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Moving to Kenya: Answering your pre-move questions about insurance, vaccines, money and more

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

It can be nerve-wracking: you’ve heard about Kenya’s year-round warm weather, diverse landscapes, affordable living and growing scene of nomads, techies and expats. Or, maybe you just wanted to see the lions. You finally decided to take the plunge and move, but you have some lingering questions.


We’ve seen lots of people move to this part of the world before: read this post to get the answers sorted, and then start packing your bags!


What vaccines do I need to travel to Kenya?

By now, everyone's heard of COVID-19, and most travelers will already be vaccinated against COVID-19. Thankfully the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but it’s still a great idea to make sure you’re vaccinated against COVID-19. It will make your travel much easier, as Kenya (and neighboring countries) require proof of vaccination for entry or a PCR test, and getting a PCR test every time you want to cross a border will be expensive and time-consuming.


Next on the list of vaccines for travel to this part of Africa should be yellow fever - it’s required to enter several countries in the region, and Kenya will want to see a yellow fever card when entering the country when entering from a country where yellow fever is endemic.


In hot areas, malaria is common so anti-malarial pills can help stave off an infection. These are cheap and widely available locally.


For most people coming from Western countries, many vaccinations against cholera, hepatitis A/B and typhoid fever are recommended. A good resource for more detailed information is available at the CDC website.


Is Kenya safe for travel?


The answer to this question can vary based on where you plan to live and visit, as well as your own personal levels of comfort, but most people will not experience any significant issues. However, a few tips on staying safe and street smart can help you avoid any issues:

  • Be mindful of your variables while walking around, and consider wearing a fanny pack or jacket with zip pockets to avoid becoming a target for theft. Especially pay attention in venues like concerts or nightclubs that have large crowds.

  • If traveling in an Uber or other vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask the driver to slow down if they’re driving in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

  • Pay attention to the local news and announcements by embassies to stay informed about potential security threats.

  • Avoid accepting offers from touts - if you need to buy something or arrange transport somewhere, research online and book with a provider in advance.

  • If visiting local markets, try to bring a local with you (this will also help ensure you don’t get ripped off)

  • Avoid walking around at night.

How can I send money to Kenya?


Thankfully, moving money to East Africa has become much easier in recent years. In Kenya where mobile money payments are ubiquitous, you’re likely best off avoiding cash altogether and using an app like Sendwave, Wise or WorldRemit to get money sent directly to your M-Pesa account (think of it as a digital wallet attached to your phone number).


If you prefer cash, you’ll likely get a better exchange rate when you withdraw cash from an ATM, which are very common in major cities and towns. You can also use a service like WorldRemit’s cash pickup service, which allows you to choose a pickup point (usually a forex bureau or bank) where you can pickup cash, though this won’t necessarily be faster - the main advantages are avoiding a heftier exchange rate and the fees which some banks charge for international ATM withdrawals.


What travel insurance works in Kenya?


In our experience, the best digital nomad travel insurance is Safetywing, which works in all countries in the region (and the world). Read more here: https://safetywing.com/


Note as well that out-of-pocket healthcare is often reasonably priced for doctor’s visits and basic medications. However, hospital stays and other more serious care can be quite expensive and require providing a credit card upfront to receive care.


Where can I find a place to live in Kenya?


We’re biased, but we think LivingRoom is the best way to find a place to live in Kenya. We offer flexible rental contracts that last as long as you want, and reward you with lower rents for committing to longer leases. We vet every property to make sure it has the amenities you need so that your transition is seamless from day one, and if you’re not happy (or if you just want to move) we allow you to easily find another place in our network. The options include both shared colivings and private apartments.


You can also look at Airbnbs or traditional rentals, but these come with drawbacks. The former is often expensive for longer-term renting. The latter is often difficult to navigate for new arrivals, and landlords often require several months’ deposit (which is often not refunded). Unscrupulous real estate agents often prey on foreigners’ lack of familiarity with local prices to negotiate exorbitant rents.


Got any other questions? We’d love to hear from you. Our WhatsApp concierge service can give more detail on these and any other questions you may have at +254 769297819.

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