15 Things Kenyans Miss Most While Living Abroad

You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. That saying takes a whole new meaning when one decides to search for greener pastures abroad; the little things that we take for granted seem to mean so much more when we’re far away from home.

As ironic as it sounds, sometimes we have to live away from home to appreciate it more. We talked to a few Kenyans living in the Diaspora and they shared with us a few things that they miss back home.

Succulent Fruits and Vegetables

NAIROBI, KENYA- FEBRUARY 6, 2014: Ripe fruits stacked at a local

Fresh, succulent vegetables that your mother had to force you to eat back home, seem so mouth-watering when you think about how bland the food you eat tastes.  The accessibility of buying fresh fruits from vendors and markets close by or random farmers with pickups parked by the roadside selling fruits and vegetables at ridiculously cheap prices. The tantalizing taste of fresh mangoes oozing down your throat, or tasty Farmer’s Choice sausages that have you salivating just thinking about them.

Slow Pace Life

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Afrcia.

Living abroad is very fast-paced. Time is a luxury that you can’t afford to waste, when you have to juggle a few jobs to make ends meet. Not having the time to meet up with friends over the weekend, catch up over a few drinks while watching a game of football. You miss how life is slow back home, when you can pop by your neighbour’s house any time for  a cup of tea, the snooping neighbour who’s always interested in your whereabouts, the sound of children playing outside on a Sunday morning when all you want to do is catch up on some sleep, or hosting visitors on Sunday afternoons.

There is always a ‘Fundi” for everything

Domestic workers are very affordable in Kenya and that is what people who live abroad with their kids cannot afford. Getting a nanny to look after your children can costs you an arm and a leg anywhere abroad, unlike back home when you can afford to have one or two nannies looking after your kids, doing your laundry, cooking and cleaning at an affordable rate. When you have a “fundi” for everything; a carpenter you can call to fix any broken furniture, a tailor to mend or alter clothes that you can part with but don’t want to, a painter when your house needs painting or a gardener when your garden needs to be spruced up, and the beauty of all this, is that you don’t need to be extremely rich to afford them!

Sexy Weather

Mombasa weather

The luxury of not having to deal with tornadoes, hurricanes, storms and snow. The scorching sun that we all love to whine about back home, seems so appealing when you’re bundled up in warm clothes, boots, inhaling the dry air; thanks to the heaters during winter. When you have to endure complaints from your loved ones back home about the weather and all you want to do is gag them and soak up all the sun from them!

Family Love and Fussiness

You don’t get to realize how important family is until you’re on your own in a foreign country. The fussiness that comes with a mother’s love, siblings getting on your last nerves, dealing with aunties and uncles who remind you just how much they did for you when you were young while taking you on a guilt trip, your grandparents worried about how skinny you’ve become. The closeness of having family around you, knowing you can seem them whenever you want, the assurance that family will always check up on you when they don’t see or hear from you after a few days. Raising kids as a community, with the help of your parents and siblings when you need them around.

Getting your braids done

kenya_hair_reuters     Photo Source: BBC

Kenyans living abroad miss making hair appointments at Hair saloons and not having to travel to different states to have your hair braided, especially for the ladies. When you miss the craziness of having three different women, laughing and talking on top of your head while getting braids done in a record 2hrs at the market! How amazingly cheap it is to get hair extensions and braids done on your hair and not having to make appointments when you need an emergency hairstyle done!

The Sweet Aroma of Pilau

Arab rice, Ramadan food in middle east usually served with tando

Do you miss the sweet aroma of Pilau and Tea masala, fresh coriander and Royco to spice up your food? Imagine how overjoyed you get when someone bring these spices from home for you. However, no matter how much spices you take along with you, you will still miss going to the market and being greeted by the smell of fresh spices all around as you inhale the lovely smell all around you.

Kenyan Masala Tea and Coffee

Masala Tea     Photo Source: Wikipedia

Kenyan tea is the best there is, and coffee comes a close second, the deep, rich taste and aroma of nicely brewed Masala tea or coffee. Getting together for tea with friends, or how peculiar tea is served in every home when guests come to visit while bearing milk and bread as gifts for their hosts.

Affordable Housing

Renting or leasing a house back home is quite cheap and you can afford to live on your own without having roommates around to help you cut back on rent and costs, the fact that you have the option to choose the kind of house you want for a cheap price and don’t have to pay half a year’s rent in advance!

Kenyan vibes at party scenes

Mombasa Nightlife

The nightlife back home, the dancing, the music, the ambience that comes with  Friday nights when people are ready to let loose and party the weekend away, you even miss the Kenyan habit of buying boiled eggs, fries or sausages early in the wee hours of the morning as you leave the club!

A Taste of cold Tusker Beer with Nyama Choma

Nyama CHoma and Tusker Beer

No matter how tasty barbecue can be, it cannot be compared with the taste of Nyama Choma, that heavenly taste! The moment you come back home, all you want to do is gulp a few bottles of cold Tusker, with some ugali and roasted meat( nyama choma)and savour each and every taste of it!

The scenery

african landscapes

Kenyans love taking a road trip down to Naivasha and enjoying the scenic view of the escarpment, the wildlife at the Mara, camping and going for safaris around the country. What’s there not to miss, the magical Kenya’s captivating beaches and scenic locations, which takes people’s breath away.

Mombasa Beaches


Everyone misses Mombasa, the sunny weather, the beaches, the crazy party scene, the beach parties and the amazing Swahili dishes that Mombasa has to offer among other water-sport activities.

Matutu Rides

matatu rides

I kid you not, but living abroad sometimes you miss the madness that comes with crazy matatu drivers on the road, the pushing and shoving when you go shopping for second hand clothes at the open air markets, having hawkers shove items in your face, basically the things that make you realize that you’re back home.

Peculiar Kenyan Habits

Seeing people standing in front of a news stand examining the newspaper like it’s written in codes, randomly walking on the streets and seeing a Masai herding his cows around the estates, buying roasted maize on the streets, a preacher shouting his lungs off while preaching to idlers intently listening to him at the bus stop, all the unique things that make you nostalgic and miss life back home, after all East or West, home is always best!

What do you miss most when you travel abroad? Share your experience in the comment below:

Our Readers Comments

  1. wohoo. written straight from my heart. I miss seeing school children walking to school in SCHOOL UNIFORM. There is something about it that I miss.

  2. I just miss walking almost everywhere to get what you want, not drive-throughs. What of freedom. There is much more freedom in Kenya than US. You don’t need permit to go fishing or camping. Any open space in Kenyan village is playground for kids who roam all over the place the whole day and come back limping after a tough improvised soccer play. Back home everyone knows everyone. I miss harambees, I miss stopping and chatting with someone for good 30 minutes even though we hadn’t planned to meet. Sitting in that hotel and sipping a cup of tea n chatting with friends face to face (not facebk or whatsap) until cows come back home.

  3. Some true some definitely not

  4. As I read this article, I’m actually torn in between cutting my hair or cutting my hair. I miss my local saloonist!

  5. Ehh… Diasporians from Nairobi will only get 12/ 15 on that one. In Nairobi you will not find:
    1. Slow pace life – 50% of your time will be spent stuck in traffic
    2. Family love and fussiness – Everyone is busy. When you move back even your parents don’t have as much time as you think they do
    3. Affordable housing – Decent housing will cost you big $$!

    • I agree with Nancy:
      – Depending on what you do life is definetely not slow paced here- Traffic is a nightmare..It’s a 6am- 8pm day!
      – “Decent housing” costs!
      – My parents live in Nairobi- at most i see them once every 2-3 weeks.

  6. Spot on..this article is spot on! I miss all these..especially the food, the camaraderie, the weather, the accents, the beauty of everything! I have to het home soonest..thank you for this post and the pictures!!

  7. I just finished work in Patong, Thailand and I cannot tell you how I would love some Ugali, Kachumbari n Nyam chom right now. Topped with Mutura…

  8. Agree, also Cold Fanta & farmers choice sausages.

  9. Nyama choma my first on the list. Exhaustive list and maybe kiosk or mama mboga outside your gate here you drive to buy salt or onion.

  10. Listening or having conversation with the watchmen, the kinyozi or conducors / drivers . Their sense of humour or wild imaginations, I miss.

    • You got me on this one!

  11. Whoever wrote that message it is really true, am in abroad but i cant explain to you how much i miss and love my country (Kenya) and how i will never get satisfied here, i cant wait to come and eat roasted maize and many more i can write a novel if a decide to write them down.Lol

  12. This is so true… imagine, im a mzungu (British) and I miss these things when I go back to the UK for a bit.

  13. So thhey misss ugali n sukuma wiki?

  14. I miss maryjane the right stuff

  15. COAST BEACHES, not just Mombasa beaches, c’mon… What about Kwale? Lamu? Malindi? Kilifi?

    And you forgot to mention: drugs ;)

  16. What’s home….? Is it emotional,or physical,or both..?

  17. That bit about the weather….no extremes! I also crave the roast maize on the streets with the masala and ndimu

  18. I miss Fundis…trully

  19. Insightful. I do realy love my country, its the best.

  20. I totally agree with the tea one just because I have experienced it. I have never lived abroad but I went to visit TZ for a while and I just couldn’t enjoy the tea there we ended up the supermarket buying brookside milk and used a stash of Kenyan tea leaves we had in the name of having home tea :-)

  21. life in the village

  22. So annoying and selective journalism. Only a handful of Kenyans can live this life. I’m convinced that the author of this article is one of the very few upper-class Kenyans turning a blind I for the rights of the “Fundis”. Instead, the author celebrates “affordable prices” for many things – listen, there is a equality in many western countries and that is the reason you can not have “a fundi” for everything, but yes, you must do it yourself. Ah, the roots of the colonial inequality are so much shining in the present stage of Kenya. Sad.

  23. Wololo…Love u Kenya.

  24. I miss Royco, kenyan tea leaves, the taste of meat and everything. food here in canada is so tasteless, it took me a while to get used to it

    • Royco Mchuzi Mix! Miss it too! And Kahawa No. 1! And Ketepa tea! The closest i come to Ketepa is Lipton tea!

  25. TOO ACCURATE! I miss the efficiency of matatus, buses here are too damn slow, I miss fried tilapia, I miss chips and sausage, I miss samosa, I miss having a hairdresser to do my hair and not having to worry about the weather making me bald,

  26. You don’t get to realize how important family is until you’re on your own in a foreign country

  27. I could not have said it any better.I miss everything about Kenya,Family most and then the sweet scenery and the hustle in Nairobi.

  28. And househelps!

  29. Its an absolutely interesting artical “Seeing people standing in front of a news stand examining the newspaper like it’s written in codes, randomly walking on the streets”

  30. Really true,I miss the taste of Royco on my sukumawiki served with wet fry beef and ugali on a hot afternoon.And the night scenes with proper clubbing and good music, Hapa watu wanarukaruka tu. Ati Techno LOL

  31. I’m in South Africa and what I miss most is Kenya sausages *Farmers choice*
    And mutura as well!

  32. I missssssssssssssssss Kenya!

  33. I miss all of them, except the matatu drive…. :)

  34. To be franky am missing ugali soo much with sukuma wiki..here i am now i never seen maize flour almost six yrs now. Am feeling ghhh.

  35. This is how I think all Africans feel.

  36. Very true, I miss having a nanny. I had to ship my kids home b to my mother, where apparently they are happy than being in the United States

  37. O well I miss all those things mentioned above. And also just speaking Kiswahili knowing everyone around me is comfortable with it. That feeling that I am home not a foreigner! The feeling that I don’t have to count days left for my contract to enable me be on my home land. The greenery that we take for granted! The different traditional foods my mum would prepare for us! The hospitality from kenyans! Hey the list is endless. I miss home already!

  38. This rings so true!!!! I miss the househelps, the choma, the relas, and the ease with which you get things fixed.

  39. 100% Kenyan and given a. Second chance I would still be Kenyan

  40. very true.

  41. am in kenya and i can’t imagine life anywhere else ans i will sure start appreciating that guy who sells mutura and fried chicken liver around the corner :)

  42. I remember during my time abroad a friend jet in with blueband and royco. the best gifts ive ever received lol

  43. Walking all over makes many Kenyans live healthy lives.The weather is always user friendly. The ability to talk to all all over town. The house help add value to everyone. The Markets sell more than groceries. The availability of many items, skills, & Jua Kali artists is so Kenyan. I miss it. Mama Msonga nywele becomes a friend for life. The weddings, Harambees, , Mazishi keeps family & friends connected. Kenyatta Market can provide well cooked lunches, tailors etc.

  44. Amazing…I miss the sun, and nyama choma. I am jealous when people back home complain that July is ‘too cold’ for them; the irony! Oh…and the genuine laughter…the fact that you can go to a friend’s/ relative’s house and behave like it’s your very own…and speaking swahili…I cannot remember the last time i spoke swahili.. :'(. The list is endless

  45. I miss my lovely friends, colleagues, squash team, rift valley, fruit salad, Mara vine and amusing Kenyan Sky… Whatever happens I will never forget this unique country.

  46. When i was living in SA, I missed githeri cooked with royco and simple nyama choma without all those braai spices they use there.

  47. i miss Kenya so much!that article is so real…i mis evrthing about Kenya i cant wait to be back home in soon.Daima mimi mkenya!!!

  48. I miss ugali most and the love of the family.our lovely weather of btwn 15 and 26. Otherwise the article here sums it all.

  49. Soo true I miss the fruits and vegetables most of all, Nyam chom with Ugali, Mukimo kachumbali etc….. super endless list.
    God bless Kenya, God bless The entire Kenyan family which we all are.

  50. I miss strong family ties and respect for the family kids and all ….I do not mean money…Family to me is everything.The fundis I will do with one.

  51. Great article. If I may add something else- I miss those garages/mechanics on the road who fix (or pretend to know how to fix) all sorts of cars at competitive rates. The only place you’d find a Mercedes car, an old Datsun and a local matatu all parked within the compound being repaired by some dudes with oil smeared all over them (not in a sexy way). And the mama Uji or Githeri/boiled maize (yum) walking and carrying her supply of food on her head, day in day out, feeding the hard-working artisans. Ah, I’m so homesick!!

  52. My dear east , west ,north or south home sweet home , just remember home politics , culture , game parks , socialization , nyamchom & pork joints wooooooooouuuuuuuuh i really miss those funny friends

  53. if you have not lived in anislamic state then you dont know how sweet it is to watch half naked ladies walking down the streets.

    • Nice one.

  54. That you don’t to call to see if your relatives will be home, you just go and you are more than welcome.

    • Family and childhood friends, Krest, FC sausage, choir and drama festival at KICC, and hopes to make it to state house as champs, blueband, pears, sundowners on the radio (is it still there?), sitting under a tree, oh so so many.

    • True

  55. Very true,i miss the tantalizing taste of fruits

  56. What I miss most is the fifty bob moviesvand series

  57. I just love my beautiful Kenya,we all know it ain’ perfect but we love it as it is,i get emotional when i see poachers destroying our animals,i love our athletes to death,i miss matusi ya makanga,hooking up with friends anytime,damn!!!am in uk and you all know the weather is always f#%#kd up here

  58. i agree with the writer…i just miss kenya the more when i remember being in a matatu stage and makangas scramble over your laggage :-D

  59. I realy miss ugali .

  60. I am going to Kenya now….okay booked my ticked…..Packing my stuff…..See you soon Kenya

  61. Farmers choice sausages and KCC Butter… nothing like those out there…

  62. Chips served with (farmers choice) sausage. The texture of both being unique peculiarly the same in whatever city.

  63. hahaha i had to lol on Kibet kenn’s reply. you only forgot to say how those makangas sweet talk you with nice names like msupa….. sometimes they shout ”wawili gari ikienda” only to get in the matatu and find it half empty. and those inside are pretending to be passengers, they later shuka the mat wen its almost full!! lol…

  64. Being at the wrong end of an armed robbery and every lovely Kenyan we came across saying sorry. I love them.

  65. I miss the noises of loud music blaring from matatus,neighbors,..loud noises of children playing and definitely ‘isio’ and githeri…bila shaka tusker na nyam-chom!

    • hahaha…..No you are not serious! we have rules that no loud music from houses and no noise from Matatus. Everything changed. NEMA (environment body) will get you in trouble for noise making.

  66. i miss Kenyan weddings esp morning where mamas from both side try to out do each other with songs at the brides home. such drama but with so much fun

  67. The weather; of all cities I been to, Nairobi weather beats them all. I however disagree about matatus, they are one hell of a nuisance!

  68. ”I miss going to church” am currently in somaliland where u cant find even single church

  69. I miss passion fruit, mboga ya kienyeji (kunde, managu, saget, pumpkin leaves etc), brown ugali, roast corn, mabuyu and queen cake :-)

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  71. I miss kuzushiwa na mathe after kukam home late.lol

  72. Well, I am a Mzungu married to a lovely Kenyan, and have only been to Kenya 2 x’s, but it feels like home, and I have to say reading this made me nostalgic. Nairobi bustle, Eldoret hustle, Mombasa relaxation…how I wish to be there now…

  73. I cant believe you forgot farmers choice sausages.

  74. It seems you people haven’t been home recently. Things changed. The friends you left back home may not have fun time with you unless very few. Jobs are more demanding. Life is abit more expensive and we have to pay bills. Matatus are no longer fun and personal cars are a necessity so like everyone drives to work or to the Market so you can imagine the traffic jam in all cities and towns. Importing a car is so easy everyone is doing it. It is terrible terrible thanks to our developed roads. House rent is much higher and food expensive. It will not be so easy when you come back. You come prepared to hustle. But KCC butter yes yes excellent, Farmers choice sausages perfect. Night life not what it used to be. The clubs are abit new and there is that scare of staying long at night. By the way people don’t dance to the same music any more…Ragga and Reggae and damn! isn’t it boring. Then the clubs we used to dance in kina Club sounds, zeep etc etc are no more. We have some other new ones the likes of Brew bistro where you can hardly breath. There is also Alcohol blow so you cannot drink more than 3 beers of 5% alcohol content and drive. There are hours to buy alcohol even in the Stores. It is totally a whole new life where your friends become strangers. Well, it is fun though.

  75. What i miss most till 2 date, is latedate with Jeff mwangemi sundowner, ooh such sweet memories, chipoo nazo sausages, whatelse

  76. Hunting for plots over the weekend….and hussling with the brokers to bring down the price and their brokerage commissions! Some plots…Ngai Baba,….were so deep interior you had to chase away hyenas, zebras, giraffes, widebeests and other strange looking creatures on your way there! And the broker still had the guts to insist the value of the plot will double in a few months!

  77. Hey you forgot Blackouts and Chokoraz. We miss em a lot too.

  78. I miss ugali. I’m crying as I type this, ha ha. Ok, laughing but in pain. I cut my hair first because the nearest salon that specialises in afro hair is an hour’s drive from here plus I can’t afford their $200 minimum charges. I miss talking in Swahili. I have only met one Swahili speaking person so far. I miss the vibrancy of the Kenyan churches. I miss coffee dates with friends. I miss white maize, Kenyan tea leaves. Most of all I miss the freedom that using mathrees gives someone. I live in a place where there’s no public transport. I miss the weather.

  79. I’m not Kenyan, I’m from Barcelona, but as I fell in love with Kenya, I can agree almost completely with this great article. Now I miss Kenya even more!!! Nakutamani sana Kenya

  80. I miss everything on this list apart from the Matatu rides

  81. The clicking of the tongue and similar sounds that every Kenyan understands, and abroad people get confused. Also retelling stories (funny!) in a strong Kenyan accent (mostly I enjoyed listening)!

  82. This is so true…I truly miss everything about Kenya.The sausages,ugali n sukuma,nyala choma..I miss having time for myself…I actually am cutting my hair.wow
    Kenya is amazing

  83. Then there is the option of moving back to Kenya! especially if you dont like the U.S!

  84. I miss mabuyu and mango achari, chewda! Miss seeing little kids wave enthusiastically at people who pass by, passion fruit juice, REAL choma that’s not slathered in bbq sauce! The beautiful scenery, the jacaranda and bougainvillea in bloom!! Sigh….I miss Kenya!

  85. I agree with Rosy. Life had changed drastically. Most often than not people are too busy to meet up. You only see family at a wedding or funeral. People don’t walk around, they use their personal cars cause they’re scared of using matatus. Clubbing has become expensive and the joints that people left have been either closed or they’re not cool anymore. But every time I travel outside of Kenya, I do miss my homeland.

  86. yeees my advice to any ladies planning to come abroad…. stalk up on the braids!!! also eat as many fruits as you can. the other day at walmart an avocado was 1.97 dollars smh

  87. I miss the dust aki… And speaking in Sheng’. English spoken over long periods of time is painful to the mouth.

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