Some people prefer living in extensions as compared to bedsitters while others are the exact opposite. There are merits and demerits to either choice. For the purpose of this comparison, a bedsitter is a single room house with a washroom and doubles up as a sitting and bed room. Some have a defined kitchen area while some do not. A bedsitter is usually in an apartment building.

An extension is a house aside from the main house that is meant for guests or staff of the house. The landlord may build an extension for the sole purpose of renting it out. This is also usually a single room with a bathroom. There might or there might not be a kitchenette. The extension is located in the same compound as the main house. It may or it may not have its own entrance. Some extensions are bigger than this with more rooms. For now, the comparison will only cover the single rooms.


  1. Privacy

In an apartment building with several neighbors, everyone lives their own life. No one spends their time imposing on you. You lock your house and rarely will a nosy neighbor bother you. This is unlike an extension where often residents of the main house consider you family and will constantly visit you. If you are one of those people who like to keep to themselves then the bedsitter is a better option. You can be as private as you like. You can be as isolated as you prefer. You are not obligated to be friendly with your neighbors. You do not have to entertain/tolerate your neighbor’s children.

  • Easy to find

There are obviously not that many people willing to have a stranger live on the premises with them. In fact, renting out extensions or servant quarters is common in specific places like South B, South C and Nairobi West. Even then, you will rarely ever find advertisements for units online. You have to be on the ground. The sole purpose of bedsitters is to rent them out. This means that they will be boldly advertised. The landlord will not rigorously screen the people who rent out their units. This is unlike the extensions where the owner might use their perception of you as a basis to let you in or turn you away.

  • Structure

When living in a bedsitter there will be a set of well defined rules that apply to every tenant in the building. These are rules meant to ensure there is cohesion and peace in the building. They will not be too restrictive and most will only be common sense. However, when living in an extension there is always a sort of make-up-as-you-go culture about the rules. Of course when you move in the landlord will let you know what most of these rules are. However, as you go you will find that you are always wondering if whatever you are doing is affecting people or if you are stepping on someone’s toes. There is just something about living with the landlord on premises that makes it feel restrictive.


  1. Community

In most cases, the people who live in the main house will all but adopt you into the family. You will become one of them and after a while you will even start to feel like you are one of them. If you are the sort of person who likes communal environments and friendly neighbors then this would be a good option for you. You should also be prepared for the kids if any to think of you as their family. Over time, the place will start to feel a lot like home more because of the people and less because of the house where you lay your head every night. The same can happen in a bedsitter with the right combination of neighbors.

  • Rent

In most cases, you deal with the landlord directly. Usually if a landlord is charging more than others in the same area then you may successfully talk them down. For example, in South B you may find servant quarters going for 7,000 while others go for as much as 9,000 shillings. If you make your case properly you may get the landlord to meet you in the middle at 8,000 which is really the baseline in that area for the SQs. In many cases, the utilities are taken care of by the landlord and so the rent remains to be your only expense.

  • Space

This is actually very relative to the area and the preferences of eth landlord. However, most extensions will be built with ample space and functionality in mind. This is unlike bedsitters where the sole purpose is commercial so during construction they observe a very minimalist approach. You will also get some space outside. This is especially great if you have a child who would enjoy some space to play. You may also have a bike that will be difficult to store inside a bedsitter. If you live in an extension you can just leave outside without worrying about losing it to someone who thinks they can make better use of it.

  • Utilities

As mentioned before, more often than not the rent will be inclusive of the utilities. You may however encounter those owners who put restrictions on the power. This is whereby the power goes out if you use a kettle. However, in most cases there will always be abundant water. It is almost certain that there will always be enough water. This is because the landlord’s family lives on the premises and they will obviously always make sure that they have enough water even when there is rationing. Just make sure not to appear like you are wasting it.

This is not advise to or not to pick either option. This is merely a guide to show you which option would suit your needs and lifestyle better. Just make sure to pick the option that makes you happiest and most comfortable. Where you live largely impacts how happy you are. Choose wisely.