Moving House in Nairobi

Moving House in Nairobi
October 1, 2020 No Comments Lifestyle Kevin Menya

I hate having to move houses. I am that kind of person who will (assuming I can comfortably afford the rent) live in a house for at least five years. After five years I assume it’s best for any considerate individual(s) to give their money to someone else so as to ensure the money properly circulates in the economy.

Despite many of us with a hate to move, at some point you’ll be forced to move. Let me also point out that this article I believe not only applies to moving houses, but could as well apply to relocating your office or business premises.


Why Move?

There are numerous reasons why you would need to relocate. When my fiancé moved in she really stressed for us to find another house (mind you I was comfortable in that single room). People move because they have acquired more financial muscle, hence can afford pricier rent. You should listen to the self-professed financial advisors who’ll keep telling you that you shouldn’t live in a house that takes up more than 30% of your monthly salary (mschew! It’s my money oh..). Some people will move simply because they can no longer stand their neighbors for whatever reasons. Others move because they want to be closer to their work or business places. A reduced quality of service at the same or higher cost is a sure reason to move. We know of landlords or agents who’ve left their premises slowly turn into ruins due to failure to carry out regular maintenance.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Some of us have also had to move due to a hike in rent. Other have moved after losing their main source of income, say retrenchment. On this last point, allow me to stress on it as very many individuals have suffered in recent months, world over. With the onset of the Corona Virus pandemic, very many people have been rendered jobless or some who had a bit of luck have had their salaries slashed due to decreased incomes for many businesses. One of the most sensible things to do when your main source of income is negatively affected, besides seeking other sources of income, is to reduce your expenses. If you still earn your salary as was pre-COVID or at least have a job to sustain you and your loved ones, count yourself lucky. Take a moment and Thank God for this grace. Those of us who’ve lost our sources of income due to Corona shouldn’t despair. Good times are ahead.

I do not have proven statistics but I strongly believe that most people residing in Nairobi have a large chunk of their incomes going to paying rent. Owning a home is a topic for another day, at least until I become one.

Getting a Cheaper house

The dire situation me and my family were in dictated that I had to find a cheaper house. Thanks to COVID-19 a brother was rendered almost jobless. Here are some of factors to consider when looking for a house:

  • Identify the area you want to live in. As you decide on this, please consider the distance between you and your family, friends and acquaintances. Most people prefer living nearer people they are familiar with, unless of course you are trying to start a new life away from familiar faces for whatever reason.
  • Know your budget. This goes hand in hand with the amenities and floor space of the house. Say for example I want a one-bed-roomed house around Satellite, I should know that the price range is between KSh. 9,000 to 18,000. How much are you willing to pay?
  • Security. I do not need to stress on this. You don’t want your house vandalized when you are away; or have to worry about your safety when leaving your house early in the morning or coming late at night.
  • Water, garbage and electricity. You definitely want to live in a place with a reliable supply of clean (drinking) water. If the place has no water, then how close is the water vending station, and at how much? Another factor on water is if it’s metered, how true are the readings? For electricity I personally prefer non-shared prepaid electric tokens. You don’t want disputes about bills when they are due. Lastly there should be a designated place for throwing your litter. Compounds with designated and well managed litter bins are generally clean.
  • Proximity to amenities. the list of amenities you need vary. Consider the distance from the main (drivable)road, school, shops, market, hospitals, etc. The pain in Nairobi is that the nearer a place is to the main road, the more expensive it is.
  • Flat or ground? There are people who hate living in flats because they tend to be colder, darker, dirtier and more crowded. There are cases whereby a jerrycan of 20-liter water costs KSh 20 but to have it delivered to your doorstep on the nth floor, you add an extra amount. Carrying household items to your house on a flat is also another challenge.
  • Seek help. Browse the internet for the house you want. For this I’ve used Facebook groups, Jiji and PigiaMe portals. Most landlords and agents are sadly yet to embrace technology. This means that you have to tarmac from plot to plot. Put word out of the type of house you are looking for, and ask a friend familiar with the area to help you look around. If all this fails then get an agent to direct you, at a cost of course.
  • Managed by Agent, Caretaker or owner? I’ve come to be very particular on this issue based on my experience. Most agents are unprofessional or just rude. You’ll find that issues such as repairs and maintenance take longer to be carried out when houses are managed by agents. This however does not apply to all houses or agencies. Due diligence has to be made before moving in. It can simply be done by seeing the status of the house you want to move into, and how maintained the compound or other houses with tenants are.

Deposit Refund?

I’ve heard of numerous complaints of landlords and agents failing to refund a tenant’s deposit once they’ve communicated their intention to move. It becomes a back and forth affair for months and most people are forced to give up. Legally, your deposit should be refunded, less the cost of any damages (not the normal wear and tear such as faded paint). The commonly agreed-to idea by tenants is that you don’t pay rent for the final month in that house since it’s covered by your deposit (Kukalia deposit), which most landlords and agents don’t entertain. I’ve even read of mean cases where if your deposit isn’t refunded by the day you are moving out you simply pour cement in the toilet to block it, and the house owner can use your non-refunded deposit money to cater for the unclogging and repairs. I mean it’s very mean but who am I to judge another human?



Hand-cart transportation

You’ve decided on the house you’re relocating to and now it’s time to move. There are 4 options, or more:

  1. Hire a professional moving company. They are the most expensive in my list but you expect professional services from them. We are talking about dismantling your bed and other necessary furniture, packaging them and assembling and arranging your house items in your new house.
  2. Ask for Transport. I mean in all major towns in Kenya you’ve seen them in market centers and along main roads. They may not be legally registered transport and logistics businesses but that’s their trade. Their prices are negotiable depending on the distance between your old and new houses, terrain, manpower required, amount of goods to be moved, size of the vehicle, etc.
  3. Hand cart (mkokoteni). This is only recommended when the volume of your household goods isn’t big and the distance to be covered isn’t long. It is also recommended where there are bad roads. This mode of transportation is slow for obvious reasons.
  4. Carrying by Hand or Wheelbarrow. This is assuming that you are moving into a house within the same or not so far off compound. You simply get your strong friends and/ or family to get things moving.

If you are lucky you could borrow a truck from your company or friends, and even better for you if you own a truck.

Precautions During Moving Houses

Always ensure that if you can, dis-assemble the necessary items, before transport arrives. Take care of fragile items such as plates, mirrors and screens. Have them packaged safely before moving. One trick I normally use is to carry them to my new house a day or hours before other items are moved into the new house. Do not forget to remove your personal items such as bulbs, padlocks, etc. Have them packaged in advance.

We all want to move during a perfect weather, when it’s not raining. I personally prefer moving during the day so as to see everything as is. I heard someone joke that those who love moving during the night don’t want people seeing their stained mattresses.

When your transport arrives, ensure that you are closely monitoring as things are removed from the house into the vehicle. Take note of your items that may easily get lost or stolen in the process. I am talking about jewelry, piggy-banks and small electronics. Have them pre-packed and watch their every step.

Please organize where you and your friends or family will be traveling in, as you are moving your items. I prefer being in the vehicle transporting my items not only to give direction, but also as security.

You will also need to supervise the way things are offloaded from the vehicle, carried and arranged in your new house. By this point you should have already figured out the layout and arrangement of your new house. You’ll also need someone to stay on the look-out, strictly not helping in the carrying, to ensure none of your items gets stolen or vandalized (excuse me if I’m being paranoid but better safe than sorry).

Note that it takes days or even weeks to decide on the arrangement of your house. It also takes time to get used to your new surrounding and neighbors. As my twin @OfficialKDida always says, Mazoea yana taabu (Habits are troublesome), you’ll eventually settle in.

All the best in your quest to find a new house.

About The Author
Kevin Menya For the love of life, positive vibes and everything in between, I keep learning and sharing.
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