Nairobi, Kenya Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya 11/01/20

Background:

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

No. Multiple posts in Latin America and Europe.

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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?

US. It is a LONG trip with a connection in Europe. Every airline uses their crappiest plane to fly in/out of Nairobi (even Qatar and Emirates) so the leg into/out of Nairobi is always unpleasant.

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3. What years did you live here?

2017-2019.

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4. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is good, big houses with nice yards.

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

Hit or miss. There are lots of things you can't find or you'll only find occasionally. Prices are shockingly expensive.

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

You can get everything via DPO.

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

There is a surprising dearth of restaurants. You end up going to the same places over and over again.

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

Occasionally the termites would swarm but nothing too awful.

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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?

Plentiful and cheap.

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

Lots of choices, can be pricey.

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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?

Yes.

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

English is spoken everywhere.

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

Yes.

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Transportation:

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

Plentiful but 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?

SUV.

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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?

Fast and generally works well.

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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?

Safaricom

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of opportunities around.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! In addition to the terrorism (!) which is a real and ever present concern, there are general safety issues with everything.

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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?

Medical care if decent for the day to day. Dental care is good.

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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?

No issues.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No.

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

The climate is fantastic except for the occasional rains and flooding.

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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 is an excellent school.

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Expat Life:

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

Plentiful.

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

This is not a good place for teens. There lives are super-restricted and the only place to hang out is in the malls which is, in itself, a safety concern.

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

NO.

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

Going on safaris is great but they are incredibly expensive even at the resident rate and not something you can do every weekend. Otherwise, it can be a really boring place with little to do. Once you have been on safari and to the elephant orphanage, there isn't much else to do on an average weekend.

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

Weather.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The traffic is terrible, it is very expensive, it is bad for teens, and it is boring.

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

No.

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/07/18

Background:

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.

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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?

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.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

US Embassy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

Typical for this type of weather.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO or pouch.

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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.

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

Available at various prices.

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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?

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.

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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.

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Transportation:

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.

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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?

SUV for sure. Streets have lots of potholes and they love having high speed bumps here.

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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?

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.

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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?

We use Safaricom and have been happy with it. It is also inexpensive.

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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?

Yes, good vets at a good price.

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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?

Most are at the embassy for us; things seem to be slow to ramp up after the hiring freeze.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many: orphanages, church-based, etc.

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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.

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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?

Overall good medical care in Nairobi.

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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?

Big blue skies most of the year.

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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?

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.

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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.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Sense of being in a hurry. "No worries" is a lifestyle.

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4. But don't forget your:

Camera.

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/06/18

Background:

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

No this is our second tour, with our first being served in Doha, Qatar.

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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?

Pittsburgh, PA by way of Washington, D.C. It's a brutal travel day, with flights to London or Amsterdam, then long layovers and what seem to be the worst planes in the fleet getting you down to East Africa. Total travel time ranges from 22 to 30 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been at post for sixteen months.

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

US Department of State. My wife is a USDH, and I am an EFM.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is nice. We live at a compound not far from the U.S. Embassy in Gigiri, and it's certainly the most desired location in the housing pool. Our compound has a market, a restaurant, tennis and basketball courts, a soccer pitch, a playground for the kids, a dog walk and more. It's really a nice place to live.



As for our residence, we are in a townhouse that suits my wife and me. It's plenty big and roomy, and when properly decorated, it can feel really cozy. The property has it's issues, as ceiling leaks are notorious, as are the light fixtures.



Even without air conditioning or proper heat, it's a very nice place to call home.

A quick word of advice: use your home improvement allowance to install more window screens. It helps keep the mosquitoes out.

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

Between shopping at Village Market, Two Rivers and amazon.com, we've been just fine. The quality of items here are, for the most part, are pretty good. Grocery costs are mixed. Meats are lower quality than the States, but cost significantly more. Same with cheese, which can be shockingly expensive, but produce is really high quality, always available and super cheap.

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

Take a gas grill to post and have it converted to run a local gas tank. Gas grills here are outrageously expensive. Local potato chips are pretty weak, so you might want to take those, too.

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

Before coming to post, my wife and I watched a video stating that Nairobi's food scene rivals that of London. After living here for a while, I'm not buying it. To be sure, there are some good restaurants in town. In fact here are some I'd recommend:



Harvest, 360 Degrees Pizza, 45 Degrees Kitchen, Talisman, Lord Erroll, Art Caffe, Wasp & Sprout, Open House, Mercado, The Alchemist, RocoMamas, the Taco Place at Village Market. There are also a few American chains here: KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Burger King, and Hardees just opened their first location at Two Rivers Mall.



But by and large, there is a lot we miss. We have a 75% rule in our house, meaning that if a given restaurant is better than 75% of the quality we'd expect at home, we're happy.



Worth noting is Jumia, which is a food delivery app - kinda like Uber Eats. It's really great for home delivery.

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

We've had one hell of an ant infestation in our kitchen. They're like the T-1000 and they just don't stop. Ever. And we keep a tidy kitchen, mind you. We constantly find bugs and living things in our home. One time my wife found a giant grasshopper in our bed. Under the sheets. WTH? Then there was the time I went to pick up cat poop, only to find it was a giant millipede. We also had Sykes monkeys get into our kitchen - twice in fact - and steal our bananas. Yes, this actually happened.

So yeah, you could say that there are problems with bugs and living creatures here, but to be honest, most of these encounters make for some great stories.

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Daily Life:

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

We use the embassy's DPO. We typically receive Amazon packages in seven to fourteen days (on average).

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

Household help is plentiful and inexpensive. The quality of service can vary greatly, so make sure you take plenty of interviews and speak to their references when possible.



We've been very happy with our household help. We have a maid/cook who comes three days a week. She cooks, cleans, does laundry, changes the bedsheets, etc. We pay her US $185 a month.



We also have a fantastic gardener who works for us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We pay him US $100 a month for his services.

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

There is a small gym at the embassy. I've never used it, though I've heard it's okay. There is also a gym at Village Market that's huge and looks pretty rad. When we priced it out, it compares to the monthly gym costs you'd find in the U.S.

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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?

We use credit cards at the more well-known or high-end establishments. Your Carrefours, your Art Caffes, places like that, but we'd always have some Kenyan shillings on us, as it is the preferred method of payment.

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

I'm not religious, but I know most Kenyans go to church on Sundays. Over 90% of the population is Christian. There is also a pretty substantial Muslim population in Nairobi.

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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?

None. You don't need Swahili to get around here, but it can't hurt to learn a little. Post's language program is really good. The little I picked up in classes went a long way with the locals.

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

I'd think it would be extremely difficult to get around Nairobi if you were disabled. Heck it's hard enough for me to get around as-is, and I'm pretty darn spry. There are sidewalks here and there, but their quality is well below average, and the roads here are atrocious. There are elevators in most multi-level facilities, and there is handicapped parking in most if not all venues.

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Transportation:

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

We aren't permitted to take local buses, matatus, boda-bodas or anything of the sort. We are only permitted to use vetted taxi services, and that's it. However, these approved taxi services know that we are limited, and they'll charge us through the nose.

Which is why we use Uber (gasp!). We aren't supposed to, but I'd say at least 90% of COM folks we know use it. We find it safe and have never had a problem.

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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?

One you don't mind getting beat all to hell. We didn't purchase or import a car, and thank God, as the roads here are not in good shape. They don't seem to be well-kept, and there are massive, axle-cracking potholes everywhere. The traffic in general here is not good. Wanna get downtown? Expect a seven mile car ride to take at least 90 minutes.

Carjackings, car theft, etc., are rampant. You must keep your wits about you at all times.

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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, high-speed fiber internet is available. At least on our compound it is. We use Zuku. For Africa, the service is very good. Compared to the States, I'd say it's slightly above average. We were able to stream movies on multiple devices at the same time and all, but service would randomly go out for no apparent reason, and at the most inopportune times. From what my wife told me, set-up was pretty quick.

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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?

Bring your own unlocked mobile phone and get a Safaricom sim card. You pay-as-you-go here, but it acutally works out well. Our monthly fees are probably around US $20 or so per person.

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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?

Yes, we like our vet very much. We see Dr. Z.A. Cockar off of Rosslyn Lone Tree, and he's been wonderful with our cat. Dr. Cockar is well-trained, professional and respectful. Highly recommended.

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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?

Most spouses who want to work, do so at the embassy. There was that hiring freeze when we first arrived, so spouses weren't working for the first year or so of our tour. It's been really tough on a lot of the EFMs.

There is a bilateral work agreement with Kenya, which is great. Unfortunately the rate of pay here is incredibly low, so any job you find won't be worth the trouble, as you'll be making literal pennies on the dollar.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

It's bountiful. Orphanages, schools, animal shelters, you name it. We even have some friends who volunteered to pain the local police station. If volunteering is your jam, you're coming to the right place.

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

Nothing out of the ordinary. Kenyans wear a lot of really colorful and eye-catching clothing, made from some really outstanding local fabrics. Otherwise, it's pretty normal. Folks at the office wear slacks and ties and such. On my free time, I'd wear shorts and flip-flops.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. As our RSO will happily tell you, Nairobi is one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world. We are constantly treated to horror stories about robberies, rapes, carjackings, home invasions and more. There was a shootout a block or two from a school bus stop one morning. Hell, even I was assaulted at a local casino.



It's imperative that you keep your head on a swivel in Nairobi. Don't let it deter you from this post, but you do need to be aware that the crime here is serious and not to be taken lightly.

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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?

Because Nairobi is on top of a mountain, malaria-carrying mosquitoes don't live here. Other mosquitoes do call Nairobi home, and they are out and about most of the year. Food safety is a health concern. I got a wicked parasite my first month here. I lost 30 pounds, so I'm not complaining.



Nairobi sits at 6,000 feet above sea level. It's one of the highest cities in the world, so be prepared to take it easy when you arrive, as it can take some time to adjust.



General healthcare is surprisingly good. The Health Unit at the U.S. Embassy is hit-or-miss, but mostly hit. My wife became pregnant here and she has had a really positive experience with our local OBGYN, Dr. Patel. Highly recommended. You'll want to medevac for the big stuff, but for most day-to-day medical needs, you should a-ok on the local market.

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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?

Air quality is usually pretty great, but then that depends where you live and how much time you spend around burning trash and exhaust fumes.



Burning trash is very common here, as is burning animal excrement. There have been times where I can feel the toxins sticking to the back of my throat. And unfortunately most of the world's cast-off vehicles end up in Africa, and I don't believe they've ever heard of emissions testing. It can be pretty bad. Black clouds of poison constantly spewing out the back end of matatus and trucks, but like I said, most of the time the air here is wonderful. Clean, dry mountain air. I'll certainly miss it.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

There are so many living things here, like crazy plants I've never seen before. Wild animals are everywhere. So if you've got allergies, come prepared.
As for the food, most reputable places will work with you to adjust their dishes to suit your allergies. But don't assume that will be the case if you're digging deep into the local cuisine.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

There is no such thing as SAD here in Nairobi. Being just south of the equator, the sun always sets at 6:30pm, and the weather is one of the best parts of being stationed in Nairobi. Otherwise, it's the usual afflictions you see pop up at every post: EFM boredom leading to depression.

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

The weather here is wonderful. Summers are warm but never brutally hot. Winters get chilly in the evenings, but never freezing cold. Spring and fall are gorgeous, outside of the rains. The weather in Nairobi is some of the best in the world, and is one of the biggest highlights to living here.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don't have kids, but I know most Americans send their children to the International School of Kenya (ISK). There is also Rosslyn Academy, which is right near the Embassy. I believe it's Christian leaning, so worth keeping in mind.

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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?

Most folks we know hire full-time nannies to assist with their children. And there's a Montessori school on Gigiri Lane, only about a 1/4 mile from the Embassy if that's your preference.

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

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community here is massive. There are a ton of folks here from around the world for a wide variety of reasons. As for the American government community, it too is big. U.S. Embassy Nairobi is the ninth biggest Embassy in the world. We have DOS, USAID, DOD, DHS, CDC, etc. The list goes on.



Morale appears to vary, though it's generally positive. We've had a good time in Nairobi, as have most of our friends, but there are others who dislike it here and find the safety concerns to outweigh the positives.

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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?

House parties, the Watering Hole, golfing, hanging out at The Alchemist, going to the movies (there are some really good theaters here), beach weekends with your friends. There are plenty of ways to get out and find some positive work-life balance, granted you're willing to give it the ol' college try.

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

I would think a single man could have a hell of a time here, so long as he was smart and kept his wits about him. Single ladies, yeah I'd think they could do well here, too. My wife and I are a childless couple and have found plenty to do most of the time. There does come a point where you've kinda maxed out what there is to do in Nairobi proper, though.



Our friends with kids all seem to like it here. Their little ones can be outside all four seasons, and Kenyans seem to enjoy children.

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

It's illegal to be LGBT here. I haven't had a lot of exposure to the local scene, though I'd think in a city this big, there has got to be a healthy amount of LGBT somewhere in Nairobi. We had some gay friends come to visit, and they never ran in to any trouble during their time in-country.

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

There is a lot of tribal prejudice between the 40-something tribes in Kenya. It can get really intense, as it did during the election cycle last year, but day-to-day, things seem to be pretty stable most of the time, though as a mzungu, I'm not the best person to weigh in on generations of Kenyan tribal conflicts.

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

Kenya is the jewel of Africa. The safaris here are the best in the world, and worth the high costs. Our trip to the Masai Mara was hands down one of the most memorable moments we've had while living overseas. The great Africans plains are breathtaking.

We've also enjoyed our trips to Amboseli, Mt. Kenya, Diani Beach, Chale Island, Nanyuki, Naivasha, Ol Pejeta, Hell's Gate, Crescent Island, Nairobi National Park and more. And we didn't tackle everything we wanted to in-country, let alone in sub-Saharan Africa. There is plenty here to fill your long weekends and R&Rs.

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

Without question, the best and most memorable event was going to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. DSWT is world-famous for their elephant orphanage. It's amazing to spend time with these little elephants as they devour bottles of milk and play around with their co-horts.



Kiambethu Tea Farm is a lovely weekend outing. As is a quick stop in to the Karen Blixen House. There is also the giraffe sanctuary, which is a few minutes down the road from DSWT. Hitting happy hour at Lord Erroll is a lovely way to enjoy some sun-downers. There are tons of pop-up markets throughout the year, and I'd highly recommend checking a few of these out while in Nairobi, especially the Christmas Box in Karen.



By and large, Nairobi isn't like Rome or Paris. There isn't a boatload of sights to see and places to check off of your bucket list. Instead, the real joy of being here, and the most fun you'll have is getting outside of the city and exploring the country.

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

Afri-crap is EVERYWHERE! You turn your head and there is someone selling a lion made of bone, or a table made of some local wood. If you want to stock your pad with all things Africa, you can certainly do so here in Kenya. Word of advice: stop in to Spinner's Web. It's a large shop that collects pieces from all sorts of vendors from around Nairobi, and sets firm prices. There isn't any haggling, you just pick what you like, pay for it and take it home. It's well worth an hour-long stop while you're in town.



If you're into high-quality local art from real, actual artists - look into visiting Studio Soku. It's by appointment only and a bit hard to find, but it's hands-down the best studio for local artists that we've encountered in Nairobi.

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

The natural beauty is the biggest advantage to living in Nairobi. Kenyans are extremely friendly, warm and very outgoing. It's been such a pleasure getting to spend time here and meeting so many nice people.



The amount of outdoor activities, travel and exploration are through the roof. And though it's rather expensive to fly within Africa, you will have access to get pretty much anywhere in-continent from JKIA, the local international airport.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I'd had a better understanding on the Kenyan sense of time. I always enjoy spending time with our Kenyan friends, but they seem to be late or on occasion, don't show up at all. Got an important meeting? Better call your Uber well in advance, because it can take upwards of 40 minutes for your driver to arrive - and they're only coming from a mile or two away.



I also wish I'd known that most Kenyans are always - and I mean always - seem to be on the look-out for extra cash. Even our closest Kenyan buddies are always looking for a way to one-up and get that little extra bit of cash out of your pocket. Kenyans are some of the most generous people, but they're also always looking to get theirs.

I wish I had known how expensive it is to travel within Kenya, and Africa as a whole. It's pricey, even with resident rates.

I wish I'd lowered my expectations for the Nairobi food scene. It's certainly decent, but it ain't what it's cracked up to be.

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

Yes. I've said it before - Nairobi is the jewel of Africa. It's the cradle of life. It's natural beauty, warm people, wonderful music...it's easy to fall in love with Kenya. It's an emotional place, it gets into your bones and pulls at your heartstrings.



Understand that this isn't Prague or Barcelona. It's not Tokyo or Seoul. Things here don't work quite the way they do in other parts of the world. Though Nairobi is certainly the place to be in Africa, it's still very rough around the edges, both literally and figuratively. It's hard not to see the corruption and poverty and wonder what could be. But as it is, it's still a wonderful place. Kenya will always hold a special place in my life.

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

Sense of urgency.

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4. But don't forget your:

Haggling and negotiation skills, sun-tan lotion, and high-end camera.

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

"Out of Africa" is a must.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Though we are excited to leave post, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Kenya. We can't say the same for our time with the U.S. State Department, but when I compartmentalize it, it's not hard to see that the positives of living in Nairobi far outweigh the negative. This is a magical place and well worth a two or three year commitment.

If you're looking for a high-quality African post, look no further. This is where you want to be.

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Nairobi, Kenya 06/10/18

Background:

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

This is our second assignment as a family. Our first post was Singapore and prior to that I lived in Cape Town, South Africa, and Rome, Italy.

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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?

New York City and St. Louis, Missouri US. Usually you will fly KLM/Delta with one layover. If going back to Missouri, you have two stops: in Amesterdam and in Chicago.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a very spacious and beautiful home that is three stories tall. The highlight of our house is our yard which is massive. Embassy workers may also live on the compound which has nicely-sized homes with smaller yards, as well as access to the playground and pools. If you live in a single home, you can expect a decently-sized house.

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

With the new addition of Carrefour, you can find pretty similar supplies and prices as one might find at Target. However, the issue is usually the quality of the supplies. Most items we have purchased here have already broken.

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

A blender and a Crock-Pot! If you use protein shakes or supplements for working out you will need to ship those to post as they are triple the price here.

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

There are many great restaurants around the city. Many expats enjoy Talisman in Karen (my favorite) and there are also many great choices in Village Market located behind the US Embassy.

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

We have had major problems with ants during certain seasons of the year.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO exclusively.

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

This is one of the perks of living here! For a nanny/housekeeper salary you will pay US$230-350. For a gardener or driver you are also expected to pay around the same.

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

There is a Gym located in the US Embassy and also the UN. A CrossFit is located directly behind the embassy. A huge gym has also recently opened in Village Market. However, all around the city there are an endless number of gyms and running clubs.

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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?

In most malls and restaurants you can use a credit card. However, there are sometimes issues with the machines so it is always great to have mpesa on your phone or cash. As for ATMs, there are only certain ones that I use as some are not reliable.

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

We are more familiar with the Christian services (there are many options).

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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?

The US Embassy offers Kiswahili and you can also take lessons at the National Museum of Kenya. You can get by with English but if you are outside of the city it is great to know some Kiswahili. People are also more willing to negotiate if you speak the language.

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

Yes, I would imagine so.

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Transportation:

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

Most expats use uber or taxify. The public transport seems quite chaotic here as you have to jump in a large van as opposed to a bus.

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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?

The roads seem horrendous and we have found the potholes are numerous. It is strongly advisable to find a 4x4 with excellent tires.

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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! Usually within a couple days.

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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?

We use Safaricom. We have found it really easy to pay for minutes and internet plans using mpesa and airtime on our phones. We bought unlocked phones online and just purchased sim card at Safaricom.

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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?

This is a major problem and probably one of the only things I do not like about living here. Many spouses seem to have great difficulty finding work and it is getting harder as it seems to get more difficult to get a work visa. I have heard of many expats who have moved here for work and have not been able to get their visas renewed. I have not been able to find work here and not for want of trying. Most expats spouses who are working either find work at the embassy or own their own business.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many places to volunteer. However, research opportunities carefully.

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

Most dress in business casual. It seems the nicer you dress, the better you are treated.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, however, the amount of security and checkpoints going into the groceries stores helps. Be careful and vigilant and always aware of surroundings. We have been lucky that we have not had any personal encounters while living here, however, I have heard of people being robbed.

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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?

We have not had any here. Due to the high altitude you are not at risk of malaria in Nairobi.

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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?

I love the air quality outside of the city.

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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?

The climate is pretty moderate. This is year the rainy season was very very wet and there was a lot of flooding.

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Schools & Children:

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

I have heard good things about Braeburn, ISK, and Woodland Star School. Our children go to Potter House , and we have been very happy with it.

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2. 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?

If the children are under three it is more common for them to have nannies. There are preschools available, but they are pricey.

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

Most sports classes are done at school. However, there are dance schools available in Kenya.

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Expat Life:

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

If you are a trailing spouse, it is very important to find something you enjoy doing here or I think it could be difficult.

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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?

Running clubs such as Urban Swaras are a great way to meet people!

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

It is definitely a great post for families. I am not sure about singles. It would certainly be entertaining as a single person. I have a friend who told me she dated a guy who sold his goat just to have minutes on his phone to call her.

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

I feel there appear to be major issues with tribalism. I would imagine these issues might be more apparent when one tries to get a job locally. It seems to me that these issues were revealed in this last election, and do not seem to have disappeared.

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

The land and the people. Kenya is a beautiful place with extremely warm hospitality. The wildlife and landscape is breathtaking. You also learn a lot here about living life slowly and having patience. It has been an incredible incredible experience and my family and I are so grateful!

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

Nairobi Fashion Week, Elephant Orphanage, having lunch at Ole Sereni overlooking the national park, going to the fabirc market in CBD, and Sunday afternoons in Central Park.

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

I would not call it a shopping post but if you are into jewelry this is a great place to be!

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

It is ultimately an international city that brings sooo many people together from all walks of life.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I would have understood the job situation better. It felt very difficult for me to find work.

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

Yes! My family and I have grown up a lot here!

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

Ideals on efficiency and western savior mentality.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor!

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

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson and Facing Mount Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It is an incredible place if you go with an open mind and a lot of patience.

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Nairobi, Kenya 07/22/16

Background:

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

No, I've also lived in Copenhagen.

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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, D.C. The shortest available trip takes about 26 hours with a connection in Doha.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a stand-alone house in a compound. Houses and apartments are generally on the large size and are in several areas of the city. Commutes are always longer than you'd expect, given the "wild west' mentality of Kenyan drivers. There are no traffic laws, merely suggestions. Also farm animals and wild animals are frequently sharing the roads.

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

There is much variance in pricing. Shopping at the supermarkets is on par with American and European pricing. If you do things the old fashioned way, utilizing butcher shops and green grocers, your food budget goes further. I've also found that going that route brings higher quality.

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

Our family is fairly accustomed to adapting to local availability, though we do ship in a few items. The kid's snacks and the peanut butter, mainly. Local peanut butter is dangerous to the gastrointestinal health of most westerners.

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

There are lots of decent restaurants, and many are al fresco with children's play areas. The new Westgate Mall has many Western-style options, such as KFC and Pizza Hut, as well as local chains like Art Caffe and Urban Burger. Village Market, another shopping mall, is geared toward expats and has good dining possibilities. There is a very good Italian restaurant there.


Food delivery is very prolific, with options ranging from groceries to full catering services. There are many Indian options, some sushi, and decent pizza. One thing to remember- it will take at least an hour for your food to arrive.

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

Termites and ants are particularly determined around here. Most structures are made of stone or concrete, so termites feast mainly on firewood. Ants are best thwarted with bait traps, kitchen cleanliness, and a gardener's assistance in locating colonies.

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Daily Life:

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

I have no experience with local post, as we have an embassy mail service. I can say that there is no home delivery of mail in Kenya, though. I would imagine that the services offered at post offices are questionable, given the rampant graft in country.

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

House staff is very affordable and most people hire a daily housekeeper, a gardener, and a driver. Kenyan nannies are wonderfully caring and competent.

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

There are gyms at most embassies and the United Nations that are low in cost and adequate. Additionally, most compounds have pools.


There are several league options for basketball, ice hockey, and the like, as well as horseback riding in many locations around town.

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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?

Credit cards are widely accepted, though safety is variable. I wouldn't use a local ATM.

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

I imagine that most religious services you would want are available. The Kenyans have a very good grasp on British English, and are a very religious society. The only major religion I've not seen represented in Nairobi is Judaism.

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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?

Kiswahili is not strictly necessary, but it is an easy language to get a basic handle on. There are many tutors available. Again, most Kenyans speak British English.

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

Yes, there is little accommodation for those with physical challenges. Even for the elderly I would imagine that free movement in Kenya would pose real challenges. For example, a typical car ride through Nairobi would knock the dentures right out of someone's mouth.

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Transportation:

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

Some taxi companies are good, but it is important to settle on fares before your trip. There is a tradition of haggling here that is pervasive and drivers will usually start negotiations at about twice the amount they are willing to accept.


Local buses (matatus) are not for expats. They are poorly maintained, poorly driven, and poorly regulated. Trains are antiquated and not expat-friendly, as well. When traveling to areas outside Nairobi, flights are the best bet, outside personal vehicles.

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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?

Large all-terrain vehicles are the only way to go. Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, and the like are most widely available. Nothing with a low ground clearance, nothing fancy.

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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?

Internet is available and relatively quickly installed (within a week or two), though many technicians will try for a bribe to hurry along the process.

Because of the unreliability of power here it is best to have a few UPS units in the house and a generator to avoid interruptions.

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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?

SafariCom is the only way to go. The plans are pre-paid and you have to monitor closely to avoid shut-offs, whether accurately done or not. Reconnecting service is another opportunity for techs to make some pocket money.

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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?

There is no quarantine on cats and dogs, and we've found a few highly recommended vets in Nairobi. There are kennels and groomers, and most gardeners take on daily dog walking duty as part of their job.


Getting animals into the country is somewhat different than we'd seen in the past as far as airlines go. We had to use a freight importation company when coming from the U.S. due to local regulations.

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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?

Many expat spouses stay home, as locally available jobs are somewhat scarce and pay is low.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many children's homes in the area which always welcome people willing to help.

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

Business casual/casual generally. Women are typically more modest in dress than in the west. Rarely have I seen women in shorts, and local women mostly wear skirts, not pants.

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Health & Safety:

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

Absolutely. Robbery, muggings, burglary, car jacking- these are regular occurrences. These are mostly crimes of opportunity and can be prevented with common sense practices such as using alarm systems, locking car doors, avoiding questionable areas, and being aware of your surroundings.
Terrorism is a high threat as well, though most attacks are directed at local police and citizens.

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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?

Malaria is a concern in country, though not locally. Nairobi mosquitoes don't carry the disease; I believe it has to do with the high altitude.
Yellow fever and rabies are the most recommended vaccinations.


Health care quality is decent, especially for expats. Maybe the most advanced equipment isn't available, but knowledge is solid. Fair warning: hospitals want to see cash up front before admittance, regardless of the situation.


Diplomats are medically evacuated for childbirth and surgeries.

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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?

There's a lot of garbage burning in Kenya, as well as fires for heating in most houses and for cooking in the less affluent areas, so the air isn't the cleanest. Also, the growing cycle of most plants doesn't really go dormant, so there are several pollen explosions throughout the year. Allergies and asthma are big issues.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The air quality issues above.


Food allergen contact would be pretty easily avoided. Schools are cautious about nuts and dairy, etc. As far as that goes, I would say that the schools here are even more cautious than in the west, out of concern for religious dietary restrictions as well as allergies.


Restaurants are able to accommodate food concerns.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No, not that I'm aware of.


Loneliness and homesickness would be the major challenges, since flights are expensive and long.

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

Kenya weather is mostly perfect. In the winter, the low 50s Fahrenheit. In the summer, sometimes it hits the 90s. There are two rainy seasons, the more intense one being in the fall. Several roads wash out and buildings sometimes collapse during these long rains.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several international schools and I have known families at ISK, Braeburn, and the German school. I've heard very positive things from all. We have no first-hand experience, as our son is still too young.

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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?

There are many preschools and day care centers. Compared to other places we've lived, the expense is small. Our son attends a Montessori school, MLC, which has classes for kids from 18 months on to 6 years old. The combined total of the school fees and the nanny's salary are less than we'd pay for child care in D.C.


I'm not certain about before and after care, but I would presume that it's not as necessary here with the widely available household help.

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

Yes, there are many classes and camps and lessons available. Many companies will come to the house for gymnastics, swimming, music, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. There are many government missions, the UN, and lots of NGOs here. Morale is good.

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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?

Locals are very friendly and hospitable. There are many opportunities to socialize with expats and locals. Pick an activity and you'll likely find a group.

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

I can speak to the opportunities for families, and they are very good. Kenya loves children. Most businesses are welcoming to little ones and there are fun fairs and playgrounds all over. Nannies are warm and caring, and often very flexible in their work hours.

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

Not really. There is a strong prejudice against alternative lifestyles and there are legal ramifications for same-sex relationships. It's my biggest disappointment here.

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

Very patriarchal, with huge differences in pay for men vs. women. Spousal abuse is common among local people, and religious and tribal prejudices are common. Racism is an issue, in that local people will treat white people (mzungu) as a better class of people than themselves. White people are given deference.

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

There are great natural experiences to be had. Nairobi National Park is a perfect introduction to the game drive experience. Further afield, hiking, rock climbing, and safaris are the best in the world. The beaches are gorgeous and tour and resort operations are top notch.

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

Dhow cruises, safaris, The Giraffe Center, the Elephant Orphanage, Masai markets, and former British colonial homes are very diverting. The country is very eager to bolster tourism and great efforts are made.

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

The markets are chock-full of "Africrap." Beaded jewelry, paintings, local fabrics and clothing, wood and soapstone carvings, animal pelts and accessories made from them; you can find anything that you would imagine that you would like to take to the folks back home.

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

The beautiful weather, the hospitality of the people, and the beauty of the natural landscapes make Nairobi wonderful. The availability of household help is also a great boon.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had known how very poor some people really are. Many times I have been shocked by the disparity in what westerners and East Africans consider acceptable living conditions.

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

Absolutely. Nairobi offers a chance to reevaluate necessities, to escape the west's obsession with efficiency, and to truly experience humility.

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

Fancy clothes and jewelry, winter clothing, expectations of a fair and just government, and need for solid infrastructure.

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4. But don't forget your:

Vaccinations, sunscreen, and flexibility.

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

Any books on the Happy Valley set and British colonization, the Mau Mau uprising, and the establishment of Kenyan government give good insight.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

At first, the haggling, the navigation of roads, and the poverty can be very distressing. Kenyan life is often heartbreaking and stressful. The local news media is often questionable. The government is corrupt. But, Kenya is wild and beautiful and worth all of the challenges.

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Nairobi, Kenya 09/29/15

Background:

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

No

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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?

Home is Eastern Europe. Trip takes between 6 and 14 hours depending on airline.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years
Before that Eastern and Western Europe

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

Working for the UN

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is OK. All variety of houses and apartments is offered. Very expensive as well and security is an issue.

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

Everything is expensive, especially compared to Europe.

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

Many things, especially foods like cheese and wine and some spices we use.

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

not much. KFC, Domino's and two to three local brands

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

Mosquitoes, malaria, snakes

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Daily Life:

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

No package mail. It is a pain.

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

Low.

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

Yes. 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?

Well - it is a risk using international credit or debit cards.

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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?

Not much. English is official langugae

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

yes

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Transportation:

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

No. Local transport not good for expats

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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?

High 4x4 vehicle.

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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. expensive. US$50 per month. At home I used to pay US$10.

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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?

No

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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?

No

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Little. In UN and NGOs

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

casual

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Crime is high. White people are a target and cannot walk freely around the city. You need to live in a well protected home with electric fencing. Terrorism is real threat.

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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?

Health facilities are OK but expensive and sometimes outdated

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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?

Nairobi is very polluted

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

nothing special

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

Climate is the best thing.

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Schools & Children:

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

Good schools and many of them.
I would recommend Braeburn. Good old British system, discipline and a lot of studying.

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

Not much

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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?

yes

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

only at school - private schools of course.

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Expat Life:

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

Big. Morale differs

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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?

Visiting each other homes for lunch or dinner

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

I would not say so. It depends on the family and the kids. My teenager is grossly unhappy as she has no freedom to go anywhere on her own. No entertainment for kids and families. Limited options for singles as well. If you are used to going to exhibitions and concerts you should forget this completely.

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

No.

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

Yes.

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

Nice weather.The seaside.

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

Not much really. Go swimming that is all

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

Nothing much

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

Weather is nice, but there is no culture whatsoever. Nothing to do really. Some restaurants and bars in Nairobi and you quickly get bored of them. Going to safari is good but after 3-4 of these and you don want to see any more lines or elephants.
Food is very expensive. Restaurants and taxi services are overpriced. Traffic is horrible.

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10. Can you save money?

No

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Security. Lack of culture and opportunities for entertainment.

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

No. Not again. Two years is more than enough!

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

winter clothes

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4. But don't forget your:

Sun lotion

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 08/03/15

Background:

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

2nd, previously in South Asia

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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?

Midwest, it takes a long time to get to the U.S. because layovers tend to be long through Europe (London, Zurich, Amsterdam). Last trip home was Nairobi-London-Charlotte-Louisville and in total took 24 hours of travelling including a 5-hour layover in London and delay in Charlotte. Perhaps going to a larger city direct from Europe would be quicker.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Many compounds near the Embassy and some stand alone houses. Most people can get to the Embassy and UN in about 5-20 minutes. Commuting across the city can take a very long time, but most people live close enough for this to not be a problem. You need to have your own car.

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

Produce is cheaper than in the U.S. or on par. Meat and cheese are much more expensive, 1.5 to 2 times as much as the U.S. Household supplies are reasonably priced as long as you are fine with local brands.

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

Tires for our car, but we got them shipped just fine. I wish I had brought a trampoline in our shipment because we bought one for our kids locally and paid at least double. Clothes and shoes!!! They are poor quality and too expensive here.

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

Fast food-Dominos, KFC, Subway, Cold Stone. Costs are comparable to the U.S., maybe a bit more, but not prohibitive. There are tons of very good restaurants of all price ranges.

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

Mosquitoes are pretty bad and risks of malaria exist outside of Nairobi (Nairobi is malaria-free thanks to the elevation). Ants can be annoying in kitchens.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the Embassy.

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

We have a full-time person clean our house and be available for our older children five days a week for about US$300 a month. A gardener/carwasher comes once a week for about US$10 a week.

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

I think the UN and Embassy have some, but I don't use them so I don't know anything much about them.

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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?

We use the ATM at malls where there are armed guards and haven't had any problems. We always have the server bring the credit card machine to the table and it is common practice. Never had any problems of being overcharged. Most large stores take credit cards, but sometimes their machine's network is down, so having cash is helpful.

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

There are several to choose from

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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?

None, but it helps if you know some. The locals will be happy with you!

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

It would be a challenge, but possible. Most Western-oriented buildings and shopping centers have ramps and elevators, but getting around day to day would require a car to get you right to those places.

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Transportation:

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

Only taxis are recommended as safe. They are affordable if you use them every once in a while.

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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?

We have a 4 wheel drive because we like to self drive in the parks. You could get by with something without 4 wheel drive, but having a higher wheel base is important because there are tons of speed bumps and those with regular cars drag over them or have to go sideways over them.

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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, we pay for a 3G service with Orange and it is US$30 a month. It works pretty well and we can stream movies most of the time.

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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?

Any unlocked cell phone you like will work and the prices are decent for service. I think I pay less than US$20 a month for data and calling/texting.

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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?

Don't know about quarantine, but I don't think they do. There are several vets that are recommended and we have one that makes housecalls and is reasonably priced.

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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?

Yes, at the embassy and some NGOs. Many people find jobs by word of mouth and by networking.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many at orphanages from what I have heard

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

Business casual at work, some wear suits and ties. Women wear more conservative western wear (I wouldn't recommend short shorts or mini skirts, but not uncommon to see), tank tops are fine

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Carjackings and robberies are heard of, but haven't been experienced first hand. Scattered terrorist problems in areas that are in the north about 6 hours drive away. Checkpoints/searches of people and cars are common at malls, compounds, schools, diplomatic areas. We feel pretty safe, but understand you cannot prepare for every situation. Many people go to either extreme in their feelings about safety here. We are probably in the middle and go out sometimes at night, but not too far from home. Treat living here like living in any big city and try and take precautions. We are not allowed to go to the coast because of security risks, unfortunately.

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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?

Some bleach produce, some wash in distilled water only. Malaria if you leave Nairobi or not on Mt. Kenya is a risk. Tap water is not safe to drink.

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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?

Great unless you are in traffic or heavy traffic areas.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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

Wonderful! Pretty consistently 70-80F degrees probably due to a combination of elevation and proximity to equator. During the fall months it gets chilly at night and in the shade, and during the summer months it is rainy. In the sun it can get very warm/hot because of the proximity to the equator and being on a small mountain.

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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 and Rosslyn Academy. Rosslyn has a very nice campus, a nice close community feel, strong academics and is close to the main housing compound (you walk through a gate between them) and has AP for high school. I don't have experience with ISK, but the campus is lovely and I have heard great things.

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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?

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

A lot at the schools and the Embassy tries to organize baseball and dodgeball periodically.

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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 and very good morale for the most part. A few people are not happy, but they probably wouldn't be anywhere.

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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?

Going out to dinner, movie theaters, dinner parties, softball, football (soccer), hangout at the embassy pool/restaurant/bar, hiking/biking in Karura Forest right by the Embassy

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

Good for all, plenty for everyone to do.

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

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

I haven't experienced anything personally, Kenya is predominately Christian, but I haven't observed any open hostility towards other religions.

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

Getting out of the city regularly to experience wildlife, we're never bored!

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

Great food choices, textile crafts are beautiful and unique, beads. There are very easy day trips or weekend trips to experience--elephant orphanage, Nairobi National Park, Lake Naivasha, Hells Gate, Sanctuary Farm. Karen is a great area for exploring shops and restaurants. All the Kenyan National Parks are amazing and the amount and variety of wildlife is once in a lifetime, but you can see it whenever you want if you live here.

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

textiles, wood crafts, beads

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

Very modern city, great weather, can find anything you want here (if you are willing to pay for it). Safaris and self-camping opportunities exist and the diversity of flora and fauna are amazing.

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10. Can you save money?

If you don't do a lot of the higher-end safaris or eat out all the time

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That it got chilly at times and there is no heating in the houses, especially coming from a very hot South Asian country where I got used to very hot weather.

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

In a heart beat!!!!

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

Sense of adventure

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4. But don't forget your:

Camping gear, bikes, sunscreen, bugspray

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

White Mischief,

Out of Africa, and

I Dreamed Of Africa.

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Nairobi, Kenya 07/31/15

Background:

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

not my first, previously lived in 3 South Asian countries

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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?

D.C. Long flights. GSO city pair contract requires you to connect in either Zurich or Amsterdam, which is a pain, because there are other, cheaper connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

State

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most Embassy housing is located close to the Embassy, from 5 - 20 minutes away. You must drive; there is no save public transportation. Coming from farther away, if you don't leave super early in the morning and get off early, you can face a commute of 1-2 hrs on an average work day. The commute from the airport in the evenings (which is when most international flights arrive) is over 2 hours (in fact 2 hours is good).

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

Groceries aren't cheap- about like in the States. The produce is phenomenal, however. Best to go to a local market or stand and haggle. You will never find better carrots, cauliflower, mangoes, greens, or pineapple.

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

Trader Joe's items, esp decaf tea and coffee
good surge protectors; UPS are better (uninterruptable power supply)
Not a TV unless you already have a 220v. Get one here (store or from someone departing post.)
The highest number sunblock you can find. Even walking from the car to the Embassy every day gives you lots of exposure.
Bring lots of step-down converters (220 to 110) and adapters. Type G plugs in Kenya.

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

They now have KFC, Dominoes, even a Coldstone ice cream store. Other fast food I would avoid. Around the upper-class neighborhoods and Westlands there are decent restaurants. Indian food is great; there is a large Indian community. A couple of good Italian restaurants.

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

Mosquitoes are getting to be a problem, although they are not malarial - most houses do not have screens on the windows because there hasn't been a need. In Embassy housing there is a screen on at least one window per room, and you can get a carpenter (such a one of the Embassy's, moonlighting) to custom-make more.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is great - just got an award for being the "best DPO in the world" or something, and it is a high-volume mail post. Pouch is OK but takes much longer.

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

CLO does an annual survey. Here are 2015 results (in shillings, which is @ 100=US$1. Unfortunately these are only highs and lows, not broken down by most common salaries. Most are proportional to the complexity of the particular household.
Low 2015 High 2015 Average
Housekeeper: 15,000 32,000 23,000
Cook: 13,000 27,000 19,000
Cook/Housekeeper: 14,000 37,000 23,000
Nanny: 13,000 28,000 21,000
Nanny/Housekeeper: 16,000 36,000 25,000
Driver: 16,000 35,000 25,000
Driver/Gardener: 12,000 34,000 22,000
Gardener: 12,000 24,000 19,000

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

Yes. A minimal but OK gym in the American Embassy and right across the street at the U.N. a fabulous facility with large pool; they offer paid memberships. Many private gyms too but you'll find them on a par with American gyms as far as price goes.

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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?

DO NOT USE THEM AT ALL except when charging a lump sum for trips (to a game drive operator, etc.) and for paying hotel bills. ATMS are frequently rigged with skimmers and we hear even major banks are in on it. Cash checks at the Embassy for cash.

Best deal of all is Mpesa, where you deposit money at a branch and it is instantly available for transferring, paying people or bills, through your cell phone. Very safe and everybody takes Mpesa. Nobody has bank accounts.

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

lots

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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?

Not much - greetings, thank you, etc. are enough but more is better. There's an excellent Kiswahili teacher in the Embassy offering lunchtime and evening classes or as-needed.

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

Yes--it's horrible for mobility-impaired. Most sidewalks, where they exist, are broken up and frequently end mid-block. Lots of dirt piles, mud, and deep holes in sidewalks. Mostly there are dirt paths. No really servicable ramps except in major restaurants/hotels.

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Transportation:

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

NO, no, and no. The Embassy has a contract with JimCab, located adjacent to the campus, to keep costs at a fixed rate depending on the destination (but you have to go through motorpool to get the contract rate.) As a result, they are horrible drivers and often are late, or don't know directions. Why should they? They have the contract.

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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?

Oddly, a huge 4-wheel drive is not necessary - for game drives you will be with a company; they use big "Born Free" safari trucks with canvas sides and roof that can be rolled up. For in-town a smaller, even 2-wheel drive, will do but get the highest clearance you can. You can get another inch or so purchasing the largest tires you can get without hitting the wheel well. Most cabs are Toyota Corollas.

Cars are very expensive to buy here, even from departing expats (who are trying to recoup the high price they had to pay.) Plus a used car from here has had a lot of punishment already, even with just a couple of years use. Order a right-hand drive from Japan before you come. Toyota parts are easiest to get here and there are good mechanics, even some who come to you.

Recommendation: get a personal driver at least for the commute. Interview for one who really knows cars--he will know when and where to get good service.

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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?

High (comparable to U.S.), and with spotty service. Zuku is cheapest (cable TV and internet) but the service is very fragile, goes down often, and customer service is bad. This is especially irritating the more things you cloud, because you often can't download your book or music. Video streaming is next to impossible.

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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?

Unlock your phone before you get here or order one on line. They're very expensive here. Phone service is cheap, though, and it's relatively inexpensive to call the States.

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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?

They don't need to be quarantined but they are required to be shipped in cargo, so processing them in can take a very long time (after they've already endured a long flight.) There are good vets here.

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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?

YES. And the American Embassy is very aggressive in hiring EFMs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons of volunteer opportunities. Orphanages, clinics, wildlife protection, all the usual things too.

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

business casual. Africans dress up more. Every day you can see ladies walking to work--picking their way around mud, holes, and boulders--wearing high stiletto heels.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, plenty. Car break-ins while parked OR moving, home invasions, pick-pocketing. Given the widespread corruption, it's not unusual to hear of a guard burglarizing the homes they're supposed to be guarding.

Also scattered terrorism - bombings etc. So far American housing and the Embassy have been safe (at least since the Embassy was bombed in 1998). Your FACT training will come in handy.

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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?

Embassy health unit is great and accessible. Some good hospitals with specialists in all areas. There has been NO ebola in Kenya. In fact, because of the epidemic in W. Africa the big hospitals have equipped special wards just in case, and have trained their personnel accordingly.

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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?

Generally okay except when you are on city roads. Trucks and buses especially belch large quantities of thick black smoke. It's not unusual to have cars 4-5 car lengths ahead completely obliterated by a couple of large trucks' exhaust.

Be advised, the main way to mow the grass is to burn the yard. Trash too. So there are little plumes of smoke rising from all over, which can linger even though it stops after dark.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Dust, dust, dust. And with so much sun and dryness, grass allergies seem to act up, and mold in the rainy seasons.

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

Best in the WORLD. Although equatorial, the elevation keeps the temperatures even in the summer months (Dec-Jan) relatively cool. There is no need for climate control (houses do not have heat or a/c.) Winter is basically sweatshirt weather. Dry and sunny most of the year, in the 70's-80's F. Never saw this wonderful climate even on vacations. San Diego, N. AZ nothing can come close. There are 2 rainy seasons, "long rains" in Apr-May but in 2015 it is still going and it's July. Having lived in SE Asia, by "long rains" I was expecting monsoons. However, it's usually a thunderstorm or lingering drizzle. "Short Rains" in Oct - Nov are just short cloudbursts. AND - ALMOST ALL THE RAINSTORMS ARE AT NIGHT.

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Schools & Children:

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

International School of Kenya is good

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Expat Life:

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

Lots of expats. With so much aid coming into Kenya there are large functioning embassies from all the larger countries, and the UN complex here is one of the largest in the world. Lots of International NGOs too, hiring many Europeans and Aussies.

Morale seems high. The Embassy community is very sociable and close-knit. The thing that gets people down the most is the traffic (and bad roads.)

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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?

dinners with friends, hiking, traveling.
You have to get out of Nairobi every couple weeks just to remember there is a wonderful country here outside the city limits.

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

families and couples, pretty good. Couples - night spots themselves might be okay, but there are predators outside and on the roads home. There is MUCH drunk driving - be alert.

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

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, however, there are a few in the expat community. Be prepared to be homebodies or to pretend when going out.

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

Most common are tribal prejudices. They stick together no matter what in hiring, helping out, etc. Misogeny abounds but as one commenter says, it's mostly Kenyan to Kenyan and they leave muzungas (a slang term for white people) alone, particularly if not from Africa.

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

Safaris in multiple areas of Kenya. Especially Masaai Mara, Samburu. You can see the big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo) inside a few hours, easily.
You have to get out of town often to maintain your equilibrium.

The CLO's office organizes LOTs of trips and day-excursion. Take advantage!

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

TONS. Safaris are the best in the world. Nairobi National Park, which is right in Nairobi, is an easy self-drive park where you can see giraffes, rhinos, lions, zebras, hippos - everything except elephants. The CLO organizes many good trips to other game parks around the country, including to the elephant orphanage.

Also great places to hike and white water rafting. Volleyball is a popular sport, and of course Kenyans are crazy for soccer.

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

coffee and tea - the best in the world (although there is no decaf)
vegetables and fruits
carved items (you MUST haggle)
beaded items "
going to Uganda or Rwanda to see the gorillas
safaris anywhere in Kenya!

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

Amazing things to do outside of Nairobi.
Amazing fruits/vegetables. Mangoes to die for.
Weather is excellent. This is what I'll miss the most.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes if you're not paying a mortgage at home. Plus, it's a danger post so currently, US Gov employees get danger pay.

One good thing is that, as an Embassy employee, you will get an East African resident card. this will get you into the national parks at a fraction of the cost they charge regular tourists (the going rate is US$60-80/person.) Even out of country (i.e. Rwanda for gorilla tracking). Unfortunately it takes about a month to get one but don't let that stop you from going on safari soon after you get here - it's worth it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

--how expensive the cars are, how horrible the roads are, how bad the traffic is. Not that you could do anything about it but it would have been good to be braced for it.
--there is no decaffeinated anything
--the temperate weather (being equatorial, I expected the tropics)
--Kenyan culture is to not plan ahead financially. As an employer you will be asked for extra money all the time for school fees, funeral or wedding arrangements, etc. so get your loan/gift policy straight with a prospective employee before you hire.

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

Yes

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

heavy coats and boots, all winter gear.
Seeds. American seeds often won't even sprout - get them here.
Trust. Lying is commonplace; bribes are extorted at all levels, particularly by the police.

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4. But don't forget your:

sunblock (equator again)
good, lightweight hiking shoes
lightweight boots for outside of Nairobi. The ones that lace up with canvas uppers seem good.
Spring/fall clothes

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

All nature films about Africa and of course, Out of Africa, which was filmed just outside Nairobi. You can go to Karen Blixen's house.

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

"Into Africa" about Stanley's search for Livingstone. An unlikely page-turner.

"Blood River" by Tim Butcher

West with the Night,

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.

All the ones recommended here: http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/africa

Anything on the development of any African country, even though the title's probably depressing

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Corruption shows itself everywhere - police, merchants, anywhere a bribe may get you "better" service, or any service at all. This is not an exaggeration. Lying is also commonplace. You'll do well to expect it and not get your feelings hurt.

Kenyans remember EVERYTHING. They'll know your name even if you only met them once at a function 8 months ago. They will remember how you take your coffee after the first time you order. This is really nice!

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Nairobi, Kenya 05/11/15

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

NJ, Stationed here until Jan 2017

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3. How long have you lived here?

Jan 2015

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

Military

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is great. I recommend living off the compound. The housing is much better and you will have a very large yard to take advantage of the outdoors. The compound is nice, but housing is small and yards are non-existent. Our home sits on a little over half an acre and is around 4500 sq ft.

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

Family of Four: We spend US$60-$80 on fruits and veggies and around US$150 to 200 on meat. The quality of fruits and veggies is great. Fresh fish is of superior quality here. Beef is cheap while chicken is expensive.

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

You can get anything here in Nairobi. Ship peanut butter though.

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

You can pretty much get anything you want here. The only American fast food is Dominos, Subway, and KFC. I recommend not eating those while you are here. Take advantage of all the great Indian Cuisine and other local resturants.

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

Ants are an issue in our house, but we have finally got them in control. During the rainy season, the flying termites are a sight to see. They come out of the ground and fly around for a minute or two before shedding their wings. I have seen thousands of them at a time fluttering around the house. In the morning there are thousands of wings on the ground. They are harmless and you can actually eat them if you want. They taste like lemon.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is great.

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

Part time help: US$120 - Full Time: US$220.

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

The embassy gym is fine. You can purchase a membership at the U.N. gym.

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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?

Credit/Debit cards are taken at most locations. I do recommend using them. If possible cash checks at the Embassy or use the ATM at the Embassy for cash. You will need a VISA ATM card here.

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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?

None, but speaking Swahili to the locals will give you props.

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

No. There are ramps, but they are more like steep hills. They do not cater to disabilities at all.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe. The embassy recommends Jim Cap. They are very cheap. You must negotiate the fare before leaving.

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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?

We have a four door Nissan Xtrail. It is two wheel drive and we have had no problems taking it anywhere. The roads are terrible in places.

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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, faster than the states and cheaper. 10-50 Mbs ( US$40-60)

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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?

Safaricom.

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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?

No, pet care is available and good.

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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?

Yes, although is it hard to get a permit for work outside the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

More than enough....Local Schools/Orphanages are everywhere.

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

Business, casual on Fridays

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Health & Safety:

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

This is Kenya. Although security is a concern, you can easily become complacent here. This is paradise.

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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?

No

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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?

Dusty in the dry seaons, but not unreasonable.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Same as the U.S.

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

Weather is pretty much perfect. It is never too hot or too cold. The rainy season is a nice break from the dry spells. Pack summer/spring time clothing and a light jacket.

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Schools & Children:

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

Schools are fine. ISK and Rossylen are the two schools of choice.

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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?

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

Yes, the schools have everything and the embassy has several volunteer-run sports programs.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge expat community here. The American Chamber of Commerce holds weekly events.

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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?

Camping, Hiking, good resturants and night clubs

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

Yes, nightlife is fun.

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

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

Gender, but usually on Kenyans. It doesn't flow over to affect expats.

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

City Park Market is a great place to shop for fruit and veggies. Prices are much better than the supermarkets around town. During the summer, you can buy fresh mangoes for around US$1 a kilo. Avacados are available year round and usually cost US$1-2 per kilo. The national parks are unbelievable. Take advantage of the area while you are here.

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

Karua forest, tea plantation, brown's cheese tour.

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

Hardwood Furniture

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

Cuture, Access to fresh fruit and veggies, saving money, Safari, weather.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

We like suprises, but be sure to give yourself ample time to buy a car and all the red tape that comes with getting Dip plates.

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

Yes

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

Your expectations. This place will blow your mind. It is paradise.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Nairobi is just like any other big city; however, its infrastructure has not kept up with the growth. Traffic is bad when heading into or out of the city center. Going to or from the airport takes anywhere from 35 minutes to 2 hours. There is police corruption. Prices at any open air market doubles for white people and foreigners. You must bargain for everything. Cut the price in half and start from there. If you are stern and walk away, vendors will generally fold.

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/13/14

Background:

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

Mogadishu, Bujumbura, Goma.

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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?

Get to Boston with connecting flights in Europe, basically two 8-hour flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

5 years.

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

U.N.

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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).

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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.

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

Cat litter (very expensive to buy locally).

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

Nice variety of restaurants but on the pricey side.

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

None really, a few ants in the house sometimes.

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Daily Life:

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.

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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.

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

Easy but I would limit use of credit cards because of the risk of fraud.

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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?

Not much but basic greetings and phrases will be appreciated.

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

I don't think so.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are ok.

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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 is best if you want to get out of town and go on safari.

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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, US$50 for good home connection.

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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?

They generally work well.

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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?

No, you just need the right paperwork. Good vets available.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty I am sure ... orphanages and slum projects.

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

Formal at work, casual in public.

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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).

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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?

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.

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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?

Very good in the suburbs, not great downtown but this area can be avoided.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of blooming trees and bushes year round.

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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).

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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.

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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?

Yes, there are some very good kindergartens. The one my child attended was about US$1300 per term.

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

Through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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.

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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?

BBQs in the garden.

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

Yes, good for all.

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

I think so.

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

Not aware.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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10. Can you save money?

A bit.

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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.

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

Yes.

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

Fears of Africa.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sweaters for the cool evenings, heaters can be needed in July/August.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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.

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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, 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?

View All Answers


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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Nairobi, Kenya 06/01/14

Background:

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

No, third.

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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, D.C. Quite a long time I would imagine, but I haven't flown there yet from here.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government work.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Big very nice houses, lovely yards with gardens and copious flowers year round. Commute to embassy can be between 5-20 mins. The embassy is out of town so traffic is not bad for us.

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

You can get everything, but nothing in Kenya that an American would want is cheap. Add about 50% to the price of everything. Milk is around $4 per 3 liters. Meat is expensive. Beef and lamb is not as high but chicken and pork are at least $5 a pound.

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

I have pretty much everything I need and what I don't have I can order through DPO.

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

KFC is the only fast food and it does have a Kenyan twist. I love it. Good restaurants are everywhere. Not cheap but very good. Probably around $15-25 per person to eat out.

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

Ants, swarms of them!

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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?

The going rate is 10-12000 ksh for house help. (Approx $120-150 per month full time six days a week) However, most Americans at the embassy pay around 20000-25000 ksh because they don't realize that and by the time you've worked that out you have usually hired someone! Gardeners, housegirls, cooks, etc are everywhere.

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

I use the UN which is expensive, but nice. The embassy has a little free gym if you aren't picky.

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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?

Write a check at the embassy for cash. Everything is cash based, I've never had a problem with ATMs, but there is a worry with mugging at ATM machines so I haven't used them much.

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

All sorts of Christian and Muslim services.

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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?

None. Locals appreciate a little Kiswahilli, but everyone speaks English.

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

You pretty much drive everywhere, so it should not really be a problem.

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Transportation:

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

I've never used them. Buses are mini-buses jammed with a bunch of people and are notorious for their dangerous driving. Taxis are safe but not cheap.

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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?

You have to buy at post or import from Japan. It seems like a complicated experience. Try to buy from a departing family and get a car that can handle dirt roads. Don't buy a fancy car! Car jackings are frequent.

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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, $60 per month is what we pay and it is fine for us.

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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?

I use safaricom pay as you go. It is cheap and I am happy with it. It usually costs me around $10-20 a month for data and phone calls. I surf the web a lot on it too!

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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?

There are some opportunities. A lot of spouses have jobs outside the embassy, working for NGOs, schools, charities and other stuff.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of orphanage help, working in the slums. If you have a skill like nursing or something then I bet there is a lot you can do to help.

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

Public it is pretty much the same as America. Embassy, business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes! It's the one drawback to living on Nairobi. Armed invasions happen here, Westgate terrorist attack is still firmly in the front of everyone's mind and terrorist threats are constantly being reported. Security is the only bad thing I can find about Kenya though. The embassy provides 24 hour guards and other security measures for houses. In spite of these things, for the most part I feel safe.

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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?

No malaria, amoebas are common, it's not bad though. They medivac to South Africa.

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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?

Great.

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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?

Absolutely perfect. It's 70-80 F. every single day. I didn't know there was such a perfect place weather wise! The winter (July to August) can be chilly but it heats up to about 70 during the day. During rainy season it seems to rain mostly at night so no big deal.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are lots. We use ISK which everyone seems very happy with. Roslyn also has great reviews and Braeburn which follows the British curriculum and Peponi are also very popular. I haven't met anyone who is not happy with the choice of schools.

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

ISK has some help for mild problems; it is ok not great. If there is a severe problem, you might need to hire a tutor. ISK has been very helpful in helping us find a tutor too.

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

Yes, soccer, baseball, tennis, probably more if I looked into it too.

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Expat Life:

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

It's huge. Moral is great.

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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?

Restaurants, parties at houses, movie theaters, malls (if you dare go after Westgate). There are nightclubs in town too.

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

I think it is great for all.

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

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

There are a lot of tribal prejudices between the Kenyan people, but not towards foreigners. Kenyans seem to love Mzungus (foreigners). The people seem to be very accepting of all religions although they are primarily Christian and Muslim.

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

Safaris in the Masai Mara. Weekends at the Indian Ocean, flying on tiny little 8 seater planes.

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

Safaris, day trips to Naivasha, adopt an elephant, kiss a giraffe at the giraffe center, shopping in Karen, visit a bead factory, ride an osterich, visit a slum, go to the horse races, visit a tea farm, visit a coffee farm, visit a cheese farm, walk in Karura forest, drive to the Nairobi park.

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

All kinds of Afri-crap. Baskets, wooden carvings, soap stone stuff, local fabrics, bead jewelry, tanzinite, tsavorite.

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

Fantastic weather pretty much every single day, wonderful housing, "the trip of a lifetime" safaris all the time!

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10. Can you save money?

Probably you can, but not as much as you would think living in a third-world country unless you want to eat nothing other than maize meal and spinach. Also, safaris are super-expensive here, but also super worth it, get over the sticker shock and do it anyway.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How expensive everything is here, but you get what you pay for. Kenya is beautiful!

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

Definitely.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Safari hat!

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

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Nairobi, Kenya 03/04/14

Background:

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

No, I've been in Sao Paulo and Kampala.

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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 24 hours door-to-door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I've been here for a year and a half.

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

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

It depends. Nairobi's traffic is just getting worse. The "Ridge", the main housing compound, is about 5 minutes from the Embassy. Stand-alone houses in Runda are huge and also close to the Embassy. Some personnel are in the Westlands area and can face commutes of an hour or more.

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

Produce is fabulous and very cheap. Meat is of varying quality and very expensive. Chicken is US$7/pound, beef is about US$7/pound, but they do not age beef here, so it tends to be chewy. Fish is pretty fresh and quite good. Household supplies are easy to find and relatively priced.

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

Salsa and enchilada sauce has been key. Bring cheese in your suitcase as it is expensive here.

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

Mainly South African brands. Restaurants are pretty good here - there is decent Thai, very good Indian food, and some fairly good Italian food. Restaurants are very expensive for what you get, however - the quality of meat here is generally poor, and you will not pay under US$20 for a meal per person.

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

None, really. Ants and mosquitos, but Nairobi is too high of sea level to have malaria, fortunately.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch and DPO - DPO sometimes arrives in a week!

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

A full-time nanny costs about US$250-300/month. You will likely go through several. There are a lot of stories of people paying a salary for a nanny to "save" her before they arrive, only to get swindled. Don't do this. There are always Kenyans looking for jobs and Americans pay more and honor holidays, so it is easy to find help.

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

The Embassy has a small, but very smelly, gym. The UN across the street has a very nice gym, but it's fairly pricy.

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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?

ATMs are difficult - there have been reports of people having cards scammed, and some reports of people being followed from an ATM and robbed. We cash checks at the Embassy. We use our credit card at restaurants, hotels, and the grocery store and have had no issues. You always want to make sure that the person brings the machine to your table, however.

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Transportation:

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

None. Matatus - local transportation - are neither safe nor reliable. Many of them do not know how to drive - they will often drive in the middle of the road.

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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?

High-clearance vehicle is necessary. Cars are incredibly expensive here, and they get beat up on Kenyan roads. Mechanics are horrible and either will swindle you or tell you they fixed something and not fix it. Ask around as a good mechanic is very hard to find. Beware of car accidents in Kenya - the government passed a law that if you are in an accident and someone dies it is automatically a criminal offense. As an expat, you will assume to be at fault.

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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, for relatively reasonable prices. The quality varies, and you will definitely want a UPC as the power goes off and on constantly.

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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?

Maybe, but the local economy pays poorly so most spouses work at the Embassy or do not work.

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Health & Safety:

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

YES. The Westgate attack in September of 2013 has made a major impact - I will be here another year and there is a general sense that terrorist attacks will occur with regularity. In addition, there have been several issues with home invasions (including one colleague whose family was tied up - including the 1-year old child and robbed at noon on a Sunday), and people often get robbed at gunpoint. If you are not out by yourself late at night, you are probably fine, but people in stand-alone houses have to use a safe haven and an alarm.

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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?

Medical care is decent, but not great. Some women have had babies here and said that the care was good.

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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?

Medium - there are a lot of people who burn trash and when you are driving and stuck in horrible traffic, you inhale horrible diesel fumes.

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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?

The climate is terrific! I think only one weekend over the past year and a half it rained the entire weekend. Even in the "winter", when it is generally overcast and cooler, there is still sun and you can sometimes go to the pool. It's anywhere from 60-75F the entire year.

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Schools & Children:

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

We did not have any experiences but have heard that Rosslyn Academy is good for young children, and ISK is well-regarded for younger grades. High school students have struggled.

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2. 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?

Some use Montessori, but I have not heard very good things about it. I know a couple of people who have sent their children to the German school pre-school (they have an English option) and they love it.

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Expat Life:

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

Size of expat community is huge. The UN has 1500 expats in Nairobi, and the NGO community is also large. Morale is medium-low - security really gets to people after a while. Nairobi is the only post rated critical for both crime and terrorism that is fully accompanied.

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

It's fairly good for all. Families will enjoy the weather and safaris. Singles and couples there is a decent nightlife. Restaurants are OK but pricy for what you get.

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

Kenyans are fairly tolerant of gays and lesbians, and you can definitely find a good scene.

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

Tribal prejudice is still a problem here.

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

Definitely some of the safaris - we have really liked Amboseli and went more than once already.

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

You have to get out of Nairobi every few months. Since Westgate, a lot of people stay at home and avoid malls or other common areas and it's necessary to get relief from some of that. The Mount Kenya area is a short drive and very nice.

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

Safaris.

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

The weather in Nairobi is phenomenal and the safaris and beaches are nice.

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9. Can you save money?

Only if both you and your spouse work and you do not travel too much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I had known how expensive it is. I was in Sao Paulo before this, which is also an expensive city, but it is at least developed and you can walk around. The COLA does not make up for the expense of the city and the expense of local and regional travel. I wish I knew how difficult it is to walk around without being paranoid that someone will rob you.

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

No. The security situation is getting worse and the political situation is deteriorating. I would not take a small child to Nairobi unless you are prepared to mainly stay in your house or go to others' houses for your entire tour. Nairobi is expensive, and you do not get much in return for that expense. It is not a particularly nice city and there is not that much to see. After six months you get very bored.

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

Boots and winter gear.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and vigilance.

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Nairobi, Kenya 07/31/13

Background:

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

No. Previous tours in west and east Africa.

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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, D.C. Depart from IAD with a layover in Amsterdam, London or Zurich.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Great housing. There is one large embassy housing compound (that everyone wants), a few smaller ones and stand alones. The large compound homes are a good size and more "American." The others are large and quirky but they mostly have large yards and all have fireplaces. Commutes vary from 2 minutes to upwards of 30.

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

Ugh, Expensive. The COLA needs a revamp. Milk/Dairy/Cheese are EXPENSIVE. Red meat is cheap but not aged so it isn't great. Chicken is overpriced. Eggs are cheap. Fruits and veggies are great and very inexpensive. Cleaning supplies are inexpensive but are super harsh and strong smelling. Coffee and tea are fabulous and inexpensive. Don't expect to find sour cream. You can find ingredients for Mexican food. The embassy morale store is a racket. Get your staples through Amazon Prime. That being said, you can eat well here.

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

Nothing. You can get anything here or have it sent in though Amazon. Anything you need is here, you just have to pay for it.

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

Nothing American. A few South African chains like Steers, Spurs, Creamy Inn, Pizza Inn and Galitos. All are fine. There are plenty of actual restaurants and most are quite good, but expensive.

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

Mosquitos and ants. Nairobi is too high for malaria but you still get mosquitos. Some people use nets but it is a personal preference. The medical unit recommends antimalarials for trips to the coast and on safaris. Larium and Doxy are provided by the med unit free of cost. If you want Malarone they will write you a prescription and you can fill it locally.

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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?

Gardeners are around US$150-200 per month. Ayahs are between US$200-250. It depends. Interview before hiring and expect to be asked for loans. There is no shortage of people looking for work.

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

The Embassy has a small gym that is sufficient. Many people run outside or exercise at home. There is a nice Pilates studio a ways from the Embassy and you can find private instructors for just about anything.

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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?

I don't but many do. Many treat this place as a cash only post.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, the local papers are in English. Some people use AFN and some get South African satellite TV (DSTV) which runs about US$85 a month.

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

None, although a bit of Swahili helps.

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

Yikes! Nothing is wheelchair accessible and the streets are uneven. There is nary a sidewalk in sight.

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Transportation:

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

Jim Cab for taxis. The Embassy has set rates with them. RSO recommends you not use matatus or local buses as the drivers don't know how to drive (seriously).

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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?

Right hand drive SUV (so like the UK). Many drive Prados, Land Rovers and Pajeros. People either ship in from Japan or buy from those departing post. This is another racket. People sell for what they bought it for. You will overpay. It will not be worth what you pay for it. Accept it and be prepared to put some cash into it because the roads here are tough. There are a few good mechanics and several not so good. Ask around before your wallet is drained. Parts are hard to come by for Land Rovers and Pajeros. Prado is the vehicle of choice.

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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, again the telecom sector here is growing. The customer service is lacking but the product isn't bad. We pay US$115 a month for unlimited.

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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?

Buy one locally and get scratch off cards for minutes. Works well. You can get any type of phone here (iPhone etc). The telecommunications system here is very robust. Zero complaints here.

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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?

No, but we found a pet shipper to be helpful.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, several excellent vets. Dr. Ghalay is fantastic.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Less conservative than DC but still somewhat dressy.

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Health & Safety:

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

It isn't called "Nairobbery" for nothing. Carjackings and smash and grabs are rather common and there was a recent uptick in home invasions. The wealth disparity is depressing and the country is currently at 40% unemployment and you are driving a Prado and living in a huge house. If you follow the RSO guidelines you should be ok. They do everything they can to keep employees and families safe, you just have to listen and be self aware. Don't be "that person."

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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?

The Med Unit is there for day-to-day issues and well-baby visits and I think they do a good job. Gertrude's Children's Hospital is good. Pharmacies are well stocked and don't require prescriptions.

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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?

Not bad. You get days where the smell of burning trash and matatu (local buses) exhaust is overwhelming. However, it is all personal perspective. Coming from west Africa...the air is perfect.

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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?

Wonderful. It is one of the highlights of living here. The majority of the year it is 80 degrees (F) and sunny with zero humidity. Summertime here is winter and it is chilly and overcast most days. There are two rainy seasons (big and small rains) but nothing major. Houses are neither heated nor air conditioned. There will be times that you will be begging for air conditioning. The Embassy is always sweltering. Kenyans always think it is cold here and will criticize you for not swaddling your children in 80 degree (F) weather. The coast is stiflingly hot and humid.

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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 and Rosslyn Academy are the two main schools. I don't have experience with them but I understand that parents are happy with boths schools for the lower grades but there are issues with the HS.

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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?

Most families use nannies (ayahs) for daycare but there are several preschools. I was not happy with the preschool situation. AT ALL. There is also a large contingent of home schooled children here. They make the effort to socialize their kids with structured activities.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. Between embassies, aid workers and the UN.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends. Some love it here. Others are miserable. I think the truth is somewhere in between.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Plenty to do. Dinners out, family get togethers etc.

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

Good for families. Singles and childless couples seem to have fun as well. There is plenty to do.

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

On the surface, no.

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

Yes but it is tribal. Take a look back at the post election violence in 2007 for reference. I won't dare to attempt to summarize it in this small box.

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

Safaris, visiting Mount Kenya and trips to the coast. Nairobi isn't the most exciting city but it is a great starting point for more exciting destinations. The Masai Mara, Tsavo, Samburu country, Lamu, Zanzibar, Mount Kenya. The list goes on and on. You can "tour" Nairobi in a weekend or two. Visit the elephant orphanage, adopt an orphaned elephant (allowing you "bedtime" visits), feed the giraffes, visit the Karen Blixen house, hike the Ngong Hills, hike Mt Longnot, visit a tea plantation.

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

You can "tour" Nairobi in a weekend or two. Visit the elephant orphanage, adopt an orphaned elephant (allowing you "bedtime" visits), feed the giraffes, visit the Karen Blixen house, hike the Ngong Hills, hike Mt Longnot, visit a tea plantation.

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

Fabric, soapstone carvings, jewelry, Tsavorite, Tanzanite, leather luggage and bags, etc. Nairobi is home to a lot of artisans. This is potentially another money drain.

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

Touring, housing and weather. A tour in Nairobi provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for safaris and access to the rest of Africa. Housing is spacious with gardens. The weather is perfect. Generally blue skies and zero humidity with just enough chilly days to feel like you aren't missing out.

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11. Can you save money?

It depends. You can spend it all if you travel a lot. Safari's aren't cheap. You If you don't go out to eat every night you can.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES. We love it here. I'll be sad to leave.

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

Impatience, low clearance vehicle.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, money for safaris, camping equipment and patience.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Nairobi Half Life.
Out of Africa.

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

"Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass"
"Something of Value"
"White Mischief"
"The Bolter"
"The Flame Trees of Thika"
"Rules of the Wild"
"I Dreamed of Africa"
"The White Masai"

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Nairobi is a fabulous tour. Take it if the opportunity presents itself.

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Nairobi, Kenya 06/26/13

Background:

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

4th expat experience. Previous posts in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa.

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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?

Transit from the US through Amsterdam is easiest. 27 hours total.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are a few compounds and lots of stand alones. I think it can range from a 5-minute commute to about a 20-minute commute.

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

Groceries can be pricier than you think. With the exception of seasonal vegetables, expect to spend at least the same as in the states if not more.

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

Walnuts, pine nuts, sunscreen, pet food (quality pet food is crazy expensive).

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

KFC. No idea on KFC prices, though, because there are too many better options from Indian to Italian.

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

Mosquitoes by the coast, ants and cockroaches.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO or pouch.

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

Super cheap. We hired someone who wasn't part of the "embassy mafia". We paid her much less. She worked much harder and she didn't get into the gossip group like the others.

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

Yes. At the embassy and the UN.

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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?

Don't do it. It's not worth the risk of having $15,000 worth of airline tickets charged to your account. Yes, that happened to us.

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

I think there are many.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

On compound you can get AFN. Not sure about any others, as we didn't use it. We only used Apple TV.

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

None. Everyone speaks English. But some Swahili is appreciated by locals.

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

Many. There are no ramps -- or even sidewalks -- to speak of.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis with Jim Cab are ok. Anything else, no way. Matatus are dangerous, and if you drive in Kenya you will understand why they are so hated.

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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?

Right-hand drive 4WD less than 5 years old. Or buy one here from another diplomat leaving post. But have it checked out by a trusted person already at post, and don't get a lemon like we did :-(

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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?

About $100 per month for decent service with JTL. Some places just have a horrible connection. Depends on your house's location.

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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?

Safari Com seems to be best. They are cheap and usually reliable.

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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?

No. But they do need to be cleared as cargo even if on the same flight as you. That doesn't mean they have to be shipped as cargo. They just have to be cleared as cargo. Get with GSO -- they have tons of experience with pets and can help. Don't forget to get an import permit as well.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good pet care and kennels. Dr Cockar and Dr Galay seem to be the preferred vets.

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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?

If you don't mind being paid peanuts.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

YES! Car jackings, home invasions, pick pockets, rape.

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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?

Malaria and dengue if you are visiting the coast. Nothing too bad in Nairobi -- other than some parasites and tummy stuff.

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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?

I used to think it wasn't that great, with trash burning and diesel vehicles, but once I returned to the US, I realized it was pretty darned awesome.

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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?

Since Kenya is below the equator, summer is winter and vice versa. But "winter" is more like a rainy spring day in the eastern US.

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Schools & Children:

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

Embassy children attend ISK, a Rosslyn Academy, Lycee Francais, and Braeburn Garden Estate (British School).

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

I think not many. It would depend on the need.

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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?

There is s great Montessori school next to the embassy -- Gigiri Montessori House. There are lots of other preschools available as well.

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

Yes. There are many, either through schools or at the UN.

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Expat Life:

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

HUGE. It's a hub for east Africa and UNEP, and UN HABITAT is headquartered here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Morale can be quite low at the embassy. It seems like some folks pick Nairobi as their last hurrah before retiring and don't really care much about actually doing their jobs. Also, morale among spouses can be low due to the lack of spouse employment opportunities or the lack of people within the embassy who actually do their jobs to get their jobs going. HR, Management and RSO seem to be common topics of complaint.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Due to the great weather, there are always parties, picnics and BBQs amongst friends.

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

Yes for all.

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

There is a gay community here BUT Kenyans as a whole are not accepting of homosexuality. Some believe its a curse. Some believe that homosexuals should be put to death.

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

Yes. Tribal violence is an issue, more so than religious.

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

Definitely the great migration in the Masai Mara.

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

Safaris, restaurants, movies, night clubs, shopping, safaris, massages, safaris, beaches at the coast, safaris! Did I mention safaris?

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

Masai market items (always offer bit less than half of the asking price).

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

Safaris and beaches with great year round weather.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't do too many safaris. But they are SO worth it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely! Loved it and would take another assignment there in a heartbeat.

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

winter coat.

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3. But don't forget your:

rain boots, umbrella (for rainy season), sunscreen (on the equator =super strong sun), and stain remover for your socks (the red clay dirt makes socks REALLY ugly).

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Out of Africa

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/13/12

Background:

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

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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?

It's a long way to the east coast of the US. It's about 8 hours to Europe for a connection (we usually fly through Zurich, but also sometimes Amsterdam) and then about 10 hours to the US. With layovers, it's easily a 24 hour ordeal.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and lived in Nairobi for two years, a third expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is the best thing about Kenya after the weather. Very spacious single family homes, townhouses, and apartments, located on or off-compound. Most come with servants quarters for live-in staff. All have fireplaces that are the main source of heating in the cold months -- no A/C or central heating here. Everything grows in Kenya, so the gardens get to be lush and fragrant. I love my house and garden and will definitely be what I miss most when I leave post. It's really made all the difference in what could otherwise be a very dirty, stressful environment.

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

You can find everything you need either through local supermarkets or the Commissary. Orange juice though, can be expensive, as I guess all the oranges have to be imported. One thing I've learned is to buy a couple of whatever it is when you're at Nakumatt because restocking can be iffy at best, and you can go months without seeing that same thing again in stock. Grocery prices are comparable to those in Washington, DC.

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

Since it was our first time living in Africa we shipped everything we could possibly ever potentially need when we came.

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

There is no American fast food except KFC. We're very lucky with the restaurant options in Nairobi, especially compared to other African cities. You can find almost any cuisine, but the quality can vary. Art Caffe is our go-to. You can find pretty much anything you're craving, from pizza to pasta to paninis and burgers and milkshakes. And they have a good brunch. There are actually lots of brunch places around Nairobi, often in lovely gardens. This was a pleasant surprise for us. Lots of good Indian food and Thai food. Italian is okay; there are several Italian places and they try. There are very good Ethiopian options, okay Lebanese, nice micro-breweries and bistros, and very limited options for Latin food (one Mexican restaurant and a Cuban-ish place). For meat, well, Kenyans like their meat very bland. There are some restaurants that market themselves as Brazilian or Argentinian steakhouses, but don't be fooled. It's better to stay at home and just cook meat yourself.

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

Flying termites after it rains in October. No malarial mosquitoes at this altitude.

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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?

Very reasonable. We pay about US$150/month for a housekeeper who comes 3x/week. We pay $50/month for a gardener/car washer who comes 2x/week.

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

Yes, several. The UN gym is pretty good.

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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?

Many people don't use cards here because of high risk of fraud or identity theft, but I use my American ATM and credit cards regularly and have never had a problem. I usually take some cash out of the ATM every week, since cards aren't accepted everywhere.

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

Yes. It's a very Christian country, with sizeable Muslim and Hindu communities. There's a synagogue downtown.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There's Zuku and DSTV with large offerings of English language programming. Both are affordable.

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

None. Everyone speaks English. They might not understand your accent, but that can go both ways.

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

There is no infrastructure at all to accommodate people with disabilities. There are no sidewalks, frequently no elevators. At the airport, there are several bathrooms where you have to climb up 5-6 steps to get into them, with no ramp option.

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Transportation:

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

Not safe. Embassy personnel are not allowed to use public transport.

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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?

Right hand drive SUV. You need 4WD. Get a grill on it too, b/c you WILL get nicked at some point.

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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?

Up to 8MB, but it really only operates up to 2MB. Service can be very spotty during peak hours, but is otherwise good enough for video Skype.

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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?

Safaricom is the most reliable provider, but even then can be iffy. Calls to the U.S. are very cheap.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

Not really, at least not at the salary levels that you had at home. The Kenyan workforce is generally well-educated and unemployment is very high, so jobs go to well-qualified Kenyans before they go to expats.

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

At work you can wear what you would wear in the US. In public, maybe dress a little modestly because you may get looks -- especially outside of Nairobi (but not at the coast) -- if you wear shorts.

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Health & Safety:

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

So many security concerns. Car-jackings, robbery, everyday driving, al-shabaab, tribal clashes; you name it, it's a security concern here. Luckily, most of these -- except car jackings -- aren't targeted at foreigners.

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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?

Surprisingly good. For after-hours emergencies, we've gone to the Nairobi Hospital and it was very nice and modern and clean.

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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?

Bad. Fuel quality is below international standards and this means that there's a lot of black smoke coming out of the million or so cars in Nairobi. Plus, everyone burns wood or garbage for heat. There's dust everywhere.

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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?

The weather is probably the best thing about Nairobi. June-August is cloudy and rainy, but the rest of the year makes up for it.

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Schools & Children:

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

We haven't used one, but there are a few, and they are one of the big draws for bidding here. People seem to love ISK.

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Enormous, as Nairobi is the East African hub for many of the international organizations, including the UN. Almost every country has Embassy representation and there are tons of expats working on microfinance and NGOs.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Some people love it, others not so much. Everyone has their days when they are Nairobi'ed out, whether it's because of the terrible traffic jams or just the general inefficiency and ridiculousness of everything in Kenya.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You can find anything and everything here.

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

Yes, for all. Singles have lots of places to go out and drink and dance, lots of cultural activities, and a HUGE expat community. The same for couples. It's really what you make of it. You can be out every night or cuddling at home. At the embassy, there are mostly families with kids; again, I think, because of the schools.

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

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

Absolutely. Non-African expats get charged a huge foreigner's tax trying to buy things on the informal local market and it takes a lot of negotiation to get things down to a reasonable (still crazy compared to the real value) price. Kenyans think we're all made of money, I guess. Gender less so, but still you can tell it's not really equal between the sexes.

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

Lots of safari, weekends at the Indian Ocean, trips to Zanzibar, swimming with whale sharks.

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

Safari in Nairobi Nation Park, adopt a baby elephant at the elephant orphanage, hike Mt. Longonot, take a walking safari on Crescent Island, feed giraffes at the Giraffe Center. Nairobi also has an IMAX and several 3D movie theatres.

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

Masks, fabrics. There are some up and coming local modern artists. You can buy their work or commission something rather than spend a lot of money on Afri-crap.

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

The weather is amazing. Never too hot, sometimes bordering on cold, due to the high altitude. Kenya is a top destination for safari, and there are endless things to explore in the country and its neighbors -- if you have the time and patience.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you blow it all flying to the Seychelles, Zanzibar, or Cape Town. Intra-Africa travel is surprisingly expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. It's been very, very frustrating and stressful living here (culturally), despite all the wonderful tourist opportunities. I don't think my family is cut out for sub-Saharan Africa.

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

Heavy winter coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience (Africa always seems to win), sun-screen, snorkeling gear, favorite toiletry products.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 08/26/12

Background:

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

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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 16 hours total air travel time. Most connections are through London or Amsterdam, which have about 2 flights per day.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and has been living in Nairobi for one year, a first expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are apartments, stand-alone houses, and compound houses (townhouses and single-family). There are 2-3 compounds and more on the way. Stand-alone houses tend to be larger and have yards. Compound houses usually have 3-4 bedrooms, and some are on 1/4 acre lots. Most houses are relatively near the embassy, a 5 to 30 minute commute by car. Some of the housing furthest away may be phased out.

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

Fresh produce is widely available in-season, and is very cheap. For example, tomatoes are 70 shillings per kilo (at the inflated ex-pat prices). Nakumatt is a Walmart-type store where many of the dairy, dry goods, and household items can be found. It can get pricey (especially imported items), but most things can be found. Olive oil is $12/liter, milk $4 for 3 liters, and cheese is expensive. Good linens and sheets are expensive! Meat costs about the same as in the US but is of lower quality.

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

We're really glad we brought our mattresses, cookwear and kitchen appliances, clothes and shoes for our child, and dvd's and sports/camping equipment (thanks to the other post reports). Wish we had the KitchenAid mixer -- we do lots more cooking here. Do stock up on toys/birthday gifts for the kid's friends. Toys are very expensive. Also bring a few simple household/auto tools. Medicine (cold medicine, pain-killers) is expensive.

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

KFC is now here (in a few shopping malls) at $7-$10 per person. A wide-range of dining options are available: Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, Italian, Japanese, Kenyan, plus coffee shops and frozen yogurt. Thin-crust pizza is about $9. The famous Carnivore restaurant starts at about $40. Art Caffe is by far and away our favorite for consistent food quality and service. Entrees cost $7-12, and they have the best bread in town.

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

Ants and other bugs are around, but they are not a terrible problem. You need to wear mosquito repellent if it's been raining.

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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?

Plentiful and cheap. US$250 per month gets you a full-time housekeeper who may or may not cook. A full-time driver costs about the same, gardeners cost about half of that (depending on skill level).

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

Yes, at the U.S. Embassy or the UN. UN has an olympic-size outdoor heated pool, soccer fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, ample workout facilities, aerobics/yoga/dance classes, kids' playground, and cafe. Membership can be pricy, but day passes ($12) are available. Rosslyn Academy track is open for use, and lots of people walk/jog at Karura Forest.

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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?

Don't. Their use is becoming increasingly common, but I wouldn't risk it. Skimming is common and so are power outages. The embassy has an ATM. Credit cards might be useful as backup, but I wouldn't plan on it.

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

Lots of options, including some expat churches.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Lots of newspapers. We use AFN for TV. DSTV is about $100/month.

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

English is an official language. Kiswahili is widely-spoken but rarely necessary.

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

Outside of the USG housing and the embassy one would have major difficulties. Some of the newer malls have elevators, but this is a small concession. Safari vans do not have lifts. There are few sidewalks and fewer well-maintained sidewalks. This is Africa. How much more do I need to say?

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are not cheap, although there are a couple of RSO-approved companies with pre-negotiated rates. Rates are similar to what you'd pay in DC. There is supposedly a train to Mombasa. It takes about 19 hours for what a car might do in 6, so this is a not a viable option. USG personnel are not permitted to take buses (matutus).

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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?

SUV, high-clearance, tinted-windows. Toyota, Subaru, Range Rover, and Nissan are the most common brands. Seriously, get an SUV with a good suspension, new tires (from the US), and consider importing the car from Japan, because Kenyan roads rapidly depreciate a car and generate lots of squeaks.

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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?

Widely available, costs $50 to $150. Reliability can be an issue.

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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?

Cheap and easy to get. Most people get one for their kids for security reasons.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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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?

There are some in expat organizations and some in the local community. Most people who are really looking find something.

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

Same as DC for work. Kenyan professional women dress modestly by American-standards.

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Health & Safety:

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

YES, it's a major factor in life here. Everyday concerns are: car-jackings, robberies, identity theft, mugging, and home invasions. Terrorism is a threat here, and there are active al Qaeda branches here and in neighboring Somalia. It has gotten worse since Kenya sent troops into Somalia. All USG houses have private security provided.

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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?

Reasonably basic, and emergency care is available. For major health issues you should have a great doctor recommendation or go out of country.

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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?

Moderate: variable between good and unhealthy. Lots of people warm themselves by burning trash along the side of the road. Cooking is done with charcoal, and there are zero emissions controls. However, there is frequent rain to clean out the air and lots of plants and flowers -- it sometimes smells nice.

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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?

Great, but people still manage to complain.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a lot of great options: International, French, German, British. We send our child to Rosslyn Academy, an international Christian school, and really love it. It's within walking distance to our house, has small class sizes (about 12-20 kids in elementary) and a nurturing environment. Families are involved with their kids, and there is a good mix of Kenyan and missionary kids (US and Korean) from 35 different countries. Kids from this school tend to suffer less from the "diplo-brat" syndrome.

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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?

Yes, ample pre-school choices -- including at Rosslyn Academy. Mostly, though, people get nannies for daycare.

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

Yes, mostly through the UN. They have week-long holiday camps at school breaks or during the summer for a reasonable price (4,000 ksh to 5,000 ksh per week). ISK holds a few weeks of sports camps in June.

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Expat Life:

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

Large, very large. UN, missionaries, NGOs, embassies, etc. Nairobi is a regional hub for most organizations.

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2. Morale among expats:

People who are prepared to live in a developing country do very well here. There are of amenities and things to do. Security, the road conditions, and Kenyan driving can wear on you.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots of restaurants, active CLO, there are some highly social people here.

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

It's big enough and nice enough that everyone seems to find their niche. There are night-life options and lots of other expats around, as well as family-friendly activities.

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

I haven't heard of any problems.

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

Within Kenyan society, yes, but less so in Nairobi. There has been progress since the election violence in 2008, but it's not completely resolved. This doesn't have a major impact on us, but the gardener won't listen to my wife.

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

SAFARI! Nothing compares to the experience of seeing elephants or lions in the wild -- or camping under the African sky. Plus there is hiking up a nearby volcano in the Rift Valley and rock climbing.

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

The village market has a good selection of average/mediocre restaurants with good outdoor ambiance -- and many have kid's play areas.

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

Handmade beads and glasswork, leather and wood crafts.

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

Great weather! 50's to 70's every day. "Winter" is basically 3 degrees cooler than "summer," with swimming year-round. The safaris are worth the awful roads. There is good camping, and cheap resident rates for the game parks ($6-$12 per person plus car). We hear good things about the beaches, too. Good city sites to experience for you and your visitors from the States include the elephant orphanage, Kenyan tribal dance shows, handicraft making, etc. The U.S. Embassy is conveniently located near shopping, movie theater, and malls.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes! If you can't save money living rent-free with private school paid for, then you never will. Weekend safaris are expensive -- lodges/hotels easily cost $1000 for a couple/small family, but don't do it every weekend. Air travel (anywhere) is expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes! (As if we had a choice?) It has been a great experience -- it's what you make of it.

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

Driver's manual--there are no rules.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, flip-flops, outdoor equipment (sports, hiking, camping, rock-cimbing), fleece jacket.

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



If you're interested look into the Sheldricks, the Leakeys, and Karen Bixen.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/19/11

Background:

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

third

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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?

20+ hours - we like KLM

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3. How long have you lived here?

one year

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

US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

A mix of compounds, stand alone homes and apartments. Commute time can be 10-45 minutes depending on traffic and where you live. Be advised - most people ask to live on Rosslyn Ridge, which can house about 1/5 of Embassy/AID families, so adjust your expectation that you can ask for and receive Rosslyn Ridge. We are in a different compound that we like better for its location and because we really like our neighbors, but there are people that are super bitter about not being on Rosslyn Ridge. Housing is at a premium here - if you arrive during peak season you may be in temps for awhile. Sorry to say, but no one seems to be minding the store at GSO housing, so I'd try to keep in touch as much as possible. The 2011 rotation was atrocious and I heard some stories that would have put me back on a plane, quite frankly.

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

I don't find groceries, etc. to be that exorbitantly expensive, but I haven't lived in the States for some time. Anything imported will cost you $.Chicken is expensive, steak is not. Gas is hugely expensive as are the AEA stores (commissary).

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

Not too much, but here's what I'd recommend - ship sporting goods, kids toys, shoes, clothes, tolietries and plan to order all of those things online when you need them. You can find lots more than you expect in the grocery store and there's always the overpriced commissary when you're desperate.

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

Fast food - KFC, which is nothing special. Otherwise, Java House, Art Caffe, Zen Garden and other Asian restaurants, Lord Errol's. Prices vary, but it's not cheap to eat out.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Surprisingly, quite a bit at Healthy U, the health food/organic store.

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

Nothing too out of the ordinary - ants are an issue.

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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?

Readily available and affordable. Average salaries for a nanny or a housekeeper are $16KSH-20KSH.Be wary of someone that asks for more than that unless they have a ton of experience.

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

The Embassy has a decent gym, the UN has a gym and there are commercial gyms available.

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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?

We use Barclay's or Standard Bank ATMs with no problems. I've used my credit card at Nakumatt in a pinch, but overall I would not use a credit card anywhere.

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

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

DSTV = $70/month, excluding initial installaion.

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

English will get you by just fine.

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

Lots.

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Transportation:

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

No

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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?

Ah, vehicles. I agree with the previous poster - import from Japan - Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru. Land Rovers are popular, but hard and expensive to maintain. If you do decide to buy at post I would not buy anything that had been in Kenya more than two years. Labor may be cheap, but it also may not be skilled. And you can't just up and sell your car - the Kenyan bureaucracy has a whole procedure if you want to sell a car before the end of your tour.

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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?

We have ResNet and it's good when it works - $60/month

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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?

You need one. Buy it here, there or in between, but you must have one. You can get good 3G plans so if you can bring an unlocked iPhone or Android phone that's nice.

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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?

No, but work closely with GSO.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, ask the CLO

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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?

Yes, with NGOs. Just don't let them send you off to Somalia.

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

Business casual. Short shorts and miniskirts are not the norm.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. This is a critical crime/terrorism threat post, but I think most people like to overlook that. Carjackings and armed robberies are common and terrorist threats do exist.

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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?

I have to disagree with the previous poster - I have found the Embassy health unit to be a poorly managed mess with excellent cargeivers once you get through the doors, but getting an appointment seems to be a definite challenge. Basic and diagnostic care can be done here, but I wouldn't go farther than that. I've had two incorrect lab tests ordered for me by local doctors.

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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, but the Kenyans burn trash

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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?

Nice, but I think there's more rain than most people have described. July-September is rainy and cool. December-March/April are really nice.

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Schools & Children:

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

I don't have kids at ISK or Rosslyn Academy, but people are satisfied with those schools.

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

No experience with this, but there are services.

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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?

Lots of preschools available. ISK has a very expensive ($7k+) pre-K.Shop around and be prepared to go to interviews. The schools want to see you before they admit your kid. Local prices are about $3k per year. My child is in a local preschool and I have really liked that experience for her.

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

Yes. Through the school or private. Some programs will come to you if you have enough kids and enough room. It can take a bit of time to ferret these out, but I've been pleasantly surprised by what's available for kids.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies. Generally good, but Embassy ineffeciencies take their toll as does the crime, the traffic and general Nairobi BS.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

House parties, restaurants, clubs for the younger set.

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

For families, yes, singles and couples, probably. If you are a bit adventurous and want to travel around Kenya, I think it's probably a good place for all. My tolerance for driving around Kenya is low, but I find it a good place with small children.

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

Probably not the best.

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

Yes, tribal issues mainly.

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

The vacations, friends we've made and the availability of household help

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

Pick up a guide book - in Nairobi, there's not much new to discover. Outside Nairobi, there is lots to explore.

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

Lots of local and regional crafts and travel.

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

The Masai Mara and other safari destinations, the Kenyan coast, getting a taste of "real" Africa, but not too much.

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11. Can you save money?

I think so.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, I would, but I admit that saving money is a part of it. You can find friends here and you may find them in the Embassy, but this is not some homey little African post. That said, we have made some good friends and there are great people here. The Kenyans are by and large nice people, hard working and honest. I am enjoying getting to know them.

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

Down coat and boots.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. I think the living here is pleasant enough, but the Embassy has a long way to go. Dealing with the place on a daily basis through work is just a beat down. The RSO's office is a complete joke for a critical crime/terror threat post. Our RSO in our safe post before this had us more secure than these clowns and getting them to care is impossible - excuse after excuse after excuse. Blame the victim seems to be the official motto. Housing is another mystery of inefficiency with more excuses and lies than one would think possible (and that's not from my personal experience - we actually really like our housing).State seems to treat Nairobi like some unimportant African backwater and you definitely feel the pinch.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Nairobi is a large, chaotic African city and living here can be challenging. My personal opinion is that you simply must venture outside what the Embassy has to offer and make other friends/acquaintances to keep yourself sane.

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/03/11

Background:

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

2nd expat experience, previously in Eastern Europe.

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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?

Flew from DC via London (several day stopover -- very nice!) About nine hours from DC to London, then about nine hours from London to Nairobi.

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3. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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

Spouse employed by the U.S. government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in embassy-provided housing. There are a few compounds, but mostly stand-alone houses. Most housing is spacious with lovely yards. Currently there is a housing shortage, so many people are in temporary housing for awhile. Most housing is within a 15-minute drive from the embassy. Some residences are about 20-30 minutes normally. Traffic can be insane.

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

Cost comparable to DC or higher, with the exception of some produce bought from roadside stands. It's odd the things that are available and aren't. A lot of it varies.

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

Holiday items (candy canes, candy corn, decorations, wrapping paper) are good to ship. Clothes are expensive and not of great quality here. I’d stock up ahead of time. There are great used markets, though, if you are willing to sort through things. The mud here is RED and kids’ clothes seem to get stained and worn out, even if your household help is amazing with laundry (ours is). Crocs or sandals are great for kids, wellingtons, extra shorts, jeans, etc.

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

KFC opened two locations in the past six months -- the first western fast food. There are South African fast food joints, though. No decent pizza is available, unless you make it yourself. The restaurant options, though, are quite good! River Cafe, Art Cafe, Medditeraneo are some of my favorites.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Organic produce is available.

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

Mosquitoes, but not malaria-bearing ones in Nairobi. No need to take anti-malarials on a regular basis.

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Daily Life:

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

Through the embassy mail room. Very difficult to mail/get packages if you are with an NGO or nonprofit. It is easiest to have things brought with visitors.

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

I really love having affordable household help. I feel like I can do all the good-mom things I want to do, because someone else is keeping up with the laundry and kitchen. Housekeepers and ayahs are paid from US$120-$200/mos. Gardeners from US$100-$150/mos. Experienced drivers from US$150 - $300/mos. Roughly. It changes. It's easy to find good helpers -- but you should still have plenty of recommendations and be cautious.

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

Yes.

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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?

I don't use the ATMs, though some people feel safe with Barclay's Bank ATMS.

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

We were disappointed in the lack of good religious options in Kenya, considering the long history of Christianity here and the preponderance of churches. A lot of expats attend the International Christian Fellowship (which meets at Rosslyn Academy.) All denominations are represented here, but many can feel very different due to cultural differences. Even though we've worshiped in other cross-cultural contexts, it's been more challenging here. Many of the good options are a long drive from where we live. Kenya also has a sizable Muslim and Hindi populations, and so those are available as well.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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

English is one of the official languages of Kenya. It's good to know some polite words in Swahili.

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

The embassy premises are quite accommodating for those with disabilities. The general community (housing, shopping) is not. However, as household help and drivers are very affordable, some families may find it worthwhile to choose Nairobi as a post. Nairobi has more opportunities for therapies, etc., than many countries and would be worth looking into. I know several families with children with disabilities (both young and adult) who have found this to be a good post.

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Transportation:

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

I've known someone to take and enjoy the train from Nairobi to the coast. Local matatus (minibuses) and buses are not safe -- drivers are crazy, they are overcrowded, and traffic accidents are a key cause of death in Kenya. If you are light-skinned, you'll also stand out as a target for robbery if you take public transportation.

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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?

If you want to drive outside of Nairobi, getting an SUV is almost a must. That said, we know quite a few people with small cars or minivans who do fine with those in the city. There are a LOT of speed bumps and potholes, and so we’ve needed to rotate/balance tires and adjust alignment quite frequently. Labor is cheap, parts are expensive. Many people order a used car from Japan before coming to post, and that is highly recommended (cheaper, better condition vehicle.) If you do that and know the tire size, I would highly, highly recommend including four tires in your HHE. Tires here are expensive and shipping them from the US is expensive. Don’t count on vehicles from people leaving being available to purchase once you arrive: sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t. Used vehicles here are quite expensive –- but most people sell them for about what they paid when they leave. Large families have an especial challenge. Many of the SUVs here or from Japan are smaller. Even a 7-seater is smaller than most 7-seaters in the US.



Local insurance is mandatory, but inexpensive. USAA doesn’t offer any vehicle insurance in Kenya, but Clements does. I wouldn’t have a new car here. People WILL run into you. It’s better to get a nice, used vehicle and not sweat the damage.(Most body damage is pretty easy/cheap to get repaired. Ask me how I know.)



We didn’t get a driver right away when we got at post – and I regret that. While it can be a hassle to “manage” one more staff person, it is GREAT to have someone who can drive you to places you wouldn’t drive alone, to take you around the city so you don’t have to deal with or think about traffic, to run errands for you and to take the car in for servicing (and watch the mechanics to make sure everything is done thoroughly.) I most highly recommend getting a driver as soon as you get to post.

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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?

We have service through AccessKenya. It’s adequate, slow during the day and decent speed after 6pm. We cannot stream anything, and it is very frustrating. If you telecommute, it is not a good option. I’ve heard rumors of good, high-speed internet, but not sure of the company. We paid about $200 for installation and $60/mo for service. We use an extra wireless router to “bounce” the signal throughout the house. Most houses are concrete block, and so wireless doesn’t go far.

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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?

Phone service is very cheap. If you bring a phone from the US, it needs to have a SIM card slot. You can get a basic phone for US$20-$40 dollars. A US$10 phone card can easily last 1-3 months. My husband has his work blackberry, and we have three other cell phones for various family members. I like my kids having their own phones to bring to school because of the security issues here.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, but I don't have the details.

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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?

Even volunteering (except very casual volunteering) requires a work visa, and finding anything on the economy is challenging. That said, there are quite a lot of spouses working in the embassy in good positions. This is a great post for those who wish to be a stay-at-home-mom/dad or homemaker. Household help is easily available and well worth having. Those with a passion for certain causes can become involved in the community, be active in their children’s schools, Bible studies, volunteers, hosting social events, etc.

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

Depends on whether you're with a gov't organization or nonprofit. Kenyans tend to dress up more. Most women (except the younger generation) wear skirts and dresses. Expats can wear just about anything they want.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a big threat. Sometimes there are terrorist threats/warnings due to the presence of Al-S in the Horn of Africa.

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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?

The med unit in the embassy is AMAZING. There are many specialists available here for diagnostic purposes, especially through Aga Khan Hospital. We’ve used the services of a local ultrasound doctor (excellent), gastroenterologist (including exploratory surgery), x-ray tech, blood labs, and an urgent care walk-in clinic. All have been either good or quite acceptable. I personally would draw the line at any procedures that required anesthesia (although the exploratory surgery we had was fine with that.) Nairobi is a medical evacuation point for many NGOs throughout Africa.

I have been VERY disappointed in the options available for dental and orthodontic care. I had thought these would be more easily available and of a quality with which I was comfortable for myself and my family. There is a chiropractor, but the office is hot and crowded and if you need regular chiropractic care, this isn’t a good option. However, there are great massage therapists who will come to your home for either relaxation or therapeutic massages for US$10-20 a visit. If you get regular massages, this is a great place. Bring a massage table for even better treatment!

Many people find Nairobi a great place to be stationed when expanding a family. The med unit currently does all prenatal care and does a great job. The ultrasound doctor locally is fabulous and both has modern equipment and knows how to use it. Most people use maternity evacuation when the baby is due, though some are happy to deliver locally. The med unit recommends medevac due to the limited options for neonatal care. If I stayed here to have a baby, I’d probably go to Kijabe Hospital in the Rift Valley about an hour away -- they have several US missionary doctors on staff, what I think is the best neonatal unit in the country, and good supervision for the prevention of stupid medical mistakes. Stupid medical mistakes are what I’m most concerned about with the medical care in Kenya.

More generally, if you have allergies, there are a lot of plants that bloom here and you may find yourself irritated by that. Bring zyrtec, dayquil or whatever helps you if you are prone to allergies. Nairobi is at a very high altitude and on the equator. Even though the weather is mild, sunscreen should be used every day. It's good to bring your own, as it is quite expensive here.

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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?

Decent, except when people are burning trash.

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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?

Never too hot, never too cold. ACs and heaters unneeded. Bring sweaters, though.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are many, many, school options in Nairobi. The majority of kids either attend International School of Kenya (ISK) or Rosslyn Academy (RA). RA was started as a missionary school, but has children from a wide-range of backgrounds (read: teachers and some curriculum are Christian, but students include those of no faith background, Hindus, Muslims, etc. – very inclusive). RA is right next to the Rosslyn Ridge housing compound, and is very convenient to the embassy. Other school options include a French school, German school, Braeburn (great for special needs), and several Montessori and preschool options. Currently there are several families at post that homeschool. This changes frequently, however. The larger expat community has quite a few homeschoolers, though most of them meet/live in different part of town from most of the embassy community. This seems to be a very homeschool-friendly post, and Rosslyn Academy welcomes homeschoolers for classes.

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

Braeburn has a good reputation for special needs. Rosslyn is able to make accomodations for quite a few special needs, but is more limited.

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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?

Household help / ayahs are easily available. I've heard from others that there are great preschools.

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

Primarily through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. The US government has a large presence through the Department of State, USAID, and affiliated organizations. The UN has a large facility here, with expats from all over. There are tons of NGOs, nonprofits, and missionaries from all over. Great Britain has a large official presence here, as well as many non-gov't related expats. It's easy to get out of the "embassy bubble" or "American bubble" if that is what you like.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty positive. Most people I know alternate between loving it here and feeling like they are going nuts from the annoyances of living in Africa.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

This is not the place to be if you like downtown city living and nightlife partying -- it's just not safe. But there is plenty to do to stay busy, entertained, and have a social life. We don't go out much after dark due to safety concerns.

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

Great for families! Dating local residents would be discouraged due to the social construct of patron/client relationships (see the book: African Friends and Money Matters for discussion on this) and the high HIV rate.

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

Same-gender intercourse on the local laws is punishable by up to 14 years in jail. Homosexuality and gay people are ostracized and looked down upon by the wider community, but not the embassy community (even though both are present in the embassy and local community). The HIV rate here is very high (estimates are as high as 30% among MSM and other demographics, and 7% among the general population). We do know gay couples in the embassy community.

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

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

Enjoyed safaris, visiting the coast.

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

Kitengela Glass, Kazuri Beads, Karen Blixen Museum, Crescent Island walking safari, many National Parks to explore, Ostrich Farm, many day trips, safaris, Kenya Museum Society excursions, bird walks, trips to the coast.

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

Lots of neat, handmade items.

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

Fabulous weather! Mostly warm, with enough snuggle-in-a-sweater-days to pretend it gets cold. Very affordable household help is great, too.

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11. Can you save money?

It depends. . . Labor is cheap, goods are expensive. Rental prices in safe neighborhoods and used vehicle prices are high. Safaris are expensive (but worth it!) A recent COLA adjustment makes things a bit easier for those affiliated with the US Embassy. Those with nonprofits may have a hard time convincing the home office that basics (vehicle, rent, food, gas) are so expensive -- but they are.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely. This is especially a great place for families -- though if you don't have a vehicle it can be isolating. I'm glad we have two years here. . . Some people say that Nairobi is "Africa lite." That's fine by me. I've enjoyed it, glad we've been here, and really don't have any plans to live long-term in Africa. On the other hand, we know NGO people and missionaries who have been here decades, love it, and consider it to be "home" more than the US.

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

Expectations of anything being efficient or of other drivers being polite.

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3. But don't forget your:

Gin & Tonic, high quality camera, and sense of adventure.

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

Out of Africa,
Green Hills of Africa,
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo,
African Friends and Money Matters: Observations from Africa,
The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence,
and field, bird and animal guides for Kenya/East Africa

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Out of Africa
-- Karen Blixen's coffee plantation is now within Nairobi city limits, and you can travel thoughout the country and see places it was filmed.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 09/06/11

Background:

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

No, I previously lived in Aarhus, Denmark.

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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, two flights and we went through Amsterdam.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years from 2009-2011

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We lived in an excellent compound with an excellent school right next door.

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

All groceries are available, mostly of European origin with some American brands and, of course, the local brands. Prices are high, Nairobi is not cheap living.

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

More paper goods (toilet paper, paper towels) and laundry detergent. American toilet paper is the best.

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

Little fast food is available but there are plenty of good restaurants. They aren't cheap though. Be prepared for San Francisco prices.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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

We had numerous ant invasions but our geckos took care of anything larger.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Domestic help is easily available and quite affordable. However, be aware of thievery, remember you are fabulously wealthy compared to most Kenyans.

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

I used credit cards for eating out and shopping at the grocery store without any problems.

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

We had several Catholic churches available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Several and inexpensive.

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

Very little.

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

Few accommodations are made for the disabled. However, household help is easily available and inexpensive.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and relatively affordable. Matatus are not safe and even more affordable. I would choose the safe option.

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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?

I brought a 4WD for safari driving and you will really use it.

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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 but can be pricey and not always high speed.

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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?

Safaricom is probably your best bet (80% of the market).

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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?

No quarantine.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good vets are available.

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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?

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

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Health & Safety:

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

Nairobi is a dangerous city and one must be careful. Traveling outside of Nairobi was generally safe and enjoyable.

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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?

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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?

Air quality is not that great because the local gardeners are always burning their cuttings. Some days could be really bad.

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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?

Weather is perfect. Never too hot or cold, as the baby bear would say - just right.

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Schools & Children:

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

Rosslyn Academy was warm, welcoming, and quite excellent. My three children enjoyed their experience there and were very sad to leave. My experience with ISK was less flattering as they did not seem particularly accommodating (a 15 minute examination of my children with a decision to hold them back a year - all because their appropriate classes were too full).

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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?

My youngest attended the Montessori Plus school. She enjoyed her experience and her teacher seemed genuinely interested in her development.

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

The schools offer sports programs.

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Expat Life:

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

lots of expats. lots of missions. lots of NGO's. big UN presence.

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2. Morale among expats:

widely variable

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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

It can be a bit confining for families as you can't wander the streets and are restricted to malls and compounds. However, the schools are excellent.

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

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

Not really, unless Kenya blows up again like 2008. If that happens, the next time could be really bad.

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

Visiting Masai Mara, spending time in Lamu.

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

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

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

The amazing safari opportunities are probably the highlight of living in Kenya. Also, the warm water beaches of the Indian Ocean are another special highlight.

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11. Can you save money?

Not really - at least not much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience, as getting things done takes longer but always works out in the end.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/26/10

Background:

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

no

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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?

US, takes 1.5 days each way.

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3. How long have you lived here?

7 months

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

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are two American compounds, but it seems like less than half of tbe embassy lives on them. The rest are spread out in different neighborhoods. The housing tends to be spacious.

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

Availability is good, especially for this continent. You can get a reasonable facsimile of most things in the American store (but it won't taste as good and it will cost two to three times the US price).

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

More cleaning products, paper products, beauty products, cupcake liners, over-the-counter meds

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

There is decent Indian food throughout the city, also a mix of other international cuisines. Prices are about the same in restaurants as in the US.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Organic produce is available. The local indian population has helped encourage a market for vegetarian foods.

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

ants, mosquitoes, but supposedly there is no malaria with the nairobi mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy.

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

Super available; they make between 125 and 250 USD per month.

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

Yes, there are good options for an African post.

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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?

They are usable at the shopping centers. There is always a risk in using them.

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

A few services in Nairobi are in English.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Most of them.

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

None.

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

Many, no sidewalks, no handicapped parking spots, etc.

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Transportation:

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

No. Embassy employees are allowed to use ONE taxi service, and the prices are about eighty percent of US prices.

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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, try to import one from Japan, as it won't have been beaten up yet and will be cheaper than on the local market. It must have the steering wheel on the right. Consider fuel efficiency: gas is expensive.

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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?

Yup- it varies. American compounds have fast access. Off-compound, AccessKenya is pretty fest.

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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?

They are cheap here, and everyone has one. Airtel has good coverage.

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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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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

A good-sized pet industry has sprung up around the expat community. Good vets, kennels, etc, are available.

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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?

Not that I know of, but the embassy hires quite a few people.

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

Fairly dressy.

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Health & Safety:

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

yes, carjacking especially. We limit night driving, and never drive between towns at night. Embassy housing is secure, due to the great lengths taken by the embassy.

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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?

Medical care is pretty good. I would feel comfortable with, say, getting a bone set here, dental care, or emergency care.

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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?

the air is great, except while driving- all the black smoke from the matatus and other trucks... like any other third world city

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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?

beautiful weather all the time, due to our position near the equator and our high altitude. There is no heating or cooling systems in our house because there is no need.

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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 is, as far as I can tell, universally loved. People go to Afghanistan, etc., just so the govt will let their spouse and kids stay here and continue to attend the school.

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

Domestic help is inexpensive, so if you had a child who needed an attendant, that would be easy. Not sure about education.

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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?

There are lots of daycares and lots of nannies.

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

Yes, many. Many activities for school-age children: lessons, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. It feels like a quarter of the population, but that is an exaggeration due to where we shop and dine and the people that we run into in our daily lives.

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2. Morale among expats:

Moderate. Some are so happy here. It is just very expensive here, and there is no COLA. I think between London (with no hardship pay) and Nairobi (with the hardship pay), it would be easier to go on weekend trips or save money, etc. in London.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

it is such a big post that it isn't all that social. Better if you have kids and live on the big compound.

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

Yes, overall. Education is good. Medical care good for Africa, several things to do around town, lots of wonderful but very expensive weekend trips. But the time and money it takes to travel to and from the States makes visits to home (and visits from family) prohibitively expensive.

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

Kenyans are, in general, not accepting of gay and lesbian people.

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

Yes, somewhat. Black Americans are sometimes treated poorly by white or Indian Kenyans. They assume that they are African, and expose how they treat their countrymen. But racial issues are not nearly as bad here as in so many other countries. Tribalism is rampant, though: ethinc tensions.

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

the beaches (short flight away), safaris, but it is all expensive

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

There are several things to do in Nairobi. Fun things like feeding giraffes. You can do all of the things in one weekend. There are GREAT weekend trips - safaris and the beaches, but they are very expensive.

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

Jewelry and soapstone stuff.

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

perfect weather nearly every day, inexpensive domestic help, wildlife

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11. Can you save money?

No,not unless you confine yourself to a boring life in your house and you eat mainly produce.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I think so. I am a bit disappointed, but it is not a bad post. You can't beat the weather, the housing, or the avocados! But you can get tired of the corruption, the driving, the poverty, the security concerns and the costs, and it can be surprisingly isolated here.

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

friends, it is too expensive to visit! Also, you do not need your coats or bikes.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, lots of sunscreen.

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

Our Turn to Eat

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Constant Gardener

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 12/09/09

Background:

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

No, Budapest, Chiang Mai, Manila, Vienna.

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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. 24 hours total - two flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are decent apartment buildings and housing compounds. Most expats I know live in a decent-size to spacious house with a large garden.

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

Terribly high, even for "local" items.

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

Chocolate chips, US food stuffs that your children may like, children's clothes and shoes.

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

No US fast food. At a few gas stations there are food courts. Pizza Inn and Creamy Inn (desserts) are Kenyan chains. There is a food court at both main malls, Westgate and Village Market. Good food but not speedy service.

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

No real problems. There are mosquitoes, and some people sleep under mosquito nets. While on safari we often sleep under nets. I however do not get bitten at all.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Easy to find, but not easy to find a maid who will actually work. Costs start at $100-250 per month.

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

Use the Barclay's ATM - we have never had a problem.

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

Yes, catholic, protestant, a wide variety.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

About 50 cents a paper. The three national dailies - The Standard, The Nation, and Kenya Times - are in English.

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

Not much, but it is good to know some words of Kiswahili. The kids learn it in school which is nice.

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

Roads and sidewalks are awful, huge potholes. Appreciation for human life does not seem to rate as high as in the US.

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Transportation:

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

Jim Cab is the recommended cab company, with set prices.

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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?

Either a peppy older right-hand drive car, or SUV.Your car will really got knocked about and dinged wihle here. It is wise to only bring a used car. Car jackings happen frequently per above.

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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, there are many ways to get internet. But this is Africa, and service is sporadic or non-existent. It is never strong enough to upload photos as attachments to emails, for example.

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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?

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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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great vets, mostly Indian.

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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?

No.

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

Very conservative. Much like in WDC, suits or dress shirts and ties for men, skirt or pants suits for women. Casual away from the office. The coast is predominantly Muslim, so ladies should cover up a bit, no short shorts. The coast is hot, so be prepared with hot-weather clothing.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Wonderful foliage and flowers.

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

Car jackings and petty crime are rampant. People joke about living in "Nai-robbery."People tend to avoid going out at night unless it's only for dinner. Stores are closed - save for the supermarkets - after 6pm, so there isn't a big need to go out after dark, which is about 6pm. Monkeys invading your house are a real concern, though! They will open windows and steal fruit.

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

Thankfully none. Dental work gets raves from most expats for its high quality and relatively lower prices as compared to US dental work.

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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?

People love the climate here. It is spring year 'round in Nairobi. Winter here is June-August, summer, when it can climb to 90 degrees F, is usually January - March. Currently in December we have bright sunny days, clear skies with some rain, with temps about 75F.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several - the most I have seen to date. The International School of Kenya follows the US model, Rosslyn Academy is a US-modeled Christian school, the British School, Peponi and Brookhouse are also both European, and there is a German school, Norweigian school, etc.

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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?

Several - many excellent. Many Montessori schools from wihch to choose. My daughter attended Kyuna in Westlands and really enjoyed it.

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

Yes but limited.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty large, as this is the regional hub for East Africa. UN headquarters is here. Over 70 embassies are here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good to great.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Bars, clubs, and restaurants.

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

Good for families, though it is expensive here.

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

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

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

Giraffe center, Nairobi National Park, Kimabethu tea farm, Trout tree restaurant; Going on safari in the Maasai Mara, Amboseli, or Tsavo; Visiting the wonderfully Swahili island town of Lamu; Visiting the many Indian beach resorts near Mombasa.

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

Baskets of all sizes and colors, for all sorts of uses; beaded jewelery; Indian-style furniture.

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9. Can you save money?

Not at all, unless you have two incomes. Travel within Kenya is very expensive. Going on safari is very pricey. Often it is cheaper for an American to fly here and go on safari than those of us living in Kenya. For example, driving to the national parks ourselves, spending two nights, will cost a family of 2 adults and 2 children approxiamtely $1500. If you fly, add another $1000.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Expensive jewelry.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Nairobi, Kenya 07/21/09

Background:

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

Second.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Too darn long. The KLM flight through Amsterdam is nice if you can swing an overnight there.

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

Work at US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For embassy folks there's the big compounds, which are nice, with the usual drawbacks of living with people whom you work with. We have a great house; it's huge and well laid out.

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

Produce and fruit is cheap and wonderful. Meat, on the other hand, is puny and pricey. Bring canned meat from the US.

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

Toilet paper, tampons, canned chicken and tuna, spaghetti sauce, stationery.

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

Decent Java House food. Not any fast food to speak of, but some OK Chinese. And there's plenty of very very cheap Kenyan places if you are willing to go where the locals go.

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

Minor. The embassy housing usually has one window screened per room, to avoid the random flying things. Mosquitoes can be pesky, so bring a bed net to use a few weeks per year.

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Daily Life:

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

APO now, but it's changing to more restrictive DPO in the fall.

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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. We pay our maid about $180 a month. She lives in. All the houses in our Rosslyn Ridge compound have separate live-in (BR, bath and tiny patio) quarters, and this is common.

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

There is a gym at the embassy.

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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?

I'm not crazy enough to use them here. I don't carry anything I don't want to give up. I don't wear my wedding ring (plain gold band) here, for example.

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

There's a non-denominational Christian church at Rosslyn Academy, but it's pretty far to the right politically and religiously.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Local papers are OK, and the Intl. Herald is available.

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

Not really any.

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

It is pretty hard to get around, since a lot of the time walkers don't have a sidewalk.

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Transportation:

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

US Embassy personnel can only use one taxi company, but I've been on others. Fix the price before you go; you can bargain. Buses are iffy but an option for long-term travel. White or black, you will stand out as someone with money.

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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?

Definitely 4-wheel drive even for the city. The driving is nuts and the roads are full of potholes or pot-canyons.

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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?

Rosslyn Ridge just hooked up Internet and it's pretty good, by Kenyan standards.

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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?

Get one. It's cheap to recharge your SIM card and no monthly fees.

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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?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Our vet is Indian. He is so cheap. It's about $1.50 total to get our cat wormed (which you have to do every 3 mos. even with an indoor pet).

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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 doubt it, when you have college-educated Kenyans willing to work for peanuts.

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

Kenyan women wear skirts, so you'll feel funny in shorts or sexy jeans.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Not bad, except in winter when people are burning stuff (what is it?) to keep warm - then it can be hazy on some days.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

The usual. You don't need malaria medicine in Nairobi, only when travelling to other parts of the country.

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

Major. Carjackings can occur anywhere at any time. If you can't handle this, don't come here. On the plus side, if you cooperate, you're very likely to come out of it injury free. Most carjackers have guns and aren't afraid to use them if you resist. For housing, we live on a compound and it's safe. Everyone with any money at all has a guard night and day at their home, plus high walls.

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

Great at the embassy. When you need Rx meds, you can often get them over the counter at the local pharmacy, for low price. If you get into a wreck out in the country, say your prayers. I've only seen one ambulance in a year of living here, in Nairobi.

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

Forget Africa being hot and unbearable. This is the best climate I've ever encountered: warm but dry in their summer, and down to maybe 50 in the winter. Two rainy seasons, but even then, you can have pouring rain but sunny skies within an hour.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our kids have been in middle school and high school at International School of Kenya. We are happy overall. The school's small enough that your kids won't get lost. The IB for high schoolers seem challenging enough for those who need challenge. A fair number of embassy kids go to Rosslyn Academy. It is right next door to Rosslyn Ridge, and is good for those with a narrow-minded Christian approach. The school isn't known for its tolerance for others, even Catholics or middle-of-the-road Christians. My high-school kids say that it has a lot of pot smokers, but I've never verified this! I am happy my kids are at ISK, which seems to have a broader range of nationalities, not to mention religions. I think some embassy families end up with kids at Rosslyn Academy without realizing how religious it is. That being said, there are some parents who love it.

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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 don't know of any. Nannies are cheap, and seem to genuinely care for and even love the children they watch.

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

Through school.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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

Great for families and couples. It's good for singles too, I think, if you are willing to find friends. The embassy's big enough that there are plenty of singles so you can find weekend friends to go exploring the country without any problem.

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

It's conservative here. but I have one gay friend who apparently lives fine despite being obviously gay.

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

There's more tribal prejudice than anything else. I'm white and might as well have a big neon sign on my head, but still get treated fine.

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

Safaris, travel to beautiful white beaches. Hotels for Westerners can be expensive, though. There's no middle price. We've stayed in city hotels for Kenyans, which were cheap but very basic. We survived.

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

Lots of crafts.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, but travel can be pricey unless you are willing to downplay your need for hotels to be like Holiday Inn.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat. I wish I could stay longer than two years.

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

weak stomach - you'll probably see a dead pedestrian before you leave. If you can't stand seeing very poor people, you don't belong here. The way to get around this is to help - there are lots of ways to do so, even just buying crafts at the embassy's craft fair where some of the groups help those with HIV, etc.

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3. But don't forget your:

ability to bear heavy traffic, even at unexpected times of the day. There's no logic to it.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Born Free" was filmed at Hell's Gate Natl. Park, about an hour from Nairobi.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This is a terrific, beautiful place to live. It is very poor, but the people are incredibly nice. The corruption of the government makes me sad, since Kenyan could be fabulous if their leaders would actually lead.

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Nairobi, Kenya 06/02/08

Background:

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

No. Mexico City, Aman, Tusla, Madrid

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

24 hours including time zone shifts (2x 9 hour legs plus lots of sitting for transfers).

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

I am assigned to the Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The housing is a mix of stand-alone homes and compounds. All are very nice. Commute depends on the location of your housing. Traffic is always bad. Keep your road rage at home, everyone drives like an idiot. They can't help it, driving is a competitive sport here.

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

Groceries are expensive but you can get pretty much anything you want though it'll be a European brand probably. Everything is expensive.

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

Quality furniture is hard to find. Get a Webber grill and bring it. Charcoal is plentiful and cheap for grilling.

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

Restaurants are very expensive. If you like wine, buy it at the diplomatic store and find restaurants with corkage charges. An average price for what would be a US$10 bottle of wine in the states, goes for US$50 in a restaurant. There is every type of food imaginable, but if you want quality you pay. Average dinner for two with wine and desert is over US$100.No wine but steaks or something nice will easily cost you US$50-70. You want a sandwich for lunch?? Average lunch cost is about US$15 per person.

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Daily Life:

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

Good luck. Everything gets stolen. Corruption in all service providers is prevalent. Use DHL if you can but even then, good luck.

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

Cheap. Prices vary and inflation from those expats who pay too much affect you but US$100-$150/month for a live in who'll work six days a week is common.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some places take credit cards. Credit card fraud is lower now than a few years ago but it happens. Use cash. ATMs are everywhere but go down due to network and communications issues. Don't carry plastic with you because when you get caught up in a robbery etc. they'll want to take you to ATMs to empty your accounts. Carry enough cash for your daily errands/events. Never more.

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

All denominations are here and in English.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The newspapers here are a joke. They're in English but the reporters make up facts and stories go on and on without saying anything. Real news from the internet is the best way.

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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?

None.

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

Tons. Kenya is not easy to deal with normally let alone with a disability.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable, yes, dangerous definately. Public transportation is a mess.

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2. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Drive on the left and you must have a right hand drive car. No exceptions. Cars are expensive. Old cars with high milage sell for more than you would think.

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3. 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?

4x4, high clearance, good shocks to handle poor roads. Get a diesel with a turbo charger to get up hills and pass slow moving cargo trucks. Get an alarm, tint your windows and get an extra wheel if you like to do road trips. Parts etc. for the major brands, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Range Rover, Suzuki, Suburu are all available. Mechanics are cheap and plentyful. Good tires are expensive but tirerack.com and others ship to APO. Roads are dangerous and in poor repair. Lighting is non-existant. Driving is competitive and aggressive. Carjackings happen all of the time.

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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?

It's here but it costs anywhere from US$100-$250 depending if you go wireless etc.

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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?

Safaricom or Celltel. Buy an unlocked phone from Europe or Asia. Phones here are a bit expensive but they are unlocked. You can get the coolest most modern phone you've ever seen here but it'll cost. If you bring one, be sure it's unlocked. International phones from the states cost about $4/min for roaming. Use a local provider. They have broadband for laptops etc. too.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Internet or mobil. The rates to use your mobile to call the states is about US$0.33/min. Not too bad.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Tons and tons.

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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?

It's hard to get a visa to work but if you get with a good NGO, the UN or the Embassy they can get you a visa. You want to do it on your own? Then be ready to pay bribes, large ones.

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

Work is business attire. You can wear business casual but the Kenyans wear business attire.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. When it rains the pollen comes out. Lots of agricultural fires and tons of diesel exhaust from cars/trucks.

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

Tons. Crime is insane. Had a couple of murders and shootings of Embassy personnel, both American and locals.

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

Better than in most parts of the third world. Aga Khan has sponsored many hospitals and most services are here. Do get Medivac insurance incase you're in the bush etc. Cost about US$100 bucks for a year. There are many service providers based at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.

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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?

Nairobi is beautiful. The coast and out west are hot as hades. Some people like that, others don't.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several and they are very good.

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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?

Yes plus nanny help is cheap.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good. Folks here that stay, love it.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons. Clubs, bars etc.

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

Yes - for families it's great. Singles, well for males you can find someone for the night but longterm will be hard. Everyone is after something due to economics. For single women it is very difficult. Couples, you can have fun but if you like to go out, girlfriends need to understand the women here will come up to you and your man with no concern about your relationship's status and try to get your man.

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

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

This country is one of the most racist I've ever seen. During the post election violence women and children were murdered, set on fire etc. just because there were from a different tribe. Despite what the government says, it's all about tribes. Indian/Pakistani/Asians have a hard time here.

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

Safaris, the beaches on the coast, Lake Victoria, camping, movies, shopping, family events, rugby tournaments, rally racing, horse racing, horse riding, flying, sky diving, limited hunting of birds, rafting, day trips of all kinds, hiking. You can stay quite busy if you have that type of adventurous mindset.

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

Tons of African carvings etc.

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9. Can you save money?

No way. This place is as expensive as Europe. Hard to believe. If you want to live in a tin shack and eat off the street, you may save money but you'll spend it in the hospital or give it up when you're robbed.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sure. It's a great place to live for a little bit. It's easy to see why people come and stay but the government doesn't care about it's people only their own pocket books and the politicians always have their hands out from the international community.

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

Attitude about how messed up the country is. They know, complain about it but do nothing about it and get insulted if you mention it.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, and adventure. Got to have it to stay sane.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Everyone says Out of Africa or Constant Gardener. Forget about it. That's all fantasy. Come, see it for yourself and make up your own mind.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

You'll have fun, just know it's dangerous. Tons of people say nothing has ever happened to me, and then it does. On the other hand don't let it keep you from seeing the country, but if a local says it's dangerous you better listen.

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Nairobi, Kenya 02/23/08

Background:

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

I have lived in New Delhi for one year (see the March 2006 RPR).

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From the U.S., the best connection is through Amsterdam on Northwest/KLM. It’s eight hours from the Midwest/East Coast to Amsterdam, with another eight hours from Amsterdam to Nairobi. It’s a reasonably OK connection – you get into Nairobi in the evening and there’s enough time in Amsterdam between flights for a coffee and sausage roll. However, we have stopped taking that route, going instead on Emirates (Nairobi-Dubai-Toronto) which makes more sense for us. It is a thousand times more pleasant, and avoids snotty KLM staff. Alternatively, one could route through JFK and Dubai with Emirates, although JFK is truly evil. From DC, the Qatar Airways flight via Doha is very pleasant. Their claim of 5-star service, even in economy, holds true.

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

My husband works for an international organization.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Very nice. Coming from India (our last post), housing choices in Nairobi are simply amazing. There are typically more houses than apartments (though this is changing with all of the apartment construction); a few townhouses are also available in which there is a set of 4-6 attached homes in one compound. Houses tend to be rather large with a lot of land (0.5-1.5 acres). Modern apartments (what we live in) are available and quite reasonably priced for the amenities you get (new kitchens, gym and pool on-site).

In most expat areas, rents average about: US$700-$1,100/month for a newish 3-4 BR; townhouses: $1,100-$1,500/month for a 4-BR; houses: $1,000-$2,000+, depending on size, location, and amount of land. You can certainly get cheaper than that, but it may not be as modern. All places have a high boundary wall around them and apartments come standard with 24/7 security on-site (one day guard and two night guards). For houses, you generally have to hire a service; we’re not sure on the cost, but my husband’s work provides an allowance of up to $1,000/month if that’s any indication.

There seem to be four main areas where expats reside. To the far north of Waiyaki Way (the main thoroughfare) are the areas of Gigiri, Runda, and Muthaiga which is where the UN and a number of embassies (including the U.S.) can be found. This area is obviously quite close to work and nearby Village Market, a shopping mall that could be right out of Orange County (thankfully no Mischa Barton sightings!), with nice stucco-and-tiled shops, a bowling alley, and waterslides. Almost everything here is houses. Nearby, but closer to Waiyaki Way, are the neighborhoods of Spring Valley, Nyari, and Loresho, which are similar. On the other side of Waiyaki Way are the neighborhoods of Westlands, Kileleshwa, Lavington, and Kilimani, which are farther from the embassies but closer to town, where NGOs and other organizations are located. Properties here are a mix of apartments, houses, and townhomes. There’s also the choice of living in Karen or Langata, which are slightly out of town, but very pretty with lots of big houses with a lot of land. Of course, commute times will be longer (at least 30-45 minutes to the UN/Embassy area, depending on traffic).

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

There are two big modern supermarket chains (Nakumatt and Uchumi) that have a wide range of food and household items. Prices are not unlike costs in the USA, though certain imported goods (notably peanut butter and breakfast cereal) are quite expensive. Almost everything is available, but not necessarily U.S. brands (no Kraft Dinner, for example) nor are brands consistently available from week to week (e.g., you might get Nestle Corn Flakes one week, then a South African brand the next).The quality of fruits, vegetables, and meat in both chains sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, but a number of locations are in malls with stand-alone fruit/vegetable shops (e.g., Zucchini’s) and butchers, with much better selection and quality. Prices for produce are extremely reasonable. In addition to these chains, there are smaller, more personalized shops that have a good selection and often more in the way of specialty spices or imported goods.

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

Most things are available here, but certain types of cheap home items (shower curtains, plastic dish racks, etc.) are overly expensive here. Same goes with small appliances – if coming from a 240V country, it might be best to stock up on things like coffee makers, toasters, irons, etc. Do ship any of your favorite brands of snacks or non-perishables and all the clothes you might need, as selection and prices here aren’t good.

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

Lots and lots of good restaurants of all genres, ranging from fantastic Indian, Lebanese, Continental, Italian, Seafood, Japanese, Nyama Choma (i.e., all you can eat meat), etc. Prices are slightly lower than comparable places in the USA, maybe 10-20 percent lower or so. There is only one Mexican place (in Karen) that is in a mall food court, but is reasonable (there's another in Westlands, but people have gotten sick there!). Likewise, the only good Chinese food we’ve had is also in a mall food court. In terms of fast food, it’s mainly South African chains like Nando’s and Wimpy, which are reasonable and similarly priced as U.S.-chains, though the selection of food is not as diverse. In general, delivery is much less common than other places, though.

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Daily Life:

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

You don't! We have had several experiences of mail sent through the normal post never arriving but that does not always happen. DHL or FedEx are your best bet.

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

More expensive than Asia, but fairly reasonable. Figure US$150-$200/month for an experienced driver and maybe $100-$150/month for a maid.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs abound, but many are Visa-only. This has been slowly changing – it was only Barclays that accepted MasterCard ATMs when we first arrived. We would reserve credit card use to major hotels and restaurants.

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

Apparently all are represented, though heavy on the Pentecostal/born again stuff here.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The Nation and Standard are the major ones; not great for international news, but will keep you informed on all of the political gossip of the day.

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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 fine though a smattering of Swahili is always appreciated.

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

It’s better than in some developing countries as there are modern shopping malls with ramps and elevators but day-to-day living might be more challenging.

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Transportation:

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

Matatus are cheap but not in the same area code as safe. Taxis are safer, but not affordable at all. Affordable hired transport is a real problem.

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2. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left, like in the U.K., but Kenyan drivers are hard-wired to drive in the middle of the road.

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3. 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?

You definitely need something with high ground clearance to put up with the lousy roads and potholes that pervade Nairobi. A small SUV (Nissan X-Trail, Subarus, Toyota RAV-4, Honda CR-V) is adequate although the adventurous people who want to go out of town more frequently would be best served with a Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, or Land Rover. Japanese brands seem to be the most common; it is rare to see any U.S. brands such as Fords or Jeeps.

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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?

Quality = ha, ha. Well, it is available in different forms and guises. In addition to dial-up, there are a number of services that market “wireless” Internet, in which the Internet signal is transmitted through towers, much in the same way that mobile phones operate. You then pick up the signal with a phone or wireless modem. This service is relatively new and fairly experimental, with the downside that it tends to be flaky and VERY slow sometimes (but better than speeds at work surprisingly!).Costs aren’t cheap either: figure $100/month for this. When they get it right, it could be pretty cool indeed, but right now, we’re sort of in the Middle Ages. Broadband is also available but at great cost.

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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?

CelTel and Safaricom are the main providers. Both seem fine.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

VoIP via Skype, though bandwidth kind of sucks at times.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are vets everywhere. We cannot vouch for their quality, but suspect it is pretty high.

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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?

Yes, if you have specialized skills that local NGOs are looking for, but in general professionals will be competing with highly educated Kenyans and are often a bit frustrated.

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

We can’t speak for the embassies but my husband’s work is business causal. Kenyans tend to dress quite formally.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

It is good to moderate at home but very unhealthy when you are stuck in traffic behind a truck or matatu that doesn’t know the meaning of the words “emission controls." There are also the random burnings of things (usually trash).

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

High to extreme. Nairobi has a bad reputation for crime, particularly carjackings, and the omnipresent security presence at malls, restaurants, homes, etc. in the form of 24-hour guards (sometimes toting guns) and high walls with razor wire and electric fencing. In a UN security report back in 2006, the words “hand grenade” appeared in a description of a shoot-out between police and bad guys at a checkpoint on a major road on a Friday night. You definitely have to be careful and aware of your surroundings, but with a few precautions (locking all doors/windows while driving, paying attention to the road and people around you at all times, etc.), you will be fine. Of course, since the elections (December 2007), things have become a little more tense. During the first week of January, we were in lock-down in our apartment and there were protests and street violence near where we live. This has since calmed down, but the peace is a bit tenuous: a lot depends on how well the current political negotiations play out and how long (and if) they stick. Lots of if's.

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

Nairobi is pretty healthy in general but going outside exposes you to many nasties (Malaria, etc.).

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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?

Wonderful. Generally ranges from the low-70s to the low-80s (F) during the day, mid-50s to mid-60s (F) at night, with little humidity. It is on the cooler side of those ranges in July and August and warmer in December-January. Whether it is rainy, cloudy, or sunny depends on the season, though you will get at least a little sun most days. Most rain happens March-May and October-November.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don’t have any experience with them, but the International School of Kenya has a very good reputation.

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Massive but fragmented, though there are not many centralized groups for meeting. The UN has a spouse club and the embassies take good care of their own. The local AWA is open to members from anywhere in the world and has interesting outings and monthly speakers. People kind of do their own thing.

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2. Morale among expats:

Reasonable for the most part, neither great nor horrible. Kind of beige.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It is what you make of it: home parties, bars, restaurants, trips out of town. Due to the security situation, most people tend to stay home or in their immediate area at night. Entertaining at home is more common than going out to local clubs like Pavement.

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

Probably best for families with small children; it's a great place for small kids and the international schools are reputed to be excellent. There are great places for couples and singles but it seems to be an older crowd (45+) here in general.

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

We suspect it’s not the best.

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

Not that we have experienced: interracial couples are common and accepted, something we've been pleased to see.

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

Lots of fun stuff awaits outside of Nairobi, including Masai Mara, Hell's Gate, excursions to the Rift Valley, beaches... not to mention that you are close to many nearby attractions (mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Zanzibar, etc.). In town, you have the Giraffe Centre, Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (as seen on BBC's Elephant Diaries), museums, 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 art works purchased at the Maasi Market and travel throughout the region.

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9. Can you save money?

Maybe, provided you avoid pricey vacation spots in the region and the Kenya shilling remains at a reasonable level (around $1=Ksh70) as it has post-election. When it was at 61-62 pre-election, there's no way you can save if paid in U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Probably not. We are glad we came and experienced Kenya but find much of the expat community rather closed off to newcomers and day-to-day life can be boring. We'd like to like it a lot more than we do.

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

Sense of freedom (brick walls, razor wire, and security guards every 20 feet tend to kill that off fairly quickly); air conditioner (it is always temperate here); and hopes that the potholes you keep driving through on your way to work will ever be repaired.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, camera with super zoom lens to take on safari, and golf clubs so you can play at one of the great local clubs.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Out of Africa

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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