Living in Kenya since August of 2020 has been a wonderful adventure so far. I’ve finally figured out a routine that keeps me grounded. I feel less like a tourist and more like a resident and I’d love to share more about my day-to-day life here.

Before I dive in, I’d like to say that this post is not a “how-to-relocate” manual – at least not one that you might find useful. However, you might get a sense of what working and living here as a Nigerian expat is like.

Moving to Kenya (for Work)

Moving to Kenya (for Work)

As with many countries, including Nigeria, getting work as a foreigner can be quite difficult and expensive. If one is applying to or being transferred by an organization here, the burden falls on the employer to justify the foreign hire. The employer has to sponsor your work permit, special and dependent’s passes where necessary.

The fee for a work permit can be quite steep, so unless there’s a unique value that you’re offering, many companies would not overlook a Kenyan National for a foreign hire. Some might offer employment if the potential employee agrees to cover the fees themselves.

In our cases, we were already employed by our organizations in their Nigerian locations and our work permits in Kenya were sponsored when we got transferred. If your company has an office in another country, getting transferred is one of the easiest (and least costly) ways to move.

Daily Life in Nairobi

When I think about my daily life in Lagos, it involved commuting to work and to Mark’s place, often times sitting in long traffic, the occasional stop for dinner or suya (grilled meat) at The Place or Bukka Hut, visiting my parents, running errands or hanging out on Saturdays and going to church on Sundays.

Made in Kenya Sign

In Nairobi, my daily life is not vastly different but there are several changes that have made significant improvements to the overall quality of life. For example, here, electricity is 99% constant (our rental has an inverter for the very rare power cuts), the weather is perfect on most days and WIFI is fast and reliable, making working from home a delight.

My home is a walking distance to my office but I haven’t had to go in due to the pandemic. This means that I haven’t had to deal with daily traffic in Nairobi. The longest time I’ve sat in traffic was on my way to catch the SGR from Nairobi to Mombasa. Even that was nothing compared to the worst of Lagos.

I am only just beginning to figure out where my favourite spots are, I attend church online and on the weekends, we try to plan an outing outside the city. When we aren’t travelling, we arrange calls with our families or just hang out.

The Last Two Northern White Rhinos on Earth
A Weekend Expedition to Ol Pejeta, Nanyuki

Basically, it’s been a much calmer and stress-free life since we moved and except for the construction noises that surround us, the environment is quiet and peaceful. I really do love living here.

Here are a few more things that make me excited about doing so. Some of them might seem basic, but I have lived in Nigeria long enough to feel grateful for the simplest things…

These are a Few of My Favourite Things…

The Weather: When we first arrived in Nairobi, it was quite cold but not miserably so. Over time, I have gotten used to the cooler climate and fallen in love with it. Most days are beautifully sunny and cool, some days are hot but not humid but generally, the weather is wonderful.

Edit: I just realized that I didn’t get used to the weather, it just got warmer! Now back to the colder parts of the year and I am freezing!

Things to do in the City: I love that Nairobi has a lot of fun things to do within the city. It is still astounding to me that there is a wildlife park right in the middle of it! We’ve been taking our time to explore the attractions here and it’s been great fun!

I also love that the city has a number of parks and public spaces. We visit the Nairobi Arboretum and Karura Forest often and it feels great to have these spaces within the city.

M-PESA (Mobile Money): M-PESA is a mobile phone-based money transfer service and practically every individual and business here have it. It is fast and reliable and very convenient. With it, I don’t have to carry cash anywhere.

WIFI: Every month, we pay 3999 Ksh for unlimited WIFI. As in real unlimited – not the one with a 100 GB cap (looking at you Spectranet). It is very fast and reliable and that sort of amenity you didn’t know you wanted but absolutely needed.

City Getaways: Perhaps my favourite thing about living in Nairobi is the opportunity to travel outside the city. From wildlife safaris to white-sand beaches to hikes in the most gorgeous terrains, there’s everything to love about this beautiful country.

Customer Service: The other day, I had to return an item we bought from Carrefour. I didn’t even realize the mental strain and PTSD I had internalized from shopping in Lagos until I got to the counter. As you might have guessed, that transaction went on smoothly. I got refunded for the item, no questions asked. The packaging had a small tear on the side from when we tried to take the content out and I was so sure that would be a basis for refusal but it was no problem at all. Generally, customer service here has been much better than I have previously experienced.

Timing & Traffic Situations: I am still surprised when I join tours that give a timeline on when we’d arrive at a place and we actually arrive at the said time! It’s so much easier to plan trips and travel within the country.

The Nairobi Food Scene: I haven’t really explored Kenyan cuisine. We’ve mostly made our own dishes or eaten out. There are several lovely restaurants here and eating out is something I’ve come to enjoy immensely. I just need to remember to keep our early retirement plans in mind!

My Favourite Restaurants in Nairobi So Far:

Eating Out:
Ordering In:
  • Kitchenette Bistro: I have had Nigerian dishes from Mama Ashanti (possibly the most popular West African Restaurant here) and La Palanka (I do not recommend) but Kitchenette Bistro stands out as the most authentic Nigerian food place for me. I have now made peace with spending the occasional 1800 Ksh (~$18) for their Jollof rice or Amala and goat meat :(.
  • Wok on Wheels: an affordable Chinese restaurant we often order from.

PS: Uber Eats, Glovo and Jumia Foods are the services we use to order food or groceries.

Cost of Living in Kenya (Nairobi) vs Lagos (2021)

Personally, I find the cost of living in Nairobi to be significantly higher than in Lagos. This survey conducted in 2020 by Mercer does not support this thought. It ranks Lagos as the 18th most expensive city for expats to live in and Nairobi as the 95th. The ranking is based on factors such as currency fluctuations, inflation and instability of accommodation prices.

I guess it makes sense to feel like the cost of living in Lagos is less than in Nairobi, after all, I was not an expat there, I had more insights into local businesses and I lived with my family until I got married. In any case, here are some price details to put the cost of living here into perspective.

ItemsAverage Amount in Kenyan Shillings
(₦1 = 0.29 /-)
Rent (2 Bedroom Apartment in Westlands) i.e. VI, Lekki equivalent90,000 – 200,000 pm
Electricity4,000 pm
Unlimited WIFI4,000 pm
Transportation Costs: Uber/Taxify rides~50/- per km
Mobile Phone Data Bundle (600 mins+12GB+Whatsapp+2000 SMS)2,000 pm
If you’re interested in finding out the cost for any particular item not listed above, you may leave that in the comment section below and I’d respond to it.

Several things here are much more pricey than in Lagos. For example, buying a car is ridiculously expensive. The good thing is that most vehicles have good resale value, especially if you took care of them. Generally, locally made or grown products are cheap while anything that’s imported is pricey.

What I Miss About Nigeria

Apart from my family and friends, the thing I miss most about Nigeria is the food. I miss the mid-range restaurant options. In Lagos, you have the ‘mama-put joints’ on the side of the road and the high-end restaurants in Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikoyi but right there in the middle, you have the ‘The Place’ and ‘Bukka-Hut’ type restaurants that serve great Nigerian foods at a reasonable price, in a nice clean environment. I miss that.

I miss Sooyah Bistro’s suya, Tastee Fried Chicken’s doughnuts, Mr Bigg’s meat pie and chicken and the small chops stalls outside my church… sigh

I also miss being able to drive and the freedom that comes such mobility. Kenyans drive on the left and I don’t think I’ll ever get confident enough to navigate the roads.

Living my best life in Nigeria

I am still settling into life in Kenya. I still don’t know where to braid my hair or where I can buy (Nigerian) yams from. I struggle with my identity and purpose sometimes, I am trying to make new friends here but realizing that I am too introverted to sustain real-life friendships and I am too content with Mark’s company. It is at times like this, I miss the forwardness and intentionality of Nigerians…

I am still struggling to learn to speak Swahili fluently. I feel like it would greatly improve my experience here but it’s not been as easy to learn as I envisioned and I have not been very motivated since everyone speaks English.

Nevertheless, living in Kenya has been so much better than I ever imagined. I’m glad we moved here and I’m looking forward to all the wonderful adventures the country has to offer!

Hiking Mt Longonot

Update on hair salon: I finally got out of the house and walked down the street to a hair salon close by. The funny thing is that I’ve passed by this place so many times and yes, there is a giant sign outside it – which I have also seen multiple times. It just didn’t stick until Mark mentioned it again. Anyway, until I find somewhere cheaper, this one would be my go-to.

Are you a Nigerian living in Kenya? I have a serious question for you. Where can I buy yams from?!
For my other readers: what else would you like to know about living in Kenya? Let me know in the comment section below!

I love to hear from you, Leave a comment here!


  1. Much thanks for sharing your insights which I randomly stumbled upon. I am a remote worker and currently looking to live temporarily in Nairobi for 2-4 months. I am so excited but need to do a great deal of research. I have soo many questions.

  2. Thanks so much for this piece

    Please I’d like to study in Kenya for my Masters. Do you have information? Are Nigerian schools better?Is it possible to get a job there while studying?
    I really need to change my environment

    • Hi Chiletam, I haven’t had the chance to inquire about schooling here, so I know nothing about it and can’t compare it with [public] Nigerian schools. I guess the fact that I don’t hear about constant strikes is a plus.

    • Hey amarachi I’m trying to relocate to Kenya please is there any guarantee to get a job as a Nigerian please I need to know before I move thank you

      • Hi Afeez, I can’t give that guarantee. Sadly, Kenya also has issues with graduate unemployment, so I imagine that it may be difficult (but not impossible) to get a job here. It is generally better for Nigerians looking to relocate to other countries to try finding a job first before making the move. It makes life easier.

  3. Hi Amarachi. Thanks for this beautiful post. I’m considering setting up my company here in Nairobi and been looking for resources online to help the decision. This really helps.

    Have you found a community of Nigerians living here? (I’m currently here for 3 weeks to explore everywhere)

    I think that’ll be a good start to making friends before going fully local.

    • Hi Brian, glad you found my post helpful. Being more of a homebody, I have spent most of my time here with my immediate family but have encountered a few Nigerians here too. I think you should just explore freely, meet Nigerians when you can, meet locals when you can 🙂

    • Hey Brian, how are you getting on with this? I want to do the same thing too and I have been looking for information on going about this.

  4. Thank you Amarachi, this is a lovely article, i’m planning to travel to Kenya for a few months to experience life outside Lagos and i’ve been a little worried about what the experience would be since i’m going as a solo female traveller. Your blog is going to be a very helpful resource

    • Hi Faith, I don’t think you have much to worry about. Kenya is quite easy to navigate as a solo female traveller. Just apply regular cautionary measures as you would anywhere else when you visit and you’ll be fine.

    • Hey am also interested in coming to Kenya Soon may late next month did you get a travel agent helping you run your paperwork??

      • Hi Chigozie, sorry for the delay, I just saw your message. No I didn’t have a travel agent. I went about the process myself, its pretty simple. I got to Nairobi over a week ago and its a pretty nice place. If you need any help you can dm me on IG –> phainix

  5. Oluyemi oluwafemi

    Thank you so much for your write up, am impressed by the way you outlined every point and i’ll be glad to hear more from you on how to relocate to Kenya . please expect my mail very soon i still need more information thanks.

    • Thanks for your comment, Oluyemi. I’d like to mention that I might not be the best person to ask about relocating to Kenya. As I mentioned in this post, I got transferred by my company, so it was basically handed to me. I can’t give you a guide on how to relocate as I don’t know how.

  6. Thanks amarachi for this write up,it’s actually gave me an answer to most of the questions I had in mind but not all. Thou have visited Kenya once,I spent just 2weeks but didn’t have much time to explore, but this time I and my family are relocating to Kenya in a few weeks time. I just want to be able to settle In as fast as I can.We will be in meru for a while. Thanks

    • Hello Karen, what questions did you have? I haven’t been to Meru yet, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to help much but do let me know and I’ll respond to the best of my knowledge.

  7. I really enjoyed your right up, it interests me the most cos I have a Kenyan damsel am planning to settle down with and am planning to relocating to Kenya to start life with her.

    What bothers me most now is how to secure a well paying job, what’s your advice for me Amarachi

  8. Please can you drop something about the state of security in Kenya & if there is any serious form of discrimination to Nigerians?
    As a Nigerian, it’s security is becoming one of the most important topic to discussion before moving an inch.
    Great write up….thanks for shading light from from a relatable perceptive.

    • Hi Seyi, thanks for your comment.
      Regarding security in Nairobi, personally, I would say I feel safe, much safer than I did in Lagos. But this isn’t to say that the crime rate here is zero. As with many other cities in the world, a good level of self awareness and safety precautions are necessary. The rest is up to chance.

      About discrimination against Nigerians – Save for one incident at the airport, I personally haven’t faced much of that here , however, I cannot speak for all Nigerians living in Kenya.

  9. Pingback:Travel Blogging With Ericotrips » Afrobloggers

  10. Dora Emmanuel

    Beautiful Article Amarachi! You just summarised my research in outstanding content. Thanks for this. Would you care to mention what exactly is the cost for rent says? A two bed for starters. Also, are you saying that job opportunities are scarce for foreigners? Except when on cross transfers? I would love to continue this conversation via an email chat if you permit.
    Kind Regards,

    • Hi Dora, thanks for your comment and please reach out to me via [email protected]. To answer your questions: the amount for rent is dependent on where you choose to live. I’ll quote in dollars for clarity. On average it can be between $900-$2,000 per month. But you’ll find cheaper outside Nairobi and further from the city centre.

      Regarding job opportunities: I wouldn’t say scarce per se – I haven’t really assessed the job market here but as I mentioned, there has to be a justification and payment for a foreigner to work here. Again, not an expert, so you should also take whatever I say with a grain of salt 🙂

  11. Fredrick Adeola

    Thanks for sharing and am glad you settled nicely as well. I want to as well move you join my fiancee in Nairobi, but i am curious about getting a job, i have sent you a message via email and Instagram. Lets connect. Thanks

  12. Journeymanrocks

    I really enjoyed reading this. I came to Kenya for a short holiday and I am seriously considering moving here with my wife and daughter. Nairobi was really chilled. I guess it is only the food that may be a sticking point. Thanks for always sharing insightful content.

  13. Beautifully written. I moved to Nairobi in January, and I wouldn’t have written this any different. I like the fact there is almost always power and good Internet. I also only miss the food.

    • Thank you, Kola. Have you been exploring any new places outside the city?

      • So far, I have visited Limuru at the farthest. Would have visit Kisumu and Mombasa but the renewed lockdown prevented those trips. Currently planning to visit Naivasha, Nakuru and Busia County.

  14. I really loved this read! opened my mind to living outside Nigeria.
    Thank you Amarachi.

  15. What fun you’re having in Kenya! I was going with you as you navigated the streets of Kenya in my mind’s eye!! I hope to identify with your exploits someday, lol.

    In the wake of current insecurities and other peculiar problems with Nigeria, I’d love to start checking out Kenya for relocation, inspired by your exposition.

    How best can I possibly reach out to you?

    Regards to Mark.

  16. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. It was definitely a good read. I would love to sometime soon create my own adventures. Travelling has always been my thing. And I’m really looking forward to making it happen soon. cant wait. But in the meantime, your blog would be enough insight

  17. Aww bless you! Thanks for taking the time to respond and sign posting me to Nadine! I will definitely check her blog out. I really do appreciate it. Thank you.

  18. Really glad to read this. Seeking out all the info I can get about life in Nairobi as my family is to move in a matter of months. I am Nigerian but have lived in the UK for many many years. I get a bit conflicted sometimes as I try to merge both worlds and that worries me often. But reading this has given me a measure of reassurance. My kids were born in the UK and have lived here all their lives and I am really just hoping its not too much of a departure from their reality. It’s lovely to see you are enjoying it. The right hand drive is no big deal for me which is a plus. I must say though I kind of assumed that getting one’s hair done and getting things like yams was going to be easy peasy but seems like that’s not the case! Thanks so much, this was a very good read.

    • Thanks for your comment, Shiro.
      Re getting my hair done here and seeking out Nigerian food markets: I’d be honest, I haven’t put in that much effort to seek these out. There are several salons I could visit or home services I could use but I just haven’t been up and about, outside my comfort zone. I’m blaming my lack of enthusiasm on the pandemic.
      I think you’ll love Kenya and once your kids settle in, make new friends, they would too. Also, If you haven’t already come across Nadine’s (Expat Mummy) post about living in Kenya, you should probably check that out. It might give you more insights into this topic, especially considering the fact that she has lived here for much longer than I have and has kids and ties to the UK just like you. My ‘expat life’ is a little different from hers 🙂

  19. Great and interesting read.

  20. This was an interesting read! I’m glad you’re enjoying simple things like reliable electricity and unlimited Wi-Fi, the little things I take for granted in Jamaica sometimes. I hope adjusting to life in Kenya gets easier.. and I hope someone hooks you up with the yams. I also hope you get to visit Jamaica after this pandemic blows over too 🙂 Hopefully next year! Still looking forward to your visit.

    • Thank you, Rochelle. Reliable electricity and unlimited WIFI should not even be luxuries in our day and age but Nigeria is still on the road to getting it right. Maybe the country would someday. #FingersCrossed.

      I am certainly looking forward to visiting Jamaica soon!

  21. Whenever I hear that an African country has this electricity thing sorted out, I battle envy and jealousy. Oh well…

    Glad you are settling in nicely. I should start talking to my office people to shake body. Lol. Experiencing life in another country especially as a Nigerian would be great.

    Love to Mark!!

    • Thanks, Ogoo! As the days go by, I become more convinced that Nigeria’s electricity issue is deliberate. I hope we get it right someday. If remote working is possible for you, maybe you can ask them to consider short or long term transfers outside the country. It will be a great experience 🙂