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Moving to Nairobi, Kenya

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

My husband's job is relocating to nairobi, Kenya for 2 years so off we go--- I have 2 sons, ages 10 and 13 and need any and all advice before we go; DH leaves in April, the boys and I will follow in July.

My boys are unvaccinated so have to figure all that out, and also have only ever attended a Waldorf School up till now and will need

to transition to the International School...

I would love if anybody can give me a real account of what it is to actually live there and how I can best prepare these next 6 months!

Thanks for all input! (good and bad stuff welcome--- would rather be informed than ignorant!)

post #2 of 22

OMG!  We are moving to Kenya in June.  My husband is going to be working at West Nairobi School- a small international school in Karen, just outside of Nairobi.  I hope you get some responses here.  I am wondering about food and life and just about everything.  We have three small kids- 4, 3 and 3 months old.  


Are you excited?  have you lived overseas before?

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

gmiller, just sent you a PM -- others please post, we are desperate for information!   Thanks!

post #4 of 22

Got it and sent you an email!  I hope others chime in here and help out!

post #5 of 22

Hi there,


I am in the states but spent a few years in Tanzania.  Not Kenya, but pretty close...what specific questions do you have??  I was a teacher at a small international school while there also.

post #6 of 22

I have spent a lot of time in Nairobi. It's an amazing city. Beautiful and with a lot going on.

Do you have specific questions or just want general advice?

Feel free to PM me.


I will be a quick bus ride away in Uganda for a year with my daughter starting in May- I run a birth clinic there.

post #7 of 22

GMiller--You will probably love WNS and the Nairobi area in general. Good luck on your fundraising--that is the only reason we are in the US and not there. You can PM me and I can get you in touch with several teachers who are there right now. You will have tons of fun at PFO in July, it is exhausting but you will form a great understanding of TCKs and build relationships with your team and others who will teach internationally.


To both posters, you are in very different boats, though. Mother of 2 boys, your place is listed as DC and your husband just got transferred, so I'm making the assumption he does some kind of higher level state job (if I'm wrong, I'm sorry.) You will probably enroll your kids at ISK, a FANTASTIC school. (With luck, I'll see you there in August...fingers crossed and prayers going up.)  West Nairobi is also a good one, but it is Christian. If you are Christian and are okay with that, WNS is an excellent choice, with highly committed teachers and great facilities. Your financial situation will be very different. I imagine you will be able to afford a very nice house in the better parts of Nai, will likely have full time househelp, adequate water reserves and a generator for when the power goes out...and it will!  The power does get "rationed" as does water, but since the rains have been a bit better lately you should have more consistent service than say, two years ago in the midst of a long standing drought.


GMiller, you need to pray for lots of generous donors. I don't know how many kids you have, but if Les hasn't already told you, you'll need about 2000-2500 USD in support a month, outside of the stipend, less if you have only one or two kids. That will get you a decent house, fairly close to school, someone to come in a once a week or so and clean, help with laundry, iron, etc. (You will need to iron if you line dry, take my word on it.) Cars are very expensive in Nai, since everything is imported. Expect to pay about 30-45% more than for the same thing here, or the equivalent, since there are lots of Japanese models that we don't really have here. Gas "petrol" is also much more expensive, last time I checked the equivalent of $5+/gal. It is sold in litres.


Some of the good things are the ready abundance of fresh fruits and veggies and "clean" meat. Almost all processed food is comparatively expensive, and you will pay upwards of $7 a box for "American" cereal, if that's your thing. As a family of five, we budgeted $500/mo for groceries, and we avoid most processed food. We got our numbers from friends there with similar family sizes. There is always something to do, whether it's Nairobi National Park--lions just outside city limits? Of course!  There is the giraffe reserve, a place with monkeys that I can't remember the name for, Village Market with an awesome waterslide that I have only seen in pictures, health clubs, and more. Great wildlife reserves and national parks an hour or two from the city--Hell's Gate and Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha. Visit Nyeri and straddle the equator. Drive or take a short flight to Mombasa and enjoy the beach life for a holiday. You won't be bored, I promise. 


I can't say enough good about the people of Kenya, since after all, I did marry one! :)  Very friendly overall, many speak English, and Swahili isn't too hard to pick up. However, if you stay in mainly the "white" part of the city, you won't experience much of that. You need to take care and be reasonable, like in any large city  of a few million.  Be aware that next Dec there are elections, and you will need to be careful. The last elections were very bad and almost started a civil war. If possible, it would not be a bad idea to be in States for Christmas 2011 and New Years as a precaution.  As for me, I haven't actually been there since 2000, but we were prepared to move at this time last year (ie, boxes packed and ready to ship nonessentials.) I won't get into details in that experience, but I think most of my information is pretty up to date. I love Kenya, Nairobi, and hope to be there at about the same time you both will, if it's in the Plan. Right now, I just dream from afar!

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

thank you all for your posts, I was looking for all that information you gave and more!  I guess specifically we are trying to figure out car situation as we wont have one and I guess we will need to get one-- whats the best way of going about that and also is it feasible to share one car-- if my kids take bus to school and husband drives to work will I be stuck if I don't have  car myself?


MamaEli, yes my husband will be working for the Embassy and while a lot is covered, a lot is not as well... the boys will go to ISK and so its great to hear that you think its a great school and might 

be there yourselves next year as well!  Where are you living now?


I am also wondering about health concerns, I have just begun vaccinations and worried what medical care is like over there and also what the best course of action is regarding malaria when you do travel outside Nairobi...


Also as I hear its either not safe to go out at night and bc of bugs etc what do people do at night, I mean I would love to socialize but do people just socialize during the day?  What about kids, do they mostly socialize at school (and afterschool stuff)...



Thanks all, I am excited for this new adventure and hope to meet all of you one day!!!  Christine



post #9 of 22

As far as vaccines, we also do not vax. I don't know what the school will say (I was waiting to cross that bridge when we got to it.) Regarding cars, there are quite a few used cars around, and there is actually a publication for embassy workers where they have a classifieds. (I ran across that as part of my research.)  I believe you may also be able to get a car loan through the embassy in a program they have just for them.


Kenyans are very social!!  But there are hazards to being out late at night, to both Kenyans and nonKenyans. While I would take every reasonable precaution, I would also not stop myself from enjoying life. A great blog that lots of good info and a nice look into the expat life is "the african expat wives club." Being British, her kids are not at ISK, but it's a nice look at her life and possibilites for yours.


Malaria is of little concern in Nairobi, because of the elevation. Elsewhere, just wear repellant and use mosquito nets. There are mosquitoes in Nairobi, though, so if you are out at night, you can be bitten on occasion.


Nairobi has quite good medical care. There are also various hospitals throughout the rest of the country where you could get good care, depending on where you are. Your insurance policy will probably have airlifting included as necessary, so that is a little reassurance in case of an accident.


Overall, do not worry. Kenya is a wonderful place full of wonderful people. Of course you will miss American things, but everything you need is there, including almost all Western goods. It's very exciting to move, and I wish you the best!!

post #10 of 22

Hello, I live in Kenya and i know it like the palm of my hand and just like Mama Eli said there is no reason of being afraid or worried since you will probably live the same way as you live know where you are. Everything is available here good hospitals, shopping malls, nice restaurants, Food etc and Malaria just like Mama Eli said its a little concern here in Kenya but if you are very worried of mosquitoes there are many ways of protecting yourself with mosquito nets, mosquito repellent etc although i hardly use them.


And Gmiller Karen is a cute place with alot of trees, good vegetation, nice and fresh air


All i can tell you is once you are here you will be amazed and enjoy it all the good weather nice lovely places to visite its just amaizing. I will be glad to help if you need any help

post #11 of 22

There is a good Waldorf school in Karen, almost directly across from the West Nairobi School. That's pretty far from the Embassy, though. Also, Rosslyn Academy, which is only a few blocks from the Embassy, is an excellent school and has a nicer, kinder feel to it than ISK--although both are excellent schools. All those schools play each other in sports.


We had friends with kids at ISK and the only complaint is that such a huge percentage of Embassy/UN families are divorcing and working really long hours and not spending much time with the kids. A lot of the kids spend a lot of time on electronics. The wealthy international community can be fairly tough. It's great if you can spend time with Kenyans and also take the opportunities that are available to have really great family times and a relaxing lifestyle--not bring DC stress along with you. It's possible to simplify here, it just takes a choice.

post #12 of 22

Hi! We live in Karen and my daughter is starting this semester at West Nairobi School. Look forward to welcoming you to town later. Mama Leila

post #13 of 22

Nairobi is lovely place as far as health concerns go. Yellow fever is the only required vaccination, but it's useful to get BCG because of the high incidence of TB in Kenya. There are great hospitals. My son was born at Aga Khan, which is not far from the Embassy--best birth experience ever! It's like a 5-star hotel. It's very cheap and easy to get a malaria preventive drug if you want to travel. 


Most Embassy folks buy their cars from other Embassy or UN people because they can buy and sell without paying tax. Whereas if an Embassy person sells to someone outside that circle, they would then have the import tax. 

post #14 of 22

Hi!  I just joined after a search on non-vaxxers moving to Nairobi.  I'm not even an expatriate but have moved back home from London after 17 years there.  My DD is 6 months old and loving it here. I desperately need non-vaxxing buddies as the pressure is unbelievable!  At least in London I had a formidable group (Arnica in Kingston and Wimbledon) for support and a private GP who supported my decision (brilliant, brilliant 'old school' type). What paediatricians are non-vaxx friendly?  Has anyone managed to meet local non-vaxxing parents?  MamaEli might you be able to shed some light?  Thanks all!

post #15 of 22

My name is Florence  and am from Nairobi  currentry living in Nairobi.Nairobi is a smart city with many people,I was in Britain before but came back home in last November,Kenya is a hot country No winter.You will be happy to stay in Kenya.

Edited by pauwake123 - 2/29/12 at 9:38am
post #16 of 22
Hi moms. I'm a 35 yo American who has livd in nbi since 2008 . Just found this thread an I'm wondering how it has worked out for the OP n others who mentioned moving here. How have your Kenya experiences been?

I'm currently adapting to the unplanned adoption of a baby born to a 14yo mom in Mathare. And making plans to marry my long time Kenyan boyfriend at last. So I can say that Kenya has been full of surprises! But I love living here and see myself staying awhile. If I can just figure out how to maintain my job while parenting a baby....!! We have 6 older foster kids ages 11 to 20 , but the newborn is really throwing me for a loop!

At least I know this group will understand my screen name. smile.gif
post #17 of 22

Hi - I am going to be moving to Nairobi in December with my husband and two daughters 6 and 9.  We are looking at ISK, but until now they have been attending a Public Charter Waldorf school in Los Angeles.  I have heard that the Waldorf programs in Nairobi are a bit run down and also a bit far outside the city.  I am wondering if anyone has insight into the Waldorf programs there - I believe there are two...


Thank you!

post #18 of 22
I'm afraid I don't know anything about the Waldorf schools. ISK is good, though. A lot if it depends where you'll be living. The traffic is so, so awful here, and you really have to put the kids in a school fairly close to home or they could lose two hours a day or more to sitting in th car going to and from school. What part of town will you be in, do you know?
post #19 of 22

My husbands work is based in the Westlands area, but we have not chosen a location to live yet. Is living near Karen out of the question for a commute to Westlands?  Are there any neighborhoods to consider between Karen and Westlands that you know of?


Thank you!  It is so comforting to connect with someone on the ground who can give info on things like this!



post #20 of 22

There are so many nice house to buy or to rent in Westlands. I still believe staying in westlands will be a good idea since its near your husbands work place. You may need to get several real estate agents who have many properties to choose from. I may suggest you visit www.duwrealestate.com and see if you can get a good house of your choice.

All the best!


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