For a long time, Machakos was a sleepy little town 63 km to the South East of Nairobi. Many people already commute to their city jobs from Machakos. However, Machakos has grown quite a bit since ten years ago. It is a more vibrant town now. Lore has it that Machakos used to be a Kenyan capital but would not grow fast enough. Since then, it has even become the place to be. It is now an entertainment destination. People who rent in Nairobi find themselves nipping down to Machakos for weekend fun. Below are some pointers on renting in Machakos.
You will have a pick of numerous options. Depending on which part of Machakos you choose, you might or might not need an agent to help you find a house. There are lesser instances of real estate conmen than in Nairobi. You can get a bedsitter for 3,000 shillings or one for 6,000 shillings. Just like Nairobi, the amount charged for rent depends on which side of town you choose. Again, just like Nairobi the further you get from the CBD the cheaper rent will be.
There is a bit of a housing shortage in Machakos so it might take you a while to find something you like. If you are not in a hurry, take your time. If you are, take the first choice then look around when you know the town a little better. Most places are pretty accessible. If you are into quiet then find out whether the building is infested with college students.
Many people actually commute to Nairobi everyday for work. First, it is pretty affordable for a place that is in a whole other county. Fare is 250 shillings and can be as low as 80 shillings depending on what time you travel. If you choose a place away from town, use a tuktuk for 30 shillings or motorbike for 50 shillings. It will also take less than two hours to get from Machakos to the Nairobi CBD. To give you something to compare it to, there is virtually no difference between living in Machakos and Rongai.
There is a food market in Machakos town. It is relatively affordable and is home to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and cereals. You will have access to fresh everything. There are also numerous restaurants and ‘vibandas’. You should go to the market as opposed to buying things at the ‘mama mbogas’. Things are cheaper and fresher at the market.
If you cannot make to go to the market on market days- Monday and Friday- then go on Saturday morning. The vendors still have fresh things at Friday prices. They will also be very generous because they do not want the merchandise to perish by Monday.
You will be safe, for the most part. Instances of insecurity are actually infrequent. Except for the occasional botched robbery there really is very little to be concerned about as far as security goes. It is generally safe to walk around at night.
However, you might want to keep your door properly locked and check on your clothes on the line because those tend to disappear if you choose the lower tier parts of town. Always have a regular ‘nduthi’ guy to send on errands and to pick you up in the morning if you are running late. A regular ensures that not too many people know where you live. Another thing is to always remain aware of your surroundings. There has been a wave of conmen who creep around unsuspecting people.
First on pointers for fun and entertainment is the People’s Park which was one of the first initiatives by the governor. There is nature, bars and even zip lining on the same grounds. Entry is free on most days too. However, the bar at the grounds tends to be a little more expensive than usual. You could carry your own drinks and just relax on the grass or benches. Best thing about the park is that it is a family friendly space. Apart from this, there are numerous bars and restaurants around town. Machakos also has a stadium which is often used for numerous matches like football and rugby. Entry during these matches is usually around 200 shillings or free in some cases.
If you visit one of the many entertainment establishments at night, be wary of strangers who might not have pure intentions. The people of Machakos are pretty friendly but if one is not careful; they will get their drink spiked and their wallet emptied especially at specific clubs. This vigilance should really be applied to any party scene.
Machakos is growing, the progress might be slow but it is happening. In fact, most of ukambani is growing including Makueni and Kitui. The point is that there are many economic opportunities in Machakos. The same could be said about Nairobi but the thing about it is that it is mostly about who you know. In Machakos, you rarely have to know someone for your business to prosper. With the economic growth also comes the population growth which makes the town a bigger pond for budding entrepreneurs. This kind of economic potential makes the side hustles virtually limitless. Machakos is no longer a one-tribe town. There is more diversity now.
This is by no means a trial to persuade you to dump Nairobi for Machakos. It is a means of opening up your eyes to possibilities beyond the boundaries of the city in the sun. Nairobi is overpopulated and highly polluted. Migration to the outskirts like Syokimau and Thika may have eased it a little bit but overpopulation still remains a big issue. Machakos is close enough to Nairobi for you to still be in the eye of the bustle but far enough for you to have a break from the pollution.