Nairobi, previously known as the “Green City in the Sun” but more recently known as “Nairobbery”, despite its nickname is still a great place to live. Security is an issue, yes, but not more so than in any other major world city – in fact it’s probably less of an issue than in many other capitals of the world, provided that you use common sense in your everyday life and take precautions such as not wearing eye-catching jewellery when out on foot. It is recommended that when driving around the city you lock your doors and keep your windows up (so buying cars with working Air Con is essential). As with most cities, there are areas where it is unadvisable to go.

Climate-wise Nairobi is ideal, situated at an altitude of 1700 m (5500 feet), yet close to the equator, it never gets too hot or too cold. Some people struggle slightly to get used to the altitude, and you may find yourself uncharacteristically out of breath when climbing the stairs, but you will acclimatize quickly.

Kenyan people are very friendly, from the “duka” (supermarket) helpers to the domestic staff in your employ, to service providers in banks or nurses in hospitals. On the other hand, ”Nairobi time” can be a bit slow; it can be frustrating dealing with dropping internet connections, potholes, ATM machines that are out of service and mobile phone networks that loose signal – all part of the rich tapestry of living in a third world country!

 Water

The Nairobi City Council water supply is quite unpredictable and when renting a house it is advisable to check that there are adequate water storage facilities, unless the property has its own borehole. At times and in certain suburbs extra water needs to be brought in by bowser and this is more expensive.  You can order water through Nairobi City Council and pay them directly to deliver.

Do not drink tap water anywhere in Nairobi; there are several good bottled water brands, some of which deliver water to the home on a weekly basis, like Aquamist. 

Electricity

Nairobi experiences a fair amount of random power cuts, and in times of drought, power rationing by the government. A back-up generator or power inverter system, while not essential, is highly recommended.

Telephones

When moving into a house do check if there is an available telephone line which can be reconnected for your use, as getting new telephone lines is quite difficult and time consuming. Similarly, when a phone line goes down, it can sometimes take months to have it fixed. The mobile phone network on the other hand is very good, and most people now rely on their mobiles as opposed to a land line. There are many good mobile service providers: Safaricom , Airtel, Orange and Econet.

 Housing

Housing standards vary hugely, from large ambassadorial houses in Muthaiga to furnished apartments surrounded by other apartment complexes close to the CBD. When looking for housing, it is advisable to use registered estate agents and not go through notice boards, to avoid the frustration of dealing with one man bands of unregistered agents with no licences and often no official access or entitlement to even show the houses they profess to have on their books. You will find contact details for reputable agencies on this website.

House Staff

There are no hard and fast rules on this one, other than to remember to treat your house staff with respect and try to pay them the going rate. When employing new staff, try to get as many checked references as possible and a copy of their ID.   Try not to be over familiar or too involved with their personal lives otherwise you might become “overinvolved”.  Do not put temptation in their way, you need to look after your personal belongings and keep handbags in a safe place.   

 Schools

There are many excellent British system based schools, as well the International School of Kenya and Rosslyn Academy (American school with a Christian ethos). Schools are located in many different areas of Nairobi, and with the traffic load increasing by the day, many people choose the school first and then the area to live in based on the school choice.

 Cars

4WD vehicles are favoured by many, and cope well with the potholes and going out of town on safari, but smaller nip-around-town cars are handy for the school run and popping out to the shops. Major car dealers are represented in Nairobi, and there are also many second hand vehicles being brought in, mainly from Japan. Beware though, if bring in your own vehicle, import duties are high and there are numerous rules concerning car imports. Please check car sales on the website for more information, or contact us directly.

 Children’s activities

Kenya is a great place for kids. The climate is ideal all year round for playing outside, and if you are lucky enough to have a garden with a sandpit, swings and a trampoline, you’re set for entertaining pre-schoolers. Older kids spend their days at school and do sports every day; they play team games, swim, play tennis, squash or run cross-country. There are also riding lessons, music and art lessons both in and out of school. In the weekends one can visit the game park and Daphne Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage (you can even adopt your very own elephant and see it being bottle-fed in private small groups at 5pm!) or the Giraffe Centre where you can feed giraffes and find out how rough and gooey their tongues are! There is also go-karting, bowling, water slides, the cinemas… in a word – something for everyone.

For new mum’s in Kenya, you can try kenyaexpatmums.com to meet new friends, and join baby groups.

 Health & fitness

Healthcare in Nairobi is of a high standard, there are excellent specialist doctors and good hospitals, the main ones being the Aga Khan, Nairobi Hospital and Gertrude’s Gardens Children’s hospital. Private healthcare is expensive though, so make sure you have a medical insurance policy in place.

There are many very well equipped gyms in Nairobi. Some are located in private clubs (Windsor, Muthaiga Club or Karen Club), others in shopping centres such as the Sarit Centre, others dotted around suburbs. Most offer modern equipment as well as aerobics classes, some such as “Curves” are for ladies only. There are also personal trainers, dieticians and nutritionists to choose from, depending on where you live. 

 Travel

From majestic Mount Kenya to the wildebeest migration in the Mara to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Kenya has something to offer for every taste and budget. Accommodation options are limitless and there are some cracking places within a couple of hours drive from Nairobi, suitable for weekends. The website lists some of the best travel, safari and holiday home letting companies for you to have a look at.