SA cities rank in the bottom 10 of the Expat City Ranking 2020

Johannesburg and Cape Town recently ranked in the bottom 10 of the Expat City Ranking 2020 list.

The best and worst cities when it comes to emigrating

The Expat City Ranking 2020 is based on the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations. For the survey, more than 15 000 expatriates representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories provided information on various aspects of expat life. In addition to their satisfaction with life in their host country, respondents were also invited to share their opinions on the city they are currently living in. 

Participants were asked to rate more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven. This includes Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing.

The bottom 10

The survey revealed that African destinations Nairobi (62nd) and Johannesburg (60th), as well as Cape Town in 56th place, delight expats with the local climate and weather: each city makes it into the top 10 for this factor.

However, expats are less happy with other aspects of the Quality of Urban Living Index, voicing particular dissatisfaction with the political stability, their personal safety, and the public transportation infrastructure. As a result, all three cities rank in the bottom 10 of this index. All three also rank among the bottom 10 when it comes to the Urban Work Life Index. The state of the respective local economy is a particular concern among expats in these destinations: at least 55% of respondents in each city rate this factor negatively.

Other cities like Salmiya (66th), Rome (65th), and Seoul (64th) make out the bottom three. It seems Rome’s great results for the local climate and weather cannot make up for concerns regarding political stability, personal safety, the availability and quality of healthcare, and what is regarded as insufficient public transportation infrastructure. Results in the Getting Settled and Finance & Housing Indices are not quite as dire, though expats in Rome are less likely to agree that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover expenses.

Meanwhile people are particularly dissatisfied with the ease of getting settled in the South Korean capital.

EI2020 city ranking - SA cities rank in the bottom 10 of the Expat City Ranking 2020

The top 10

Destinations on the Iberian Peninsula come out on top in the Expat City Ranking 2020, with Valencia, Alicante, and Lisbon on the podium.

In Valencia, expats particularly appreciate the affordable and readily available healthcare, next to plentiful leisure options and great weather, with the Spanish city ranking first for the two corresponding subcategories of the index. Respondents are also very much satisfied with their finances and report a few struggles when it comes to the availability and affordability of housing.

Valencia Delights Expats — But Not for Work

Valencia narrowly misses out on a spot in the top three of the Getting Settled Index, too, ranking 4th out of 66 cities. Two-thirds of expats agree that it is easy to find new friends there. Over nine in ten rate the general friendliness of the local population positively and 84% agree that it is easy to get used to the local culture.

Health and culture are great here. However, it has always been difficult regarding employment,” a French expat shared. Others agree, with the city only ranking in the lower half of the Urban Work Life Index. Valencia even lands in the bottom 10 of the Job & Career subcategory. Close to half the expats regard their local career opportunities negatively and only 54% give the state of the economy in Valencia a favourable rating.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alicante’s results are rather similar to Valencia’s: the city ranks very well in the Finance & Housing Index and even first worldwide in the Getting Settled Index.

Lisbon joins its Spanish neighbors on the podium, coming third in the Expat City Ranking 2020. Expats in the Portuguese capital give it top grades for the ease of getting settled and the local quality of life.

A closer look at South Africa

Among all African countries featured in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, South Africa ranks best, although still in a rather low 46th place out of 60 destinations. Its ranking is mainly due to its poor performance in the Products & Utilities subcategory, where South Africa lands among the bottom 10 worldwide. Three in ten expats rate the availability of green goods and services negatively, and 45% are dissatisfied with local waste management and recycling efforts (vs. 28% globally). What is more, South Africa ranks second to last for the factor energy, with only India performing worse. Exactly five in nine expats rate this aspect (e.g. availability of clean energy, energy-saving measures) negatively, and 18% even say it could not be any worse. While expats worry, it seems that many local residents do not think about it too much: Expats think that the local population is not very interested in environmental issues and that the government does not support policies to protect the environment.

South Africa achieves its best result in the Quality of Environment subcategory. In fact, 90% of respondents are satisfied with the natural environment and 67% are happy with the quality of the air. A French expat mentions that he appreciates “the beautiful nature and environment that this country offers”. However, South Africa performs considerably worse for water and sanitation: 28% rate this factor negatively, compared to 15% globally.

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