RENTING IN NAIROBI, A YOUNG GIRL’S STORY.

Mukanda Maombola
5 min readSep 8, 2020

It's officially nine months since I moved into my tiny apartment and started paying my own rent.I’m a full-throttle adult, one who takes care of herself and can very much brag about this milestone. I bankroll myself. Life in the big city is not easy, expenses are on an all-time high and in relation to the income, well let's just say they it does not add up. Renting in Nairobi is hard, but I guess renting anywhere is difficult, I mean why should I give up a portion of my income to an individual just for a tiny living space, does that make sense? I don't think so!

I have learnt a few hacks, some that are financial related and for the most part, people related. Living solo unlike staying at home or with a roommate has a number of perks and downsides, just like everything else in life. These are some of the things that I had to learn, fast!.

Paying bills.

I foot all my bills on my own. This, however, should not give you any ideas about my paycheck. I’m still in an entry-level job position like most guys my age hence my paycheck is still in its infant stage but we,(me myself and I) still make it work. The secret ingredient when it comes to this is that I pay my bills on time. Gone are the days whereby my first thought would have been the latest shoe, now when I get the notification from my bank my mind thinks of settling the bills which consist of rent, water, groceries, transport and electricity before anything else. The bulk of my income goes to rent, as for my water and electricity bill, they keep fluctuating depending on monthly usage. I pay all my bills on the same day I cash my check. This was unpleasant and excruciating for the first few months but then I realized its either this or the highway. The one time I happened to delay, I was bombarded with eviction messages form my landlord and could not access water for a day, let's just say that I had to learn my lesson the hard way which made me shape up! The lesson of the year

The landlord is not your friend neither is he or she shopping for one, its business period!~ Mukanda.

Renting in Nairobi is not easy but we manage.

Living on a budget.

For me living on a budget has always sounded like an action only destitute people resort to. Coming from a home that is very indifferent about financial literacy, I did not understand why anyone in their right frame of mind would choose to live on a budget. Why would you subject yourself to only a few items on a shopping list worse still walk around the supermarket shopping and calculating what the items would amount to? Umm, are you okay? My parents never lived on a budget if they did then I was too busy rampaging through the grocery bags for a chocolate bar or candy to care. On the many occasions that I accompanied my parents during the monthly shopping, we did not use a shopping list and on the rare occasions that we did, we’d end up blowing it through the roof. I lead a very good life, let me put this out there, One that did not accord me basic financial skills, one that has cost me a lot of money in my adult years because of my spending habits. If I was to go back, I'd definitely learn a thing or two about saving and the importance of having a budget and sticking to it. It seems basic, but it is very paramount, trust me! Safe to say that yours truly has a budget that she has managed to stick to it for the last couple of months, can I get at applause, yes thank you. It has not been a walk in the park especially with the consumer culture that I had gotten used to by I’m taking it a day at a time.

Dealing with repairs.

I grew up in a small town in Western Kenya whereby most things were catered for by the company my dad worked for, this included household repairs, hence as a family, we never had to worry about a leaking faucet or a loose door. Fast forward to today, I not only struggle with paying for the tiny repairs which, to be honest, come up as a result of the abandoned houses by the respective landlords. Since I’m living in the said, house I have to foot this and that bill in regards to repairs which are not cheap. I have learnt to put cash aside just incase my shower decides to stop working like it did yesterday!

Dealing with the property manager and the guards.

Most property managers or caretakers are mem, don't ask me I don't know why! In my experience, they tend to be slightly rough and very much biased depending on who oils their palms with 100 or 200 notes. This was a major learning curve for me as I did not have a first-hand experience with them. My guard, for instance, lacks common courtesy. He is very much rough on the edges and cares little about how he's perceived. He cannot converse in low tones, instead, he takes to boisterous ones, with hopes for intimidation? maybe, but this does not work on me! The property manager just cannot let go. He is opposed to changes made around the house despite the fact that I have signed a lease! Maybe its the inferiority complex or strict rules from the landlord but what I know for sure is that I need him to back off.

I will probably be renting for a few more years and my list of lessons and frustrations will grow but so will be the joyful moments. I will probably look back at my first apartment with so much joy but for know, I have to get money and pay rent!

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