Destitute Angola capital costliest place for expats

Tue Jul 6, 2010 6:36am EDT
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By Henrique Almeida

LUANDA (Reuters Life!) - In the Angolan capital with its seemingly endless slums and crippling poverty, Jose Motto picked up a four pack of yogurt priced several times what it would cost at a fancy supermarket in Europe.

"This costs $20, at least three times more what I would pay in Europe," said Motto, a Portuguese national who works as a human resources consultant in Luanda.

Such is life in Luanda, an oil boom city that has grown well beyond its means and has attracted hordes of foreign workers competing for scarce resources.

The capital in a country where most of the population lives in poverty has overtaken Tokyo as the most expensive in the world for foreigners, according to a study by consulting firm Mercer.

Foreigners plop down $15 for a cheeseburger, $150 for haircuts; $2,500 for a one-year gym membership and tens of thousands of dollars for rent.

But for the majority of Angolans, an estimated two-thirds of whom live on less than $2 a day, the only thing the oil boom has made more affordable to them is gasoline, although many will never be able to buy a car in their lifetime.

The southwest African nation faces a housing shortage as it recovers from a three-decade-long civil war that devastated the countryside and prompted millions to flee to the cities.

With Angola importing over 90 percent of its building material, construction projects are expensive and often come with huge delays.   Continued...

<p>A man sits on the balcony of a rundown building in Luanda January 27, 2010. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante</p>