- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Kenya Guide (PDF)
Initially, the thought of moving to Kenya may conjure images of magical landscapes and rare wildlife for the uninformed expat. However, those that do come to settle in the country will find themselves in one of the most developed and cosmopolitan African nations.
No doubt, Kenya offers some fantastic natural landscapes with the savanna grasslands, lakelands and mountains, while its wealth of national parks and sanctuaries boasts great biodiversity. Expats need not venture out far to experience this, as the capital city of Nairobi is home to the popular Nairobi National Park, while Mombasa affords refreshing coastal views.
Still, this East African country has much more to offer. Nairobi is widely considered as the hub for business and development in eastern Africa and offers an exciting lifestyle. Many expats working in Kenya find themselves employed as highly-paid managers in multinational companies, embassy staff or as development and NGO employees and volunteers.
That said, expat life can be insulated from Kenyan society as the fear of crime, particularly in large cities, sometimes cloisters foreigners behind the gates of housing compounds and locked car doors. Those who emerge from behind this curtain of fear can really enjoy the different cultures of Kenya, all of which are famously welcoming and cheerful.
Nonetheless, those moving to Kenya may not find the expat experience as comfortable as in more developed nations, and longing for everyday conveniences and the familiar efficiency of home is a common topic of discussion among foreigners.
On the other side of the coin, many find that the luxuries Kenya has to offer, such as large houses and high expat salaries, make for a higher quality of life than they'd have back home. Overall, whether life in Kenya turns out to be an unwelcome posting or a grand opportunity, all expats will certainly have a truly unique and memorable experience.
Official name: Republic of Kenya
Population: 53.8 million
Capital city: Nairobi
Neighbouring countries: Kenya is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south and southwest.
Geography: Situated on the east coast of central Africa, Kenya has a varied geography. This ranges from low-lying plains in the east of the country to the fertile highlands of central Kenya, home to Africa's second-highest peak, Mount Kenya.
Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Christianity and Islam
Main languages: English and Swahili
Money: The Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Kenya but many prefer to continue using their overseas accounts, especially if they're only in the country for a short period. ATMs are widely available in major cities.
Tipping: Tips are common for most small services, in addition to the standard 10 percent expected in restaurants.
Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style plugs with three flat blades are used.
Internet domain: .ke
International dialling code: +254
Emergency contacts: 999
Transport and driving: While public transport is available in all of Kenya's big cities, it's not always efficient or safe. The best option is for expats to use a private vehicle and hire a driver who is familiar with the local driving conditions. Driving is on the left-hand side.
►Want to know how to get to this East African country? Read Visas for Kenya
►Find out about the cost of living in Kenya
"Nairobi is a big city that is always busy, vibrant, interesting. The great outdoors are not far away and most expats living here enjoy a good quality of life." Read more of Jerry Riley's thoughts in his expat interview about living in Kenya.
"It’s an exciting place to live and there are huge opportunities here. We have made sacrifices and taken risks by living out here, but we now have a very good quality of life..." Frances shares her thoughts about life in Kenya in her expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Kenya?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kenya. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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