Nairobi here we come: with an active 2 year old and a newborn!

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Nairobi here we come: with an active 2 year old and a newborn! Empty Nairobi here we come: with an active 2 year old and a newborn!

Post  AandBFamily on Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:42 pm

Hello everyone,

I've been stalking this Forum and the Blog for the past 5 months now as we've been debating about relocating to Nairobi. It's now a done deal. I'm 30 weeks pregnant with our second child and finishing my PhD here in the DC area. My husband is leaving tomorrow for 5 weeks to get started on his new job and to look for a house, etc. He'll come back here for the baby and he'll leave ahead again in May to get us settle before the kiddos and I arrive in June. From going over the various threads on this forum, I think that I got a lot of the information I need, but I still have a few questions (some less important than others).

1. My husband's office will be in Kitisuru close to the APHRC Campus. Which estates or neighborhood would you recommend in terms of housing. A short commute has always been important to us as my husband loves spending time with the little one before bedtime. Of course we would like a place that is kid friendly. I also heard that once you find a place, you pretty much have to jump on it on the spot because desirable houses to let don't stay on the market for very long. Is that true?
2. I'll be finishing my dissertation in International Relations and may need access to a good library with some political science books for my last chapters. I've been spoiled here in DC, so I wonder how easily can I have access to a variety of academic journals and books without university affiliation in Nairobi.
3. We are planning on bringing our appliances with us, but I've heard that sometimes they are not the right fit, there are voltage issues, and washer/dryers can be a "mixed blessing"... not quite sure what that means. In any case, will I find He Detergent in most stores for my energy efficient washer? How is the best way to deal with voltage differences without having drowning is wires all over the house?
4. I plan on staying at home for the first year we are in Nairobi, after which, I plan on putting my degree to work. I read on the forum the challenges of obtaining an H work permit. Anyone has any experience with a D work permit?
5. Anyone knows a martial art/kickboxing studio in the area?
6. We are raising our children bilingual (French and English), are there Francophone activities in the area?
7. Are there waiting lists for medical providers? I'll be coming in only a few weeks postpartum so I want to make sure that I can find an OB and a pediatrician relatively quickly upon arrival.
8. My husband has been thinking about riding a motorcycle to work... Is that even safe? And I guess another concern of mine, I know that carjacking are sometimes an issue (not just in Nairobi... haha. from DC to LA, it happens at times too), but what about "motorcycle-jacking?"
9. How many of you would recommend taking defensive driving courses?

Ok, I think that's it for now. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I promise that as I get settled in Nairobi, I'll pay it forward!



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Post  Admin on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:48 am

Hi Yolande,

Great to hear that you will be on your way and best of luck with the arrival of your new baby!

Thanks for your questions. I'll attempt to answer them as best as I can, but if anyone else can chip in too, then so much the better!

1. If you husband is working in the Kitisuru area, then you are lucky. It's a lovely area - close to shops, not too far from the larger shopping centres and you have quite a few high quality housing options nearbye, for instance try Lake View, Hill View Estates (estates have manned barriers with security, but all houses have gardens and it's great for kids to walk/cycle etc inside). Also check out houses on Kabete/Peponi Road and in Kitisuru itself. Have a look at the - for details of houses and agents etc.

2. For safety's sake and though it might be a bore, I would bring any books you might need to complete your course. We have a real problem with lack of libraries here in Nairobi and what you are looking for is fairly specialised. I don't know what Kenyatta Uni's like, but you are almost guaranteed not to find the books you need here. You could contact your embassy to see if they have any better suggestions. Personnally I say thank goodness for the internet!

3. Power surges and voltage changes (low and High) are a problem here. We combat this by putting surge protectors on our appliances. You can buy TV/fridge and high volt guards here - but for bigger appliances it might be worth investing in a more heavy duty UPS type of thing. It would be cheaper to bring these with you, but they are available here too. RE special washing powder - bring a good supply of what you need. Things in shops here come and go - they have something for 6 months - then it's out of stock for a year... The HealthyU chain stocks ecologically friendly soaps etc (at the moment!).

4. You'll get a D permit no problem, but this one only applies as long as you are signing on to work full time for a specific employer. If you are thinking of working freelance, then you'll need to apply for an H permit. There is still a fairly high cost implication and it's worth getting a middle man accountant/lawyer to help with the application process - but don't worry, it's perfectly doable. I've just got my H.

5. There are loads of gyms in Nairobi, many offer kick boxing, boxer-cise, tae bo classes as part of their aerobics schedule. There's a good gym in the Sarit Centre, Westlands. The Muthaiga and Karen Club also have brilliant gyms with really, really good instructors - and they run a full timetable of classes. If you want to do kickboxing specifically then many instructors will give you an individual session and you might even be able to book them to come to your home. I don't know of a martial arts centre specifically but I know that it is available (they run tai kwan do classes at my kids school). Check out and see if you can find any leads there.

6. Francophone activities - there will be lots. Contact the Alliance Francaise.

7. No waiting lists for medical providers. It's all private. The OBs and pediatricians do not have waiting lists. You'll be close to the Gertrudes Garden Children's hospital in Muthaiga which is great (look out for Dr Nesbitt/Forbes). Alternatively, the Aga Khan hospital has a great female OB called Dr Cardavello and Pediatrician called Dr Aziz.

8. Motorbike - great for beating traffic! The traffic is fairly crazy here as you'll have heard. I wouldn't be worried about motorbike jacking (not heard of that one here yet!) - only road safety. Buses have a habit of pulling out, over/under taking without warning. I would suggest bringing the bike, then making an assessment on whether it's safe to drive it when you get here. If your husband has a short commute to work, on less busy roads, then it might be a godsend.

9. I've never taken a defensive driving course - but I guess there's no harm in it. Driving in any big city is good training for Nairobi where rather than 'give way' it's more 'push out and take way'. Vis a vis security - in a car jacking situation, the best thing you can do is stay calm and follow instructions. A lot is made of car jacking in Nairobi, but hand on heart (and touch wood) I don't hear of this happening very often.. Middle class Kenyans are the main target here - not expats in big 4x4s.

Hope this helps!!



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Post  AandBFamily on Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:16 pm

This is brilliant!
I really appreciate this!

Best wishes.


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Post  Kenyafor3 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:44 pm

Hi Yolande

I thought I might offer my opinion on appliances such as washer/dryer etc. Having previously moved from the US to other parts of the world, I would definitely advise you not to bring your appliances with you. The problem is that US appliance is on 120volts vs everywhere else which is on 240volts.

What happens then is that you need a step down converter to convert the high voltage available here to the low voltage on your appliances. I doubt these are even available in Kenya. And what sometimes happens is that these convertors don't work correctly which results in your appliance getting overloaded and frying. This can prove very expensive. And since Kenya is notorious for power issues there are often power surges which will cause your convertors not to work.

Not trying to scare you at all. But I took my appliances to a place that didn't even have the power issues as kenya and within 6 months all of them had to be replaced with local appliances.
Hope this helps!


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