Living or should I say surviving in Nairobi is not for the faint-hearted. Nairobi and Kenya, in general, is extremely expensive. Yet the cost just keeps going higher!!! Sadly, most of our income does not increase at the same rate as our expenses do. Most Nairobians have formal employment and side hustles and still struggle to make ends meet.
Take for example the cost of getting decent housing. Most of us have what would seem like the bare minimum one should want for themselves and their family. An apartment/house larger than a shoebox, lit enough to not feel like you have been dumped into a basement, adequate water supply, secure neighborhood and/or compound, good drainage, proximity to good health facilities and schools, and accessible enough to your place of work that your daily commute doesn’t feel like you are embarking on a road trip. Sadly, a house that meets everything in this checklist may start you cost more than the average Kenyan income.
Then there are the other monthly recurring, water, transport, electricity, nanny, internet, airtime, what we Kenyans famously call shopping (household supplies), school fees. These seem to go up, every time we blink. You can’t ever assume your expenses for the next month will be the same as the current month. Every now and then Kenya Power will drop you an inflated bill and serve you with a blackout when you absolutely need to put some work in to earn that coin, your Internet service provider will give you such crappy service that you’ll wonder if you have somehow teleported from the fiber age to the dial-up era, your nanny will pull a disappearing act at the wee hours of the morning and your taps will run dry. It’s almost as if everything around you is conspiring to tell you that the little that you earn isn’t enough for you to even count on reliability.
Of course, you cant be working just to pay the bills. You have to tell the body sorry for all that you keep putting it through in the name of hustling and work on strengthening the relationships in your life. So, you factor in some entertainment. An evening with friends, date night with your significant other, outing for the kids. It is no wonder so many of us can relate to Chris’ dad in Everyone Hates Chris. We just can’t seem to catch a break for wanting a decent living.
I came across these numbers on the average Kenyan earning vs the cost of living. Look at our average Kenyan earning vs what is our biggest recurring expense!
Maybe we are just tired. It feels like we are always working. Making money that we never really get to enjoy. It’s a really tough balance making enough to sustain what we need to survive while saving for what we want. This is the rat race that doesn’t seem to have a finish line.