Top Cities List:Kampala beats Nairobi in quality of living for expats


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Kampala offers a higher living standard for expatriates compared to Nairobi, according to a survey by London-based Mercer Insights, a global consultancy offering talent advisory services.

The Ugandan capital is ranked 169th globally, and is third in the continent after South Africa’s Durban (85) and Cape Town (91).

Nairobi is ranked eighth in Africa and 186th globally. It also lags behind Cairo (170), Blantyre (177), Maputo (178) and Banjul (184).

However, Rwanda’s Kigali, Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam and Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa are placed lower at 189, 198 and 205 respectively.

Mercer’s 2015 Quality of Living survey, released two weeks ago, covered 230 cities worldwide. Data was analysed between September and November last year.

The annual survey is intended to help multinational companies and other employers compensate staff fairly when placing them on international assignments.

“A city’s quality-of-living standards can be an important variable for employers to consider,” Mercer said in a statement.

Vienna in Austria tops the rankings followed by Zurich in Switzerland, Auckland in New Zealand and Munich in Germany. The city with the lowest living standard is Baghdad in Iraq. It is followed closely by Bangui in Central African Republic, Port-au-Prince in Haiti and Sudan’s Khartoum.

According to Mercer, typical expatriate incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium. The former is a location-related “hardship” allowance, which compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.

Consequently, employers have to raise the allowance for cities ranked lower, for instance in the case of Nairobi compared to Kampala. On the other hand, a mobility premium caters for the inconvenience of having to work in another country.

Mercer says a vast majority of multinational firms usually provide the allowances separately.

“Companies need to determine their expatriate compensation packages rationally, consistently, and systematically. Providing incentives to reward and recognise the efforts that employees and their families make when taking on international assignments remains a typical practice, particularly for difficult locations,” the firm said.

Mercer evaluates local living conditions such as consumer goods, housing, recreation, socio-political and economic environments, schools and education standards, utilities and transport, and medical and health considerations.


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