Living in Kenya Guide

Living in Kenya Guide

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Aug 19, 2019

Summary: Expats, global nomads and retirees living in Kenya talk about meeting other expats, befriending locals, the local culture, diversity in Kenya, international schools, crime and more.

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People living in Kenya share their experiences making friends, adjusting to the culture, what expat life is like in Kenya, healthcare in Kenya and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Kenya

When we asked expats living in Kenya to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"Our employer Kaluworks provided us a well furnished apartment in an expat compound in Tudor," said one expat living in Mombasa, Kenya.

"Was born here so I am somewhat familiar with the areas, but after so many years away, use someone local that you trust. Keep in mind "Help" is not free in Kenya, even when people are supposed to do their job," mentioned another expat in Kenya.

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Expats in Kenya may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

Meeting People in Kenya

Expats living in Kenya talked about meeting people in Kenya and local clubs and organizations:

"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; such a lovely array of wonderful places to eat. Nightlife = www.," said one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

"There are lots of social clubs. A good place to start is the notice board in many of the city's main malls," mentioned another expat in Kenya.

Expat Life in Kenya

What is it like living in Kenya? Here is what people had to say:

"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; 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.," said one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

"Kenyans are very family-centric and will be flattered if you show an interest in their home life. "Harambee" is the name of a family or community party which will require a small donation but is well worth attending. If you are invited to one by a Kenyan colleague, be sure to make a donation and attend, you won't regret it. Music and nightclubs, bars and fun carnivals are regular events," mentioned another expat in Kenya.

What Expats Appreciate about Their New Culture

We asked expats in Kenya what they appreciated about their new culture. Here's what they had to say:

"Conservation has a new meaning to me. I am used to large game parks with big 5, but the abundance in the smaller game parks here surpasses what I have experienced in South Africa. I honestly thought that all the game would be eaten by now, but reality is that they are well preserved," said one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Most Challenging Aspects of Living in Kenya

Then, we asked expats in Kenya what was most challenging about their new culture. They replied:

"A person learn to trust friendly people faster and tend to accept customs as a given. What caught me off guard is that the Kenyan culture has a very strong emphasis on good interpersonal relationships to the point where you will be extremely friendly with the person you are lying to and that you are in the process of deceiving. I found it difficult to learn not to trust a person just because he/she is friendly and apparently sharing as it took me a knock or two to realize the depth of receipt the friendly people are capable off. Corruption is everywhere and only power and money controls it," said one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

Diversity in Kenya

We asked expats about diversity in Kenya and whether locals are accepting of differences. They said:

"People are very accepting but tough like New Yorkers they want to know what you are doing here and if it is deemed of true value. They are all very smart and take great pride in hard work and professionalism," said one expat living in Nairobi, Kenya.

"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," mentioned another expat in Kenya.

International Schools in Kenya

"The school is located in a rural area, sitting on a 300-acre piece of land. It has plenty of space for the kids to grow up in a "home away from home" environment," said one expat whose children attend St. Andrew's, Turi in Nakuru.

"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," added another expat with kids at 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," commented one expat when asked about Braeburn Primary and High School in Nairobi.

"The fees are high, but that is because you are paying for excellence, I would rate it as being equivalent to taking your child to one of the top private schools in the UK," remarked another expat living in Nairobi with children attending Hillcrest International School.

International Health Insurance in Kenya

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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