Expat Exchange

Nairobi, Kenya

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Nairobi, Kenya. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

What are the pros and cons of living in Nairobi?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Nairobi responded:

"Nairobi is a beautiful and dynamic city...full of contrasts and economic disparities. The weather and vegetation and fresh food/produce are amazing. Kenya is a young and youthful country teaming with potential and growing exponentially in development. It is also becoming more and more cosmopolitan. It s the tech hub for East Africa n a huge gateway city for the region. Touristy things to do are abundant and the country is diverse in people n landscapes and just stunningly beautiful. People are generally spite,warm and friendly...but some friendly folk are scammers, conpeople or will use friendship with expats for financial benefits. On the other hand poverty is rampant so one must be prepared to live more generously than we do in the west. Water, electricity n internet are not dependable but fairly doable overall...crime and corruption are rampant...there s a lot to learn in order to avoid them (hopefully!! But no guarantees). Traffic is AWFUL n unpredictable... it s good to live as close as possible to your work and all the adverts that say only 20 or 30 minutes from somewhere are false advertisements. 20 minutes on your best day can easily be 2 hours another day," said another expat in living in Nairobi, Kenya.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What advice to expats in Nairobi have about housing?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

"It s best if your company or employer provides housing...if not gated communities are a safer idea," remarked another expat in Nairobi.

What do I need to know about living in Nairobi?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

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

"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," added another person living in Nairobi.

How do I meet people in Nairobi?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

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

"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," remarked another expat in Nairobi.

"There are lots of social clubs. A good place to start is the notice board in many of the city's main malls," explained one expat living in Nairobi.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Will I be able to find a job in Nairobi?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Nairobi, they reponded:

"NGOs obviously big business. Advertising, banking, tourism, agriculture. www.myafricancareer.com," explained one expat living in Nairobi.

What is life like in Nairobi?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

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

"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," said another expat in Nairobi.

"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," remarked another in Nairobi.

What do expats in Nairobi appreciate most about the local culture?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

"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," remarked another in Nairobi.

What do expats find most challenging?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

"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 another expat in Nairobi.

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

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

"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 another expat in Nairobi.

"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," remarked another in Nairobi.

What are the schools in Nairobi like?

Live in Nairobi? Answer this Question

"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.

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.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats NairobiExpats in Nairobi

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Nairobi.

Kenya Index Nairobi Index
An index of all of our site's Nairobi information.

Kenya Forum Kenya Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Kenya on our Kenya forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Kenya Network Contribute
Help others in Kenya by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Kenya.

Expat Healthcare Advice in KenyaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Kenya

Expats in Kenya offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Kenya.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats NairobiExpats in Nairobi

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Nairobi.

Kenya Index Nairobi Index
An index of all of our site's Nairobi information.

Kenya Forum Kenya Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Kenya on our Kenya forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Kenya Network Contribute
Help others in Kenya by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Kenya.

Expat Healthcare Advice in KenyaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Kenya

Expats in Kenya offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Kenya.

Guides to Cities in Kenya
Nairobi
Country Resources
Health Insurance Moving & Shipping More Resources

Copyright 1997-2022 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal