Accommodation in Nairobi

Similar to most major African cities, expats must take into consideration the accommodation in nairobielement of security when searching for accommodation in Nairobi. Whether you choose to live in the suburbs in a self-contained house with its own garden, in a town house that forms part of a complex, or in an apartment, safety costs must be included in your estimated expenses.

There are plenty of real estate and relocation agents in Nairobi that can help you organise accommodation, and many specialise in a particular geographical area.

Renting property in Nairobi

Housing is relatively expensive in Nairobi, and rental prices only continue to increase.

Monthly rent for accommodation closer to the Central Business District (CBD) is often cheaper than the outer suburbs, depending on size and quality.

Security in Nairobi

Expats that opt to live in an individual house on its own property will need to employ at least one night watchman, and a daytime gardener. Some people employ their own guards on an individual cash basis (often Samburu or Masai warriors!), but the norm is to enlist the services of one of the many security firms who provide a back-up system, panic buttons and intruder alarms. This service must be factored into your expenses if renting this type of accommodation.

If you live on a compound with other houses then these costs are shared out amongst the other residents or rolled into the rent.

Choosing where to live in Nairobi

When choosing accommodation in Nairobi it’s worth planning where you live in relation to commute time. More and more cars are invading the roads, and jams and gridlock situations are commonplace. Expats with kids often choose to live near their school of choice for the same reason (there are plenty of good but pricey private schools to choose from). Wherever you live, there will certainly be plentiful shopping centres and supermarkets in your area.

The city centre used to be where most offices were located in Nairobi but over the past ten years many businesses have moved out and relocated to more traditionally residential areas, mainly because of heavy traffic. For instance, in Westlands, Parklands, Upper Hill you now find offices and shopping centres are mixed in with residential apartment blocks.

The further outside of the city centre you move, the more spacious living arrangements become - with stand alone houses on quarter, half or one acre plots. Though, because many of these suburbs are still not connected to mains sewage infrastructure, it means that there are restrictions on development.

Suburbs in Nairobi

The majority of embassies and the UN headquarters are found north of the city centre. Suburbs in this area, such as Runda, Muthaiga, Gigiri, Kitisuru are expensive. You generally find individual houses with sizeable gardens or large houses located in well laid out secure complexes (Hill View, Lake View, Rosslyn Ridge).

Commuting into town or the city centre is also done from Westlands, Parklands, Lavington, Kilimani, Kileleshwa, which are all residential areas that skirt the Central Business Disctrict. Here you will find some houses but mostly apartment blocks of varying sizes.

Pushing ever further out of town, along the Ngong Road you reach Karen and Langata where, like in the northern suburbs, you can find more spacious living. Langata is a particularly good place to live for those commuting in and out of the industrial area for work (located down the airport road), or even to offices on Upper Hill.

Future plans

There is a ring road planned for Nairobi which should ease congestion considerably. It is provisionally open as a dirt road and regrettably attracts various criminal elements. There have been incidents of car-jacking, so it’s not advisable to use it as it stands but once finished could make a huge difference in commuting times across the city.

Our Nairobi Expert

Frances's picture
Nairobi, Kenya
Moved to East Africa in 1999 shortly after marrying in the UK. First lived in Tanzania, then Kenya. We now have 3 children...

Got a question about your new country?

Search Expat Arrivals

You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Login with your Facebook account (Recommended)