Cost of Living in Nairobi

The cost of living in Nairobi is moderate compared to other expat destinations. The 2018 Mercer Cost of Living report ranked it as a mid-range expense location (123rd out of 209 cities). 

Most expats working in Nairobi earn good salaries, with employment perks that may include allowances for various major costs. These could include a housing allowance, a company car, medical and education benefits, and visa and permit charges covered by their employer.

That said, don’t be misled into thinking that expat life in Nairobi is cheap. While it certainly is possible to live sparingly with minimal expenses, most Westerners prefer certain services and standards and these are often significantly pricier than the local equivalents.

As is the case with most destinations, an expat’s chief expenses in Nairobi will be accommodation, school fees, transport and shopping for food, clothes and other items.


Cost of accommodation in Nairobi

The cost of accommodation in Nairobi depends on location, but good quality accommodation can be expensive. In many cases, employers offer to shoulder this expense. This offer can also include the required security deposit, usually the equivalent of two to three months' rent. Utilities, such as electricity, water and internet, will probably be the expat’s responsibility, however. 

One accommodation-related expense which expats may not anticipate is provision for security measures. Expats living in gated communities find this is often included in the rental costs, but it's unlikely to be the case in a standalone townhouse.


Cost of getting around in Nairobi

Many expats prefer to own a car in Kenya, as it allows for more freedom. Though it can be expensive to buy a car, hiring a driver is affordable, and is worth investigating. Renting a car is a cheaper alternative to buying and can be more convenient for expats only in the country for a limited time. Some expats, especially those in top executive positions, will have a company car and driver provided to them.

The main means of public transport in Kenya is the matatu (a van or mini-bus with a fixed or semi-fixed route). This option is cheap, but the vehicles are often overcrowded and probably don't meet the safety standards of many expats.

Taxis are also used often, but because there's no clear-cut billing method and vehicles don't have meters, make sure to negotiate a price with the driver beforehand.


Cost of healthcare in Nairobi

The cost of private healthcare in Nairobi is roughly equivalent to rates in Western countries. Day-to-day treatment is relatively affordable, but health insurance is recommended, especially in case of emergency treatment or medical evacuation. There are plenty of health insurance providers in Nairobi. Most expats have health insurance included in their salary package.


Cost of education in Nairobi

Most expats send their children to international schools, which are very expensive. Apart from fees, there may also be additional expenses for transport, food and registration. Again, it’s common for employers to include some form of education allowance in an expat package. If this isn't initially part of the offer, it's well worth attempting to negotiate for its inclusion as this is a major expense.


Cost of living in Nairobi 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 a 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 a 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

Owen Wandago Our Expat Expert

A writer for City Scape Limited, a relocation and concierge service for expat and local business executives and employees.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna Global

Aetna is an award-winning insurance business that provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. Their high quality health insurance plans are tailored to meet the individual needs of expats living and working abroad.

Get a quote from Aetna International

Cigna_logo_300.png

Cigna Global

With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

Get a quote from Cigna Global