Before the Super Highway was built, it was just the road people used to go to Nyeri, nothing special about it. However, now Thika Road has become so popular that there are tones of developments from Ngara all the way to Ruiru. If you ever think that you will just walk around different neighborhoods along Thika Road in search of a ‘house vacant’ sign then you are in for tedium. Facebook and The Star Classifieds among other resources have a selection of some of the most affordable spaces to reside in.
When looking through these ads ensure to stick to those that give as much information as possible. Some intentionally give very little information which then sets you up to get conned or misled into a house you do not love too much. Pay attention to a few things like:
The rates in different neighborhoods of the same caliber do not vary too much. They lie on pretty much the same scale. Therefore, you should be able to compare qualities and pricing. For example, a regular bed sitter should go for about 6,000 shillings. However, you might find one that goes for 7,000 shillings but looks bigger with better structuring like big closet and bigger kitchenette. If you find a house that is charged more than another, go through the pictures and find out why. You will get one bedroom houses for as low as 8,000 shillings depending on the amenities and location. It might be 11,000 at the area close to Garden City and 9,000 shilling sin Roysambu. The simple reason for this difference could be proximity to town. The point is to take your time during research to find those nuances. That is the difference between finding a house and a home.
Cost of Living
This involves expenses like electricity, water, food, fare et cetera. In most cases, the houses run on prepaid tokens bought by the tenant. In a few cases, the buildings have the old post-paid system where the landlord pays the bill and charges a small amount which is included in the rent. In the latter situation, they will tell you that the electricity is free. Do not be fooled by this into a house you do not like.
Find a place with running water. Here is why, a single 20L ‘mtungi’ of water is at least 30 shillings. You will use at least five in a week without doing laundry. If you do then you are up to ten. That is 300 shillings every week. When you are house hunting check the taps and see if water flows out. If it does not, enquire. Not from the agent or the caretaker though, talk to a resident.
Thika Road hosts many schools from Utalii College, KCA Univesity, USIU and KU. This means that a good percentage of the population is students. Therefore, there are many street food businesses where you can get ready made food at very low prices. It is safe to say that in this aspect, the cost of living is very low. The fare to town from Ruiru at peak times is a hundred. Anywhere in between is obviously less. There is usually heavy traffic at peak times but it is manageable enough.
What steps has the landlord taken to ensure that the residents and their property are safe? Is there a perimeter wall? Is there a gate that is locked at all times? Are the ground floor windows reinforced? Are the doors to the units just wood or is there a burglar door? In most cases, the ads will include this information. If not, ensure to find out on while house hunting. Renting in Nairobi becomes hard when you keep losing electronics to city ‘hustlers’.
Below are five popular neighborhoods along Thika Road.
Roasters and Garden City
This area is about 9 km from the city center. These are landmarks and the names by which most people recognize the areas. There are many developments in these areas as it takes less than a half hour to get to town. A house in this area will be pricier by about 2,000 shillings than other places further along the Superhighway. The area is bustling with entertainment joints and nightlife and some of the developments may seem more high end than one would expect. The GSU headquarters and the Police Logistics Center are really close if it makes you feel safer.
Safari Park and TRM
This is about 11 km from the city center. The Safari Park Hotel neighbors USIU and TRM down the road. The houses in this area are a bit higher end than most along Thika Road. For example, you can get a one bedroom for 18,000 shillings in the area behind TRM. You will know that it is a high end neighborhood because of the items on the ads. There will be things like Wi-Fi and CCTV.
Roysambu and Kasarani
These are very different neighborhoods from the one above despite the fact that the distance between then is barely a kilometer. Note than upper Roysambu (or 45) does not have quite as much water shortage as the lower Roysambu (or 44). Kasarani and Roysambu are pretty much separated by the highway. Kasarani also seems to be the middle ground between Roysambu and the TRM hoods in terms of rent.
There are three of these; Kahawa Wendani, Kahawa Sukari and Kahawa west. Only Kahawa West is part of Nairobi County while the other two are within the confines of Kiambu County. Before you get to the Kahawas you will pass through Githurai. Githurai is the home of a thriving produce market as well as swift pickpockets.
This is located at the bypass and is well into Kiambu County. It is the hub of nyama choma and a cornucopia of entertainment spots. You can find some of the cheapest places to rent along Thika Road in Ruiru as well as the most ostentatious of residential houses.
You know what you are looking for in a house. Take your time and look at the options before you get on the ground. Note that some of the houses will look very different in person so be ready for some disappointments. Good news is that agents will usually charge only 500 shillings to take you around which is lower than most places around Nairobi.