Lagos ranks 2nd in cheapest cities to live in Africa in 2024 

The cost of living is a critical factor for expats when choosing a city to relocate to, affecting their quality of life and financial stability.  

In 2024, the annual Cost of Living City Ranking has once again highlighted the varying economic landscapes across Africa.  

While some cities have maintained their positions, others have seen significant shifts due to a myriad of economic factors. 

At the lower end of the spectrum, the cities of Islamabad, Lagos, and Abuja are among the least expensive for expats.  

This trend is largely driven by currency depreciations, which have made the cost of living significantly lower for international assignees. 

Global overview 

Recent years have seen numerous global economic influencers impacting the cost of living in major cities. These include inflation, exchange-rate fluctuations, and geopolitical volatility.  

  • Such factors have directly affected the pay and savings of internationally mobile employees, adding to expenses in housing, utilities, local taxes, and education. 
  • In contrast, the cities that top the ranking for high living costs, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Zurich, face challenges like expensive housing markets, high transportation costs, and increased costs of goods and services. 


Nairametrics utilities Mercer’s ranking, which lists 226 cities worldwide serves as a crucial tool for global mobility operations and international assignees, providing insights into the living expenses in cities across the globe.  

The ranking offers a clear picture of economic trends and helps in making informed decisions about global mobility. 

  • Among African cities, Bangui stands out, rising 12 places to rank 14th globally. Djibouti and N’Djamena follow closely, ranked 18th and 21st, respectively.  
  • On the other end, the least expensive African cities include Blantyre, Lagos, and Abuja, ranked 221st, 225th, and 226th, respectively. 

As the economic landscape continues to evolve, these rankings provide a valuable perspective on the cost of living in various cities, aiding expats and organisations in navigating the complexities of global mobility. 

  1. Johannesburg, South Africa

The global rank for the cost of living: 206 

Johannesburg combines economic opportunities with a relatively low cost of living, particularly in housing and basic services, making it a top choice for expats in South Africa. Johannesburg dropped to 206 as compared to its 205th place in 2023.  

  1.  Cape Town, South Africa

Global rank for cost of living: 209 

Cape Town, while being a major tourist destination, offers reasonable living costs for expats, especially in housing and utilities. Unlike Johannesburg, Cape Town climbed up to 209 from 208 in 2023.  

  1. Tunis, Tunisia

Global rank for cost of living: 210 

Tunis offers a blend of cultural richness and affordability, with low costs of housing, food, and transportation for expats. The city moved up nine places to rank 210th in 2024 as compared to last year.  

  1. Lusaka, Zambia

Global rank for cost of living: 213 

Lusaka is known for its low living costs, particularly in housing and transportation, making it an appealing city for expats seeking affordability. Lusaka, Zambia dropped 16 places from last year’s ranking to 213th in 2024.  

  1. Gaborone, Botswana

Global rank for cost of living: 215 

Gaborone presents a cost-effective living environment for expats, with affordable housing and lower costs for daily essentials. Gaborone moved up in the cost-of-living ranking by 1 place since 2023.  

  1. Windhoek, Namibia

Global rank for cost of living: 218 

Windhoek’s affordability is driven by moderate housing costs and relatively low prices for goods and services, making it an attractive destination for cost-conscious expats. The city climbed up 4 places compared to last year.  

  1. Durban, South Africa

Global rank for cost of living: 219 

Durban offers a lower cost of living compared to other South African cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, especially in terms of housing and groceries. Durban was ranked 220 on the global list for cost of living in 2023.  

  1. Blantyre, Malawi

Global rank for cost of living: 221 

Blantyre is known for its low cost of living, especially in terms of housing and everyday expenses, making it a viable option for expats looking to live comfortably on a budget. The city dropped 23 places to rank among the cheapest cities in the world for expats.  

  1. Lagos, Nigeria

Global rank for cost of living: 225 

Despite being one of Nigeria’s bustling metropolises, Lagos ranks as one of the cheapest cities due to the lower costs of basic goods and services driven by currency depreciation. Lagos dropped 178 places as a result of the currency depreciation. 

  1. Abuja, Nigeria 

Global Rank for cost of living: 226 

Abuja dropped 86 places due to the currency depreciation. Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, offers an affordable cost of living for expats, particularly in housing and utilities, which have seen lower cost increases compared to other major cities. 

For the source of this ranking, check Mercer’s cost of living rankings.  


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