Pesa, Ganji, Doh

I know, I know. We are not supposed to talk about money. I am going to break this rule today, so SPOILER ALERT: This post ist going to be all about the green. After all, christmas is coming, bringing with it the horrors of planning your gift budget.

Money makes the world go ’round, which is why it’s one of those things that we invented hundreds of words for. The words in the title, for example, are some of the many ways to say ‘money’ in Kenya.

I was quite surprised to learn how expensive Nairobi is. The cost of living is, on average, about 30 percent lower than in Berlin. At the same time, the local purchasing power is almost 80 percent lower. Figuring out that the local standard of living cannot be as high as in Berlin is no rocket science.

The things that are more expensive here are mostly luxury items like gym memberships, imported fruits, a McMenu, beer (about 1.20$ for a 0.33 l bottle at the supermarket! Oh, the humanity!) and water. Wait, what? Yes, the luxurious item that is a 1.5 liter bottle of water is almost thrice the price of what it is in Berlin.

The Kenyan currency is the Kenyan Shilling, its currency symbol is KSh. I have given myself a spending budget (not including rent) of KSh 10,000  a week, which is about 100 US$. With this, I can live quite decently. I can eat out once or twice a week, I can go see a movie, have a few drinks. I don’t live like a queen, but not like a pauper, either.

My biggest budget item, apart from rent and food, is transport. Since the public transportation here is not very good or safe, all of the wazungu I know have an own car or a motorcycle.

The Kenyan per capita GDP is KSh 124,710 (KNBS Economic Survey 2015), which comes down to about 100 US$ a month. As you may remember, this is how much I spend in a week.

I spend over four times as much on food, fun, and transport as the average citizen of a lower middle income country has for everything, including rent, health care, and education.

Sometimes it is good to put things in perspective, and numbers can be a way of doing that. And that is why I wanted to share my thoughts on this hush-hush topic that is money.


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