Everything To Know About Living and Working In Kenya

Kenya, officially known as the Republic of Kenya, was named after Mount Kenya – the second highest mountain in Africa.

Kenya is a country located in East Africa. Kenya’s capital is Nairobi. It is also its largest city and centre of commerce. Other notable cities in Kenya are Mombasa and Kimusu. The country is made up of 47 counties, each ruled by a governor.

Image: Nairobi at night

Language of Kenya

It would be quite tricky living in a place you do not understand the language, wouldn’t it? Imagine your boss asks for a report on a project and you’re desperately fumbling with Google Translate, wondering if the first letter of that foreign-sounding word is ‘p’ or ‘f’. Don’t worry, that won’t be you. The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili. And I am sure you speak English, or how in the world are you reading this? 

The Climate of Kenya

The weather of Kenya is consistent with the weather pattern of most African countries. There are two seasons namely dry and rainy.  The dry season is the hottest period and lasts from February to March. This is the time to bust out a tank top or two (of course not to work, unless you really want to get fired). There are two periods of the rainy season — the ‘long rains’ and the ‘short rains’. The long rain season begins in late March to early June while the short rain season begins in October and ends in December. The coldest period in Kenya is usually from July to August.

The Religion of Kenya

The major religious groups in Kenya are Christianity and Islam.  An estimated 85% of Kenyans practice Christianity while 10% practice Islam.

Kenyan Culture

It is important to be familiar with the customs and traditions of a place you plan to live in. As with any other country,  Kenya has its own unique set of living standards and a detour from these unwritten laws may seem disrespectful to the people of Kenya. Be sure to respect all local beliefs.

House hunting in Kenya

The most desirable and in-demand places to live in Kenya are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Lamu, Naivasha, Nyeri, Machakos, Malinda and Nakuru. The cost of living in Kenya varies, depending on the location. Prices of houses in and around the capital are more expensive compared to other locales. The average monthly rent for a furnished accommodation is 56,308 shilling ($536) while the utility bills are 7,000 shilling ($67).

Visa Requirements and Work Permit Process

General requirements for a Kenyan work visa:

a. A passport with a minimum of 6 months validity

b. 2 unused passport pages

c. A vaccination against yellow fever

d. A passport photograph showing a full face. It must be a recent picture with a white background.

A single entry visa into Kenya is valid for a period of 90 days. It can be renewed for a further 90 days. The visa cost is $51.

A long-term work permit for people seeking employment in Kenya is valid for a period of 2 to 5 years. The Director of the Immigration Services determines the validity period of work permits.

The classes of a work permit under Kenyan Immigration laws range from permit (class A)  to permit (class M) along with an ‘exemption’ that is explained below:

Permit Class A (Prospecting and mining) 

This work permit is issued to an immigrant who has the intention of prospecting for mineral resources in Kenya. 

Permit Class B (Agriculture and Animal husbandry) 

This work permit is issued to immigrants who have business interests in agriculture and animal husbandry. 

Permit Class C (Prescribed profession) 

This work permit is issued to immigrants with specific skillsets and are members of a prescribed profession.

Permit Class D (Employment)  

This work permit is issued to immigrants who have been offered employment by an employer that is a tax-paying citizen of Kenya. The host company must be duly registered as directed by the constitution.

Permit Class F (Specific manufacturing)

This work permit is issued to an immigrant who intends to start up a manufacturing company whether as a sole proprietor or in partnership with other parties. 

Permit Class G (Specific trade, business and consultancy)

This work permit is issued to an immigrant whose business interest falls outside the ‘prescribed profession’ and intends to establish a business, specific trade or consultancy. 

Permit Class I (Approved religious or charitable activities)

This work permit is issued to immigrants who seek entry into Kenya for religious purposes or charitable activities like NGOs and orphanages. 

Permit Class K (Ordinary residents)

This work permit is issued to immigrants of not less than 35 years of age who have a legitimate source of income that can cater for his/her needs for the duration of his/her stay. 

Permit Class M (Refugees) 

This work permit is issued to immigrants who have been granted refugee status in keeping with the Kenyan refugee law.

Required Documents for A Long Term Work Permit

The following documents must be submitted to the appropriate authority:

a. A document of an online application for a work permit

b. Original and duplicate copies of qualifications or professional

c. Updated Curriculum Vitae from Kenyan understudy

d. Cover letter from the host company

e. Clearance letter from relevant institutions/authorities

f. Certificate of business registration from the host

These are the basic need-to-know about living and working in Kenya. Hope you find this helpful.

Bahati njema (good luck)!

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