The second largest continent, Africa, is the next to explore when looking at the best cities around the world. While we may know about Africa from movies like Black Panther, Madagascar, and Lion King, there is so much more to Africa. Let’s explore some fun fact about Africa to learn a bit more.
Table of Contents
– There are 54 countries.
– The Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert.
– There are over 2,000 spoken languages.
– Africa has the highest amount of diamonds, gold, and cocoa beans.
– The Serengeti in Tanzania has the largest wildlife migration in the world without over 1.2 million wildebeest and 750,000 zebras.
– The longest river, the Nile, is located in Africa. It is approximately 4,258 miles (6,853 kilometers).
– The oldest university is located in Morocco founded in 859 AD.
– These animals are from Africa: largest – elephant; tallest – giraffe; fastest – cheetah.
– The monthly seasons in Africa – summer months are December to March, autumn is April to May, winter is June to August, and spring is September to November
Just a note that this is not a ranking, cities are in alphabetical order.
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1. Egypt – Cairo
Being the largest city in the Arab World, the Great Cairo Metropolitan Area is the region’s history, economic and political hub. It is the gateway connecting Egypt with the rest of the world and that is why it is a popular choice for expats to find a place to stay in Africa.
Cairo has over 4,000 years of history. It features the only Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza, still standing today. Book a tour.
For those who want to learn more about the history and culture of ancient Egypt, head to the Egyptian Museum where it shows tens of thousands of archaeological treasures including the mummies of pharaohs, statues collected from all over Egypt and the Gold Mask of Tutankhamun.
While it takes at least 5 to 7 days to cover the highlights of Cairo, the cost of living in Cairo is generally lower than in many western countries, at about US$400 to US$600 per month. A 500 square feet apartment rent is between US$200-$400.
Areas like Zamalek, Sheikh Zayed City or Mohandeseen are considered the best among expats.
Zamalek, in particular, is located on the coast of the Nile River, and it’s one of the most expensive districts in Cairo. Apart from accommodation, an imported beer costs around US$2-3, and a single ride on the subway costs around US$0.3.
Cairo is notorious for its traffic congestion in the busy areas and the old city center. Cairo’s mass transit system has three lines covering 74 stations, with three more new lines in the development plan to cope with the high transportation demands.
Driving in Egypt can be tricky for expats as most local drivers do not strictly follow the traffic signs and rules on the road. It is suggested to take a test drive or avoid rush hours.
Cairo has a desert climate that is usually dry, with little rain, hot days, and cool evenings. The weather is generally pleasant during spring and fall between March and May, and September and November (between 15°C to 28°C on most days).
It can get very hot and muddy between June to August during summer (22°C to 34°C) so the locals don’t go out in the middle of the day.
English is widely used in most parts of the city such as in restaurants, shops, and service locations. Here are some options for Egyptian styled souvenirs.
Contributed by Knycx Journeying
2. Egypt – Dahab
For most folks not in the know, Egypt seems like it would be a hard place to be an expat. However, the expat community in Dahab is thriving and one of the best cities in Africa. Overall the city is considered to be quite safe. Sure there are issues with petty crime and sometimes some conflicts between the expat and local community but overall both highly depend on each other.
For many folks, they travel to Dahab for the world-class, free, scuba diving in combination with the weather and cheap food and accommodations. Many folks both local and expat work in these industries and the availability of dive shops is high quality. Many expats also study in Dahab to achieve their scuba divemaster or instructor certifications. Book a tour.
Accommodations for a month depend highly on the quality of the location and place. For about US$200 – $300 a month you could certainly find a good, reasonable one or two bedroom place. For those who want to be close to everything, The Lighthouse area is a good spot to choose.
Or further north of town which tends to be a bit quieter (such as Assala). AirBNB is also available for those who want places that are a bit more flexible in time. However, searching on Facebook for rentals is recommended as often these same rentals will be cheaper outside of AirBNB.
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Food is also really cheap in town as well. One could buy all their friends breakfast for only a few American dollars. And often many folks don’t bother cooking (unless they prefer it) since it’s so cheap to afford things in town.
Getting around town is fairly easy, many places are walkable. Also taxis are available, and shared “trucks” folks can hop in to get to various parts of town quicker.
The weather is generally hot in the summers with highs of 36°C (97°F) and lows of 25°C (77°F). In the cool winter, the weather is very pleasant and on occasion one may need a light jacket with highs of 20°C (68°F) and lows of 10°C (63°F).
While Arabic is definitely a plus, getting around Dahab is pretty easy to achieve with just English. However, if you need to deal with other services or more government related aspects, it helps to have a friend who is more familiar.
There are also great expat Facebook groups for advice on dealing with these various types of logistics. Also if you stay longer any need any sort of handyman or other logistics too.
Here are some options for Egyptian styled souvenirs.
Contributed by Anwar of Beyond My Door
3. Morocco – Essaouira
Perched on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, just a three hour drive west of Marrakech, Essaouira. This is perhaps the most preferred location in Morocco for expats due to the maritime climate, beautiful architecture, surfing beach, and chilled vibes, and is very popular with French expats. Book a tour.
It may not have as many Western comforts as commercial Casablanca, but it’s much prettier, and it is also one of the most relaxed cities in Morocco, especially compared to Marrakech.
Here the Medina is traffic free, sellers are not at all pushy, and it’s a very easy-going life. Plus, if you want to fill your weekends with adventure, there are so many things to do in Essaouira. All this make Essaouira, one of the best cities in Africa.
A two-bedroom house in the heart of the Medina is around £900/US$1,100 a month. A local meal in a restaurant costs less than US$8, and a large beer costs US$5.
You can live very cheaply here if you are self-catering; fish can be bought fresh from the fisherman at the port, fresh bread is available on every street corner in Medina, and fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought from the souq.
For Western items such as pasta, cereal, alcohol, cheese, there is a large Carrefour supermarket on the main road into town. Prices here are like typical Western prices, sometimes a little more as items have been imported.
The best locations to live are either in the Medina, or behind the beach. The Medina is full of history and character, and you also have the convenience of everything being on your doorstep. Whereas behind the beach, accommodation is far more modern and you may even be able to find somewhere with a pool.
Alternatively, some expats choose to live in the countryside around Essaouira. With Essaouira being rather compact, it’s not too far a drive to get into town, the beach, Carrefour; but you will need a car.
As Essaouira is relatively small, it’s easy enough to get around on foot. However, if you don’t fancy walking or need to go a longer distance, the petits taxis are the easiest way to get around. There is just a flat fee of 7DH to go anywhere within Essaouira (8DH at night); this is about US$0.70/60 pence.
Being on the Atlantic coast, Essaouira doesn’t experience the extreme temperatures of other Moroccan tourist destinations, and with an average of 300 days of sunshine, it’s generally a great year-round destination.
January is the coolest month with an average temperature of 18°C / 64°F (perfect for some winter sun!), and in the summer months of July and August, the average temperature is 25°C / 77°F. But it gets very windy, so much so, it’s coined ‘City of the Wind’.
Arabic and French and the most widely spoken languages in Essaouira. You can get by with English, but knowing a little French will go a long way. Here are some options for Moroccan styled souvenirs.
Contributed by Jenny from Explore Essaouira
4. Morocco – Taghazout
In fall I was lucky enough to hear about the seaside village of Taghazout, Morocco. I had been staying in Marrakech while there was a terrible cold snap, and was told I should flee to the south for the winter where the weather is warmer.
Next to the famous city of Agadir, Taghazout is a tiny seaside village that has made a reputation for itself as a surfer’s paradise. It’s also starting to come into its own as the premier spot in Morocco for Digital Nomads. All thanks to having one of the only CoWorking spots in the country. This made it the perfect destination for me as one of the best cities in Africa to settle down for a few months.
I love Taghazout because you get the best of both worlds. While Taghazout is a small village by the sea, it’s only a half hour away from Agadir. Agadir is a large city with any convenience an expat could want – grocery stores, shopping malls, and modern medical clinics.
You can travel between Taghazout, Agadir, and the neighbouring village of Tamraght by private taxi (US$20) , shared taxi (US$5), or bus (US$1).
In Morocco they speak an equal mix of French and Arabic, but since there is such a large presence of expats and tourists in Taghazout, you can get by easily with just English and Google Translate.
Taghazout is a small village but there’s still a range of accommodations. Luxury hotels like Paradise Plage, Hyatt Place, or the Radisson Blu resort line the long seaside-esplanade between Taghazout and the neighbouring village of Tamraught.
In the center of town, called “Taghazout village” there are smaller hotels like The Auberge. Apartments for rent here are between US$200-$1000 a month. There are also numerous surf hostels. Book a tour.
When I was in Taghazout, I stayed in a Coliving space called Mint Surf which I would highly recommend. I had a private room with a shared bath in a modern complex. This costed US$15/night, or US$370/month during the off season which runs October – May.
During the summer high season you can expect to pay a little bit more, but overall, Taghazout is an incredibly affordable place for expats. Here are some options for Moroccan styled souvenirs.
The summer is not too hot with highs of 27°C (80°F) and lows of 18°C (64°F). Winter days are not too cold with highs of 20°C (68°F) but can get down to 8°C (46°F).
Contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel
5. Namibia – Swakopmund
Namibia is certainly one of the most beautiful countries in the world when you think about natural and dramatic beauty. I strongly recommend anyone to add a Namibia Itinerary to your bucket list!
If you are considering relocating to Africa, Swakopmund is not only a favourite destination with tourists but also with local Namibians. Here is where the locals go for vacation, as it offers great weather, tons of outdoor activities, and beautiful beaches. It is a great place to enjoy nature, the sea, and the beach, and most importantly cool down in the Namibian summer as the cold Benguela marine current acts as a natural air conditioner. Book a tour.
The average cost of living in Swakopmund is another great reason you would love to live here, averaging 53% less expensive than the United States, or around US$950 per month/ person. For example, the rental of a nice 2 bedroom house is around $400 US dollars per month.
Namibia is, for the most part, a safe country to live in, however, incidents such as muggings and bag snatching happen frequently, especially in areas frequented by foreigners.
A challenge in Namibia is transportation, since you can not really rely on public transportation, I would recommend anyone to have their own car.
The weather is great and one of the reasons I love it here. Mostly, Namibia has a subtropical desert climate characterized by great differences in day and night time temperatures, low rainfall, and overall low humidity.
The summer highs are 21°C (70°F) and lows of 16°C (61°F). During winter, these temperatures do not vary much with highs of 16°C (61°F) and lows of 9°C (48°F)
Thirteen languages have been recognized in Namibia, but English is the official language and if you are in the main cities, expect to communicate in English.
Contributed by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet
6. South Africa – Cape Town
Cape Town is an amazing city for expats. Great sunny weather, plenty of outdoor activities, diverse wildlife, and relatively cheap cost of living attract people from all over the world. Many move to The Mother City to be able to combine working life with practicing outdoor activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, or mountain biking. Book a tour.
I lived in this spectacular city on and off as an expat for 4 years and really enjoyed it. There are many amazing places to see in Cape Town. Our weekends were filled with awesome activities; hiking, diving, surfing, wine tasting, safari drive, or just camping.
We stayed in one of the suburban areas of the city called Big Bay and for us it was better to have a car. You can rent a car but if you’re planning to live in Cape Town for a couple of years it’s better to buy one.
It’s possible to find well-priced cars on the second-hand car market. If you stay in the center you don’t need a car, you can get around using public transport or Uber. Traffic in the city gets quite hectic during the peak hours and finding parking is a problem.
Long-term rental prices are quite affordable. For a newly renovated one-bedroom apartment in the city center, you can expect to pay around US$550. By the beach, it’s a bit more expensive, around US$650. For a comfortable living, you’ll need US$1,000 to US$1,200 per person.
It’s easy to get around Cape Town using the English language which many speak in South Africa.
Some of the best and safest areas to stay in Cape Town are Big Bay/Blouberg Beach, Waterfront, Sea Point, and Camps Bay. For those who like surfing or kitesurfing, Big Bay/Blouberg is the best area to stay in Cape Town.
If you want to be close to the nightlife, city center, restaurants, and shops then rent a place at Waterfront or Sea Point. Camps Bay is the fanciest area of the city rental prices here are more elevated.
The weather in Cape Town is hot and dry during the summer (November to March). The average temperatures are between 25°C and 30°C. Winter is short and rainy in Cape Town.
December is the busiest time in South Africa when everybody is on holiday. If you decide to move to Cape Town it is better not to do it during that time. Off-season will be much easier to find a rental place.
Contributed by Alya of Stingy Nomads
7. Tanzania – Moshi
Moshi is a great place to live if you are thinking of a place to move to in Tanzania. The city is the gateway to Kilimanjaro, and there are always tourists around. It’s easy to book a tour. Also, there are many organisations that host people to volunteer, so the city is used to always having Westerners around.
I lived in Moshi, with one of these organisations, and documented how they are helping the community through their projects. Staying at their house in Moshi named Hostel Hoff, in a private room, costs US$23 a night. It includes all bills, breakfast and dinner, as well as laundry.
To rent an apartment in Moshi, it will cost you around 500,000 TSH (US$215) for two bedrooms, without furniture or bills.
The best way to get internet in Moshi is through a sim card rather than a provider.
Moshi is quite compact and easy to walk through. As a foreigner, you will be approached very often by locals trying to sell you tours. Once you learn a little bit of Swahili, they will leave you alone.
The best way to move around is by tuk tuk. Expats usually find a tuk tuk driver who they will use for the entire duration of their stay in Moshi. As the town is not very big, it’s enough to text them, and they will let you know how long it will take until they can arrive.
Moshi is a safe place in general, but, as in most of the places in Tanzania, it is not recommended to walk alone at night. There are plenty of restaurants in Moshi where you can try local food, and international cuisines like Italian or American.
Summers are hot with highs 34°C (93°F) and lows of 20°C (68°F). Winters have highs of 26°C (79°F) and lows of 15°C (59°F).
In Moshi you won’t have problems speaking English with the locals, as many people speak it.
Contributed by Joanna from The World in My Pocket
14 thoughts on “7 Best Cities in Africa Including Cost of Living”
Africa has always been a dream of mine. Seems like the cities are worth seeing. Thanks for the great blog!
Great round up of the best cities in Africa. I’d love to explore at length anything in Morocco though Moshi sounds interesting as well.
Thanks for this inspiring guide! I’ve lived in 5 countries already so this is giving me some ideas if I were ever to move to the African continent!
Really interesting post! I have only been to a few countries in Africa, and embarrassingly I had not even heard of Dahab, Taghazout or Swakopmund. It is really nice to learn about them. Africa is so massive and diverse so I know I have waaay more to learn.
Wow I’ve never been to Africa before but it looks so beautiful! The photos are stunning.
So much great info here! You hear so much about safaris in Africa, but there’s so much more!
I would love to see more of Africa. Essaouira in Morocco sounds like a great place with temperate enough weather to live in for a while. I love the colours of the fabrics especially.
We have only touched a few spots on our travels in Africa. And sadly of your list we have only spent any time in Cape Town. I think of Africa first for animal and safari type activities. But I can now see we need to look at the cities too. We sure did love the great variety we found in Cape Town.
What a great guide to African cities. I’ve visited a few, and hope to get to Swakopmund in the next year or two.
I love this guide! I really really want to visit every place on this list, but especially Morocco and Namibia!
I really enjoyed this article. I learned some interesting facts and things I definitely didn’t know about Africa. I didn’t realize it had 54 countries, and that it the prices were so reasonable. Egypt has been on my top list of places to see, and now I definitely want to see Cape Town too!
I’d absolutely love to visit Morocco one day! We have a tajine and make Moroccan-style chicken with olives a few times a year. It’s a really cool North-African cooking method. I’d love to try an authentic dish one day!
I had the chance to visit Morocco as a teenager. I’d really love to visit Egypt and South Africa. Thanks for highlighting some great cities.
This was very useful! Im planning a trip to marocco now. I love how you share information about the facts like prices, languages and other facts.