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Living in Mombasa
A comprehensive guide about living well in Mombasa
Mombasa has everything that an expat might need to create a good life in Kenya’s second biggest city. There is opportunity for work, good accommodation, beautiful beaches and parks to relax in, and good education options available. Get all the info you need about life in Mombasa with this guide.
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Life in Mombasa
Education in Mombasa
For the most part, schools in Kenya offer an 8-4-4 system of education, comprising eight years of primary education, followed by four years of secondary education and four years of university. Some schools still teach the British system, with GSCE and A-level style exams after four years of secondary school and two years of further education. School starts in Kenya at age six or seven, and primary education is free. Secondary schools are either government funded, private, or Harambee, which receive some government funding also.
One of the most well-known and well-regarded private schools in Kenya is in Mombasa; Braeburn Mombasa International School, which is co-educational, multi-cultural and offers boarding to pupils. Other international and private schools in Mombasa include the Mombasa Academy, Oshwal Academy and the Aga Khan Academy, so expatriates living in Mombasa with children will have plenty of choice. The Mombasa campus of the Kenyatta University is also in the city, along with the Technical University of Mombasa, which offers degrees in engineering, IT, business studies and sciences, among others.
Transportation in Mombasa
Mombasa Island is connected to the mainland in three places. To the north of the island, the Nyali Bridge crosses Tudor Creek to the mainland. In the south, the Likoni Ferry takes both cars and foot passengers across Kilindini Harbour. The ferry is operated by the Kenya Ferry Services, or KFS, and this is free for foot passengers.
The west of the island is connected to the mainland via the Makupa Causeway, which has the Kenya-Uganda Railway running alongside it. This railway line links much of the interior of Uganda and Kenya to the Indian Ocean. The journey by train from Mombasa to Nairobi takes around 14 hours and includes overnight travel.
Expatriates relocating to Mombasa will likely arrive at Moi International Airport, which is on the mainland in the Chaani area, officially called Port Reitz. Expats who wish to drive in Mombasa will find good roads and connections, and there are minibuses and tuk-tuks available also. Sitting directly on the Indian Ocean and having been used historically for trade, Mombasa has the largest sea port in Kenya, which is used for industry and visiting cruise ships.
Culture and Leisure
Expats will feel right at home in Mombasa, with the city having attracted so many foreign settlers in the past. This, along with the city’s proximity to the capital city, the Indian subcontinent and Zanzibar has made Mombasa a melting pot of culture. As with many African cultures, music plays a key role, and expats will greatly enjoy exploring the varied musical styles, including chilled Bango, faster Chakacha and traditional Mwanzele.
There are music venues catering for all of these styles, as well as the more modern styles such as hip hop and reggae that are enjoyed by the Kenyan youth. Expats living in Mombasa with a love of sports can watch the local football team; Bandari F.C. play in the Kenyan Premier League. For those who prefer to get involved, rather than simply be spectators, there is a strong water sports offering in Mombasa including kite-surfing and scuba diving.
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