You will not get a chance to make a mistake in this town a second time. The vultures will pounce on you the very first time you mess up. Renting in Nairobi could be considered an extreme sport. You have to always keep your eyes open and your ears on the ground. You have to remain attentive to the surrounding. You have to focus ahead while also being mindful of whatever is behind you. This is probably impossible but with knowledge of the possible mistakes, you could make as Nairobi renter and practice you will be fine.
Do not invite just anyone to come and share a living space with you. A lady once met two other ladies who seemed nice and genuine. They seemed like Christians with nothing but great intentions. Before she was aware of it she had been convinced to move in with them within the week. She had just experienced trauma so her head was not on right. It took a family member to remove her from that situation. By then she had already given away most of her money as soft loans among other things.
This is something that will happen to you if you think that anyone who hums gospel songs is a saint. You will be talked into impossible situations. Before you take on a stranger as a roommate you must die thorough background check. You must ask for references. You must demand official identification and keep copies.
Sure you have watched sitcoms where neighbors become great friends and hang out. Do not expect that this will be the case. If you let your desperation or naiveté shine blatantly on the first day those very neighbors will walk out your door with your most prized possessions. Do not be overly neighborly. Do not be overly friendly. Do not invite everyone, random building resident, into your house. Exchange pleasantries in the hallowed halls and leave it that. Sitcom like neighbors happens over time. If you force it, you will suffer consequences.
You are simply nipping downstairs for a packet of milk then back real quick. So you do not bother leaving the door locked because what us the point, right? By the time you come back with your packet of milk, your electronics will have been floated to potential buyers. Do not leave your door unlocked as long as it will be out of your sight. This is a city of talent, you have no idea what could happen in five minutes while you go to the roof to unhang your laundry.
The worst thing you can do while living in Nairobi is live without a budget. A budget helps you regulate yourself. Here is a picture. You withdraw some money from your savings to do your monthly shopping. It is however, five in the evening and you are tired so you elect to do it the next day. As soon as you alight from the matatu you see some nice sneakers. You buy then because 500 shillings will not make real sent. A few steps later you find some nice trench coats. You get one, it has been chilly anyway. Further ahead you are enticed by some roasting chicken. You have got to eat, right? By the time you get to the house you have spent 1500 shillings on things you had not planned for.
There is always a hawker by the street. Nairobi is a city of hustlers. If you do not have a budget that you live by religiously then you are in trouble. Tala or Branch will not be able to dig you out if the hole.
Absolutely do not let yourself be pressured into anything ever. If you are out house hunting with an agent and they keep pushing you to take a unit that you are not particularly excited about then out your foot down. You should not let yourself pushed into a house you do not feel right about. Again, you feel that you have found the place but you need more time but the landlord and caretaker keep pushing and prodding to get you to sign the rental agreement then you should double take.
Social media is a liar. You will be deceived by the glitzy lives other people are living. You will think that maybe you should do the same. So you will go ahead and rent a house that is more than half your salary. You will be homeless before you know it.
The bottom line is that you should not do anything you are not ready to do. You should not bend to pressure from people. If you have a budget, and you should, then stick to it.
6. Unplanned action
Unless the situation warrants it changes in your living situation should always be planned ahead of time. You want to move from one county to Nairobi? You want to move from Utawala to Roysambu? You have got to plan and plan extensively. Without planning you will not know what kind of house you want to move into without planning you will not have a budget. Without planning you will simply be roaming around Nairobi without a particular direction in mind. Moving is not something to be spontaneous about.
You will make many mistakes. The best way to survive is by learning from your mistakes. Nairobi does not give people second chances. You will be chewed and spat out before you recover. Renting in Nairobi can be an enjoyable experience or it can be something you regret forever. Record your mistakes. Never repeat them. If you do it right, Nairobi will nurture you. With this list, you will not be perfect but you will not make rookie mistakes either. All the best.