Nairobi, Kenya Report of what it's like to live there - 12/07/18
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?
No, multiple posts on various continents.
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?
USA. Long trip with stopover in Europe, usually either Amsterdam, London or Paris. There is now a directly flight from Nairobi to NYC, but not yet eligible for "fly America" regulations.
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?
Most housing for us is either large single-home housing or at Rosslyn Ridge compound with smaller houses (more of the "compound" feel that some families with small kids like). We are in a single-family home and have loved it. Large backyard and more privacy is always nice. Occasional issues with the house, and dealing with repairs can be an issue, but all in all not bad.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
We tend to find most items locally, with few "specialty" items that we get via diplomatic pouch. There is a Carrefour hypermarket nearby which is great.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Specialty items that are liquid or semi-liquid and thus not always able to ship via mail.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Near the diplomatic/expat area, you can find most things: Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Ethiopian, etc. Have not had good luck with American- style BBQ ribs, although close imitations are found
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Typical for this type of weather.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use DPO or pouch.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Very affordable. Most expats have full-time housekeeper or nanny and a gardener and some have drivers.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Available at various prices.
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?
Yes, all restaurants in our area accept them and have not had one problem at all. I do not use local ATMs as I don't have a need to do so.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
As English is truly widely spoken, you don't really need to learn the local language except for pleasantries to be polite/nice.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Local buses (matatus) and motorcycle taxis (bodabodas) are dangerous, cramped and we are not allowed to take. Taxis drivers can still be erratic but we are allowed to take certain companies. UBER is widely used by many expats as a safer and cleaner alternative to taxis.
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?
SUV for sure. Streets have lots of potholes and they love having high speed bumps here.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Surprisingly good. We get the "top of the line" package at $100/month and it is fast. We can stream movies and skype with no problem at all. Occasional outages are rare and don't last too long.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
We use Safaricom and have been happy with it. It is also inexpensive.
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?
Yes, good vets at a good price.
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?
Most are at the embassy for us; things seem to be slow to ramp up after the hiring freeze.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Many: orphanages, church-based, etc.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
High-crime post, but if you are sensible, life is rather normal. In our immediate area (work, housing, malls are all nearby), I feel very safe. Our houses are well protected as well. Avoiding driving late at night, or walking after hours is a good idea. We have not had or witnessed any crime while here.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Overall good medical care in Nairobi.
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?
Big blue skies most of the year.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Beautiful! Hard to find better weather. It is easy to get spoiled and complain about the occasional rains, but the combination of nice temperatures and big blue skies all year long, is hard to beat.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Our kids go to ISK and have been very happy. Big campus and good teachers. Some also go to Rosslyn Academy, which is smaller and religious-based, and have been also happy with it.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Overall we have good morale. There is a heavy UN expat community as well, and many "old-timers" that have been here for decades or even generations.
2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Safaris with amazing wildlife. Pretty beaches and very nice people.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
That the crime issue is not bad if you just know where to go and when to go. Prior to that we had heard rumors from others and had us a bit worried, but reality has been very different.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, the opportunity of a lifetime for amazing trips and a nice/welcoming school have been our main drivers here.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Sense of being in a hurry. "No worries" is a lifestyle.
4. But don't forget your: