Africa’s Expat Destinations: Friendly, but Not Always Safe

  • High cost of healthcare causes dissatisfaction among expats
  • Finding friends is easy, language barrier not a problem
  • Kenya & Nigeria: High job satisfaction despite poor economy and long work weeks
  • South Africa stands out for availability of childcare and education


Room for Improvement in the Quality of Life Index

The key African expat destinations are all listed in the bottom ten of the Quality of Life Index: South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria rank 52nd, 59th, and 67th out of 67 countries, respectively. However, the reasons for these low ratings are very different among the three countries.

For instance, the survey respondents in Kenya and South Africa are overwhelmingly happy with the climate, with 89% of expats saying they are satisfied. On the other hand, only 48% of Nigeria expats state the same; a likely reason would be the alternation between monsoonal and very dry climate as the only two seasons in the country.

Furthermore, while expats in Kenya are only slightly less happy than the global average when it comes to available leisure activities in general (66% vs. 72%), the other countries differ widely. In fact, in Nigeria only 2% of expats are very satisfied with local leisure options, compared to 54% in South Africa!

Satisfaction with healthcare is also very different among expats in these African destinations: in Nigeria not a single respondent is very satisfied with the quality of healthcare, and in Kenya only 6% express complete satisfaction. The only country performing better than the worldwide average (23%) is South Africa, with 32% of expats very satisfied and 77% who are generally happy with this factor (vs. 62% globally).

However, despite the below-average quality, medical care for expats still comes at a cost: fewer expats in these destinations are satisfied with the affordability of healthcare than the global average of 55%, with only 9% being overall satisfied in Nigeria, and 40% saying the same about Kenya. South Africa does best in this subcategory, too (50%), but it does not quite reach the global average of 55%.

Political instability and personal safety are a significant problem in these countries, and this is indeed a major reason why they do not perform well in the Quality of Life Index. In fact, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa are all ranked in the bottom 5 out of 67 in the Safety & Security subcategory.