Help in finding a job for my expat wife.

Hi All

I will potentially be moving to Ruiru in Kenya from the UK next September 2019 as a teacher. My wife and young son will be moving as well but my wife won't be on a work permit. She works in schools in the UK but in Kenya she will need a work permit and will need a degree in education for this to happen.

Is there anyone out there that may be able to help with ideas/opportunities for work for my wife. She works in prep schools with the early years age groups and also used to be a private nanny for some of the mothers at the school. She is also a qualified nail technician and nail artist and hairdresser.

I am looking for something that will just keep her busy as I am worried she might end up getting bored if she can't work or at least earn some money even if it is just cash in hand.

We would also be keen to meet new people, particularly new parents (our son will only be 1 and a half years old by the time we move) so it will be nice to meet a group of people in the Muthaiga/Runda area or somewhere close by. My parents will also be moving to Karen this year.

I appreciate any comments to this thread.



I imagine that your wife would be entitled to a dependent pass, if you will be working.  However, this pass legally prohibits the holder from working, so you are right about her needing a work permit.  Work permits tend to be linked with specific roles.

You are also correct about the educational standard demanded for many teaching/schools jobs - often the minimum that is accepted is a degree, sometimes a masters.

Whether she could do voluntary work, I am unsure - my Class K Permit stated 'no paid work', so I did a little voluntary work for a local charity, but my paid equivalent colleagues seemed to think I was invading their territory. 

I am not sure about 'cash in hand' work - I am sure this would break the terms of the dependent pass. If you are thinking about 'cash in hand' for nail art, or hairdressing, bear in mind that the beauty industry is very well established and a crowded market - it only takes one jealous person to blow the whistle - personally, I don't think its worth the risk.

If she is used to being busy, the risk of boredom is definitely there.  There isnt the degree of freedom to just go for a walk, 'pop down to the shops' and so on that you have in, for example, the UK.

Thank you for your reply. I was over in Ruiru a few weeks ago looking at a few things and speaking to some people so was aware of some of the issues you identied; thank you.

To your knowledge, is there an expat community in the Thika, Muthaiga, Runda, Ruiru area? The school I would be based at is about a 20 minute drive without traffic to the Muthaiga Country Club, about 25 minutes to Village Market and about 15 minutes from Garden city Mall for example. We would have a very young son, 1 and a half years old so my wife would spend the first year or 2 being a mum really and not looking for work. My only concern is her being bored which I obviously do not want. My parents will be living in Karen which is a bit easier in terms of getting to the Hub and places like that and you are surrounded by homes unlike the school in Ruiru which is a little bit isolated.

Do you know if it would be easy for my wife to make friends, potentially with other new mothers or at least join groups where she can mingle and socialise and meet up with people regularly to try and keep the boredom down to a minimum?

Thika has a small expat community and a very socially active golf and sports club.  It was one of the areas where people settled, being a major coffee growing area, but the expats don't tend to be concentrated in particular parts of town (apart from the Indian community).  There's a Braeburn school there with a fair number of expat children, for example.  My wife is Kenyan and we have never looked to live amongst expats.  Where our house is, in Thika, is a very nice gated estate, but I am probably the only 'white' there.

Muthaiga and Runda certainly have an expat community, particularly with the latter being close to the UN.  Both are very expensive areas though

Personally, I wouldnt want to live in Ruiru.

I think that you are more likely to find western style mum & baby groups in Nairobi.  I also think that Nairobi probably offers the best variety of things to do.

I would also think about your commute, to avoid, if possible being on the road at night.

I must admit that boredom is a problem for me, at times.  For example; I like walking and photography, but just cant set out from my doorstep in the same way that I can in the UK. I find that quite restrictive.

If she can do some volunteer work near to home I would definitely go for it. I would love to myself. I am used to being at work and earning my own money so staying at home drives me crazy nowadays.

Hi Marc-Antony. This is not as difficult as you may think, about your wife getting a social life. I have been in your situation in several countries. Kenya is one of the easiest. The Muthaiga and Runda areas have loads of expats like UN people, diplomats and some NGO employees. I strongly advise you to make sure that your wife is mobile. A car is the best, but also using Uber is safe, cheap and flexible. If she hangs around Village Market she will quickly meet other jobless parents with small kids. And as we all know, having small kids is the easiest way of getting in contacts with others. Garden City and Two Rivers Mall in the neigbourhood tend to have less foreigners than Village M. The clubs in the area are expensive, but that depends on your budget. Runda and Muthaiga is where the riches of the rich live.

Getting a paid job is as good as impossible. Better to get used to life here first, like you wrote. After two years she will have understood more of markets and life here and you can make decisions. A very good idea can be to find a day care centre (like a Montesorri or other) in the area where your kid can spend like 3 hours playing with other kids. Your wife will guaranteed get in touch with other mothers, both Kenyan and foreigners there.

If she has initiative am sure she can get something to do, unpaid. Personally, I do not believe in the 'white spouse with lots of time, trying to save Africa' arrangement because there is not much Kenyans need to learn from us whites. But with the right attitude, she can keep herself busy one way or another.

Nairobi is a great place to be, whatever you do!

Really? Why not?

<<Personally, I do not believe in the 'white spouse with lots of time, trying to save Africa' arrangement because there is not much Kenyans need to learn from us whites.>>

100% agree.  Not only that but many Kenyans resent the 'neo colonial' approach/attitude that some 'whites' tend to have. 

As far as volunteer work is concerned, just approach with caution and read the terms of your permit.  Mine said 'no paid work', but when I did do some volunteering in my professional field, some of the employed professionals appeared to think that my purpose was to usurp them and the atmosphere that this created made me volunteer less than perhaps I could have.

Tanz:  I absolutely understand where you are coming from and one reason why I am in the UK at the moment...........working!

Hi! I moved to Nairobi, following my husband too. I am very happy to had the chance to be in Africa and see beautiful places, travelled around and see beautiful lodges and the animals. But it is really boring being expat here without work. I love walk... and I don't find it easy here because there is no pedestrians road. I think it will take time to make friends and to get used with it. I'm really giving up being here. At least she has relatives and kid while you are busy. We are muthaiga club members. It is a lovely place i spend a good time with my husband there If she wants to be in touch, send me an email. Good luck.

Yes unfortunately boredom can be a significant problem, which I can entirely relate to.  Expat spouses often aren't permitted to work - even voluntarily and especially currently when immigration is being thoroughly investigated.

It was a real issue for me and probably one of the reasons why I struggle to live in Kenya full time.  After 2 or 3 months the boredom really starts to affect me.

New topic