How to reduce your costs in Nairobi
Is it possible to live in Nairobi on a shoestring budget? There are many people who earn less than 30,000 shillings per month in Nairobi, and yet they must pay rent, buy food, pay school fees for their children and support their nuclear and extended families.
Here are a few tips to save money and enjoy life in Nairobi on a shoestring budget:
Buy in bulk
When you buy small quantities of an item, you end up paying more than the person who buys in bulk. Most Nairobians buy from wholesale shops in Eastleigh or Githurai. You can also buy directly from the manufacturer. In addition, buying from the supermarket is also not as expensive if you are buying in big quantities.
Buy offseason to enjoy lower prices
Items are cheaper off season. I am not saying that you buy a Christmas tree in January when it is selling off at 500/- instead of the 5,000 it usually trades for in December. But you can buy summer clothes during winter and vice versa. Things such as exercise books, textbooks, and school uniforms are expensive at the beginning of the year and new terms. If you know what supplies you will need for an upcoming season, buy early when nobody is bothering about them.
Buy at the source and avoid brokers
Brokers in Nairobi eat 100 percent as profit or more. Yet you can access the source of most supplies with ease. For instance, did you know that there are markets that sell tomatoes and onions at1 shilling per piece? I have shopped in Githurai 45 and Kangemi markets and these seasons complement each other. If tomatoes are cheap in Githurai, they are expensive in Kangemi and vice versa. During such times, tomatoes worth 80/- and onions worth 30/- can feed your family for even two weeks. Marikiti market is another good place to buy vegetables and fruits. And if you have friends who are farmers, ask them to supply you with vegetables and cereals at an affordable rate. And if a regular supplier becomes expensive, you can always drop them for a cheaper alternative.
Negotiate a lower price and ask for discounts
There is no shame in asking for a discount. Whites know that when a Kenyan asks for 2,000 for an item, they can walk away with it for 1,000. Every seller knows that customers will always negotiate. They consider that when setting the price. Even in hospitals and service stations. You will never get a discount if you don’t ask for it. However, some traders are cunning and will stock a cheap alternative that goes for a lower price. Ensure that your haggling doesn’t land you a raw deal.
Shop around to get the best deals
Do not settle for the first deal you get. there are many traders who just want to make a minimum profit. this is especially important when shopping in a market. the stalls near the gate or stairs are strategically placed for people who do not have the time to walk around. if that is you, be prepared to trade your time for a higher price. on the other hand, the furthest stall often has the lowest price because the owner does not have plenty of foot traffic. Ask around and search the internet for suppliers, ask for quotes then compare.
Cost-share to live in Nairobi’s posh estates
if you do not need the entire item/space by yourself, why not share it with a friend? There is no excuse, for instance, to live in a delipidated house in a slum somewhere while you can rent a house in its own compound and cost-share with a friend. I have seen three-bedroom houses in their own compounds going for 30,000/- in some spacious estates while a squeezed SQ in others go for 12,000. It would be cheaper to get two friends who need good shelter and share the rent such that each pays only 10,000/- for a bedroom, then share a spacious kitchen, living room, and compound. Other things you can cost-share include Netflix and DSTV. Why pay over 4,000 per month while you can pay 1,000 or 2,000 if you share the accounts with a friend? You do not get less value when you share such things, so try it and see.