There has been this wave of young people moving from the city. Every time I saw a Tweet of someone saying they moved from Nairobi to all these small towns, it made me jealous. The closest I came to achieving it was moving to Kajiado, which was a terrible mistake for my sinuses. Then I went on vacation to the coast, and the thought of the city was nothing but depressing.
So I made one of those rushed decisions. I packed and left Nairobi!
I never thought there’d be a time I would outgrow the city and crave living upcountry. It wasn’t so much of craving but the need to get a break from all that city life; rush hours, and ever-busy life, not forgetting the cost of living. I also considered it my test run for early retirement.
I’ve been here for a few weeks, and I cannot imagine how moving back to Nairobi would make me feel.
The move has not been without challenges. So, let me share my experience; with things that I love about living upcountry, and key things you should consider when making that move.
Key Considerations To Have In Mind
1. Moving Costs And Arrangements
Thankfully, moving companies have made moving less stressful. Just make sure you do much due diligence of the moving company you use. Read any reviews you can get. Make comparisons with their competitors and compare costs.
Then get as much information as possible about the moving day and schedule. The only information I got was that the truck with my stuff would travel at night and be here by morning. And that was enough for me. Please don’t repeat the same mistake, especially if you are moving long-distance.
I used a company that has helped me move, like twice in Nairobi. Better the devil you know, right? It was also a more affordable option than some I had seen. But I am grateful I also had other people to help with the moving. Because part of the whole experience was chaotic.
The moving company arrived to pack stuff almost 2 hours late. By then, I had to leave so I could catch my flight. I talked to the person who was in charge of the crew briefly. And that’s when he told me he’d not be handling the team in Coast. I thought, oh well. Maybe they have a night crew for long-distance movers.
It turns out they outsource that to movers in that region or area. It’s one of the reasons the truck was late that morning. They had to wait for the driver from Mombasa to offload. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the other movers just picked two local boys in the area to do the offloading and arrange the house for them.
The issue is having to pay professional movers and end up with the opposite of what you asked for. A few items were either broken, scratched or furniture with missing parts. Sigh!
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2. Internet Connection
This might sound a little ignorant. But if you work from home, are freelancing, or rely heavily on an internet connection to make a living, I’d urge you to consider your options before moving or settling down in your new place.
I already knew most rural areas, especially interiors have no broadband. The mistake I made was believing a 4G router would come by easily. Boy, was I wrong!
I’ve spent so much money purchasing bundles for my MiFi that it’s giving me heartache every time I look at those transactions. Getting a 4G router was a big problem. It is like they were not available from the service provider’s shop or some dealers I was referred to. I was also not getting specific details about the package.
One reseller said the package had 7Mbps, and the other said 5Mbps. On calling Safaricom (this was the only option as other providers are yet to improve their connectivity outside of major towns), it was 5Mbps limited data. And this didn’t make sense because the people I knew had it said theirs was unlimited. And it was 7Mbps.
It is also a plug and play device. I couldn’t understand why some were charging so much money to come ‘install it’.
To cut a long story short, a physical visit to Safaricom shop provided all the answers. Their 4G router has two packages: 3Mbps and 5Mbps, both limited for home connection (as of getting it in March 2022). Most of their team might not tell you that there is an unlimited version of the 5Mbps. The difference is that you must have a registered company to get the unlimited option (oops).
3. Beware of Bugs, Insects and Creepy Crawlies
Let me tell you about my second morning here! We were closing the door, and guess what I saw popping on the hinges? A snake! I almost packed my bags and went back to the city.
The other night I took the puppies out. They were trying to catch something. I thought it was the usual bugs they tried to eat, but I moved closer to check it out anyway. It turns out it was a baby snake! I still can’t believe they weren’t bitten!
Anyway, whatever area you are moving to, do some research on what to expect. Are you okay with it?
I already knew this area had such creepy crawlies. I actually come and have grown up in regions of Meru with all these; snakes, scorpions and tarantula spiders. But I have never gotten used to them.
You just have to be extra careful and watch your every step. Shake your clothes and shoes a few times before wearing them. You also have to check every part of your headphones before you start using them.
What I am still not used to are mosquitoes. I work late into the night. The area I have set up as the office doesn’t have a mosquito net. I am trying to figure out whether I can cover it with one because mosquitoes really are making a meal out of us every night.
4. Think About Transportation
There are no taxis in these areas where you can just order one on your phone and wait for a few minutes before the driver pulls up. Nope. If you are okay with riding at the back of a bodaboda, well and good. You might get the usual small vehicles that act as matatus in smaller towns. But if you will be living further away from the town and the bus stop, you might have to take long walks to catch a ride every time.
You don’t necessarily have to buy a car if it is not within your budget at the moment. But make a budget for transport. Have a few boda contacts who can pick and drop you off, especially during an emergency.
What I Love About Being In The Rural Areas
1. Nature Is Everything
Have you ever wished the view next to your apartment was not concrete? Before moving, I was living in the outskirts of Nairobi. It was beautiful—a little bit more green. And fewer apartment blocks.
You still can’t compare to upcountry, where you can take long walks in quiet spaces after being stuck in front of a computer all day. Breathe in some fresh air. There are no tall buildings obscuring views. It is very therapeutic.
I get to take morning or evening walks exploring the area, and I feel more at peace. The sunrise and sunsets from here are just magnificent. The air is cleaner. And I definitely welcome the sound of birds chirping every morning compared to the blaring hooting of Nairobi matatus at 5 am.
2. No More Takeaways
I will not lie; I miss the ease of access to shops and restaurants. I miss ordering a cab on lazy mornings and going to my favourite cafes for breakfast. Or ordering food online anytime there was an offer, or I didn’t feel like cooking (which was a lot).
Upcountry is an entirely different story. If you live closer to a town, you could order food from restaurants and hotels there. If you live further away, like me, there is a lesser chance of doing that. I live like an hour away from the nearest town. Any lazy mornings I have experienced have ended in brewing a cup of coffee and toasted bread because the drive is long.
Well, it has saved me a few bucks so far. Not just for the food but other impulse purchases like clothes, books and unnecessary items I’d pick whenever I left the house or was bored and logged online to shop. I have also started eating healthy foods.
3. Pets And Plenty Of Play Area For Them
At the top of my list of things I love about moving upcountry is being able to get pets! This is the first time having pets, by the way. I wanted to get a puppy when I moved further away from the city. But the apartment I got didn’t allow pets. Now I am glad I did not get them when living in an apartment.
I’ve been with my puppies for about two weeks now, and it is an excellent experience, even for them. The countryside provides them with more space for playing. They can run around as much as they want. They have made evening walks more fun and engaging. And now my puppies are kind of addicted to mangoes, which are still in season here.
4. Bigger Spaces
By now, you already know rent is a little bit more affordable compared to Nairobi. But it is not always the case. Still, most houses are more spacious than what we get in the city. If you move further away from the closest town, you might even have your own compound. You could even have a kitchen garden.
That said, don’t forget to think about the rental terms, especially if it is an own compound and in an isolated area. Think of the amenities, too, like water and security. Provision or lack thereof for any of these might help you negotiate the price down.
5. No Power Outages (at least for me)
Aaahhh! Are you people in the city and towns still struggling with Kenya Power?
Anyway, this will not apply to everyone. But if you move to the interiors kabisa, there is a high chance there is no power connectivity. This means that most people are relying on solar. Lucky for you if you get such! Because you will never have to worry about power outages, as long as the house has the proper system in place.
The bottom line is if you get the opportunity to get out of the city, and you want to, don’t think twice about it. It is more peaceful. Life moves at a slower pace. It was annoying when I was younger, but I appreciate it more now. There are days I miss the city; I will not lie. I also think about going back to corporate. But with most opportunities I see being in Nairobi, the thought of living in the city again gives me anxiety. Hopefully, I can get a job down here when the time comes. If not, I guess I will be telling you about that move, too.