Expats moving to Mombasa can look forward to a vibrant, loud and bustling city by the sea. As Kenya's second-largest city and a key regional economic hub, Mombasa's popularity as an expat destination is certainly on the rise. Tourists are also increasingly lured to Mombasa, attracted by the beautiful coastal landscapes and warm weather for fantastic getaways, sunbathing, snorkelling and savouring fresh seafood.
Living in Mombasa as an expat
Expats are often drawn to Mombasa to take up jobs in mining, manufacturing, energy and oil. Large numbers of people also move to Mombasa to volunteer and work for NGOs. The city is a major coastal tourist spot, and the hospitality industry is another prominent income generator in the region.
In terms of transport, the safest way for expats to get around in Mombasa is to hire a car with a local driver, as driving in the city can be dangerous and road traffic accidents are common. This is because road conditions and signage are generally poor. That said, travelling by public transport or taking a ride in a local tuk-tuk does make for an interesting experience.
As is the case in most large Kenyan cities, safety and security are concerns for expats. While the authorities in Mombasa have taken steps to implement safety measures by introducing security patrols in certain parts of the city centre and along the beaches, expats should still take precautions.
Mombasa is home to a mosaic of different cultures, and expats living in the city are likely to experience some level of culture shock. It's not quite as cosmopolitan as the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, and expats should dress modestly, as a large proportion of Mombasa's locals are Muslim.
Cost of living in Mombasa
The cost of living is reasonable and, while it can be hard to find home comforts, expats do have easy access to a number of luxuries.
The standard of accommodation for expats living in Mombasa is high. Houses and apartments tend to be spacious and modern, yet fairly affordable, and most expats choose housing within a secure gated community.
The standard of healthcare provision in Mombasa varies considerably, and expats should ensure they have a comprehensive insurance policy if they want access to the best quality private healthcare. Mombasa's major private hospitals are relatively well equipped with good facilities and English-speaking medical staff.
Expat families and children in Mombasa
There's no shortage of activities to keep expats occupied in this colourful, vibrant city. From relaxing on Mombasa's stunning beaches and finding a bargain at Kongowea's open-air market, to discovering more about Kenya's fascinating history or getting some fresh air along the Bamburi nature trails, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
While public schools in Kenya may be free for all, expats may find the quality variable and often opt to send their children to private or international schools. Most private and international schools follow the British curriculum, but expat parents will be delighted to find that some offer country-specific curricula or the globally recognised International Baccalaureate.
Climate in Mombasa
Mombasa has a tropical climate. Summers, from November to April, are muggy and overcast; winters, from June to September, are cooler, dry, windy and marked by clear skies. Rainfall is not particularly abundant outside the 'long rains' season during April and May. During this time, floods and power outages can occur. A second 'short rains' season visits Kenya from October to December, but this is not particularly evident in the country's second-largest city.
Expats may take a while to adjust to the slow, relaxed pace of life in Mombasa, but with a little patience and an open mind, they'll find their experience to be a rewarding one.
►For an overview of the country, read Moving to Kenya
"I enjoy the fact that I live a five-minute walk from the beach. The state of roads and traffic jams are annoying; however, the fact that it is almost always warm and sunny makes up for it." Read more about Polish expat Asia's experiences of Mombasa.
Are you an expat living in Mombasa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mombasa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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