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Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide, has recently published its latest findings for 2018. Numbeo provides current and timely information on world living conditions including the cost of living, housing indicators, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.

Instead of collecting data on a rigid formal basis, such as the way the UN and government bodies do, Numbeo collects data directly, via the internet, from the people who inhabit the various regions covered. Whilst this technique is somewhat unscientific compared to the rigorous methodologies normally employed, it gives a glimpse of how people actually feel about where they live and how it affects them. For instance, a mugging crime rate of say 10/10000 does not tell you how the average person feels about how safe he or she is whilst walking the streets, whereas the Numbeo “safety index’ does.

The Good News:

With a Climate Index of 99.79 Kenya or more specifically Nairobi (as this is where most of the data came from) ranks third best in the world. The index is based on how moderate the climate is and how it is perceived. See this for more information.

The Bad News:

Just about all of the other indices are either poor or very poor, culminating in the final ‘Quality of life Index’ which puts Kenya or specifically Nairobi (again due to lack of data outside Nairobi) in the second bottom position admittedly ahead of Caracus, Venezuela, but below Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Looking at Dhaka we can see that the Bangladeshi capital has worse health care, more pollution, a worse climate, more traffic congestion and a higher perceived risk of crime, yet it scores considerably higher on the costs of living indexes, it has more disposable income and goods and housing are cheaper compared to wages. The vast difference in the property price to income ratio and the increased purchasing power elevates Dhaka above Nairobi despite the other factors making it look like a pretty miserable place to live. Having spare cash in the pocket and house ownership is seen as a prime factor in assessing the quality of life.

Despite the dismal conclusion its not quite time for everyone to pack their bags and move to:-

Canberra, Australia (highest quality of life)

Atlanta, USA (highest purchasing power)

Abu Dhabi, UAE (safest)

Novgorod, Russia (best health care)

Zurich, Switzerland (cost of living)

Detroit, USA (lowest property to wage ratio)

Novi Sad, Serbia (lowest commute times)

Wellington, New Zealand (lowest pollution)

Aukland, New Zealand (most temperate climate)

The Nairobi picture conversely is largely skewed by the low level of wages compared with the cost of goods in the shops and more so by the cost of housing.  The way Numbeo work this out is stated:

“Quality of Life Index (higher is better) is an estimation of overall quality of life by using an empirical formula which takes into account purchasing power index (higher is better), pollution index (lower is better), house price to income ratio (lower is better), cost of living index (lower is better), safety index (higher is better), health care index (higher is better), traffic commute time index (lower is better) and climate index (higher is better).” See more

All of these parameters can and do change with time, except, perhaps, climate. Wages will rise, road infrastructure will improve commuting times, cleaner fuels and environmental regulations reduce pollution. Improved manufacture techniques reduce the costs of goods, improved farming methods reduces the cost of food. There are organizations in Kenya looking at the 1m KES house (in China they already build houses in factories at fractions of the traditional costs) and finance institutions will eventually realise that the way to make money is to provide more appropriate services (Sweden until recently had 140yr mortgages, to bridge the cost/wage problem, whereas Kenya talks more about 20yrs fixed rate at 14.6%). Everything about this survey is reversible.

For all productive Kenyans there is plenty to work for.


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