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Pros and Cons of Living in Kenya

Alice Njambi is a writer and content strategist in Nairobi, 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 a substantial measure 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.

A street in Nairobi, Kenya

A street in Nairobi, Kenya

Pros of Living in Kenya

Here are the advantages 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.

A group of elephants

A group of elephants

4. Good social life for expats. Kenya offers loads of cafés, bars, restaurants and a vibrant social scene, especially in the capital. Numerous expats end up settling here because they come to adore it. You're bound to find some of the most prestigious entertainment venues in Africa, especially in Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa.

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. Tribal languages include Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kisii and Kamba.

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.

A woman selling vegetables and fruits in a Kenyan market

A woman selling vegetables and fruits in a Kenyan market

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 here, you learn how to save money and how to spend it wisely. 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, since 2019, the government has been making strides to arrest all prominent people linked to corruption activities. Some of the people who have been arrested on corruption charges have willfully surrendered the stolen money. And a huge portion of those funds has gone into financing the war against COVID-19 in the country.

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. However, not all roads are bad. In collaboration with China, the government of Kenya has been making strides to improve the roads within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.

Road with Potholes

Road with Potholes

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.

Come to Kenya!

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

You Can Also Take a Look At:

1. The First Four Presidents of Kenya

2. Sauti Sol–The Most Successful Male Band in Kenya

2. The Biography of Karun Mungai–Kenyan Songstress and Former Camp Mulla Member

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is Kenya's currency strong?

Answer: It is moderately strong. 1USD is equal to approximately 100 Kenya shillings.

© 2020 Alice Njambi


leah on July 09, 2020:

kenya is a good place to go and visit