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How High Rent in Nairobi is Pushing People into Doing Shocking Things to Make Ends Meet


Nairobi has an estimated population of 5 million people and it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the sub Saharan Africa. Over 100,000 people migrate to the city annually to search for greener pastures as compared to just 20,000 who permanently move out of the city.

The persistent increase of the population in the city has led to scramble for the limited houses available, forcing land lords to increase house rents at will because they know people are desperate for houses. A bedsitter used to go for Ksh 3,000 in most estates in Nairobi in 2008, which now costs Ksh 8,000 in most estates in the city.

Due to the high cost of living in the city, more than 80 percent of the population has been pushed to eastlands where houses are affordable.

We managed to talk to some of the residents how they manage to make ends meet with their fixed salaries and the answers shocked us.

“I work in Nairobi CBD and my monthly salary is Ksh 30,000.Since I live in Embakasi, I have to set aside Ksh 10,000 for transport and lunch, Ksh 7,000 for shopping, Ksh 5,000 for food and Ksh 8,500 for rent.Clearly, I am left with nothing, so I have to look for other means of surviving. I have managed to survive for 5 years because my two boyfriends supplement what I earn; I don’t regret what I do because I have any other means of surviving”.

Mary is not alone; we also managed to speak to another city resident who is equally struggling to survive.

“I came to Nairobi in 2008 when the town was not congested, I settled in a single room in Kawangware.I was paying rent of Ksh 1,000 by then but when I married in 2010 I moved to a one bedroom house within the estate where I was paying a rent of Ksh 5,000 but our landlord has always increased rent, threatening to throw us out if we resist. Currently we are paying Ksh 10,000 per month.

My problem is that I work as Bank teller and my monthly salary is Ksh 40,000.When I pay rent and cater for other expenses, I only remain with Ksh 1, 000, which is not enough to save.I have decided to go home and start farming instead of wasting time in the city. What makes me angry is that most people at home think I have money because I work in a Bank, when I cry that I have nothing, they say my wife has changed me”.


I work for a Muhindi in Industrial area and my salary is 11k,which is not enough to feed even myself.I have three children and a house girl whom I pay 3k.I was forced to start selling sukuma wiki beside the road to supplement my income.Every evening I rush to Muthurwa where I buy the sukuma wiki and  sell in Pipeline.The money I get from selling sukuma wiki is what I pay  rent with.

Employers are not in a hurry to increase salaries but rent and transport costs continue increasing. These dynamics may push a good number of city residents to relocate to the village to try something else.


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