The cost of living in Zambia is remarkably low for those paid in a strong currency. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2023, which compares expat cities around the world, Lusaka was ranked 197th out of 227 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 keep in mind that the cost of living in Zambia is relative. For those wanting to maintain the life of comfort that they had back home, the cost can be exorbitant; but it’s worth noting that the majority of Zambia’s population still lives 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 the season. Informal markets in Zambia are a good place to pick up bargains, as polite bartering is acceptable at street cafés and vendors in a way that it is not in more formal stores. Buying local goods is also significantly cheaper than imported alternatives.

Cost of education and schooling 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, which tend to carry high fees. 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. Therefore, expats need to ensure that they have a comprehensive 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 2023. 

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

ZMW 5,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ZMW 3,700

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre 

ZMW 15,800

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

ZMW 8,500


Eggs (dozen)

ZMW 25

Milk (1 litre)

ZMW 17

Rice (1 kg)

ZMW 39

Loaf of white bread

ZMW 18.35

Chicken breasts (1kg)

ZMW 100

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

ZMW 32

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

ZMW 68

Coca-Cola (330ml)

ZMW 16.99


ZMW 35

Local beer (500ml)

ZMW 21

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

ZMW 360


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

ZMW 1.36

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

ZMW 390

Basic utilities (per month for a standard household)

ZMW 2,540


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

ZMW 13.88

Bus/train fare in the city centre 

ZMW 24

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

ZMW 22

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