Ideal areas to live in Nairobi; For different incomes

27 November, 2020 / Articles

Housing is one of the most basic human needs besides food, clothing and education. Ideally, the recommended budgetary allocation for rent is 30% of a household’s income as per the United Nations. In spite of this, Kenyans spend up to 40% of their household income on rent, according to a research by a local daily. This is attributable to a number of factors such as i) lack of knowledge on the entire market, ii) search for a posh address and iii) a blatant lack of healthy financial skills. To spare ourselves of future financial doom, we should all aim to live within our budgets.

Herein, we look at the average rents and average prices for various areas in Nairobi and its periphery and matching this against the various levels of income groups we have locally. According to the Economic survey 2017 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the lower income group comprises households with a monthly income of Kshs 23,670 and below; while middle income group comprises households with incomes ranging between Kshs 23,671 and Kshs 119,999 and finally the Upper income group enjoys remunerations of above Kshs 120,000.

The table below shows the modal rents and prices for the high end, middle end and lower middle areas.


High End

Upper Middle

Lower Middle

Modal Rent

Modal Price

Modal Rent

Modal Price

Modal Rent

Modal Price

1 Bed




10-12 mn


3-6 mn

2 Bed




15 mn


5-7 mn

3 Bed



80, 000

20-25 mn


8-10 mn

4 bed


60 mn


25-30 mn


10-15 mn

5 bed


>65 mn





The prices are highly dependent on the area location as some areas tend to be more expensive than others based on i) amenities available ii) level of infrastructure and iii) land prices

High end areas

These areas are affiliated with top level security, superb serenity, well-paved roads, strict zoning regulations and needless to say, palatial homes. They are ideal for the high end income group, earning well over that six figure salary. The average rents for a typical 4-bedroom villa is Kshs 200-300,000 with average selling prices of Kshs 60 mn to over Kshs 100 mn. In areas like Rosslyn and Muthaiga, they are ideal for expats or individuals seeking to live in Blue zoned areas. Areas such as Muthaiga, Runda, Riverside, Rosslyn and Karen are also aptly located in close proximity to Nairobi’s business districts.

Upper middle areas

Areas such as Kilimani, Ridgeways, Westlands, Lavington are popular with the middle and upper income class segments. The areas are a few points short of the high end neighborhoods due to i) rather affordable house prices for those earning a five figure salary, ii) the amount of activity as most of them double up as commercial centers as well, and iii) also the zoning regulations which tend to be a tad bit relaxed compared to high end areas, thus allowing for densification.

 The areas offer high quality housing but due to diminishing appeal element attributed to densification, the rents and selling prices tend to be affordable to the middle income masses. The areas are also well served by amenities that are associated with the middle class living such as shopping malls. They tend to be in close proximity to the CBD where most middle class work, they are accessible by both public and private means of transport and they are well accessible due to improved infrastructure.

The rents for these areas range between Kshs 40 -150,000 for a typical apartment with average selling prices of Kshs 12-25 mn depending on how many bedrooms and location.

Lower middle areas

These areas include Ruaka, Kikuyu, Imara Daima, Dagoretti and Donholm. They are characterized by high rise buildings, high population and minimal zoning regulations. However, they serve as the perfect start up point especially for the young population who are just getting started on their career paths. This is so because the rents are fairly affordable with rents ranging from Kshs 20,000 – 40,000 dependent on the number of bedrooms.

However, for the lowest rents in the market without compromising on the quality of the house, one can always look to areas such as Rongai, Kiserian, Matasia, Ngong, Kasarani, kinoo where rents range between Kshs 8,000 -20,000 for an apartment depending on the number of bedrooms.

However, when choosing a specific location among the grouped neighborhoods, the key factors to consider when looking for a house are:

  • Does the area offer easy of accessibility to social amenities and/or your workplace via your preferred means of transport?
  • For those seeking to build their own houses, is the area connected to the sewerage system?
  • Is there any planned future relaxation of the restricted zoning regulations?
  • What is the level of security? Is it something you can compromise on?

In the long run, improved transport networks such as the mass rapid transport system within and around Nairobi will open up more areas resulting in a rent and house price hike. Anyone looking to rent or buy a house within Nairobi, therefore, should be on the lookout for all the mentioned factors, with income being the key determinant.


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