Renting a house in Nairobi for the first time can be daunting. It is a fast paced city where everyone has to have their own back. It is only right that you as a first timer arm yourself with tips on how to not just survive but thrive.


As always when it is your first to do something you have to research. You have to find prospective areas that would work best with your commute as well as your budget. Find out how safe these places are. Find out how much you would spend moving to said places. Arm yourself with as much information as you can find. You can never know too much.


This is your first time moving out so you will need as much help as you could possibly find. Talk to friends who have rented in Nairobi before. There is plenty you can find on the internet but first hand accounts and experiences are very valuable. Find out from them what the best practices are. Ask them what you should do to prepare for Nairobi living. As part of the help, you should also find an agent. An agent will help you have an easier time getting a place to live. This is a new thing you are doing; do not be proud about asking questions.

Trust Wisely and Selectively

That said, this is Nairobi. You cannot just trust anyone and everyone. You will be safe to assume that everyone has an agenda. So try not to make yourself a target by oversharing. Even with that in mind, there are still some good people in this town. Do not voice your blatant and unprovoked distrust, it should remain mild. That is until you are sure whether the person can be trusted or not. Basically, do not hand your spare key to the neighbor on the first day. Wait a while.

Good Quality Padlocks

Most people swear by specific brands, do not believe them unless of course it is coming from someone you trust (refer above). A good quality padlock will keep people’s curiosity about he new guy away from your stuff. As part of your research, you should also find out which padlock you like best. Note that a good number of the padlocks in the market are imitations and can be hacked into. Therefore make sure to buy from a genuine retailer. As mentioned before, do not just hand anyone your spare key.


The rule of thumb is that your rent should be equal or less than a third of your income. Therefore as you create your budget, keep that in mind. Oh yeah, as part of prep you should create a budget. Be careful not to go over your budget. The budget should include projected monthly expenses. That means that you should come up with a list of expected costs and how much you would be willing to spend. Your budget will also determine where you can live. Living in Nairobi demands smart financial decisions like keeping to your budget.

Easy Access

As a new renter in Nairobi, you do not need to venture too deep into any neighborhood. You should start with a place that will be easy to find. With time when you have gained your sea legs, you can sail as far into the hood as you would like. Easy access will also help you with your commute. It is hard enough living by yourself in the city for the first time, you do not have to pile scrambling to get to wherever every morning onto that.

Less Junk

It does not matter where you are moving from, try to bring as little as possible. For example, do you really need all those clothes that you have had for the last seven years and have not worn for five? Less junk means that you can pay for a smaller car to transport your stuff. Less junk means that your new digs will not be filled to the brim with little to no space to maneuver. It also means that you get to fill your new house with new stuff. This is going to be a new beginning for you; it might as well feel like it.  

  • Plan the Move

Moving, especially if it is your first time can be overwhelming. You might forget some of the most important stuff like your favorite blanket. Make a list of everything that you need to move. Pack well in advance. Label the boxes properly and match labels on the list as well. Find transportation or contact the moving company in time. When you finally move, match whatever is there with the list as you unpack. This way, you will know if something was left behind so it is not an inconvenience later. Here is a tip, if you give the caretaker a little something they could clean up the house for you before you move in.

Emergency Procedures

This is an essential part of being an adult really. You need to be prepared for emergencies like running out of gas. In that spirit, you should save the contact for a local motorbike guy. In this error of Safeboda and Sendy, it may be deemed unnecessary but you will thank heavens for the foresight when you need to pick up a guest from the stage but cannot leave food on the fire.

Fix Before or Forever Hold your Peace

This is a bit of an unwritten rule. You must make a note of all the issues that need attention when you first show up to view the house. Let the caretaker know that you expect those to be fixed. If they are not fixed on your second visit then consider finding a different place. The reason is that if the issues are not fixed before you have paid your rent and moved in, then it becomes your responsibility to fix them. In some cases, the landlord might even hold your deposit to fix those same problems when you want to move out later.

Renting in Nairobi is not for the weak willed or blatantly naïve. Be and stay prepared. Welcome to Nairobi living.