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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Enjoying a Warm Welcome in Kenya (amid Safety Concerns)

Expats are up for a world of adventure in Kenya but also need to be ready to face various challenges.

In the Expat Insider 2024 survey, Kenya ranks 14th out of 53 destinations. Life as an expat there offers myriad experiences, from navigating bustling cities to lush landscapes and immersing oneself in the local culture. Expats rank their overall happiness in 11th place, yet safety concerns and poor infrastructure land Kenya in 51st place for Safety & Security and Travel & Transit.

How Expats Rate Life in Kenya

Friendly & Hospitable Locals

One of the hallmarks of life in Kenya is the genuine warmth and hospitality of its people — the country ranks 9th for the Ease of Settling In Index. Expats appreciate Kenyans for their friendliness (11th) and find it easy to build connections and friendships (7th). More than three-quarters of respondents (78%) positively rate the friendliness of local residents, in general and towards foreigners (vs. a global 63% and 61%, respectively).

All in all, expats feel both welcome (78% vs. 63% globally) and at home in Kenya (67% vs. 58% globally). Many expats also agree that they’re happy with their social life (67% vs. 52% globally).

I love the culture and happiness; the way you live life here just living in the moment.” – Austrian expat

Inadequate Infrastructure for Healthcare & Travel

At the other extreme, Kenya ranks 48th in the Quality of Life Index. Expats are unsatisfied in matters regarding Healthcare (45th), Travel & Transit (51st), and Safety & Security (51st).

Although four in five expats in Kenya (80%) are satisfied with the opportunity to travel (vs. 83% globally), the availability of public transportation (49th) and safety of getting around on foot or bicycle (51st) receive negative reviews by 44% of respondents (vs. a global 17% and 13%, respectively).

Results regarding the availability (41st) and affordability of healthcare (48th) are not much better. And 29% of expats rate the quality of medical care unfavorably (vs. 17% globally).

There are concerns about Safety & Security (51st), too, with 24% of expats negatively rating personal safety and political stability (vs. a global 8% and 16%, respectively). Many expats cite political and police corruption — and as per one British expat: “The level of corruption is high. Always have an advocate you know to ensure that if you end up with a problem you can call them for help.”

Good Financials to Enjoy the Lush Landscape

Still, there are positives to be found in the Quality of Life Index. Kenya ranks 21st for the Environment & Climate Subcategory, nabbing 3rd place for climate & weather and 11th for the natural environment. More than nine in ten expats praise these factors (91% and 92% vs. a global 58% and 82%, respectively).

Kenya also finds itself in the upper mid-field when it comes to the Personal Finance Index (17th). Only 9% of expats are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 26% globally). And the general cost of living ranking (27th) even went up nine places in comparison to 2023 (36th out of 53).

Red Tape vs. Easy Housing

Thanks to affordable housing (13th) and no major language barrier (5th), Kenya ranks 8th in the Expat Essentials Index. Housing isn't only affordable, three-quarters of expats (75%) also agree that finding accommodation in Kenya is easy (vs. 45% globally).  

Not everything is as easy going, however. In the Digital Life Subcategory, Kenya ranks 40th, indicating limitations to the country’s digital landscape. When asked to rate the unrestricted access to online services, 80% are satisfied (vs. 82% globally). But only about two in five (38%) regard the online availability of administrative services favorably (vs. 58% globally).

Not being able to access full administrative services online is an extra challenge, as 62% of expats already find it difficult to deal with local bureaucracy or the authorities — a full 20 percentage points more than the global average of 42%.

Job Satisfaction amid Job Insecurity

Kenya lands in 31st place for the Working Abroad Index. Expats are happy with their personal career opportunities (6th); in fact, 63% are satisfied (vs. 53% globally). However, opinions are less favorable regarding the country’s job market (40th), indicating that suitable job positions may have limited availability.

When it comes to the Salary & Job Security Subcategory, Kenya only ranks 48th. The state of the economy (50th) presents some challenges: only about a quarter (23%) agree that it is good (vs. 59% globally). Nevertheless, job security (13th) and job satisfaction (4th) rank high: 69% of expats agree that they are pleased with their job (vs. 60% globally).

The Typical Expat in Kenya

Further Reading