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Kenya

Living in Kenya

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 21, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Kenya is 51.39 million people. The largest cities in Kenya are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret. Expats love living in Kenya for its diverse culture, beautiful landscapes, and friendly people. Life in Kenya is often described as vibrant, exciting, and full of opportunity. Popular foods in Kenya include ugali (a maize-based dish), nyama choma (grilled meat), and matoke (a type of banana). The cons of living in Kenya include a lack of infrastructure, high crime rates, and a lack of access to basic services. The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,500 to $2,500 per month, depending on lifestyle and location.

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What do I need to know about living in Kenya?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Kenya, they said:

"Before retiring in Kenya, expats should familiarize themselves with the local culture and customs. It is also important to research the cost of living in the area, as well as the availability of healthcare and other services. Additionally, expats should ensure that they have the necessary visas and permits to live and work in Kenya. Finally, expats should consider the security situation in the area and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety," remarked one expat living in Kenya.

"Do it! This is a great city. Ignore the reputation. Kenya does have some crime and social unrest issues but with care and caution these can be avoided. This is a beautiful city in a beautiful, friendly country," wrote one member in Nairobi.

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How do I meet people in Kenya?

When we asked people living in Kenya about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Expats in Kenya often join clubs and activities such as golf, tennis, sailing, and running. Expats can also join social clubs, such as the Nairobi Expat Club, which organizes events and activities for expats to meet and socialize. Additionally, expats can meet people by attending local events, such as art exhibitions, music festivals, and cultural celebrations. Expats can also meet people by attending church services, volunteering, or joining a language exchange program," remarked one expat who made the move to Kenya.

"Nairobi is one of those rare places where you may be as invisible as you wish. It has this vibe where many people disappear home with their families not to be seen for months; they are chilling out, watching their gardens, writing books, taking their kids to the cinema, being romantic old fashioned families. Schools are a main socializing point its very old school and traditional. Malls and gyms provide many points of contact. We have harriers, which I hear is a great way to meet people. Java coffee shop with its world famous coffee and cuisine is also a fine way to meet up. There are wonderful art galleries such as Ramoma. The Alliance Francaise has film festivals and very good exhibitions and plays. Nightlife and Eating out we have a wide array of wonderful places to eat check out; http://www.eatout.co.ke such a lovely array of wonderful places to eat. Nightlife = www. xpatlink.info," explained one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

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What is life like in Kenya?

When we asked people living in Kenya what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Life for expats and digital nomads in Kenya is generally quite pleasant. The country is known for its warm climate, friendly people, and vibrant culture. Expats and digital nomads can find a variety of activities to enjoy, from exploring the country's national parks and game reserves to taking part in the local music and art scenes. The cost of living is relatively low, making it an attractive destination for those looking to stretch their budget. Additionally, the country has a strong infrastructure, with reliable internet access and a variety of coworking spaces available. All in all, Kenya is an ideal destination for expats and digital nomads looking for an exciting and affordable place to live and work," commented one expat who made the move to Kenya.

"Nairobi is traditional work first. But there is plenty of fun to be had many people take advantage of the holiday homes that dot the country and the absolutely stunning beaches of Watamu, Lamu and Diani. The cottages are mostly second homes for old Kenya families and steeped in beauty with tumbling exotic flowers and large open spaces to inhale the views; www.holidayhomeskenya.com Kids are very treasured and there is plenty to do; Go to the National Park for a picnic catch sight of a lion or two. Splash and The Village Market have water parks that are wonderful. Paradise Lost is a large picnic site complete with boats and camels and ancient caves. www.kenyakidz.com," remarked one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Is there a lot of crime in Kenya?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Crime is a problem in Kenya, with a range of offenses including theft, robbery, assault, and murder. The Kenyan government has taken steps to address the issue, including increasing police presence in urban areas and introducing tougher penalties for certain crimes. However, the country still faces a high rate of crime, particularly in areas with high levels of poverty and unemployment," remarked one expat who made the move to Kenya.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Kenya accepting of differences?

"This is an incredibly diverse city with tens of thousands of white, Indian, Chinese and other foreign residents. You might have to look hard to see them though as people tend to stay in their own locales," wrote one member in Nairobi.

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What are the schools in Kenya like?

"Don't If possible choose another school in Nairobi. Curriculum and IB-program at HS could be OK, but if you have younger children avoid this school," commented one expat when asked about International School of Kenya in Nairobi .

"Braeburn Primary and High School on Gitanga Road in Nairobi has changed notably in the past 5 years. Originally very open to suggestions and comments on all aspects of the school environment, the school has increased in size and now rather fiercely resists any adverse comment. As there is a high teacher turnover with a large percentage of young teachers with short experience who are embarking on a round-the-world tour for a few years, this is leading to a weakening teaching environment. In recent years syllabus┬┤have not been fully covered to IGCSE, and students not been able to cover all ground before exams. The previous large expat element of the school clientele has declined notably, and the school is now predominantly new middle class African. If you are a parent who wishes to be close to your childs education, this school is likely to irritate you. Their open-door policy in practice means you can come and say anything, but do not expect anything to be taken on board. Further, if you come with anything even hinting at an adverse comment, expect the school to react negatively to you. The shutters have gone up against parental comment," explained one expat in Nairobi, Kenya with kids at Braeburn Primary and High School.

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Is the cost of living in Kenya high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Kenya, they wrote:

"The cost of living in Kenya varies depending on the city and lifestyle. Generally, basic necessities such as food, transportation, and housing are relatively inexpensive. However, luxury items such as electronics, imported goods, and entertainment can be more expensive. Additionally, the cost of living in Kenya is affected by the exchange rate of the Kenyan shilling to other currencies," wrote a member in Kenya.

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"The cost of living in Kenya varies greatly depending on the location. Generally, the cost of living is lower than in many other countries, but it is still higher than in some other African countries. In the major cities, such as Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, the cost of living is higher than in the rest of the country. The rental price for a nice 1 bedroom apartment in Kenya is around $500 USD per month, while a nice 2 bedroom apartment is around $700 USD per month. Eating dinner at a moderately priced restaurant in Kenya will cost around $10 USD per person," mentioned an expat living in Kenya.

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What type of recreational facilities are in Kenya?

When we asked people living in Kenya about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"In Kenya, residents enjoy a variety of recreational facilities, such as beaches, national parks, and game reserves. There are also many outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and bird watching. For those who prefer indoor activities, there are bowling alleys, cinemas, and shopping malls. Additionally, there are many cultural attractions, such as museums, art galleries, and traditional markets. Finally, Kenya is home to a number of sports facilities, including golf courses, tennis courts, and football stadiums," commented one expat living in Kenya.

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What is the weather like in Kenya?

"The weather in Kenya is generally warm and sunny throughout the year. The temperatures range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit during the day, and the nights are usually cool and comfortable. The rainy season typically runs from March to May and October to December, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in April and May," said an expat in Kenya.

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Are there good restaurants in Kenya?

"One of the most popular restaurants in Kenya is Carnivore, located in Nairobi. It is known for its wide variety of meats, including game meats such as ostrich, crocodile, and zebra. The restaurant also serves traditional Kenyan dishes such as nyama choma (grilled meat) and ugali (maize porridge). The atmosphere is lively and the staff is friendly and attentive. https://www.carnivorekenya.com/ Another popular restaurant in Kenya is Tamarind, located in Mombasa. It is known for its seafood dishes, such as grilled lobster, calamari, and prawns. The restaurant also serves traditional Kenyan dishes such as chapati (flatbread) and pilau (rice dish). The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff is friendly and helpful. https://www.tamarind.co.ke/ The third popular restaurant in Kenya is Artcaffe, located in Nairobi. It is known for its international cuisine, such as Italian, Mexican, and Indian dishes. The restaurant also serves traditional Kenyan dishes such as ugali and nyama choma. The atmosphere is modern and the staff is friendly and attentive. https://www.artcaffe.co.ke/," mentioned an expat living in Kenya.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Kenya?

"People living in Kenya typically buy groceries from local markets, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Other shopping can be done at malls, department stores, and specialty shops. Additionally, many people in Kenya shop online for items such as clothing, electronics, and home goods," remarked one expat living in Kenya.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Kenya?

"In order to visit Kenya, foreign nationals must obtain a visa prior to arrival. The process of applying for a visa involves submitting an application form, a valid passport, two passport-sized photographs, and the applicable visa fee. Depending on the purpose of the visit, additional documents may be required. In order to obtain residency in Kenya, foreign nationals must submit an application form, a valid passport, two passport-sized photographs, and the applicable fee. They must also provide proof of employment, proof of sufficient funds, and a valid residence permit. Depending on the purpose of the residency, additional documents may be required," commented one expat living in Kenya.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Kenya?

"Healthcare and health insurance in Kenya can be expensive, especially for those who are not covered by a health insurance plan. The cost of medical care in Kenya is often higher than in other countries, and the cost of health insurance can be prohibitive for many people. Additionally, the quality of healthcare in Kenya is often lower than in other countries, making it difficult for people to access the care they need. As a result, many people in Kenya are unable to access the healthcare they need, leading to poorer health outcomes," remarked one expat in Kenya.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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