Expats moving to Mombasa can look forward to a vibrant, loud and bustling city by the sea. As Kenya’s second largest city and a key regional economic hub, Mombasa's popularity as an expat destination is certainly on the rise. Tourists are also increasingly lured to Mombasa, attracted by the beautiful coastal landscapes and warm weather for fantastic getaways, sunbathing, snorkelling and savouring fresh seafood.
Expats are often drawn to Mombasa to work in mining, manufacturing, energy and oil. Large numbers of people also move to Mombasa to volunteer and work for NGOs. The city is a major coastal tourist spot and the hospitality industry is another prominent income generator in the region.
As is the case in most large Kenyan cities, safety and security are concerns for expats. While the authorities in Mombasa have taken steps to implement safety measures by introducing security patrols in certain parts of the city centre and along the beaches, expats should still take precautions.
The standard of accommodation for expats living in Mombasa is high. Houses and apartments tend to be spacious and modern, yet reasonably affordable, and most expats choose housing within a secure gated community. The cost of living is reasonable and, while it can be hard to find home comforts, expats do have easy access to a number of luxuries.
In terms of transport, the safest way for expats to get around in Mombasa is to hire a car with a local driver, as driving in Mombasa is dangerous and road traffic accidents are common. This is because road conditions and signage are generally of a poor standard. That said, travelling by public transport or taking a ride in a local tuk-tuk does make for an interesting experience.
The standard of healthcare provision in Mombasa varies considerably, and expats must ensure they have a comprehensive insurance policy if they want access to the best quality private healthcare. Mombasa’s major private hospitals are relatively well-equipped with good facilities and English-speaking medical staff.
There's no shortage of activities to keep expats occupied in this colourful, vibrant city. From relaxing on Mombasa’s stunning beaches and finding a bargain at Kongowea's open-air market to discovering more about Kenya’s fascinating history or getting some fresh air along the Bamburi nature and hiking trails, there is something for everyone.
Mombasa, which is also known as the white and blue city, is home to a mosaic of different cultures and expats living in the city are likely to experience some level of culture shock. It's not quite as cosmopolitan as the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and expats should dress more modestly as a large proportion of Mombasa's locals are Muslim.
Expats may take a while to adjust to the slow, relaxed pace of life in Mombasa, but with a little patience and an open mind, they'll find their experience to be a rewarding one.
►Check out more in our comprehensive city guide, Moving to Nairobi
►For an overview of the country, read our essential guide, Moving to Kenya
"Locals are very friendly; I mix both with Kenyans and expats alike". Read more about Polish expat Asia's experiences of Mombasa.
Are you an expat living in Mombasa?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mombasa. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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