Cost of Living in Kenya

An expat’s cost of living in Kenya will certainly be lower than in major cities in Europe or North America, but may still be higher than expected in some respects. It's important for expats to remember that amenities such as private healthcare, international schools and comfortable homes can inflate the cost of living in Kenya tremendously.

Expats will also find themselves having to account for additional living expenses they wouldn’t incur back home, such as the cost of clean drinking water and a security guard or driver.

Fortunately, many expats find their employment contracts cover some of the heftiest expenses. For instance, the company may provide an allowance for accommodation, transportation and international school fees. Expats should try their best to negotiate these benefits into their expat packages where possible.


Cost of accommodation in Kenya

Accommodation will be the biggest expense for expats living in Kenya. Most expats opt to rent property as they have a fixed-term contract and don’t plan on settling in the country for the long-term. Rent in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa will be higher than in rural locations.

Security needs to be in the forefront of one’s mind when choosing where to live and this must be factored into the cost of accommodation. Most expats opt to live in a secure, gated community, which can cost as much as property in Europe. Rental costs in safe expat areas are much higher, however.


Cost of groceries in Kenya

It often comes as a surprise to new arrivals in Kenya that the cost of food, basic housing products and electrical appliances is fairly high. This is because most of these goods are imported and highly taxed.

There are a number of supermarket chains where shoppers can buy anything from dairy products to mattresses, furniture, alcohol and electronics. Many imported food products such as cheeses, jams, chocolates, oils and pastas can also be found.

The best way to save money on groceries in Kenya is to buy local produce. Because of the country's wonderful climate, expats will find that fruit and vegetables sold at local markets are always good quality, and far cheaper than in a supermarket.


Cost of transportation in Kenya

Although public transport in Kenya is incredibly cheap, many expats don't use it as it's usually uncomfortable and inefficient. 

When it comes to getting around Kenya, most expats will hire or buy a car and find a local driver. Buying a car can be expensive, though. In addition, for those wanting to travel nationally in Kenya, a four-wheel drive is the best option but will be more expensive than a regular vehicle.  


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Kenya

There's no shortage of options when it comes to eating out in Kenyan cities. Most Western restaurants are located in expat areas and serve dishes made with imported ingredients, so prices are higher. For expats who are keen to try local Kenyan foods, plenty of establishments can be found selling generous portions for next to nothing.

The nightlife and entertainment scene in Kenya’s big cities is growing, with modern clubs and bars popping up all the time. Entrance fees and drinks costs can make a night out an expensive endeavour. Expats looking to enjoy a local beer will find there are plenty of small bars throughout Kenya where one can have a drink while watching the sunset.


Cost of living in Kenya chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Nairobi in November 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

KSH 130,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KSH 70,000 

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

KSH 50,000 

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

KSH 30,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

KSH 170

Milk (1 litre)

KSH 100

Rice (1kg)

KSH 180

Loaf of white bread

KSH 55

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KSH 700

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KSH 250

Eating out

Big Mac meal

KSH 650

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KSH 50

Cappuccino 

KSH 300

Bottle of local beer 

KSH 180

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

KSH 3,000

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

KSH 3.80

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

KSH 5,000

Domestic cleaner (per hour)

KSH 490

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

KSH 6,000

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KSH 200

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KSH 70

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

KSH 100

Zeynep Vural. Our Expat Expert

I have relocated to Kenya in 2012 with my husband and two kids. Enjoying the beautiful weather and laid back lifestyle here in Kenya.  After working for big corporations, decided to become a life coach and started my practice recently. I am also a blogger, who loves to write and read. 

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