Living in Kenya Expat Guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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For many expats, Kenya has everything to enjoy in East Africa. With a combination of mountains, well-structured cities, shorelines, and transportation networks, the benefits of living in Kenya cannot be overemphasized. It’s a medium-sized country with a large population and is home to ethnic communities.
If you’re considering a move to Kenya, there are many things to figure out. Sorting out visa requirements, understanding the process of living, finding a job, opening a bank account, and many others are some of the important considerations for anyone looking to relocate to Kenya as of today.
Bordered by the Indian Ocean, Kenya is an East African country that has attracted many foreigners over the years. Its economy greatly relies on transports, teaching, communication, and trade, which are some of the best promising fields for expat seeking employment in the country.
Having said that, you need to look beyond the African mindset and focus on why you want to reside in this country. In fact, it is generally a politically stable country with a Western-friendly government and manageable infrastructure. Have you been surfing the internet to get the right tips about this country?
Of course, you’d have seen several blog posts about Kenya. But are you sure they’re giving you the right information or tips? Not to worry about wrong information! In this article, we will walk you through everything needed to know about living in Kenya as an expat. Would you love to check? Continue reading.
5 Facts about Kenyan Culture
If you’re planning to relocate to any African country, it’s quite essential to know a bit about their culture. While Kenyans are used to seeing tourists and speak English as one of their official languages, they have unique customs and traditions you should know. Without further ado, below are the facts.
1. Kenyans Thrive on Community Cooperation
This is one thing that’s common in African, particularly in Kenya. In fact, you’ll rarely see Kenyans isolating themselves, especially when times are tough. But, you’ll see them with their community members trying to solve problems together or find a solution.
More so, sharing responsibilities such as farming, herding, and forming political agendas contributes to their success. Besides, no one is left behind when they need collaboration or joint decision-making. If you’re visiting Kenya, then you need to immerse yourself in the spirit of group cooperation and mutual responsibility.
2. Tardiness and African Time
Unless you’re meeting a new client or an important call, don’t expect Kenyans to be very close about the time. In fact, we can tell you that times are more casual in Kenya. In that case, if you plan to meet a friend for lunch, don’t get mad if he/she comes to arrive late. Also, don’t expect an apology either because it’s their norm.
However, the only thing you can rely on is a perfectly timed Kenya safari or anything that involves a formal timeframe. Meanwhile, in some parts of the country, it is considered rude to show up late, especially with no call. That’s why you need to understand the African time when you live in Kenya.
3. Kenyan Respect Their Ancestors
For the fact that the ancestors have existed for decades, the Kenyans still show respect and remember them. They continue to include their past loved ones in talks while they remember their impact. In Kenya culture, as well as in most African countries, you’ll see that ancestors still exist in terms of sculpture.
Some are even stuck in limbo, while they know they are not in this world but are part of them. Trapped in-between an afterlife, Kenyans believe that their ancestors are closed to God. This way, they ask for ancestral guidance by displaying worship and respect through prayers and sacrifice.
4. Know the Proper Dining Etiquette
Always have it in mind that dining is a formal affair in the country. So, when eating with Kenyan people, it is quite essential to know the proper table manners, as not to offend your hosts. However, refusing food is a major insult to the local’s personality. So, always show respect by accepting food from your host.
In addition, if it’s a special occasion, the guest of honor will have an assigned seat. You might even be given a space, otherwise, sit anywhere you like. In general, you need to wait for instructions before jumping to anything they offer you in Kenya.
5. Communication is Indirect and Useful
In all ramifications, communication is one thing that you need. As a foreigner, it might seem odd that Kenyans use metaphors and analogies to get the point across instead of bluntly calling someone a liar. This is one thing to you need to know.
Aside from that, if someone wants to be openly critical or show anger about something, they try to do that in private. This way, yelling is not seen very often. Even though English is spoken throughout the country, it’s still good to learn the basics of Swahili to understand further the way Kenyans communicate.
Best Places to Live In Kenya as an Expat
Undoubtedly, Kenya is a beautiful nation with spectacular scenery, amazing wildlife, and friendly locals. This country is renowned for the popular wildebeest migration, outdoor activities, and many other things, to mention a few. In this section, we have compiled some of the best places to live as an expat. Without further ado, take a look at it below.
Of course, Nairobi is the country’s capital city known worldwide for being the only city with a national park. Far from that, it is the country’s political hub and administrative control session. The standards of living in Nairobi vary a lot, and you’ll certainly enjoy living in this city as an expat.
There are many reasons to stay in Nairobi today. For one, it could as a result of the good weather condition, beautiful people, national parks, and the best-known karura Forest. Others might prefer to stay in Nairobi because of the social amenities and range of public and private schools.
This is another place to take into consideration as an expat. It is known as a fast-growing town in Kenya, which incidentally attained city status. We can even tell you that it’s one of the top 5 cities in Kenya. Nakuru is also a country that’s a part of and formerly the headquarters of the Rift valley Province.
The cost of living in Nakuru is pretty low compared to Nairobi. Housing and accommodations are affordable, and they vary, depending on your budget and what you want. Some of the things you’ll enjoy while living in this city include shopping, visiting top international schools, and more.
This wonderful city lies 45 minutes South of Mombasa, which is a sparkling jewel of Kenya’s mesmerizing coastal life. According to history, it was a fishing settlement meant for the locals, mainly fishermen, and subsistence farmers, who led a quiet life in this city. And as of today, this town has about 100,000 inhabitants.
The cost of living also makes it perfect for both the locals and expat looking to relocate to Kenya. However, the town’s cost of living is expensive in some areas, particularly because it is a holiday destination. With that being said, you should plan to spend an average of KES. 5,700 daily if you’re planning for a vacation in this country.
This city holds a ton of scenic beauties, including beaches, fantastic outdoor activities, and incredible hotels. Not only is that, but it is the perfect place to start life if you were to consider it as your next destination. Research disclosed that it has a population of about 1,208,33 people and its metropolitan region is the second-largest in the country.
Moreover, the cost of living varies depending on various estates and the kind of lifestyle you choose. Meanwhile, the middle-class persons mainly live in Mbaraki, Kizingo, Changamwe, among others. This city is home to a lot of resort places and museums dating far back as to the Portuguese and the Omani empires.
Eldoret has also made it to the list of cities to relocate to when you’re moving to this country for the first time. Known as the home of athletic champions, this city is a bubbling industrial with rich agro-resources and diverse culture. The cost of living in Eldoret is relatively cheaper compared to what you’ll expect in Nairobi or Mombasa.
Moreover, it is an excellent destination for athletic enthusiasts, and its home to the high Altitude training center for athletes. As of today, the town has a population of about 480,000 people. Some of the best estates to live in Eldoret include; huruma estate, Pioneer estate, Elgon view estate, and many others.
This is a beautiful town in Nakuru Country that recently hosted the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally 2021 Edition. Not only is that, but known today as one of the best horticultural urban centers in the country. According to history, the name originates from the Maasi word Nai’posha which means rough water.
However, the cost of living in this city is quite affordable. And people looking to buy vacation homes around the lake can visit this place. Also, food prices are quite low due to the proximity of the agricultural-rich County in this town. In fact, it could serve as an excellent destination for a holiday compared to Nakuru.
Kisumu, apart from being the third-largest city in the country, is popularly known for being Barack Obama Snr. Hometown. In addition, it was once known as Port Florence, and it served as a commercial port connecting Uganda, Nairobi, and Port Bell together. It officially became a city in 1996, and it currently has a population of about 400,000.
10 Interesting Facts about Living in Kenya
I’m sure you know that Kenya is home to have one of the world’s leading safari destinations. Have you recently decided that you’re going to join the African community? Well, you need to know most of the things that make this country so captivating. Without further ado, below are the interesting facts.
1. Coffee Is the Biggest Export
Do you know that coffee is one of the biggest exports in this country? Interestingly enough, Kenyans mostly drink tea over coffee because it grows so well in the country. Also, coffee from Kenya is similar to Colombian mild, making Kenyan coffee one of the most sought out coffees in the world.
2. Home to Maasai People
The Maasai people are a group of indigenous people who have lived in the National Reserve, Maasai Mara, since inception. These folks are known for their jumping dance and warrior skills. They occupy a land area of almost 100,000 square miles, while their estimated population in the country is about 500,000. This group is seminomadic, although results disclosed that they are reasonably dependent on the market economy.
3. Home to a Car-free Island
This island is home to Lamu Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Kenya’s oldest constantly occupied settlement. This place has its origin dated back all way back to the 12th century. To get around in Lamu Town, residents will walk, use donkeys, or take a boat to transport items. Meanwhile, cars are banned for the general public, and there aren’t roads that can even accommodate vehicles.
4. Named After a Mountain
This country is named after a mountain, and it’s one of the things you need to know about Kenya. In fact, before the arrival of European colonists in the late 19th century, this land was just a part of a larger region that’s simply called East Africa in the country. Also, no one is sure what Kenya was called before colonization, and the name is relatively new.
5. Kenya Has 2 Official Language
If you’re just hearing this for the first time, you don’t have to worry, as the information is right. The two main languages of Kenya are Swahili and English. Both of these make sense, considering the African location and the British colonization. So, if you don’t understand English, you can still learn Swahili to communicate better in the country.
6. Home to Famous Migration
There’s more to Kenya wildlife than just the big five, you know. In addition, Kenya is home to the largest overland migration in the world, aptly called the great Migration. This famous migration involves over 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras. During each migration, the animals travel a total of at least 800 kilometers.
7. Kenya Have Won Many Olympics
To date, we can tell you that Kenya has ever won a medal in a winter sport at the Olympics. However, the athletes have won over 100 medals, mostly on notable sports events. However, between the summer Olympics of 2008, 2012, and 2016, Kenya has earned 42 medals, almost half of the total medals won.
8. Very Poor or Very Rich Segment
Certainly, you might be confused about this fact, but the truth is Kenya people are either very rich or very poor. This means, in Kenya, very few people can be classified as middle-class. So, it takes your hard work to describe you as being rich or poor during your stay in the country.
9. Flower Garden of Europe
Well, let’s put it this way! There’d be no valentine’s day without Kenya. Meanwhile, if you receive a stunning, deep-red, fragrant bouquet of roses on valentine’s day, the chances are that they made it to your doorstep via a direct flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. So, have it in mind that Kenya is the third-largest producer of roses in the entire world.
10. A Paradise of a Thousand Birds
Have you ever thought you’ve seen the whole bird in the world? Of course, that would be wrong if you think so. Research made it known that Kenya is home to 1,132 species of birds. In less than 24 hours, 342 of those can be seen in one park, an official world record that Kenya set for the most significant number of bird species spotted in the country every day. What’s more, as over half of these birds can be found in Nairobi alone.
Pros and Cons of Living in Kenya
There’s so much to write about the pros and cons of living in Kenya. Expats moving to this country are surely in for a substantial measure of advantages, including friendly people, wonderful climate and many accessible gateways. Without further ado, below are the pros and cons of living in Kenya.
● Good Weather Condition
Good weather condition is one of the first things you’ll enjoy while living in Africa countries. Regions, especially around Nairobi, have a gentle climate all year round. More so, the regions have brighter days and cooler evenings. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a warm climate, you can head on to Mombasa.
● Enjoyable Social Life for Expatriates
This is one of the reasons why Kenya became a popular tourist destination for people around the world. This is because; they offer loads of cafes, restaurants, and bars with a vibrant social scene, especially in Nairobi. Also, numerous expats end up settling here because they come to adore the country, especially within Nakuru, Mombasa, and Nairobi.
● Reasonable Expenditure
The general expenditure in Nairobi is reasonable. Today, you can buy anything you want at a low price in any of the shopping centers compared to other American countries. Most especially, agriculture being the country’s backbone, has played a major role in terms of revenue and the cost of goods in Kenya.
● Financial Discipline
Just because of life in Kenya is not always easy, you might get forced to understand the meaning of financial discipline. One develops monetary control and a certain vision and wisdom is that you’ll be able to manage your fund.
● Bribery and Corruption
As in many other African countries, corruption is one thing you’ll never want to avoid. In fact, numerous authorities will demand bribes to get things done fast in the country. So, this is one of the first things you need to consider as an expat, relocating to Kenya for the first time.
● Safety and Security Problem
This has also contributed to some of the advantages of living in Kenya as an expat. Security is one major problem you might experience. With episodes of carjacking and burglary being common, you need to be careful when going out to visit friends and family. Moreover, most theft victims are middle-class or unfortunate Kenyans.
● Poorly Constructed Roads
Hazardous driving conditions might weigh you down while living in this country. Therefore, you need to prepare for the negative impact it may cause in the long run. Although traffic accidents are not uncommon but expats relocating to Kenya are better off hiring local drivers who can better maneuver around the dangers than driving themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions about Living in Kenya
What is not allowed in Kenya?
If you follow the article or read it carefully, you’ll know the right answer to this question. However, knives and hunting weapons are not allowed in Kenya. Not only is that, but plants and plants products are prohibited except you have a relevant written permit.
Is smoking illegal in Kenya?
Well, smoking in any public place is prohibited throughout the country, except in designated smoking areas. Meanwhile, offenders in Kenya can face a fine or imprisonment for this reason. Moreover, it is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency, and homosexual activity is illegal.
Is Kenya a poor country?
While Kenya’s economy is the largest and most developed in eastern and central Africa, results disclosed that about 36.1 percent of its population lives below the international poverty line. Not only is that, but this severe poverty is mainly caused by economic inequality, government corruption, and health problems
How wealthy is Kenya today?
As of today, Credit Suisse’s 12th edition of the Global Wealth Report, Kenya is the fourth in Africa with the highest concentration of wealthy individuals whose total wealth is estimated at ($338billion). This way, you should know that Kenya is among the top countries in Africa to visit.
Moving to Kenya is one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. If you’ve never been to Africa, the outdoor activities and incredible things to do here will never leave you saying WOW. Nonetheless, refer to this ultimate guide and read it careful to know more about living in Kenya as an expat.