Cost of Living in Kenya

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The cost of living in Kenya is relatively reasonableAn expat’s cost of living in Kenya will certainly be lower than they'd have in Europe or North America, but it's still higher than expected in some respects. It's important for expats to remember that amenities such as private healthcare, international schools and comfortable homes can inflate the cost of living in Kenya tremendously.

Expats will also find themselves having to account for additional living expenses they wouldn’t incur back home, such as the cost of drinking water and a security guard or driver.

Fortunately, many expats find their employment contracts cover some of the biggest expenses. For instance, the company may provide an allowance for accommodation, transportation and international school fees. Expats should try their best to negotiate these benefits into their expat packages.

Cost of accommodation in Kenya

Accommodation will be the biggest expense for expats living in Kenya. Most expats opt to rent property as they have a fixed-term contract and don’t plan on settling in the country for the long-term. Rent in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa will be higher than in rural locations, but it generally varies between KSH 90,000 and KSH 200,000 per month depending on the size of the property.

Security needs to be in the forefront of one’s mind when choosing where to live and this needs to be factored into the cost of accommodation. Most expats opt to live in a secure, gated community, which can cost as much as property in Europe. Rental costs in safe expat areas such as Rosslyn, Spring Valley and Wetlands in Nairobi are much higher.

Younger expats who move to Kenya to spend a year volunteering often find cheaper, shared accommodation. The standard of this type of accommodation will be very basic.

Cost of groceries in Kenya

It often comes as a surprise to new arrivals in Kenya that the cost of food, basic housing products and electrical appliances is fairly high. This is because most of these goods are imported and highly taxed.

There are a number of supermarket chains, including Nakumat, Uchimu and Chandara, where shoppers can buy anything from dairy products to mattresses, furniture, alcohol and electronics. Many imported food products such as cheeses, jams, chocolates, oils and pastas can also be found.

The best way to save money on groceries in Kenya is to buy local produce. Because of its wonderful climate, expats will find that fruit and vegetables sold at local markets are always good quality, and far cheaper than in a supermarket.

The cost of transportation in Kenya

Although public transport in Kenya is incredibly cheap, many expats don't use it as it's usually uncomfortable and inefficient. 

When it comes to getting around Kenya, most expats will hire or buy a car and find a local driver. Buying a car can be expensive, though, as almost all cars in Kenya are imported and heavily taxed. In addition, for those wanting to travel nationally in Kenya, a four-wheel drive is the best option but will be more expensive than a regular vehicle.  

Having a local driver is an asset. Their knowledge of the roads is good and they effectively save expats from having to contend with the tough driving conditions in Kenya. The fee for a driver is relatively minimal.


The cost of eating out and entertainment in Kenya

There's no shortage of options when it comes to eating out in Kenyan cities. Most Western restaurants are located in expat areas and serve dishes made with imported ingredients, so prices are higher. For expats who are keen to try local Kenyan foods, plenty of establishments can be found selling healthy portions for next to nothing.

The nightlife and entertainment scene in Kenya’s big cities is growing, with modern clubs and bars popping up all the time. Entrance fees and drinks costs can be expensive, keeping these sorts of places out of reach for most average Kenyans. Expats looking to enjoy a local beer will find there are plenty of small bars in every Kenyan town where one can have a drink while watching the sunset.

Cost of living in Kenya chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Nairobi in November 2015.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

Furnished two-bedroom house

KSH 180,000-200,000 

Unfurnished two-bedroom house

KSH 150,000-180,000 

Furnished two-bedroom apartment

KSH 120,000-180,000 

Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment

KSH 90,000-150,000 


Eggs (dozen)

KSH 200 

Milk (1 litre)

KSH 100

Rice (1kg)

KSH 200 

Loaf of white bread

KSH 70

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KSH 250 

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KSH 20

Eating out

Big Mac meal

KSH 850 

Coca-Cola (330ml)

KSH 100


 KSH 550 

Bottle of local beer 

KSH 350 

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

KSH 4,000 


Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

KSH 3.80

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

KSH 10,000 

Domestic cleaner (per hour)

KSH 220

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

KSH 10,000 


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KSH 285 

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KSH 60 

Petrol/Gasoline (per litre)

KSH 120 

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Our Kenya Expert

Zeynep_Vural's picture
Turkey & US. Nairobi, Kenya
I have relocated to Kenya in 2012 with my husband and two kids. Enjoying beautiful weather and laid back life style here in... more

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