Kisumu City lies on a northeast inlet of Lake Victoria, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Bustling and dynamic, the city is a trading and transportation hub for the Great Lakes area of Western Kenya. Kisumu is also home to the Luo tribe whose members have such a good grasp of English that Kisumu is known as “Little England” and “the Brains of Kenya”. The Central Business District of Kisumu has a number of department stores and shopping malls, and a huge open-air market for expats living in Kisumu to explore. The local population is friendly, though white expatriates should expect to be addressed as ‘Muzungu’, which translates as ‘white person’. Kisumu is quickly developing its infrastructure, with road improvements and housing developments expanding out from the CBD. There is endemic poverty in the outer areas of Kisumu, with a growing street child population. Expats tend to congregate at community events in Kisumu, but to quickly find expatriates living in Kisumu City, maybe even before your relocation, you should register as a member with InterNations, the global expatriate online community. Networking for business and pleasure via the many InterNations forums should locate individuals of a similar professional standing, and fellow InterNations members living in Kisumu City may organize social gatherings and events for their mutual benefit.
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Kisumu International Airport is close to the city, with flights from Nairobi and Mombasa, as well as cities in neighboring countries. Kisumu’s narrow gauge railway links other towns in Kenya, and water transport operates to lakeside towns, as well as Tanzania and Uganda. A modern metro network for Kisumu has been promised, which should improve the road surfaces. Expatriates moving to Kisumu will nevertheless quickly become accustomed to the rickety matatus vans, the tuk-tuk three-wheeler vehicles and the boda-bodas, the bicycles and motorcycles with rear seats for quick transportation around the city. Expatriates in Kisumu can typically expect to live side by side with the more affluent locals in estates or apartment buildings. Hotels and guest houses also provide temporary accommodation for expats and cars are essential when visiting areas outside of Kisumu. Relocation to a new country is a stressful process and planning, meeting shipping deadlines and arranging personal travel can take its toll. Finding information is always difficult in a new city, but members of our friendly InterNations community can often offer specific advice and tips based on their own experience of moving to Kenya and Kisumu City. More general information on relocation can be gleaned from InterNations’ Expat Magazine, which has a wealth of articles on a wide range of expatriation relevant topics.
The Kisumu economy is dependent on its tea plantations, sugar industries, and fishing. Whilst most of Kisumu’s agriculture and farming practices are subsistence-based, the city is benefiting from several international initiatives to raise education standards and improve the lives of Kenyans in Kisumu county. Many expatriates arrive with internships on projects such as the Millennium Cities Initiative of Columbia University, and have their work visas and residency permits organized on their behalf. As an expatriate working in Kisumu, you have the opportunity to witness the changes from an agrarian economy to an industrialized one, as Kisumu slowly but surely develops a modern infrastructure. InterNations members in Kisumu are surprisingly also in a position to enjoy international cuisines, including Western, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican and Nepalese. Even a vegetarian restaurant is an option! Social visits to the Kisumu Museum, which contains a UNESCO-sponsored Bergidala, or Lou community homestead, the Impala Sanctuary, Hippo Point, and Kit Mikaye, a large rock with three rocks atop, are possible attractions to consider for expats working in Kisumu.