Nairobi, Kenya Report of what it's like to live there - 06/08/14

Personal Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya 06/08/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, 7th expat experience.

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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?

Washington, DC. About 15 hours of flying with transit through Amsterdam, Geneva, or Istanbul.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year .

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomat.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses are pretty nice and some are close to the Embassy so the commute isn't too bad. However, traffic in Nairobi can be a nightmare so the further away you live, expect to sit in more traffic for a while.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Pretty good but can be expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Clothes for cooler weather. June-August can be a bit cold.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC, Subway, and local places. Good restaurants overall but expensive.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nairobi is high elevation so no malaria here. However, lower lying areas do have malaria so be wary of mosquitos. Some ants. Lots of geckos, small lizards.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Good and relatively inexpensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. UN and others. Expensive.

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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?

Avoid. Use cash.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is common as is Kiswahili.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not safe.

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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, right-hand drive.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about US$60 monthly.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell coverage is pretty good here. Smart phones are fine.

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Pets:

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?

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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?

I believe so.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many I'm sure.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. Many. Nairobi is rated critical for both crime and terrorism. Home invasions are common and terrorism has been on the rise since the September 2013 terrorist attack by Somalia's Al-Shabaab. Due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, particularly related to increased attacks and threats by Al-Shabaab, parts of the Embassy, particularly USAID, are downsizing.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really. Decent care available.

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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?

Good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Really nice! Spring like most of the time but a little cold June-August. A little rainy in late fall and spring.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ISK, Braeburn, Rosslyn Academy, and a few others. All pretty decent.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

I believe so.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

I believe so.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large. Pretty good overall except people are extremely concerned about crime and the growing threats of terrorism. This is becoming a major worry for many folks.

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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?

Trips to the coast, house dinners/parties, restaurants, etc.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, but the security situation should be a major consideration before anyone decides to come.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Not sure.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I don't think so. Maybe some tribal prejudices though.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Safaris, great weather, nice people.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Safaris, Mt. Kenya, the coast, etc.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local handicrafts, safaris, etc.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Safaris, great weather, nice people.

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10. Can you save money?

A little.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The severity of the crime and terrorism situation. It's rated critical for both for a reason.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. If not for the worsening terrorism situation and the crime, my answer would be yes. However, as I mentioned,, the growing number of terrorist attacks and threats is a real cause for concern.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Fear of malaria unless you go to low lying areas.

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4. But don't forget your:

Fall clothes as June through August can get a little chilly.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Not sure.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Not sure.

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