With many international organizations – and even UN agencies – setting offices in Nairobi, expatriate employees are increasing by the day. And they all are looking for places to set up homes. If you are looking for up market properties in Kenya, you will need to be very selective. Old up- market estates are being downgraded and new ones developing in isolated areas where the gated estate concept has caught up. Here is a guide to the top 8 residential areas suitable for  expatriates.

Karen

Karen was for long at the helm of the top estates. Named for the international Danish author Karen Blixen, the estate was developed by colonial settlers who required land parcels to have a minimum of five acres. With independence in 1963, many colonial settlers left often selling their land Kenyan who had recently acquired wealth, but whose values were different. Consequently many of them subdivided their landholdings and nice bungalows that the colonial signature of Karen were replaced by high rise structures with many apartments. Obviously they provided little privacy and the estate was thus downgraded.

Nevertheless, Karen remains one of the adored the oldest estates in Kenya with cozy mix of old colonial bungalows and lovely villas that sit on sweeping grounds.

Karen’s commercial and public services facilities make it a desirable neighbourhood: schools, hospitals, and places of recreation, the modern Karen Hospital, the Crossroads Shopping Mall, the Karen Shopping Centre, the Nakumatt Supermarkets, the Karen Country Club and the Karen Blixen Museum.

The Karen Blixen Coffee House and Museum also offers a look into Kenyan culture, through the eyes of Karen Blixen.

Karen is also a stone’s throw away from the scenic Ngong hills, where popular tourist attractions such as the Nairobi National Park, the Ostrich Park, Mamba Village, and the National Animal Orphanage are.

Those who have had a touch of Karen will tell you that it offers an experience that you cannot forget.

 

Westlands

The charm of Westland to me lies in the old churches with their very friendly vicars. Westland is for those people who love seclusion but who also enjoy mixing with others. Houses here are a happy mix of bungalows and maisonettes that sit on half acre pieces of land so you can stand out and chart with neighbor.  The British colonial atmosphere has fast faded, but it still remains an interesting place to live in.

Parklands

Westland blends nicely with Parklands, a colonial estate for Asian communities, especially Goans who modeled the estate in the manner of Westland. It is a quiet estate, sharing many of the facilities and cultural activities with Westland. The two estates have evolved into a dense neighbourhood packed with townhouses, apartment complexes, office buildings, movie theatres, shopping malls, restaurants and supermarkets. If residents are not content with the grocery options at Sarit Centre, they can check out the YaYa Centre or Nakumatt Westlands, the most popular chain in Nairobi.

The largerParklands includes Highridge and stretches to the famous City Park.

Lavington

Lavington is a high-income suburb of Nairobi, a green refuge from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s central business district. Lavington is a quiet, low-density neighbourhood with a great mix of housing options. Homes here are sleek modern houses with large, manicured lawns, beautiful old English bungalows, and numerous maisonettes, apartments and townhouses. Many of the homes here are gated and guarded by security guards.

The area is a popular choice for expatriates with families, especially those with kids attending one of the many schools in the area, which include Nairobi Jaffery Academy, St. Mary’s School, Strathmore, Rusinga and Braeburn.

Spring Valley

Spring Valley is a quiet, private and secure suburb in Nairobi. It is distinguished by contemporary homes scattered across the winding roads of the tree-lined compound.

Aside from the shopping centre in Spring Valley, the suburb is also serviced by facilities in other neighbouring districts, such as the Westlands Shopping Centre.

Spring Valley is also a great place for families who have children attending the Aga Khan High School in Parklands, or the International School of Kenya or Peponi Schools. All of these are near Spring Valley.

Kilimani

Lying only five minutes away from the Nairobi City Centre, this colonial middle class residential area targeted British civil servants. It was characterized by large timber bungalows with timber floors sitting on concrete pillars. They had a charm of their own but they were complex to maintain. Now the area is characterized by the apartment complexes which are 5-storey buildings with balconies, round-the-clock security and communal swimming pools. The more upscale apartments come with saunas and gyms.

Kilimani is often recommended for expatriates, whether single working professionals or with young families. Besides its proximity to Nairobi’s central business district, it is also near several international schools and three of Nairobi’s most popular shopping complexes: Yaya Centre, Adams’ Arcade and the Junction.

Medical facilities that service Kilimani include the Hurlingham Medical Plaza, Masaba Hospital, Nairobi Hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral and teaching hospital in  Kenya.

Lavington

Lavington is a high-income suburb of Nairobi, a green refuge from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s central business district. Lavington is a quiet, low-density neighbourhood with a great mix of housing options. Homes here are sleek modern houses with large, manicured lawns, beautiful old English bungalows, and numerous maisonettes, apartments and townhouses. Many of the homes here are gated and guarded by security guards.

The area is a popular choice for expatriates families, especially those with kids attending one of the many schools in the area, which include Nairobi Jaffery Academy, St. Mary’s School, Strathmore, Rusinga and Braeburn.

Lavington does not have a supermarket within the suburb but does have small shops, the neighbourhood butcher, a patisserie, a bank, a convenience store and some shopping centres.

Kileleshwa

Kileleshwa is a middle-class suburb popular with expatriate families. It is a quiet neighbourhood of old 1950s bungalows with well-tended gardens. While other districts have built over these old homes with newer apartment blocks, Kileleshwa has managed to steer clear from modern property developers. Roads in the area, though riddled with potholes, are wide and framed by low hedges. The neighbourhood does not have a supermarket, but small specialty stores sell essentials like pastries, fresh fruit and toiletries.