Why Nairobi is one of the cheapest cities for expats

According to a recent report, Nairobi is gradually ranking among the most affordable cities in the world for foreign nationals to reside in.

While the city is increasingly becoming unbearable for residents, foreigners seem to have it easy in the country’s capital, and here are the reasons why:

Weakening of the Kenyan shilling against major global currencies

For expatriates earning salaries in US dollars, Euros or Pound sterling, the weakening of the Kenyan shillings has bumped up the purchasing power of their salaries making it easier for them to settle their expenses in the midst of inflation, thus increasing the attractiveness of the city to them.

The Kenyan currency has massively declined against major world currencies since the beginning of the year. For instance, one dollar is now equivalent to Sh147.36, up from Sh123.37 in January. This reflects an approximately 19.4% depreciation in the Kenyan shilling.

A weak currency inflates the value of the dollar, pound, and other global currencies, thus giving foreigners an added advantage.


Out of 227 cities, Kenya’s capital is ranked as the 173rd most expensive in the 2023 Cost of Living City Ranking by the American consulting firm Mercer.

On the same list from the previous year, Nairobi was listed as the 160th most expensive city for expatriates to live in, a drop of 13 spots.

While Kenyans are facing a harsh cost of living crisis with rising prices for many staple goods, increased taxation, and a weakening shilling, this has, in turn, inflated the salaries of expats working with global bodies such as the United Nations and diplomatic missions, who are paid in dollars, pounds, and euros.

Inflation in Kenya fell by 6.7% in August, the lowest it has ever been in 17 months.

The weakening of the shilling and falling inflation have increased the gap between earning expats and citizens earning the Kenyan shilling.

Locals are struggling with taxes and the hike in prices of basic commodities, causing them to struggle in the country’s capital.

In Africa, other cheap countries for foreigners to live in include Tunis the capital of Tunisia, Windhoek the capital of Namibia and Durban a city in South Africa.

The most expensive cities are Dakar the capital of Senegal, Bangui the capital of the Central African Republic and Luanda the capital of Angola just to mention a few.

Read more about the story on Business Daily








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