The small leafy town of Tigoni in Kiambu is one of the fastest-rising satellite towns, about 23 kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi’s central business district.
The town rose from the colonial-era White Highlands into one of Kenya’s hotbeds of real estate investors.
The place is still dotted with lush green perfectly-manicured gardens, vast tea plantations, rivers and forests.
Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in the area with tea and coffee as the main cash crops but, increasingly, the real estate opportunity is being realised.
Tigoni saw its land value increase seven percent last year to attract Sh29.6 million per care on average, according to data from real estate firm Hass Consult.
In 2021, Knight Frank’s wealth report revealed that affluent Kenyans were deserting Kileleshwa, Runda and Kitisuru in Nairobi for more privacy and outdoor space in Tigoni.
The report showed a need for privacy, expansive outdoor space and competitive lower prices were the stated reasons for the dramatic shift from Runda and Kileleshwa.
The town is endowed with vast carpet-like tea, coffee and dairy farms, due to the cool climate and its rich fertile soil.
“All thanks to the fertile agricultural soils and plentiful rainfall, the area produces some incredible dairy products, meat and vegetables, sold at many specialist local farm shops,” said Knight Frank.
Knight Frank’s report said the town has grown after improved road networks, specifically the main highway into central Nairobi, which has reduced the commute to less than one hour.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened the appeal of Tigoni’s rural setting and clean fresh air and contributed to its emergence as an exclusive countryside address that is still easily commutable,” read Knight Frank’s report.
The report notes that Tigoni has a distinct English feel, which has attracted expatriates looking for a home away from home.
“Tigoni has had a lot of infrastructural developments in the last couple of years and as Karen became more gentrified, it has more development going in, everyone who was very keen on the countryside lifestyle started moving to Tigoni,” said Sakina Hassanali, head of development consulting and research at HassConsult.
“On top of that, we’ve seen this new wave of people coming from abroad who work in the diplomatic zones but want the real Kenyan experience in terms of nature and the to sample the commute.”
“Expatriates are finding Tigoni a very ripe location because they get town work in the UN but commute to Tigoni in nature and have the African experience. This is because, in the west, they [the expats] are not used to the commute, as most of them work very close to where they live.”
The capital city is home to many international companies, United Nations offices, and the American embassy.
Most expatriates from the US settle in Nairobi in estates such as Gigiri, Runda, Karen and satellite towns including Tigoni and Kitisuru.
Nairobi is the hub for diplomatic and commercial activities in East Africa and the rest of the continent. This has led to global organisations picking Kenya as the headquarters in the East African region or Africa.
“The infrastructural developments made Tigoni a lot less rural and it became very accessible and very easy to get to and all those three factors together were the trifecta that accelerated the growth of the town,” says Ms Hassanali.
Satellite towns are rising and attracting expatriates as places to live and work.
“The expansion of the mini cities around the area, especially access to Tatu City, Tilisi and the amenities helped a lot because they attracted many people to the area and hence better infrastructural improvements,” said Geoffrey Odongo, sales executive at Superior Homes.
“The expansion of Waiyaki Way towards Tigoni, the bypass, and James Gichuru Road work has been a major boost to the town’s growth, making it accessible to commuter residences such as Kikuyu and Wangige.”
The rehabilitation of Waiyaki Way began in 2017 and was set for completion in December 2020.
Infrastructure connects households across Nairobi metropolitan areas to higher-quality job opportunities, healthcare and education.
“The UN is also expanding their offices, and the natural habitat for expats has been Runda, Spring Valley, but these places are now overpopulated hence the shift to other closer towns,” says Mr Odongo.
Tigoni’s nature is not the only selling point for marketers as the place also has a good school district.
Woodland Star International School in Brackenhurst Tigoni is one of them.
The school teaches using an American curriculum called STEM. It involves using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.