For the most part, finding a house to rent in Nairobi is quite a challenge.
It goes beyond spending a weekend or an afternoon looking at attractive properties and choosing your favorite from the best three.
Despite all of the challenges that comes with finding the right house to rent in Nairobi, it’s possible to get the right house at the right price, in the right neighbourhood – provided you are well prepared and flexible.
Here is a low-stress method of finding a house to rent in Nairobi.
a) Set a Budget
In as much as conventional wisdom says that you shouldn’t pay more than 30% of your monthly income on rent, most people in Nairobi find themselves going above – with some spending as high as 50% of their income on rent.
It is therefore important to look at your income, your expenses, financial commitments and plans – both short term and long term, before you settle on your target monthly rent.
Setting a budget is essential for deciding which neighborhoods to target, and figuring out the size of the house that you can afford.
a) Identify ‘must haves’
At any given time, there are thousands of houses that fit your budget.
In order to narrow down your search, you need to come up with a list of ‘irreducible minimums’ or ‘must-haves’.
Your list should be well thought and fairly brief. If you make it very detailed, you may end up not finding any house at all.
There are always those things that you must have, while others may be mere preferences – those that you can opt to do without.
Here are a few things to consider when coming up with your list:
Property type:Maisonette or Apartment?
Commute time: How long will it take you to go to work from that house?
Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: Is the house big enough for you or your family?
Parking: If you have a car, the house must have sufficient parking.
Pet-friendliness: If you own a pet, this is a must.
Setup: Is it gated or stand alone?
c) Research the Neighbourhoods
From the posh and quiet Muthaiga, the trendy and middle-classy Kileleshwa to the heavily populated sections of Nairobi’s eastlands, there is a neighborhood for everyone.
Depending on your ‘must haves’ list, you can list down your potential neighbourhoods of interest.
For example, if you work at JKIA, and wants your new house to be near your work place, you could list down neighbourhoods like Embakasi, Syokimau, Imara Daima, among others.
Once you have this list, you should dig down on each to get a general view and experience of living in those neighborhoods – with specific reference to your ‘must haves’ list.
Ask friends or relatives who live in those neighborhoods, if any, to find out the general experience living there.
Fortunately, you can also use Google Maps to take a virtual walk down your potential neighbourhoods’ streets.
Find a couple of residential roads and a main drag and go to the Street View.
This helps paint a picture of what the buildings look like, the condition of the sidewalks, accessibility etc.
For example, below is the street view of a section of Syokimau
and this, Embakasi.
By walking through each neighborhood, you can easily decide on the better one.
However, Google does not cover each and every neighborhood of Nairobi. So, in some cases, you may have to go to the ground.
d) Use Website and Apps or Estate Agents
Once you’ve researched your potential neighbourhoods, it’s time to identify specific houses of interest.
There are a couple of apps and websites to find a house to rent in Nairobi – but most of them cover middle and up market segments on Nairobi’s housing market.
Here are the most popular websites that will help you get a house to rent, as soon as possible.
The problem with relying on these apps and websites to find your dream property is that they aren’t always up-to-date.
The agents and house owners often leave their listings marked as ‘available’ long after someone already moved in.
In some cases, one house could listed by different agents or listed by one agent/owner in several apps and websites – so, when the house is taken, this is never updated.
That’s why, at times, it may be necessary to work directly with an agency – especially if you are short on time.
There are a couple agencies with presence in most neighborhoods, so they are a great choice.
Usually, you can set up a half-day viewing appointment with an agent, and they’ll walk/drive you around to a few properties that fit your criteria.
e) Inspect the houses of interest
Once you’ve identified a couple of houses that may be of interest, there is need to critically inspect each of them.
This is the opportunity to ask questions and identify any red flags before being rushed into a tenancy agreement. Do not give out any money before this process is complete.
As you walk through the property, use your phone to take photos for future reference. Here are some of the things you can take into consideration:
Is the entryway shared or private?
Is there a designated parking space?
What size bed will fit in the bedroom(s)?
Are the sinks, toilets, and showers in working order? Is there any mold present (check inside sink cabinets)?
Are there any cracks or damaged spots on the floors, walls, or ceiling?
Are there any exposed wires?
Do all of the lights function?
Is the outdoor space shared?
Does the house enjoy enough sunlight?
What about water supply?
When the time comes to enter into a tenancy agreement, these notes will be invaluable.
Any repairs you want done before moving in must be recorded in your tenancy agreement. Otherwise, the landlord will have no obligation to patch that hole in the wall or replace the malfunctioning hot shower.
f) Move In
Finally, after all the hard work of finding your house in Nairobi – you can now move in.
It’s a good practice to find a good moving company to help you move into your new house.
However, for most people, they can always mobilize friends or family to help execute the move.
If you need a good mover in Nairobi, you can always use Kungo.co.ke to compare movers. It will save you time, and get the best quotes from top rated movers in Nairobi.