Expatriates have ranked Nairobi as the best African city to work in and the 45th globally in a new cities survey, thanks to friendly residents and fair weather.
In the Expat City Ranking 2019, Nairobi beat Johannesburg (59th) and Cape Town (65th) - both in South Africa - and both of which ranked in the lower half of the survey. Lagos in Nigeria was 79th — among the bottom 10 cities in the global survey whose findings were released this week.
Nairobi had been ranked 47th out of 72 cities in a similar survey carried out last year, meaning it has improved by two notches over that period.
The survey that was carried out by InterNations, the largest community for expats, noted that respondents had picked Nairobi for being easy to settle in, ranking it third worldwide in the respective index, just behind Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia (first) and Manama in Bahrain (second).
The ranking surveyed more than20,000 respondents in 82 cities around the globe. InterNations has more than 3.5 million members. The latest survey analysed five areas of expatriate life — quality of urban towns, getting settled, work-life balance, finance, housing and cost of living, to reveal the likely city of choice for expats to move to in 2020.
"About 82 percent describe the locals as friendly and 62 percent find it easy to make friends," the report says.
"The local climate and weather has been a top highlight for expat life, with 91 percent of expats rating this factor positively compared to 59 percent globally".
The city has in recent weeks been experiencing heavy rains with most days being relatively cool. However, this also causes traffic congestion in and around the city.
This year marks the first time that Nairobi has improved in the quality of urban living index at position 72. The poor showing in the past has been attributed to poor local transportation and personal safety as the city was ranked among the bottom 10 worldwide at 74th and personal safety 78th position respectively.
"More than half (53 percent) rate the local transportation negatively and 38 percent are concerned about their personal safety," the survey said.
"I cannot walk on the street, because it is not safe. I have to drive or be driven everywhere," one Danish expat told the pollsters.
The state of the local economy was also found to be worrisome for 36 percent of respondents, which might be the reason why 37 percent said they were unhappy with their local career prospects.
On the upside, expatriates said they were happy with their working hours (with Nairobi coming in at number 20) and their jobs overall (17th). Nairobi was also ranked 10th in the world for the ease of finding housing.
However, earlier in the year, some expats had lamented that they were experiencing difficulties getting depost refunds whenever they needed to move out of a rented house. In a recent country ranking released in September, Kenya improved 15 positions to 36th this year from 51st in 2018 due to similar metrics, including ease of settling in and making friends.
However, the country was quoted as one of the most expensive to live in with expatriates tying this to their well-being. In the ranking, Kenya's personal-financial satisfaction index declined to 53 from 44 out of 64 destinations that were surveyed during the period.
Just about three in five expatriates in Kenya (61 percent) were happy with their financial situation compared to 70 percent in 2018. The survey indicated that 32 percent of expats pointed that their disposable household income was not enough to cover all living expenses compared 18 percent in 2018.