Finding the right apartment in Nairobi when you’re moving here can be incredibly challenging. And stressful. You probably have a lot of question that haven’t been answered, like:
- Do I need to pay a deposit?
- Should I find somewhere before I arrive?
- How do I avoid rental scams?
- Why are apartments in Nairobi so bloody expensive?!?
To save you a lot of time and energy, we’ve teamed up with Lynette Sogoh from Nairobi Expat Housing to answer all your questions.
If we missed anything, tell us in the comments!
Choosing Where To Live In Nairobi
Think about what your home is going to mean to you:
- Do you need to be near work, and will you need a home office?
- Does it need to be near your favourite sports?
- How do you like to spend your free time?
- If you have kids, do you need to be near their school?
Also, traffic in Nairobi is a nightmare. So think about how much time you’re willing to spend in it, and if you’re okay using (perfectly safe) motorbike taxis.
Check out our guide to the best neighbourhoods in Nairobi to learn more about each one.
Where To Find Apartments For Rent In Nairobi
Research before you arrive. House hunt when you get to Nairobi.
You can use loads of websites and social media groups to look at the types of properties in areas you are considering living in but don’t commit to anything before you come.
Before you arrive, book an Airbnb for 2-4 weeks in the area you want to live in.
As the rental agreements can be flexible, you can always cut your contract short once you move here or extend it if needed (always consult the host before, of course, and check their ratings/reviews online to make sure they are friendly and hospitable). Airbnb per night is about $15 a night, but you could also try to negotiate if it’s a long term contract.
Benefits Of Airbnb
- Convenient: All bills, utilities, etc. are included in the rate.
- Transparent: You can see reviews from previous guests and tenants.
- Good Value: The prices for long term stays on Airbnb in Nairobi have dropped significantly. Soon, it might be cheap to rent on Airbnb than directly from owners.
- Easy for Short Term stays: If you’re only in Nairobi for 1-2 months, Airbnb is more flexible, requiring less paperwork, guarantees, etc.
- Negotiable: If you’re staying in Nairobi a while, you could get a discount on the listed Airbnb price.
- No Deposit Necessary: Airbnb hosts have other options for recouping any losses from a guest or tenant.
The first place everyone goes to find and offer expat apartments in Nairobi.
The most common listings are rooms available in shared apartments and unfurnished 2-4 bedroom apartments.
Whatever kind of apartment you’re looking for, post in the group with your needs, preferred neighbourhoods, and budget. You’ll get plenty of replies to a well-crafted post.
This group is essentially the same as Nairobi Expat Housing, but with fewer listings.
The name is also very misleading. Most listings are large, unfurnished, multi-room apartments and family homes.
So… not actually ideal for interns or consultants staying in Nairobi for a few months.
There are plenty of real estate agents operating in Nairobi. However, more reputable companies have usually focused on expensive, unfurnished family properties in exclusive neighbourhoods like Karen, Gigiri, and Runda.
Fortunately, that’s starting to change. More and more real estate agents in Nairobi have started listing affordable apartments across the city.
And with added accountability – thanks to the rise of Facebook groups and online reviews – it’s become much easier to avoid scams and dishonest agents.
The most well-known and trustworthy real estate agents in Nairobi include:
Langata Link Real Estate – While their portfolio is focused on large estates in Langata and Karen, Langata Link has branched out into more reasonably priced apartments and smaller cottages.
Coral Properties – A wide range of well-priced apartments across Nairobi’s most popular residential neighbourhoods.
VAAL Real Estate – Most properties are unfurnished apartments in new developments, but there are exceptions. Worth looking at if you want a 2-3 bed apartment in Nairobi.
Azizi Realtors – A solid selection of furnished 2-5 bedroom apartments and houses around the city.
Note: Always do your own research when working with estate agents. Be clear about your requirements and expectations. Thoroughly review all paperwork before signing. Ask on Nairobi Expat Housing to see if anyone has had experience with your estate agent before paying anything.
Ask friends, colleagues if they can recommend apartments or landlords. Personal recommendations from people with real experience in an apartment are great ways to find bargains and avoid scams.
Studio and 1 Bedroom Apartments in Nairobi
Traditionally, studio and 1 bedroom apartments haven’t been popular in Nairobi. Kenyans usually preferred living with their family or big groups of friends. Apartments were built reflecting this.
As a result, most older apartment complexes in Nairobi don’t include anything with less than 2-3 bedrooms.
Times have changed, though, with more young Kenyan professionals and couples choosing to live alone – at least for a few years. Newer developments have picked up on the trend and included smaller apartments.
Unfortunately, this means studios and 1 bedroom apartments in Nairobi are often the most expensive options because they’re in newer complexes. There are affordable options dotted around the city. You just have to look harder to find them.
If you’re coming to the city alone, I suggest moving into a shared apartment at first and then taking your time to find something by yourself.
If budget isn’t an issue, consider one of the serviced apartments listed below.
Renting In A Shared Apartment or House
If you’re moving to Nairobi for the first time single or as a couple, joining a house-share or flat-share has lots of benefits:
- It’s cheaper to rent a room in a shared apartment or house.
- You’ll be able to make friends with your housemates.
- You can learn a bit about the logistics and frustrations of renting an apartment in Nairobi.
- There are a lot fewer scams, and your housemates won’t see you as an easy target (hopefully).
If you join a flatshare, expect to have anything from 2-5 housemates. The smaller the flat and fewer the flatmates, the higher you’re rent.
Nairobi Expat Housing is the best place to find a room in a shared apartment.
Renting Larger Apartments
If you’re coming to Nairobi with your family and need an apartment with multiple bedrooms, renting through a trustworthy estate agent is your best option.
They can take most of the stress and frustration out of the rental process, so you and your family settle in easier.
Ask your employer for their recommended estate agent or contact one of the companies listed above.
Serviced Apartments in Nairobi
Serviced apartments range from reasonably priced to ultra-luxurious. They’re available to rent nightly, weekly, monthly, and usually provide regular housekeeping services, fitness facilities, and plenty of workspaces.
There are serviced apartments all over Nairobi, but it can be hard to find the good ones.
Here are the best options, depending on your budget.
Black Rose Apartments, Kilimani – An older residential apartment complex in an excellent location. Monthly rates start at 70,000 Kshs for a 1 bedroom apartment.
Kingfisher Casa, Westlands – Chic, modern units with big windows and lots of natural light. There’s a rooftop terrace, gym, and restaurant to enjoy spectacular views of Nairobi. Monthly rates start at 75,000 Kshs when rented through Coral Properties.
Dunhill Serviced Apartments, Various Locations – Dunhill has a portfolio of high end serviced apartments across Nairobi. Each one has a unique character and excellent facilities. Monthly rates start from 105,000 Kshs.
Mimosa Court, Ngong Rd. – Just next door to Nairobi Golf Club, Mimosa Courts offers tastefully furnished, quiet apartments with huge landscaped gardens, a gym, and a health club. Monthly rates start at $1,800 for a 1 bedroom apartment.
Palacina Residential Hotel, Kilimani – I splashed out and stayed at the Palacina for a night once, after a long day of traveling. It was delightful, a quiet oasis in the heart of Nairobi’s biggest suburb. The indoor pool was a highlight, although it’s a bit cold in the evenings. Rates start at $69 per night and $3,200 per month.
Top tip from Lynette: Try going on weekends so you can check out the occupancy and the neighbours. If you go during the week, you can’t feel how inhabited the property is as the landlord might say everyone is at work. You don’t want to stay in an empty apartment block as it can be a significant security risk. If the block is full, then that is great as it’s probably well maintained and people enjoy living there.
Signing A Lease Agreement
Even if your landlord doesn’t have one, wait and create one yourself (plenty of templates you can get from the internet and edit with the details relevant to you/the price/tenancy date, etc.) Make sure you and your landlord sign it. If they get sketchy about signing anything – that’s a massive red flag so maybe look for somewhere else.
Accidents happen. If you break something, just own up and pay for it. But if you come home to a broken pipe, tellyour landlord ASAP as it’s in their interest to protect their property and you. Document everything and all communication in case you need to draw on this later to claim compensation or further damages. Landlords in Nairobi are lovely and are excited to welcome new arrivals in Nairobi. However, they can be notoriously slow like any major city, so make sure you document all of your discussions and keep nagging at them in a friendly but firm manner.
Got A Question About Apartments In Nairobi?
I hope you found this article helpful. As always, if there’s something I missed, or you have a question I didn’t answer, leave a comment below, and I’ll respond ASAP.