One of the main advantages of relocating to Kenya is its affordability, but exactly how much cheaper is it to live in Nairobi? The answer will probably depend on your lifestyle, but one of the great things about Kenya is that you can often enjoy a lower cost of living while still having access to the amenities you’d see in Western countries.
Here’s a dive into the cost of groceries in Westlands, Nairobi in particular - probably one of the most expensive places in Kenya.
Is Kenya more expensive than the US?
We took a trip to a couple of supermarkets in Westlands, Nairobi to compare prices to those abroad – here we’re using US grocery prices as a reference. The first was Zucchini, a specialty grocery store with a lot of organic produce and specialty imports and vegan/gluten-free options; the second was Foodplus, a more standard middle-of-the-road supermarket. We bought a couple of items that we’d pick up on a typical shopping trip – some standard, some specialty – and compared our cost to the prices in the US.
Check out our Tiktok to see what our trip to the supermarket in Nairobi looked like.
Buying Basic Groceries
We started with the ultimate basic food - pasta. A basic bag weighing 500 grams in Kenya cost 150 KES, equivalent to $1.20. It will cost you $1.89 for a bag of pasta of the same size in the United States, which is slightly higher.
Next up - eggs. A six-pack of eggs costs just under $1.00 (115 KES). In the US, the same pack costs $1.50. That’s 50 percent more expensive then Kenya.
Our last staple food as we work our way up the ladder is avocados. Avocado prices in Kenya are relatively low thanks to the fact that most of them are locally grown. One avocado will cost you $0.25 (29 KES) compared to $1.00 in the United States. In Kenya, one truly can enjoy avocado toasts and save for a mortgage at the same time.
Specialty Food Items in Nairobi
Not every digital nomad lives like a college student though. Let's check out a few specialty items.
Kenyans love dairy, so let's look at Greek yogurt. A container of Greek yogurt measuring 450 mL retailed for 314 KES ($2.60). In the US, a similar container of Greek yogurt costs $3.79 (424 KES).
Let's also stock up the beer fridge. In Kenya, your after-work craft brews will be as good almost exactly as expensive in the supermarket. For instance, a six-pack of IPA in Kenya costs around 1314 KES ($10.95), while in the US it would cost around $10.99 (1318 KES).
We not be doing our job without picking up a non-dairy milk alternative. Oatly hasn’t come to Kenya yet, so we went for almond milk. In Kenya, a carton of almond milk costs around 439 KES ($3.65), while in the US it would cost around $2.99 (329 KES).
In the end, are groceries more expensive in Kenya than in the US?
Let’s tally up our spend:
US staples: $4.39
US specialty items: $17.77
US total: $22.16
Kenya staples: $2.49
Kenya specialty items: $17.20
Kenya total: $19.69
The results make it clear - Kenya is cheaper than the US - about 15% cheaper for this trip. Keep in mind, however, that we pretty heavily weighted the specialty items in this exercise. The lesson for digital nomads looking to save money is to focus on eating like a local and avoid expensive imported goods to stretch your dollar. And the lesson for you chia-eating hipsters out there is that you'll be just fine in Kenya.