Where to live in Nairobi

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice on where to live in Nairobi. Google has only gotten me so far and I would love some real opinions. Here are some of the things that have guided my decision-making and I would appreciate input based on any of them:

1)I want to be within walking distance of places (understanding its inapplicability after dark), i.e. supermarket, cinema,restaurants, bars, etc...having spent all my life in walking cities this is important.

2)Neighborhoods with more townhouses, maisonettes, bungalows, etc. than high-rise apartments.

3)Close enough to city center (my work), i.e. not Karen,...I will have no car.

4)Melting-pot of people. I understand that this is tricky in Nairobi but I'm curious as to what is out there. I certainly like the comfort of being around expats but I don't want to live in an area that feels like some foreign bubble.

I know generally that Kilimani, Lavington, Hurlingham, Upper Hill, Westlands, and Parklands all have some of the above characteristics but I am looking for some more concrete help, please!

Thanks so much.


Have you looked around ABC shopping Mall?

You can also look at Kileleswha...nice green area with houses...mainly populated by middle class Kenyans...though there are some expats as well.... there is a small shopping mall called Kasuku... no cinema but a supermarket, a butcher, travel agency, bakery...not to far from ABC from Westgate and Sarit shopping mall either


Well, I do not think that you will ever walk in the evenings... And the areas you have mentioned are not in walking distance from the city centre. I live in Kilimani and used to take taxi everyday to go there and back before (it cost 4 euro and you can find reliable driver easily, it will cost even less if you do it everyday). there are direct buses as well (it is crazy, but I liked to take them! But it is a bit extremal escpeccially in rain). There is a popular trade centre here in a walking distance with all facilities you need here and fitness club and more or less safety. To my opinion, Westland can be a night mare because of traffic. We libe in a compound with 3-store buildings in a flat, and I have to say, that I much prefer it, then private house. But, certainly, there are plenty of townhouses and it can be nice as well. You can still have ex-pats there but it is not a Gigiri or westland!

You are right - Kilimani and Hurlingham are very close to City Center and there are few places of interest (especially on Ngong Rd => supermarket, cinemas, restaurants) 

Upper Hill is already a bit far. And Lavington too... furthermore, Lavington is a bit more a foreign bubble.

Or, as you said, you can opt for Westlands and/or Parklands and there is much more to do there than in Kilimani. There are lot of places to go in Westlands.

Sadly, most accommodation available is these four areas are appartments and maisonnettes in compound. And, secondly, you'll still need a car/taxi to go out at night as walking in Nairobi after dark is not safe, especially in some places in Westlands/Parklands which are full of beggars/street boys.

So it sounds like Kilimani might be the best fit.

Is Kilimani overwhelmed by large apartments buildings/complexes? I am not opposed to compounds as MaraD describes, that sounds nice...simply hate the gigantic ones.

Kilimani is of relatively mixed-background? I certainly like the idea of being around Kenyans in addition to the expat crowd.

Is the Lenana road area a nice (nice in the pleasant, not fancy, sense) spot in Kilimani, or elsewhere?

I think the descriptions of Westlands turn me off from the area. Traffic, very expaty...if I'm taking a cab at night anyway I don't mind the few bob more to get to Westlands bars/restaurants. If someone feels strongly otherwise, feel free to persuade me of Westlands' worth...I'm open to any advice/opinions!

Oh, and africanwoman, I fear that Kileleshwa will be more isolated, suburban, family-oriented, and far (bus and matatu wise) from city center than I seek. Please disconfirm any of these if you belive otherwise.

Thanks for the help everyone. I would love any more out there.


Oh, and are there young people in Kilimani? I'm a 20 something single and want to feel somewhat like the norm (or at least, more realistically, not like the exception!)

We live just near Lenana road. In our compound there are 3 houses,8 flats in each. So, nothing huge, all compounds around are maximum 2-3-stored buildings .  There are plenty of small compounds around this area, with smaller flats and with single people there. you just need to see, I think. Good luck!


I just moved back to kenya and I must say kilimani area is fine. lenana road is calm and a nice area it is behind where i live. its safe as far as i am aware and i even walk from the town centre, i love walking, prefer it to taking public transport. have even walked after 7pm and did not come to any harm. just that some areas are not well lit so can be tricky on the roads with cars etc.  just be sure to find a place that has no clubs/bars nearby as they can sometimes be loud/noisy (unless you like that) i live near one so talking from experience. the houses on lenana road are mixed, there are bungalows, flats/apartments and maisonettes. there is also a mix of both young and old and various races, I have seen chinese, indian, south americans, british, french, and of course many kenyans. i live in a private compound with only 4 flats which consists of a indians, kenyans and russians. so pretty mixed. the shopping centres are nearby and within 20 mins walk, yaya, nakumatt, uchumi and others, schools, churches . the city centre is literally 5-10 mins by public transport or car when there is no traffic. on a good day I leave the house at 0830 on a matatu and arrive in 15 minutes(this is the route via community) it has less traffic otherwise a good 30 minutes or more with traffic. 

There are some areas in Kilimani where there are many flats, it best to look around before you settle on a place. if you can get a place on woodlands road, dennis pritt it would be ok as there not too many flats and are closer to the city center if you are closer to state house or milimani(20 mins walk to town centre) side also a good area.

hope you find something. good luck

Thanks, so very helpful (and encouraging!...Kilimani does sound most like what I would want). I really appreciate it.

Yes, Kilimani is what you need. Few corrections though

1/ "very expaty" - Westlands is not very expaty... it is very local :) with a large population of Kenyan Indian.

3/  Are you sure 20-something is young ??

Good luck

@non4me, thx for your post !!


Thanks for the Westlands correction, that is the kind of blunt help I need.

And, yes, in this context, I say anyone under 30 or so living without a full family is "young"...Just my random, silly criteria.


we lived in Lavington for a while - very few apartments there (at the time).  There is a small shopping centre and a few retaurants in the area and although it is a bit further from the city centre, transport links are good.

Have also lived in Kileleshwa and would hardly describe it as isolated and transport links are good.  Recently, a lot of apartments have been built.

Also lived on Rhapta Rd, Westlands.  This area had a mix of apartments, houses and maisonnettes.  I regularly walked to the shops and sometimes to the City Centre (but only in daylight). Lots going on in Westlands, at night.

You won't get away from compounds though - many properties are inside compounds, for security.

All the areas had a good ethnic mix!

I think that you will have to modify the 'Walking City' idea.  Its really inadvisable after dark, due to poor street lighting, lack of pavements and security.

Hi Alex777,

Now that you have got a lot of help from members here, it is time to get a house.

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And by the way, Westlands is very expaty. 70% of bars, restaurants have patrols who are mostly asian or european. My expat clients say they prefer to hang out with the locals. In establishments where they can experience something different other than what they are used to back home.


Alex - which part of westlands do you visit?? Most bars full of asian and european expats??? to be honest hardly any asian expats in the country who go out drinking after 7pm - the asians you see are Kenyan indians - the european expats those you will find in places like karen, muthaiga, runda and safari bar in town - what you are seeing in westi are white kenyans - furthermore when were you in westlands last - check out black diamond, rezourous, crooked q, red tape, bacchus, klub house, gallileo, all in a vicinity of 1 sqkm and you will find more 'locals' than your expats - i think you have been misguided or have ended up at Gypsys and seen the mixed crowd -
i must correct you in what you have said. and if you can find me a bar or establishment that is different from others - pls do so - in 20 years of drinking - all bars in Nai are the same - its the crowds and prices that are different - send me your clients il show them how the 'locals' like myself enjoy social life in Nai

alex karibu kenya...and u should take non 4 me's words seriously have stayed there for a long time i can vouch 4 her...the are is non fraustrating when it comes to traffic,security and nearness to everythng u might need 4rm cinemaz to shopping mallz and very nice clubz...and given that u 20 walking or riding to town is doable tho u might to invest heavily on colognes and deodrants...

Hey Alex,there you have it!Kilimani is the place to be. It has all types of people in terms of race,so you will surely enjoy it. There is a number os shopping centers like Yaya Centre, Nakumatt Prestige,Adams Arcade among others. You can also walk to townonce in a while,if you really want to exercise (my friends and I have done that severally. The security is fine,but do not walk at night. Once you are here,you will discover many more places.

Alex! i think you are contended of what you heard from so many friends.So do u need aplace (house) to stay?

Heya Alex,

Read your 'piece' about looking for accomodation and was wondering if you had any luck?
I have recently moved from the Kenyan coast to Nairbi and though I have accomodation at the moment am looking again at the beginning of November and am finding it very frustrating.
I work in Lower Kabete so am looking in a the same sort of area's that you were looking in!
Any ideas?

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