How to Survive on a Ksh30,000 Salary in Nairobi

  • An image of Kenyans shopping
    Shoppers queuing to pay for goods at a supermarket point of sale.
  • It is the imagination of most graduates that once they complete their tertiary education, corporates will look for them and hire them with a starting salary of not less than Ksh 100,000 or even more.

    However, in most cases, things may not go as planned, especially when the employer only promises to offer Ksh 30,000, a salary that most working class individuals find themselves earning in Nairobi.

    A quick calculation of the expenses and the earnings may not make much sense because the money never seems to be enough.

    However, spoke to a financial expert who helped us come up with a number of tactics one could employ to survive on Ksh30,000 a month.

    An image of an holding a stash of cash
    Kenyan bank notes held in hand.
    Simon Kiragu

    1.) Rent

    There's a golden rule that your rent should not exceed a third of your salary. A third in this case is Ksh 10,000, hence, to survive on the tight budget, the rent, water and electricity bills, should fit in his budget. 

    Nicholas Gachara, a financial expert explained that houses in the city and its environs are prone to be more expensive than those that are located further.

    "There are places where you can easily get a fully owned compound or even an apartment with something like Ksh 10,000 to Ksh 15,000 that is not near the city. Here, one can even have a kitchen garden which will help you save on groceries,"Gachara stated. 

    Rental houses in Donholm, Nairobi

    2.) Bus fare

    Once the rent is sorted out, the other question would be the busfare bearing in mind that the further you live, the more expensive it would be to commute to and fro your workplace.

    For this to work, you have to master the bus fare trends, where it is more expensive to commute during the rush hour. Most of the cheap places are not near places of work so you'll have to wake up early to avoid rampant Nairobi traffic jams.

    "Since I came to Nairobi, I have always been at my place of work by 6 am. The fare at that time is mostly cheap because the people who are travelling are not as many," Adrian Musyoka, a Nairobian told

    Matatu Bus Stop Sign at GPO Stage, Along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. Monday, October 21, 2019
    Matatu Bus Stop Sign at GPO Stage, Along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. Monday, October 21, 2019

    3.) Budget

    Once you receive your salary, it is important to budget to avoid living beyond your means.

    Often, employees overindulge in junk food and alcohol after pay day, all in the name of rewarding themselves.

    This, in turn, hurts an individual when the month is almost over and an individual ends up taking loans from friends or lending apps to survive.

    File image of Kenyan banknotes
    File image of Kenyan banknotes

    4.) Save money

    If there's anything that the covid-19 pandemic has taught everyone, it is the need to save money.

    Financial experts advise employees to save 10% of their money, once they receive it.

    "If you target to save 10% of that Ksh 30,000, that is Ksh3,000, in an interest earning account like money market, in 12 months, you will have had Ksh 36,000 plus a bit of interest," Gachara stated.

    "I know people earning such an amount who end up purchasing land using such savings," he added.

    5.) House shopping

    When budgeting, set aside some money to use on the house shopping and when doing this, you have to draw a line between the essentials and items that are just utterly extravagant.

    Here, you can buy in bulk from a market that has cheaper prices and ensure that it can last you all month.

    "Sometimes I get broke in the middle of the month but it does not faze (sic) me much because I usually do shopping for food that can run a whole month. Hence, all I need is to take care of transport," Esther Wayua stated.

    Food items on display at a supermarket.
    Food items on display at a supermarket.