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Why moving houses in Nairobi is hard

A view of Nairobi's CBD. Moving houses in the city is difficult for most tenants
as they lack enough information on what the different neighbourhoods offer. 

Moving in Nairobi is hard. The hardest bit about moving isn’t even finding houses or finding a mover, but getting the courage to move.

Most of us are already used to our current neighbourhoods and know its insides outs- where to get the mbogas, the butcher with the meanest cut, neighbourhood crushes, where all the potholes are, water and power outage schedules, what time we can come in at night.

Having to move to a new neighbourhood, relearn all these and the fear that something may not fit into our established lifestyles makes us baulk at the prospect of moving. Change, after all, has never been easy.

Should you, however, get the courage to move, one then needs to audition different neighbourhoods to find one that fits their expectations in security, location, utility reliability, price, schools and much more. 

The next challenge with moving is finding a house. There’s a mismatch of information between landlords seeking tenants and tenants seeking landlord. We all wish there were a Tinder for houses - Hinder? - where we could swipe left and right. 

For now, we have to contend with the agent, who ranges from the scrupulous one who is out to defraud us with no houses to offer, to those who actually have houses, but ones which don’t fit what we are looking for.

It is for this reason that most people rely on their friends and relatives to find houses. In a low-information low-trust economy like Kenya, referrals matter a lot. You are likely to find a reliable agent through referrals, and you are more likely to identify the characteristics of a neighbourhood through referrals.

All these challenges are what primarily contribute to many Nairobi residents living far away from their places of work, and having to commute and crisscross the city. Those who live around Mombasa Road commute through the CBD to Westlands and Ngong Road; those from Ngong Road commute to Mombasa Road; those from Waiyaki Way commute to Mombasa Road and Thika Road; those from Thika Road commute to Mombasa Road, Waiyaki Way and Ngong Road…

The result, our commutes, especially the evening commute where we all leave work in the shorter 5 PM - 7 PM window is hell as we criss-cross the city. It doesn’t help that we are still working on ring roads that connect one bit of the city to the other without needing to pass through the city centre.

Should you find a house, the next obstacle is finding a mover. There have been some developments in this area with the emergence of professional movers. The challenge, again, is that their pricing is high for a majority of the city residents.


Among the highest recommended movers is Senga, Armstrong, Cube and Dasambi in that order.

These are just but a few players, whose criteria here is based on recommendations. As I mentioned, business in Nairobi depends heavily on referrals.

Armstrong has costs that begin at about Kshs. 13,000 including packing and unpacking. For all these firms, all you have to do is book, and wait to be moved. You can enquire about costs by calling each of them.

Meanwhile, which neighbourhoods should you consider? Well, I wish I had a ready answer.

However, you can contribute to the search of an answer by filling in the questionnaire on this link https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfTMyn7bQDC2IXQ6Bo0zzmDjywIk2SmtOSB19cNNxJQpv8qsA/viewform . The results will be published on this blog, and hopefully, should provide us with enough information in the search for the perfect home in Nairobi.

Next Post - 83% of Kenyan Job Seekers have a work experience of less than 5 years.

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