Nairobi, Kenya Report of what it's like to live there - 12/13/14
Personal Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Mogadishu, Bujumbura, Goma.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Get to Boston with connecting flights in Europe, basically two 8-hour flights.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Ranges from houses with garden to apartments. Commute varies depending on location of office. If working for the U.N., a lot of housing options are located near the office (Runda).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Western style groceries are available but expensive. Nakumat is the main grocery store, quite convenient.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cat litter (very expensive to buy locally).
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Nice variety of restaurants but on the pricey side.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
None really, a few ants in the house sometimes.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Difficult; I have had several cases where packages did not arrive, and when they do, you often have to pay taxes on the contents. It's best to send mail with someone coming to Kenya.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Easily available, US$250-$300/month.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Easy but I would limit use of credit cards because of the risk of fraud.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Not much but basic greetings and phrases will be appreciated.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I don't think so.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis are ok.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
4WD is best if you want to get out of town and go on safari.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, US$50 for good home connection.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
They generally work well.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
No, you just need the right paperwork. Good vets available.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Plenty I am sure ... orphanages and slum projects.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Formal at work, casual in public.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Threat of Al Shabab attacks but this can be mitigated by avoiding malls and crowded areas. Home invasions do occur but security measures can be taken (guards, alarm system, electric fence, etc).
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
No health concerns; Nairobi is at high elevation so malaria is not an issue. Good hospitals and health care. I gave birth here and have been happy with my GYN, pediatrician, dentist, dermatologist etc.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Very good in the suburbs, not great downtown but this area can be avoided.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Lots of blooming trees and bushes year round.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Very nice, mostly 20-25 degrees Celsius, sometimes up to 28/30 on hot days. Can be cool during July-August. Evenings are usually cool (15 degrees).
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
International School, German School, French School. All have good reputations.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Yes, there are some very good kindergartens. The one my child attended was about US$1300 per term.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Through the schools.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large, most people seem happy to be here.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
BBQs in the garden.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, good for all.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I think so.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Trips to the coast and game parks, enjoying the nice year round good climate.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Karura forest walks and bike rides, visits to tea plantation, cheese farm, organic farm in Limuru, trip to Karen for lunch at Talisman, giraffe centre, elephant orphanage, Nairobi national park, lunch at Zen Garden or River Cafe, day or overnight trip to Lake Naivasha.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Variety of arts and crafts.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Great climate, able to have a house and garden when living in the suburbs, beautiful country, easy to organise trips to the coast or game parks.
10. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Consider coming with a longer-term perspective since you can get quite comfortable here.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Fears of Africa.
4. But don't forget your:
Sweaters for the cool evenings, heaters can be needed in July/August.
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
Great duty station, you can get spoiled here because of the climate and because once settled, life can be quite easy and comfortable. Great for young kids because they can be outdoors so much. Great place for friends and family to come visit as many nice facilities that cater to the tourist industry.