1. It’s not always a sunny paradise
Whilst the beautiful tropical climate might have drawn you here, don’t discard your cold weather outfits because some regions can be unforgivably cold.
2. Where you choose to live as an expat in Nairobi directly relates to your social circle
There are two obvious choices of living areas as an expat settling in Nairobi: Karen or Westlands. Karen is usually where you find the old-timers and the families who have been around for years, whereas Westlands boasts a more diverse community being the area of choice for the United Nations and other Embassies.
3. There’s no hurry in Africa
This is one phrase you’ll have to be accustomed to, so is the behavior that comes with it. Reality on the ground is that it shouldn’t come as a shock to you when an event you attend doesn’t start as scheduled. Don’t be frustrated if deadlines aren’t met either, Kenyans are always running late!
Traffic congestion on our roads is horrendous! Nairobi being most notorious. One therefore needs to master the art of avoiding traffic so as not to get caught up in the madness. The rule of thumb is to leave for your destination before or after the rush hours; mornings between 7:00 a.m and 9:00 a.m and evenings between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. nonetheless, you’ll want to allow extra time for your commute, even if it’s not “rush hour.”
5. You will start to refer to yourself as Kenyan, regardless of what it says on your passport
It is very easy to connect in Kenya simply because the locals are very friendly and welcoming. It also helps that most cities are a hub of social activities; festivals, concerts, art exhibits alongside having meetup groups that organize outdoorsy events. Don’t be a loner!
6. You are either a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser person
The reason for this is simple: safaris. There is an ongoing debate as to which car is better to take bundu bashing (off-road driving).
Another thing, from the moment you land on Kenyan soil, you will realize that driving here is not for the faint at heart…there aren’t any rules really. The bigger the car you drive, the better your chances of winning any on-road battle. So get yourself a four-wheel drive to be on the safe side.
7. Our reputation as an insecure country is undeserved
Sure we’ve had our hiccup with terrorism but Kenya isn’t as dangerous as portrayed. You will however need to be cautious of security concerns common to all major cities such as petty crime.
It helps to avoid crowded areas, do not expose your most valued possessions in public and in case you use public transportation, stay alert the entire duration of the journey. Moreover, be cautious of strangers who approach you in need of help; this may sometimes be a tactic to lure you into a dangerous situation.
8. Real Estate is Growing
9. You will be kept in the dark. Literally!
If patience is an area you need work on, then heads up, you’ll need lots of it. Be prepared for constant power outages, more so during the rainy season. In case you do not want to waste money on stocking perishables or better yet value constant internet connection, then you’d better stock up on a generator.
10. You don’t really need to carry cash. Ever!
Well except for chump change in case you need to negotiate price. Thank God for ‘M-Pesa’ (mobile money service). The whole country uses M-Pesa. Using the mobile money service, Kenyans keep cash on their mobile phones and can then pay bills or send money just by sending a text. When they need the physical cash, they can then withdraw it at any M-Pesa agent across the country in less than a minute. How about that?!