friendly rivalry between the two cities is perhaps more healthy than obsessive. But if expats are to be believed, there’s one clear winner…

InterNations are a global expat community. Their online presence is huge, and they harbour 2.9 million members. For the last decade, they have been responsible for providing the most comprehensive guides to expat life.

As reported in SA People, It would seem that they prefer Johannesburg to Cape Town. The survey studied the biggest 51 cities in the world that relies on foreign workers.

The city rankings are based on survey responses from nearly 8,000 expats in 40 countries. A city had to be mentioned at least 45 times to be included, and rankings were based on the quality and cost of urban living, quality of work life and finances, and ease of settling into the city.

Johannesburg wins the approval of expats

By this criteria, Joburg cruised to a 7th place finish. The average monthly rent for a standard city apartment comes in at $480 – Around R7,000. A cappuccino averages $1.67, and a beer will set you back a mere $2.07. The cost of living is a reported 57% less than that of New York City.

Despite having a cheaper cost of living – 59.1% less than NYC – Cape Town falters with its higher rents, ranking at 27th on the countdown. The average rent for a flat stands $716 – That’s around R10,000 a month.

Surprisingly, Manama in Bahrain topped the list. Respondents felt it was very easy to settle in the gulf state, and knowing Arabic wasn’t a necessary requirement. European cities Prague, Madrid and Amsterdam make up the top five, along with Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Lagos, Nigeria is at the bottom of the list, as are two cities in Saudi Arabia. Many expats feel the culture shock of strict law enforcement, a lack of booze and civil liberties, and the ban on women being able to drive.

Both Cape Town and Joburg outperformed cities like London, New York and even Tokyo on the list. South Africa’s charm has shown itself once more.

What are the best cities to live in as an expat?

(According to 8,000 respondents to InterNations’ poll)

1. Manama, Bahrain

2. Prague, Czech Republic

3. Madrid, Spain

4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

6. Barcelona, Spain / Catalonia

7. Johannesburg

8. Bangkok, Thailand

9. Basel, Swizterland

10. Frankfurt, Germany

27. Cape Town

Worst cities to live in as an expat:

51. Lagos, Nigeria

50. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

49. Paris, France

48. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

47. Dublin, Ireland

46. Istanbul, Turkey

45. Doha, Qatar

44. Sydney, Australia

43. Milan, Italy

42. Sao Paolo, Brazil

Tom Head / The South African

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Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 1060 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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