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Cost of Living in Angola

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Angola is a country of dramatic contrasts. Most of its population live in poverty while companies producing oil, gas and diamonds wallow in big money. Obviously, the latter set the prices because the Angola’s capital Luanda is said to be one of the planet’s most expensive places to live in (Cost of Living survey by Mercer, 2013-2015): it is 20% more expensive than New York. Only Tokyo dared to be costlier in 2012, but these two cities are hardly comparable in terms of price-quality ratio.

The country’s independence started with a 3-decade wasting civil war. After the war had ended in 2002, the country started to make up for the lost years but with a perceptible warp towards oil and diamond industries. Infrastructure damaged by the war is still in a miserable condition which cuts off inhabitants of remote rural areas from the welfare of prosperous regions. The country has nothing to produce except its nature resources, and, therefore, rural areas are miserably poor. As everything is imported, the prices for overseas goods are astronomical. As the population of Luanda is constantly increasing (over 4 million people so far), the demand stirs up the prices.

Foreigners are usually allowed to work only in Luanda, so the predatory pricing of the capital city is focused mostly on expats who earn big money in oil corporations. In Luanda, everything is costlier than even in metropolises of top-tier countries.

Accommodation

Housing costs an arm and a leg in Angola. In Luanda, expats usually live either in comfortable compounds located on the capital’s outskirts or in apartments which can be found both in the city centre and on the outskirts. Big oil companies usually lodge their valued employees in compounds which have facilities (swimming pools, gyms, and so on) and a reliable security service on the territory. The monthly rent of an apartment in such compound would cost you from 10,000 to 30,000 USD (yes, it’s for 1 month!).

One-bedroom apartment in Luanda’s city centre would cost you 4k USD per month (2k USD for the same apartment on the outskirts). Rent of a three-bedroom dwelling in the city centre would cost you 7k USD while its outskirts counterpart is rented for over 3k USD.

Don’t expect the quality to be as overwhelming as the price. The costliest apartments are of moderate quality. The prices are given for unfurnished apartments. Add to the price the agent’s fee and the deposit which is usually asked for a very long period (a year or so). Ensure the salary you were offered is capable of covering these expenses if your employer doesn’t provide the housing.

If you decide to buy your own apartment, the price starts from 4.5k USD (outskirts) or 9k USD (city centre) per square meter.

Food

A loaf of bread (0.5kg) costs 2.5 USD (400 AOA). You will give more than 1.9 USD (300 AOA) for 1 kilo of rice and the same price for 1l of milk. A 0.5l bottle of beer costs 2.5 USD (400 AOA) while for a dozen of eggs, you will have to give almost 3.7 USD (600 AOA). 1 kilo of chicken breasts is sold for 10 USD (1,600 AOA). These are prices from the international supermarket. You can save a lot if you buy fresh food on local markets.

Expats find eating out very expensive, and, therefore, they do it only for a special occasion. A cup of cappuccino costs the same as a bottle of beer (2.5 USD /400 AOA). For one meal at McDonald’s, you will pay 16 USD (2,500 AOA). Actually, Luanda’s meal at McDonald’s was dubbed as the world’s most expensive. For a date in the restaurant (a sober 3-course meal for 2), you will spend about 100 USD /16,000 AOA.

Transport

You should consider where exactly you live in Luanda and how much you have to spend on your daily commute to work. If you live in a prestigious compound on the south of Luanda, your transport expenses will be quite high. Omit this item if you are a single person living in the city centre close to the business district where you work. Otherwise, you will have either to use a public transport or to hire a driver. The latter is quite cheap. The taxi would cost you 3.8 USD (610 AOA) per km plus 5 USD (800 AOA) for a start. One way bus ticket (in the business centre) costs 0.75 USD – 2 USD (depending on the distance). You can buy the monthly pass for 70 USD. 1l petrol costs 0.68 USD (109 AOA).

Education

If you decide to take along your children to Angola, prepare for big tuition expenses unless schooling allowance is included in your employment package. The point is that the level of education in free public schools is below standards of developed countries, so expats usually have no choice but to enlist their children in private international schools with astronomical tuition fees. A year of schooling will cost you up to 40k USD. For example, a year in the Luanda International school, which is the most popular and has the best infrastructure, will cost your family 25k USD – 33k USD (plus around 15k USD as facility fees). Annual fees in a private higher educational institution are in the same price segment – over 32k USD.

The good news is that many companies act as founders of private schools and, therefore, have the privilege to teach children of their employees for free or, at least, much cheaper. Inquire at your hiring company whether they have such agreement with any private school or they can compensate your tuition expenses.

Utilities

The cost of utilities isn’t included in your apartment rent, so you need to pay it separately. If you live alone in a studio (45 square meters), such utilities as water, electricity and gas will cost you about 90 USD (14,500 AOA) per month. The Internet connection (10 Mbps, cable or ADSL) per month is 130 -180 USD. A cost for a minute of talk on your mobile starts from 0.5 USD (75 AOA).

Clothes

You should better take along clothes from your home country unless you want to pay 135 USD for a pair of jeans, over 100 USD for a summer dress (like Zara or H&M) and 160 USD for running shoes.

Leisure

A monthly fee for a fitness club costs like a pair of running shoes – almost 160 USD. Renting a tennis court on weekends is for 20 USD. Watching a movie in a cinema is worth about 14 USD per seat.

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