Pros and Cons of Living in Kenya

Updated on March 19, 2020
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Alice Njambi is a writer and content strategist in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Maasai Tribe from Kenya
The Maasai Tribe from Kenya

Kenya is a stunning country in East Africa with at least 42 different tribes. The nation is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and the Indian Ocean. For people who love to view wild animals and enjoy scenic views by the countryside or beachside, Kenya is definitely the place to be.

Expats moving to Kenya are surely in for considerable amount of advantages, including friendly people, wonderful climate and accessible getaways. However, similar to any other African country out there, Kenya does have its disadvantages.

Getting to know what’s in store before moving to Kenya is a good idea. To help you decide whether it’s the place for you or not, here are some pros and cons of living in Kenya.

Kenyan Flag
Kenyan Flag

Pros of Living in Kenya

Here are the pros of living in Kenya

1. Generally integrated expatriate and local community. With the rise of a huge working class, the expat and local networks are not as isolated as they used to be. Kenyans and foreign nationals blend freely at learning institutions, shopping malls, bars, restaurants, and other recreational places.

2. Easy-to-access vacation destinations. Kenya is home to world-renowned game parks full of mind-blowing wildlife and scenery. The game parks can be found near Nairobi (Kenya’s capital city) and other neighboring cities. Additionally, the palm-lined, white sand sea shores of the warm Indian Ocean make a beautiful escape.

3. Wonderful climate. Regions especially around Nairobi have a gentle climate all year round and don’t encounter any extreme conditions. Such regions have brighter days and cooler evenings. However, if you want to enjoy a warm climate, just head on over to Mombasa, which is a coastal city in Kenya. It’s an amazing location that enjoys warm weather throughout the year.

Lions
Lions

4. Good social life for expats. Kenya offers loads of cafés, bars and restaurants and a vibrant social scene, especially in the capital. Numerous expats end up settling here because they come to adore it.

5. Local people are kind and pleasant and English is broadly spoken. The Kenyan citizens are kind and tolerant of guests. English is the most widely used language here; however, most locals are trilingual, communicating in Swahili, English and an extra tribal language.

6. General expenditure is reasonable. Kenya’s groceries and meats are exquisite, abundant and inexpensive. Moreover, agriculture being Kenya’s backbone in terms of revenue, it earns a lot from horticulture farming.

Farm Produce
Farm Produce

7. Domestic employees are simple to find. In Kenya, employing domestic staff to help with household chores and take care of children is the norm. Staff can be an excellent asset to any expat household as they are resourceful and affordable.

8. Financial discipline. Because life in Kenya is not always easy, living there you learn how to save money and how to spend it. One develops monetary control and a certain vision and wisdom.

Cons of Living in Kenya

Here are the cons of living in Kenya:

1. Corruption: As in many other countries on the African continent, corruption is rampant everywhere in Kenya. Numerous authorities demand bribes to move things along. That vice has negatively impacted the nation’s economy. Fortunately, over the past year (2019), the government has been making strides to arrest all prominent people linked to corruption activities.

2. Individual security is an issue: Security is an issue, especially around the capital, with episodes of carjacking and burglary being common. But, just because a foreigner relocates to Kenya, it doesn't really mean they’ll be a target for criminals. Most theft victims are middle-class or unfortunate Kenyans.

3. Hazardous driving conditions: Poorly constructed roads, lorries that are not roadworthy and speeding matatus (public buses) make roads perilous in Kenya. Traffic accidents are not uncommon. Foreigners moving to the country are better off hiring local drivers who can better maneuver around the dangers than driving themselves.

4. Some utilities are expensive: Expats living in gated communities or self-contained homes are expected to pay for private security, which can be relatively expensive. Additionally, electricity bills are also costly. But, opting for prepaid electricity tokens is a better choice, since you can plan your expenditure wisely.

5. Adaptation problems for expats: A number of expats who are not flexible enough to new encounters face a culture shock. Poverty is noticeable everywhere and foreigners might be approached by persuasive salespersons. Instead of being frightened, it’s best to learn to keep smiling and tell them “no thank you.”

6. Water Shortages: It depends on where one lives. When searching for housing, you have to ask about water supplies. It's better to find an area with a well or borehole. The arid areas in the northeastern part of the country, including Turkana and Marsabit, generally experience drought.

Despite the drawbacks, Kenya is generally a good place to live. The climate is nice, people are friendly, and the cost of living is generally reasonable.

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    © 2020 Alice Njambi

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