Every year, Mercer Consulting publishes a list ranking the quality of life for expatriate or highly-skilled immigrants based upon surveys conducted in cities around the world. Mercer conducts these surveys in order to provide employers, and employees, with a comprehensive analysis of the world’s largest cities to use when, for employers, considering sending employees abroad or, for employees, relocating. The surveys include questions on a variety of metrics including personal safety (new in 2016’s survey), political stability, banking security, quality, accessibility and cost of healthcare, standards of education and history of natural disasters, to include a few.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, cities in developing countries and regions struggled to break into the upper levels of this ranking. Considering the current global political, social and economic crises, it is no wonder that peaceful, wealthy Vienna was ranked the number one best city in which to live, followed by Zurich, Switzerland, Auckland, New Zealand, Munich, Germany and Vancouver, Canada. The Mauritian capital of Port Louis, was the highest ranking African city at 83rd out of 230 cities. Mauritius is a wealthy island off of Africa known for its pristine beaches, booming tourism industry and high standards of living.
South Africa: The Next (three) Best Things
South Africa claims the next three best-ranked African cities: Durban at 85th, Cape Town at 92nd and Johannesburg at 95th. Durban is a beautiful oceanside town and is the largest city in the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Kwa-Zulu Natal is home to some of Africa’s largest game reserves, and, in 2015, Durban was ranked Africa’s number-one best city in which to live, citing the availability of high quality housing and variety of leisure activities. Cape Town, 3rd for Africa, is perhaps best known for being the port closest to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years during the anti-apartheid movement. Cape Town has a large tourism industry, internationally renowned medical school and university, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Johannesburg comes in at a surprising 95th: once ranked the seventh most dangerous city in the world, Johannesburg is no longer a leader in violent crime, but whether this speaks to the increasing danger of the rest of the world, or an increased rule of law, is unaddressed. While the overall standard of living has increased in South Africa, endemic poverty and widespread, systematic racism are still enormous barriers to improvement in the life of the average South African.
Victoria, the capitol of the Seychelles islands, is ranked 97th overall. A major exporter of items that are in high demand in western countries (such as coconut oil and vanilla bean), Victoria has a variety of business opportunities and is relatively safe.
The next three African cities are Tunis, Tunisia (113th), Rabat (116th) and Casablanca (126th), both in Morocco. Ironically, Tunis was the focal point of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, a widespread series of protests against the low standards of living, poor economic opportunities and repressive government. Morocco boasts a large expatriate community across tourism, import/export industry and banking. Rabat and Casablanca are relatively safe, although less so for women, and provide wealthy workers with many opportunities for travel within and outside of the region.