When Agatha Tumusiime came to Nairobi in 2003 as a consultant, she felt it was the ideal place to bring up her children.??
However, after living in Lang’ata for just a short time, the urban and regional planner was disappointed.
“I hardly got to interact with my neighbours and the streets leading to my home were always? dirty. My husband was mugged twice in three months, and that’s when we realised that we needed to move to a better neighbourhood,” she says.
They moved to Nanyuki, where they have been living for nearly 15 years.?
She describes Nanyuki as a “very livable” neighbourhood. “We have quality schools around here and the crime rate is low,” she says.
In addition, Nanyuki has afforded her more connections with the community, ample green space and better recreational facilities than she would have got if she had continued living in Nairobi.
“Cities, though exciting, can also cause a considerable amount of stress,” she sighs.
“When you are buying a home, it is important to remember that? you are not just securing a place to live. You are also buying into becoming part of a community,” says the urban and regional planner.
First, a good neighbourhood should be easily accessible by public transport.
It should allow the residents to leave their vehicles at home once in a while when going? to school or work.
It should have well-maintained roads to accommodate cars, but it should also make it possible to live easily without one.
“I will soon retire, and I am now at an age where it is critical for me to exercise. So I enjoy jogging in the morning and whenever I go shopping, I prefer to walk instead of taking my car,” she says, emphasizing that a good neighbourhood should be “walkable”. Jogging and cycling tracks, street lights and reliable security are all factors that make one feel more intimate with their neighbourhood.
IF YOU PLAN TO RAISE A FAMILY...
If you plan to raise a family, go for a neighbourhood where there are? other families since? this will give your children a chance to play and socialise with other people, leading to stronger intra-community bonds, she suggests,
?“Most of the children in my estate go to the same school, and we, parents, usually take turns to drive them to, and pick them up, from? school,” she offers.
A neighbourhood that is close to a police station is? ideal. It is also important to ask around about the crime rates in an area before you buy property.
A low crime rate gives you a sense of calm and reduces your anxiety, she says.
Another factor to consider is access to medical care, especially if you have little children and the elderly in your family. Getting to a medical facility that operates 24 hours? can be the key to saving your life and the lives of your family members.
There is also proximity to a shopping centre, restaurants and entertainment facilities. In this regard Mrs Tumusiime notes: “Contrary to what most Kenyans think, Nanyuki is not a sleepy town. We have an active night life her, with vibrant bars and clubs that allow my husband and I to get our weekly dose of entertainment without having to travel far away.”
Easy access to outdoor activities such as tennis and basketball courts, football pitches, swimming pools and a golf course also go a long way in increasing a neighbourhood’s appeal.
A neat and tidy neighbourhood proves that the residents take considerable pride in being part of the community. In such cases, neighbours often come together to initiate clean-up programmes and strive to keep their personal properties attractive and tidy.
“Whenever I receive visitors from out of town, I take immense pleasure in showing them around the neighbourhood,” Mrs Tumsiime says.