The cost of living in Zambia is remarkably low for those paid in a strong currency. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2020, which compares expat cities around the world, Lusaka was ranked 201st out of 209 cities.

As Zambia is a landlocked country, it is heavily dependent on its neighbours. Transport costs are high, and much of the country’s consumer goods are imported and therefore expensive. 

Expats should remember that the cost of living in Zambia is relative. For those wanting to maintain the life of comfort that they may be used to back home, the cost can be exorbitant; but it’s worth noting that the majority of Zambia’s population still live well below the poverty line.

Cost of accommodation in Zambia

Accommodation costs in Zambia can be high, particularly in Lusaka, and are likely to be an expat’s most significant monthly expense. Many companies secure and finance housing for their senior expat executives. Expats looking for work in Zambia should factor the housing costs into any contract negotiations.

Cost of food and groceries in Zambia

The cost of basic goods such as fresh fruit and vegetables varies significantly according to season. Informal markets in Zambia are a good place to pick up bargains as polite bartering is acceptable at street cafes and vendors in a way that it is not in more formal stores. 

Cost of schooling and education in Zambia

Expats with children will most likely have to fork out a hefty sum of money on education. Many feel that the public school system is inadequate and prefer to send their children to international schools in Zambia. However, the privilege of attending these schools does not come cheap. Expat parents moving to Zambia for work purposes should keep this in mind when negotiating their relocation package.

Cost of healthcare in Zambia

Another essential expense for expats in Zambia is health insurance. Zambia’s public healthcare system is subpar, and although there are some good private hospitals in the major centres, any serious medical emergencies are likely to require evacuation to South Africa or elsewhere. Expats, therefore, need to ensure that they have a full health insurance policy that covers this.

Cost of living in Zambia

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Lusaka in February 2021. 

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

ZMW 2,230

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ZMW 2,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre 

ZMW 8,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ZMW 4,900 


Eggs (dozen)

ZMW 15

Milk (1 litre)

ZMW 12

Rice (1 kg)

ZMW 25

Loaf of white bread

ZMW 8.50

Chicken breasts (1kg)

ZMW 47

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

ZMW 36

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

ZMW 32

Coca-Cola (330ml)



ZMW 25

Bottle of beer

ZMW 14

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

ZMW 280


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

ZMW 1.17

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

ZMW 550

Basic utilities (per month for a standard household)

ZMW 1,280

Hourly rate for domestic help

ZMW 60


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

ZMW 14

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

ZMW 11

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

ZMW 12.40

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

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