Moving to Kenya

Initially, the thought of moving to Kenya may only conjure images of magical landscapes and rare wildlife for the uninformed expat. However, those that do come to settle in the country will find themselves in one of the most developed of African nations.

Kenya is generally a politically stable country with manageable infrastructure and facilities. The Kenyan capital of Nairobi is now considered the hub for business and development in eastern Africa.

Expats working in Kenya tend to be either highly-paid managers of multinational companies or development and NGO employees and volunteers. Strong levels of local employee protectionism can often make the job search difficult, even for skilled and highly qualified foreigners. 

Expat life can be insulated from Kenyan society, as the fear of crime, particularly in large cities, sometimes cloisters foreigners behind the gates of housing compounds and locked car doors. Those who emerge from behind this curtain of fear can really enjoy the different cultures of Kenya, all of which are famously welcoming and cheerful.

Nonetheless, those moving to Kenya may not find the expat experience as comfortable as in more developed nations, and longing for everyday conveniences and the familiar efficiency of home is a common topic of discussion among foreigners.

On the other side of the coin, others find that the luxuries Kenya has to offer, such as large houses and high expat salaries, make for a higher quality of life than they'd have back home. Overall, whether life in Kenya turns out to be an unwelcome posting or a grand opportunity, all expats will certainly have a truly unique experience.


Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Kenya

Population: 51 million

Capital city: Nairobi

Neighbouring countries: Kenya is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south and southwest. 

Geography: Situated on the east coast of central Africa, Kenya has a varied geography. This ranges from low-lying plains in the east of the country to the fertile highlands of central Kenya, home to Africa's second highest peak, Mount Kenya.

Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Christianity and Islam

Main languages: English and Swahili

Money: The Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Kenya but many prefer to continue using their overseas accounts, especially if they're only in the country for a short period. ATMs are widely available in major cities.

Tipping: Tips are common for most small services, in addition to the standard 10 percent expected in restaurants. 

Time: GMT+3

Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style plugs with three flat blades are used.

Internet domain: .ke

International dialling code: +254

Emergency contacts: 999

Transport and driving: While public transport is available in all of Kenya's big cities, it's not always efficient or safe. The best option is for expats to use a private vehicle and hire a driver who is familiar with the local driving conditions. Driving is on the left-hand side.

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