How Syokimau became Nairobi's bedroom property hotspot


The Gable Park Estate in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Deep in the heart of Syokimau, the sun is setting, joggers run past a dog walker just as street lights come on. Tucked away in a corner is one of the few undeveloped fields. On it, some young men are engaged in a game of soccer.

Next to the improvised soccer pitch rises what is likely to be a new row of townhouses and which will face a similar row sitting on the opposite side, separated by a bitumen standard road.

After years of seemingly endless construction of beautiful homes but with no basic infrastructure, resident groups have pushed for the construction of roads. They have also come up with zoning laws.

These proactive moves may not have mattered years ago when the government lay the ground for new estates and there was tacit support from elected officials.

Now, with more estates coming up in areas with little to no infrastructure, momentum is building for resident associations.

“Roads were basically done by residents. I remember us waking up to look for murram and excavation machinery and all that. Syokimau has survived on its own with the government putting in very little,” says John Mutinda, a resident who doubles as the Chairman of the Syokimau Residents Association.

BDSyokimauo (1)

Apartments in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Lobbying by the residents’ association has seen the upgrading of Katani, Quarry and sections of Mwananchi roads to bitumen standards via the Kenya Urban Roads Authority and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority with plans for paving parts of Airport and Chady roads in the short-term.

Residents have also been at the heart of the formulation and enforcement of a zoning policy that sets designations for industrial parks, high-density residences/apartments, and medium-density dwellings such as townhouses and single dwellings.

Zoning has given Syokimau a competitive edge over residences without a similar separation with homeowners or tenants of single dwellings taking comfort in knowing that they will not suffer the inconveniences of living within high-density neighbourhoods such as blocked views. 

Intense lobbying

Continued lobbying by residents through the residents association is expected to maintain the status quo with Mr Mutinda admitting pressure from rogue developers who have attempted to bend the rules to put up non-conforming high-density developments without accompanying infrastructure such as sewer systems and attempts to establish night clubs within residential areas.


Apartments and office blocks in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

“Syokimau has been attractive even before the infrastructure we have currently because of its proximity to town. The area has also benefited from being a metropolitan and stands out for its lower approval fees and stamp duty given Syokimau falls within Machakos County as opposed to Nairobi,” says George Odongo, a real estate investment and housing consultant.

“The area further has an edge in topography. It is easier to bring up houses in a cost-effective manner on Mombasa Road than in any other area because of the type of soil. You don’t have to dig deep,” he says.

Property hotspot

Over the years, Syokimau has grown as a hotspot for developers, a thriving middle class, and speculators. It is among Nairobi's satellite residential areas with the fastest rising rent and land prices.

In the last year alone, land prices jumped 17.5 percent, lifting the average asking price for an acre to Sh28.3 million from Sh24 million in 2021, according to an analysis of data from the Hass Land Index by consultancy firm Hass Consult.


Houses in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Rent prices in the same period rose by nearly a double-digit rate of 9.6 percent while property prices were up by 0.7 percent.

Since January 2013, an analysis by BDLife shows that property and rent prices in Syokimau have grown 1.47 times while land prices have nearly doubled since December 2012, registering a 1.92-fold growth.

This, however, has not always been the feel of Syokimau.

For the longest time, it was a barren, formless wasteland that was at best only good for cattle rearing. Then a society of dwellers from Tala and Kangundo moved in in the 90s and subdivided the swath of land into parcels with seven roads.


Houses in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Today the seven roads- Airport Road, Mwananchi Road, Kiungani Road, Community Road, Katani Road, Parliament Road, and Quarry Road still define Syokimau.

Early dwellers, living in noticeable sizable patches, say the boom set off in the early 2010s.

“We were scared of renting houses forever and took advantage of the cheap land prices then. I bought my 100 by 100 plot at Sh200,000. Today, the same size of land would be upwards of Sh10 million depending on the location,” says Mr Mutinda.

The completion of the Nairobi Expressway in June last year proved to be the missing piece of the jigsaw as it set off Syokimau to the largest land price gain of any other market node last year, according to the Hass Consult data analysis.

“Syokimau is currently witnessing land price growth because of the construction of the Expressway. Land value is partly a function of closeness to the capital or major commercial nodes and the Expressway provides faster access to every part of the city that connects to it- making Syokimau an attractive fringe suburb for development,” notes Hass Consult Head of Development Consulting and Research Sakina Hassanali.


Syokimau nevertheless continues to confront several setbacks which, if resolved could set the area up to achieve greater heights.


Katani road in Syokimau, Machakos County in this picture taken on March 7, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

For instance, Syokimau lacks a sewer line informing high water bills for residents and an even higher cost of maintenance for homes.

Water supply to the area code is also constrained despite the existence of requisite infrastructure, meaning the sight of water bowsers is the rule rather than the exception.

However, the spotting of moving companies here every other day is an indicator of more growth for Syokimau.

“The number of people moving in will increase, I don’t foresee this stopping. The roads are opening up with people easily commuting to Westlands and beyond. At the same time, however, property prices are going to increase. Developers must raise the quality of build to remain competitive and attract homeowners coming from high-end suburbs, like say, Kilimani,” adds Mr Odongo.

Demand outlook

Ms Hassanali pre-empts a similar outlook for Syokimau as she expects the easy commute into the CBD and the rest of the Nairobi Metropolitan area codes to anchor demand from both potential dwellers and developers for a piece of the node raising the area’s profile.

“Property price rises follow land price rises in Syokimau as more people find access to Nairobi faster from this area,” she adds.

Syokimau makes up part of the so-called Nairobi bedrooms in a list of satellite towns including Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Ruaka, Ruiru, Kitengela, Athi River, Kiserian, Juja, and Tigoni.

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