Kenya overtakes South Africa as best place for expats to settle

Nairobi City skyline

By Business Daily Africa

Kenya has been ranked as the top country in Africa by expatriates to get started and settle due to language, ease of finding housing and cost of homes. This gives the East African nation an edge as an attractive destination for companies seeking to enter the continent.

Kenya was ranked ninth globally, placing it first on the continent ahead of South Africa (28th) and Egypt (37th). The Expat Essentials Index by InterNations ranks the best and worst places for professionals based on housing, language, digital life, and local administration.

This comes amid a rising development of residential units targeting high-net-worth individuals due to the country’s position as a hub for the East Africa region, investment ground for multinationals and the government’s infrastructure development.

“Like Indonesia (6th), Kenya (9th) provides expats with an easy transition in two areas in particular: language (3rd) and housing (12th). The great result in the former subcategory is most likely due to the fact that English still serves as one of the country’s two official languages and is widely used in business, education, and government offices,” said the survey.

“Many expats also have few or no difficulties in finding housing, ranking Kenya 9th out of 52 destinations in this regard. And 43 percent consider the available housing to be affordable, slightly more than the worldwide average of 39 percent.”

A majority of expats reside in high-end neighbourhoods such as Kilimani, Ridgeways, Westlands, and Lavington, which are popular with the middle and upper-income class segments.

Professionals working for international organisations such as the United Nations also have a preference for high-end areas such as Muthaiga, Runda, Riverside, Rosslyn and Karen.

The findings come after a recent wealth report by property firm Knight Frank that ranked Kenya as one of the global top real-estate investment hotspots after France, Spain, Italy and the UK.

Kenya was also ranked second by Africa’s super-wealthy individuals seeking second homes.

Foreigners are a significant group of buyers of prime properties in Kenya, helping to raise and sustain their prices.

However, local red tape remains a source of frustration for many expats, with 57 percent finding it difficult to deal with, nearly 20 percentage points more than the average of 39 percent globally.