Rise of the Kenyan ‘Generation Rent’

The multimillion Amara Ridge exclusive and private gated community in Karen
The multimillion Amara Ridge exclusive and private gated community in Karen. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Suzie Wanjiru rents. Every month, she comfortably forks out Sh280,000 for a three-bedroom beach front property at her latest address.

Over the years, she has moved from a Sh50,000 per month house with a garden in Eastlands to a countryside-style house nestled in Karen with a traditional village for Sh120,000, to her new rental.

With all these moves and ever increasing rent, she has no plans to buy a house. She says she enjoys the benefits of living in any house without being tied to a single property.

As some chase home ownership, others are comfortable renting. A number of Kenyans pay rent above Sh90,000, money that could easily afford them mortgage payments or savings that could build up to constructing their own homes.

Home ownership is losing the glory it previously held. And, for a certain generation, priorities have changed to living in upmarket areas closer to work, good schools for their young families, and where they can enjoy Kenya’s burgeoning night-life in the form of trendy bars and clubs.


Globally, millennials have been labelled “generation rent”, as growing numbers of young people are renting their homes for longer periods of their lives.

Dr Angela Anzeze, a gynaecologist who lives in Nairobi’s Kilimani, says she pays Sh50,000 rent because she wants to live in an estate that is near her place of work.

“Month after month, I pay Sh50,000 and now I am used to doing so and thus it is not a big issue for me,” she says.

Dr Anzeze says that she also prefers to rent rather than use the money on paying mortgage since the product is long-term while renting is flexible and one can easily pack and change homes.

“With mortgage payment, the contract may take ages to be completed hence I am uncomfortable with it,” she notes.

She adds that her residence being 10 minutes’ drive from the hospital, it assures her of quick response when an emergency occurs at the hospital.

“Besides being a 10-minute walk, I can also walk by foot to the hospital and hence being another form of exercise for my body. It reduces needs for commuting,” she adds.

Another reason she says is that the neighbourhood she lives get constant water supply and electricity unlike other areas that are frequently hit by erratic distributions.

Few miles from the unending skyscrapers, we arrive at Richard Kiprop’s home in Lavington.

Richard, a lawyer, pays Sh60,000 a month and has no immediate plans of taking up a mortgage or building a house.

“I can pay even more if it means getting a better house to rent,” he says, adding that such homes come with benefits that he is unlikely to get if he built a house in the outskirts of Nairobi such as constant flow of water and security.

“The only downside of renting is that you need to constantly have money since you are supposed to pay on specific dates every month,” he adds.

As more Kenyans express interest in rented homes, especially in gated-communities and estates with a throbbing night-life, rent is going up. The Latest Hass Property price indices for the second quarter of 2019 show that rents have increased by four-fold since 2001.

“The index shows a property rise of 0.3 percent in the last month, fall of -1.9 percent in the last quarter and have risen by 3.3 percent in the last year,” the 2019 Hass Property price indices shows.

It states that the average rental for a property has gone from Sh38,516 in December 2000 to Sh151,298 in June 2019.

“The average rent for a four-bedroom to six-bedroom property is currently Sh226,183. While one-bedroom to three bedroom property is currently Sh82,854,” it notes.

In the report, Langata recorded the highest quarterly increase in asking rents at 2.5 per cent over the quarter while Athi River recorded the biggest drop at 3.9 per cent.