Kenya is the name on the lips of many digital nomads all over the world. So much so that it makes you wonder — is it worth it, can you work remotely from Kenya?
To help you, my fellow digital nomad out plan your journey, I’ve gathered all of the info you’ll need to know before moving here. So, let’s answer the question: how is Kenya for digital nomads — once and for all!
Kenya for Digital Nomads at a Glance
- English is one of the official languages.
- Great DN infrastructure.
- Beautiful scenery and a lot of fun activities.
- Driving isn’t very convenient and traffic can be hectic.
An Introduction to Kenya
Kenya, a country in East Africa, is known for pristine nature such as lakelands, mountain highlands, as well as a savannah.
Almost since the beginning of the movement, it has been incredibly popular among digital nomads. There are plenty of reasons for this, but most notably, it’s very safe, the population is quite young, and most people speak English.
Not to mention, Kenyan cuisine is amazing, its history is very rich, and there are plenty of fun activities you can partake in while here.
Pro Tip: Kenya uses M-Pesa, an e-money service available for both nationals and visitors. With it, you can charge your phone with money, which you can use to pay for various services. To register for M-Pesa, you’ll need to provide a Kenyan phone number and your password.
Connectivity in Kenya
Luckily, Kenya is a true digital nomad hub, in the sense that coming here means not having to worry about getting online. Thanks to the well-developed DN infrastructure, you’ll easily be able to connect to free WiFi or get a SIM card with your own internet almost wherever you go.
WiFi in Kenya
In July 2021, Kenya saw average fixed broadband speeds of 17.96 Mbps for download and 19.08 Mbps for upload. Yes, you read that correctly, for some reason, Kenya’s upload speeds are slightly faster than download ones.
Most cafes, restaurants, and accommodations in Kenya offer free WiFi (with decent speeds) to their patrons. So, overall WiFi shouldn’t be a problem if you decide to work remotely from Kenya.
That being said, this is mostly true for larger cities, and if you decide to visit smaller, more remote locations — all bets are off.
4G and Mobile in Kenya
Mobile internet speeds in Kenya are slightly better than their WiFi counterparts. Namely, you can expect 21.50 Mbps and 12.92 Mbps for download and upload respectively. So, you’ll be able to surf the internet from your phone with great ease.
Another thing about mobile internet in Kenya is that it’s quite affordable and accessible. You can get a SIM card when you arrive at the airport.
Visas and Documentation for Kenya
Citizens of other African states can enter Kenya via a visa on arrival, and stay here for up to 30 days. However, other nationalities will need to apply and pay for one of the following visas before entering Kenya.
Single Entry Visa
This visa allows you to come to Kenya for tourism, medical or business purposes. You are required to specify the reason for your visit, and keep in mind that Kenya’s law prohibits work under a travel visa.
This visa allows you to stay in Kenya for up to 3 months and can be extended for an additional 90 days. The requirements are pretty standard, and the application costs $51.
Multiple Entry Visa
As the name suggests, the multiple entry visa allows you to come and go to Kenya multiple times a year. It’s aimed at those who need to travel to the country on a regular basis, and want to move around the continent more freely.
This visa is valid for 3-12 months, and the application costs $101.
East African Tourist Visa
If you want to visit Rwanda and Uganda, in addition to Kenya, you should consider applying for an East African Tourist Visa. you can cite business, travel, or family reunification as the purpose for entry. Depending on the category you fall under, you’ll have to meet different requirements.
This visa allows you to stay up to three months and costs $101.
Where Digital Nomads Live & Work in Kenya
Because Kenya is so vast, it’s completely sensical that no two places will be the same, and some cities won’t have your basic DN amenities. To ensure you always have everything you need at your fingertips while enjoying what Kenya has to offer — I recommend going to these places.
Nairobi is, without a doubt, the most popular place with all sorts of expats (DNs included). The city is Kenya’s capital, tech hub, and cultural center — with plenty of opportunities and things to experience.
Additionally, the DN infrastructure is there, and there are plenty of things that we as nomads need, want, and can experience. Moreover, with upload speeds of 21.79 Mbps, Nairobi has the second-fastest internet connection in Kenya.
Living in Nairobi
The most popular area in Nairobi is Westlands. The reason behind this is that there are many shops, cafes, restaurants, coworking spaces, etc, and everything’s a short walk away.
However, this means that the cost of accommodations is a bit higher than in other parts of the city (typically $50/night).
If you don’t have your start set on a particular area, this price can be significantly diminished. For Example, Kilimani Airbnb listings go for $20-40.
Finally, if you’re looking for an even cheaper option, you could book a bed in one of Nairobi’s many hostels, for as little as $8.
Working from Nairobi
One of the most popular places to work from in the city is the Nairobi Garage. It boasts incredibly fast internet speeds (150 Mbps), and plenty of other amenities and perks depending on your chosen package.
Mombasa (the white and blue city) is a coastal city in Kenya that’s very popular with tourists. However, there’s no reason why it can’t be your next destination.
According to Ookla, Mombasa has the fastest mobile internet speeds (upload 32.12 Mbps) in Kenya. Also, you can enjoy many great (and inexpensive) cafes, restaurants, and accommodations.
Living in Mombasa
Thanks to the fact that Mombasa isn’t high on DNs radars, the accommodation costs have been somewhat kept at bay. For Airbnbs, you can expect to pay around $20-40, and you can even book a room in a beautiful beachfront hotel for only $18.
On the other hand, if you want to be close to some foreigners you can take a room in the Tulia House Backpackers hostel.
Working from Mombasa
There are several great coworking options for digital nomads who set base in Mombasa. One of my favorites, MombasaWorks is a trendy space with flexible seating and a community of like-minded people.
On the other hand, if you want to stay more local, and not pay for a coworking space, I recommend checking out Aroma Cafe.
How is Kenya for Digital Nomads — My Final Thoughts
Kenya has a good infrastructure to support digital nomads, and while its DN visa programs could use some work — it’s a great place to stay in. The costs of living are low, there are plenty of sites and fun activities, as well as a huge English-speaking community.
So, it comes as no surprise that I wholeheartedly recommend every digital nomad to at least try to work remotely