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Surviving Mombasa: 5 Practical Things to Improve Your Finances
Money Management

Surviving Mombasa: 5 Practical Things to Improve Your Finances


The prevailing economic conditions are taking a toll on everyone. Regardless of financial status, everyone is feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living. The big puzzle in all this is how you can survive these circumstances and still improve your finances.

The coastal city of Mombasa has several engaging activities. Tourism is the order of the day in Kenya’s oldest city. It could be absurd to live in Mombasa and never give yourself the chance of becoming a local tourist to experience these tourist attraction sites.

With the current state of the economy, how can you balance making a living, the liberty to enjoy your life to the fullest, and the need to improve your finances? There's a need to exercise some wisdom in using your money. We will look at five practical things you can do to improve your finances.

Before that, here's a brief look at life in the coastal town.

Overview of Life in Mombasa

Growing up, Mombasa was an envied destination. All you could hear were the sweet delicacies made by the locals, the sandy beaches one could visit, and other tourist attraction sites. Now, as an adult living in the country's second-largest city, the feel of Mombasa hits quite differently since I'm currently experiencing real life.

Mombasa is quite a lovely place, especially since the locals are amicable and always ready to help. One challenge you could face and find quite repulsive is how slow-paced services are. You can feel this repulsion if you are moving, for instance, from a place like Nairobi, which is very fast-paced to this place. However, you will get accustomed to this as you adjust with time.

It is not strange to find someone volunteering to help you without any ill motive or asking for anything. Such gestures are relatively uncommon if you consider how deceptive people can be only to rob you eventually. It could be that this kind of gesture is familiar since the locals tend to lead a sort of communal life.

Mombasa Raha is a relatively common term that means Mombasa, a place of pleasure. With the general view of the locals and how they relate to others, the area gives an immense atmosphere of social warmth. The region has various entertainment joints and pleasurable activities such that one could be spoilt for choice. No wonder it is a tourist hub.

There's a variety from the Old Town to Fort Jesus and the beaches in Nyali, South Coast, and North Coast. The rich culture that the coastal town has is also an aspect you cannot overlook, as this is also an aspect that makes Mombasa unique. I'm not sure if you've tasted coastal food, the madafu, wali wa mnazi, viazi karai, and the like. Their food is rich and very appealing; I cannot have enough of it.

Practical Things To Do To Improve Your Finances

While coastal life is as appealing and exciting as it can get, you need to be extra careful to not spend all you have, as I have had to learn. It is thus critical that you monitor your finances to know where you are spending much, where you can limit the expenses, how to get some savings in place, and how to build your way up to investing.

1. Know Where to Shop

Every household has its own unique needs and budget. For example, if you need groceries, there are various alternatives you can explore. Note that Mombasa is a city with lots of expatriates, and you could spend more depending on where you choose to shop.

Various supermarkets sell groceries with a variety ranging from local products to imported ones. You can also find other grocery shops within the town where you can get what you need. However, these places can be slightly expensive compared to shopping at an open markets like Kongowea.

Here you can get various items ranging from groceries to cereals. You will notice that if you buy your items in bulk, they will be cheaper than when you go back to the market daily. Depending on where you live, you'll need to factor in your fare for each visit, which could be costly.

Instead, you can choose to shop weekly or after every two weeks, depending on your needs and storage. When you have a fridge, you can buy more and preserve. Apart from Kongowea, you can go to Forodhani and visit the fish market or other fish stores within the town where you can get all the seafood you desire. You can thus weigh your options and buy at a place that seems more convenient to you.

2. Reside Where You Can Afford

Whenever one relocates to a different area, you may end up paying more for lesser-value products and services if you are not careful. I've experienced this myself. For, instance, you may end up paying Ksh15,000 rent for a sizable two-bedroom, when you would have gotten a three-bedroom house for that same amount.

The best way to deal with this is to know different areas and their rental charges. Therefore, you can decide where you can live comfortably while keeping some cash aside for other needs.

Like every other city, you can rent a house in high-end areas of Mombasa like Nyali, Serena in Shanzu, and Kizingo. Note that there is a high-end Nyali and a low-end one. In such High-end regions, the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment can range between Ksh25,000 to Ksh30,000. You can also get larger homes that cost up to Ksh200,000 in these neighborhoods. The big difference is that apart from the ample space, they also have various amenities such as swimming pools and are gated single homes.

When looking for =lower middle-class neighborhoods, you can settle in areas like Mikindani, Tudor, Miritini, and Ganjoni. For a one-bedroom apartment, you will pay between Ksh10,000 to Ksh18,000 rent. 

If your earnings are minimal, you can get some accommodation in places like Magongo or Likoni. The only disadvantage with such areas is poor sanitation and unreliable power. In most cases, you might have to pay separate charges for electricity, garbage, and water for all these residential areas. As you factor in these costs, you can weigh them based on your income and make the necessary adjustments.

When deciding where to live, you should also consider its proximity to your workplace. If you live in Tudor and work within the city center, you can board a matatu or walk. When you opt to walk one way, you could save between Ksh30 to Ksh40. In a nutshell, whenever possible, you can choose a suitable residential place near your place of work so you can save on transport costs.

3. Limit the Intake of Street Foods/ Eating Out

The 30 bob or 50 bob you spend daily to buy some street food can add up to Ksh900 to Ksh. 1,500 in a month which is a significant amount - or even much more spending on frequency.

If you decide to eat out, you could spend between Ksh100 to Ksh300 depending on your food selection in a regular kibanda. If you were to eat in a middle tier restaurant, you could spend from Ksh500 to upwards of  Ksh1,000.

Instead of spending these amounts on buying cooked food, why not use YouTube cooking tutorials to make your Swahili dishes. At first, they might not be as sweet as the purchased ones, but the more you practice, you will master the art such that you will no longer crave street foods.

4. Limit Your Entertainment to Places You Can Afford

During Easter and Christmas holidays, tourism activities are usually at their peak in the coastal town. Sometimes you might also desire to give yourself a treat of a tourism experience. While it may be a once-in-a-while venture, it could mess up your financial status if not careful.

You might notice that the charges at different places are slightly higher during these periods. You can thus take advantage of the regular times to visit these tourist attraction sites. You can also explore other entertainment alternatives like free entry places or venues with relatively low charges. You can explore places like:

  • Mama Ngina's Drive (it has no entry fee, but you may incur charges depending on the activities you select). Here, there are activities like Horse and camel riding
  • Nyali Beach for some swimming and sand bathing
  • You can visit the Gedi Ruins for a nature trail at about Ksh500
  • Pirates Beach is another exciting place to visit. Apart from the beach activities, you can ride camels, buy beach paraphernalia and artifact decorations, among other things
  • Haller Park is a beautiful place where you can find a game sanctuary, reptile park, fish farm, and crocodile pens. You will part with Ksh500 as an adult and Ksh200 for children.

5. Utilize Existing Investment Opportunities

An increasing number of expatriates seek residential places within this coastal city. The degree of land appreciation is quite encouraging and reveals openings for more development within the real estate industry. 

There's an excellent opportunity for one to invest in rental or homes for sale in areas like Diani, Nyali, and Shanzu areas as these are some of the places that will meet most expatriates' needs.

If you are an agricultural enthusiast, you can invest in this sector with excellent opportunities. There are agricultural lands in areas surrounding the city, such as Kilifi, Mtwapa, Kikambala, and Kwale. Apart from food crops, you can venture into poultry farming too. With such investments, you can find significant boosts for your finances.


Understanding your environment and the costs you are likely to incur is critical when seeking practical ways to improve your finances. Once you know where you spend most of your money and where you can put part of it as an investment plan, you can find ways to set up your finances to meet your dream lifestyle

The coastal town of Mombasa is such an exciting place to reside in, considering all its potential. Hopefully, the steps given above will help you strike a balance that will help you live a financially sound life.

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Ian Job is an articulate writer with over four years of experience in SEO writing, digital marketing and screenwriting. Away from writing, he's probably producing an indie movie if you don't find him mentoring upcoming content writers. You can connect with him on Medium.

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