Rising rent pushes tenants to towns bordering Nairobi
Posted Tuesday, January 29 2013 at 15:20
Fast increasing rent, in residential areas closer to Nairobi city center is pushing many residents to towns bordering the Kenyan capital. Some people working in Nairobi now prefer to live in towns located outside the capital, where rent is lower, and commute to the city center each day. An increasing number of people working in the capital are now living in towns like Ruiru, Juja and Thika, along Thika superhighway, Kinoo and Limuru, along Nairobi-Nakuru highway, and in Machakos, along Nairobi-Mombasa highway. Some of these areas are over 60 kilometers away from the city center, where residents work, but people do not mind as long as they pay cheaper rent.
Initially, the migration away from residential areas closer to city center in search of cheaper rent, was to suburbs on the outskirts of the capital. People were moving to areas like Kikuyu, Kitengela, Mlolongo, Ruai, Ruaka and Rongai, but rent has also went up significantly in the suburbs as population surges.This has, therefore, necessitated the movement further away from the capital, where rents are increasingly rising as developers seek higher returns on their investments.In most middle-income estates in the capital, a two-bedroom apartment is current going for between 174 dollars and 255 dollars, depending on the location of the estate. In some areas, two- bedroom houses are going for up to 348 dollars rent per month.
Government employee Peter Munyaka is among Nairobi residents who have migrated further away from the city. Munyaka lives in Machakos, a town 64 kilometers southeast of Nairobi. The town has been planned to be part of the larger Nairobi metropolis. Each day, Munyaka commutes from the town to Nairobi, where he works as an accountant. "I have been living in Machakos for the past one-and-a-half years. For all this period, I have been comfortably commuting to the capital. I am used to. The distance has become shorter," recounted Munyaka Friday.
The civil servant noted that before he moved to Machakos, he was living in Langata. "I was living in a two bed-room house in Otiende estate with my family of four. Then, I was paying rent of 260 U.S. dollars. It had increased from about 230 dollars," he said. While Munyaka thought the rent was higher, he paid it since he believed the estate was closer to the city center, where he worked. However, he could not take it anymore when his landlord pushed the rent to 305 dollars. "This was too much for me. I talked to a friend, who convinced me to move to Machakos town, where he was staying while working in Nairobi," he said.
There, he told him he would get a house bigger than the one he was living in at 166 dollars. Munyaka visited Machakos and he did not think twice before he made up his mind. "I looked for a school for my children and packed my things and left. Life has never been better for me," said Munyaka with a smile. Each day, Munyaka lives Machakos at about 5:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) and arrives in the city center at about 7:15 a.m. (0415 GMT). "Sometimes I arrive earlier than that when there is less traffic along Mombasa Road. Traffic is usually heavy as we approach Nyayo Stadium. That is where we spend almost the same time that we use from Machakos," said Munyaka, who takes about an hour to reach Machakos town in the evening after leaving work.
Bernard Mbithi, who lives in Thika town and commutes to Nairobi each day believes he is better off than most of his colleagues who live in the city."It takes me slightly over an hour to reach Thika town from Nairobi. My friends who live in Rongai and Umoja sometimes take more than that time because of heavy traffic jams on Langata and Jogoo roads respectively. This means am better off living in Thika, " said Mbithi, who moved to Thika from South B estate. In Thika, Mbithi lives in a three-bedroom house where he pays 174 dollars. Such a house costs almost thrice that amount in his previous estate, where he was living in one-bedroom house. "It is not only rent that is cheaper. Schools in the town neighboring Nairobi costs much lower. Overall, one's expenses go down when living far away from the city center," said Mbithi, whose wife works in Nairobi.
Munyaka and Mbithi noted they have colleagues and friends who have also moved away from Nairobi because of high rent. "I have a workmate who moved from Kitengela to Isinya because of rising rent in Kitengela. He commutes each day to Nairobi and he is comfortable with it," said Munyaka. Latest report on property trends in Nairobi by HassConsult, a real estate firm, indicated that rent rose in the last quarter of 2012 by 4.1 percent."Prices for rentals continued to climb strongly, with asking rents rising by an overall 4.1 percent. The biggest rises came at the top of the market, where rents for standalone properties rose by 5.2 per cent on the previous three months, making for a 17.2 percent increase from January to December 2012," said Sakina Hassanali, Head of Research and Marketing at HassConsult during the release of the report this week.
The firm predicted that rent will rise further in many suburbs in Nairobi in the coming months. This means that more and more Nairobi residents are likely to relocate to areas bordering the city as rent goes up. However, Vincent Ouma, a communication officer in the capital noted that majority of those who are moving away from Nairobi come from communities, which are predominately living in the towns they are relocating to."It is hard to find somebody, for instance, from Western Kenya going to live in Thika or Machakos if they are not working there. One will feel out of place," said Ouma, who lives in Rongai. Nonetheless, he acknowledged people are moving away from estates closer to the city center.