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Surviving on low salary: How to survive on a Ksh 20,000 salary in Nairobi

Not as hard

Before you get a well-paying job, you have to begin somewhere – at least in most cases.

Usually, you might start with a low paying job as the company evaluates your competence or with an internship.

With most graduate trainee programs and government internships paying around 25,000, surviving in Nairobi is not as hard. However, you will have to be very disciplined with your money.

Let’s just say you get a net income of Ksh 20,000, do you think you can manage it? Well, if you are wise enough, you will not only manage the money but also save some more to start a side hustle.

ALSO READ: 7 mistakes people make in their 20s

How is that? Let’s see.



The first rule is that you should never live beyond your means. So, get a house in one of those estates where life is quite affordable like Kawangware, Kangemi, Uthiru, Mwiki, Githurai, Pangani, or Kenyatta Market. Ensure the estate is not so far away from your place of work though.

In these estates, you can get a good house either a single or bedsitter that is not above 6,000. Water and electricity bills can hardly go above 1,000. So far, you got 13, 000 remaining.


Remember we said that you should look for a house not so far away from work to reduce the cost of transport. At least live in a place where you don’t spend more than 250 on fare. Spending a maximum of 250 every day for fare, you will end up using 5,000 for the whole month assuming you don’t work on weekends. So far so good. You still got 8,000 left.

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ALSO READ: 6 struggles of being a jobless Nairobian



If you are living alone, 3,000 is enough to buy food for the whole month and refill your gas. Make enough food for both dinner and lunch. Carrying packed lunch is way cheaper compared to buying food since you can hardly find a good meal below 150 shillings.

Other expenses

Let’s say you needed a new shoe, have your hair done or send your parents some money. From the 5000 remaining, use 2, 000 for such uses or any emergency.


With a 20, 000 monthly salary, you have no excuse for not saving. After all the above expenses, you are still left with Ksh 3,000. Put it in your fixed savings account until it’s enough to invest in a side hustle.

With such a budget, you will have saved 36,000 by the end of the year and even if they don’t extend your contract, you will not be miserable.


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