In the last five or ten years, many people have opted to move away from the CBD. The outskirts of Nairobi seem to offer a more wholesome bustle-less life. With infrastructure like roads and train services, it has gotten easier to live far from the CBD and still manage to be at work on time. There has however been a divide between people who still believe in residing close to the city bustle and those who prefer to get out of the smog every evening. Below are some comparisons between the two options.


Nairobi is a congested place. That means that often the rental units will be cramped and tiny. You may get a two bedroom expecting that your space will be adequate but then it turns out that the rooms are actually the size of shoe boxes. It is to be expected in a city struggling to house millions of people. There are obviously exceptions to the rule.

You should expect bigger rooms and more space if you look in the outskirts of Nairobi. There is more land there. The older the building the bigger the rooms in most cases. Even then, the newer buildings have relatively bigger rooms than in Nairobi.


This depends on the place chosen. An example is Zimmerman which is cheaper than Syokimau. The general rule is that rent in Nairobi will be more expensive than in the surrounding towns. This rule is not a hard and fast one though. The difference is in the factors that affect the rent though. Some are similar but in the outskirts things like water availability will impact how much rent is charged in the building. In Nairobi power connection is a given while in some places like Kiambu, you have the option of renting a house without power and pay les. The factors affecting the rent really depend on how rural the place is.


In Nairobi security is serious consideration. In addition to the landlord’s security efforts, you have to take steps to secure your own unit. Your security is mostly your responsibility. If your house gets broken into in the middle of the day while you are away at work, very rarely will anyone come forward to offer an explanation.

In the outskirts, there is more of a community vibe. Most landlords still have that rural tendency to care for their tenants and will therefore take most of the security responsibility off your hands.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Nairobi is very high. Obviously it varies from one neighborhood to another but it remains quite high. The cost of living here includes utilities, food and even commuter costs. In Nairobi, the level of cost depends on the neighborhood. It also depends on the median level of income of the residents of said neighborhood. Food will be cheaper in Githurai than it is in Madaraka. There is a farmers’ market in Githurai with fresh produce at good prices. Madaraka is a lot further into the city with higher income residents.

This same applies to the cost of living in the outskirts of Nairobi. In Thika food will be cheaper but transport to the CBD will be as high as 150 shillings for a single trip. In Syokimau, fruits and vegetables tend to be quite expensive with many opting to shop at the supermarket. Fare from town is also quite high. In most cases, the cost of living is balanced out by the amount of rent except in the case of affluent neighborhoods.


Nairobi is like any other big city. You have to have your own back at all times. There is a somewhat individualist culture in Nairobi. People will live next door to each other for months and even years without ever attempting to know each other. This is not seen as strange at all.

In the outskirts however, there seems to be more of a collectivist culture. People live in communities. People get to know each other and befriend each other. In these neighborhoods you should expect that your neighbors will invite you for holidays and attempt to know you with genuine intentions.


Living in the city is mostly suitable to people with very hectic jobs. Those who need to be there early and leave late. They require the robust public service transport to survive in the city. It seems that most young people are more suitable to living in the city where there is action as opposed to the outskirts.

Living in the outskirts will not be a good fit for someone who has to commute to the city everyday if the means of transport is not reliable. It seems that these neighborhoods attract more entrepreneurs and higher income individuals than anyone else. The bottom line of suitability for either the city or outskirts of it is practicality and lifestyle.


Investors have tried to build more malls and schools in the outskirts of the city with the same standard as the ones ion the city. However, there is still a slight difference in the capacity of these amenities. There is a wider array of schools in the city than there is in Syokimau or Kitengela. Schools in the outskirts reside on opposite sides of the spectrum. On one end are small and unrecognizable schools. On the opposite end are schools like St. Bakhita which is well reputed and fairly expensive.  

These are merely factors that will help you as the tenant to make a proper choice between the city and the outskirts. Before you make the move it is important to determine exactly how well you will thrive wherever you decide to live. The choice of neighborhood is a personal one and cannot be applied across the bard. Happy choosing!