Eye-catching phrases from realtors define the small enclave that is 10 kilometers northwest of the Nairobi Central Business District, which has experienced a meteoric rise from bush to mini concrete jungle in a short duration of time: Ruaka is a ‘fast-growing, upper-market neighborhood’ that attracts discerning investors from far and wide and is home to the largest mall in Kenya and the entire East Africa region, the renowned Two Rivers Mall which we will be talk about in greater detail as we proceed.
And no, this is not a mere marketing gimmick.
Bounding it to the east and south is Gigiri, home to the United Nations Headquarters in Kenya. Ruaka also borders high-prized estates such as Runda and is part of the Greater Nairobi Metropolitan Conurbation.
Ruaka has become one of the fastest growing satellite towns in Kenya with different property types coming up in a place that was once filled with leafy vegetation and bare land. And being approximately 20 minutes away from the city center, Ruaka is the perfect place to get away from the congestion in Nairobi.
Ruaka is accessible via Limuru Road and the Northern Bypass. Once the proposed Western Bypass is completed, it will also link Ruaka to the Nairobi – Nakuru Highway at Gitaru. Not only will this give maximum exposure to Ruaka, but also serve to expand it even moreas it will open doors to more investors.
Brief History of Ruaka
Six to Eight years ago, Ruaka was a prime agricultural area used mainly for farming and livestock grazing. There were no major roads connecting the surrounding counties (Nairobi and Kiambu). Ruaka was sparsely populated, with no real estate activity in the area.
On the downside, the new estates are currently erected on formerly fertile soils where coffee and other food crops used to grow for decades, thus posing a threat on food security.
Environmentally, Ruaka also serves as a water catchment area for the city. Unfortunately, the rapid urbanisation of Ruaka and nearby areas is gradually having a negative effect on Nairobi rivers, some of which have their catchment areas in the region. To alleviate the detriments caused by the rapid developments which we know are here to say, it would be wise of the county government to plan on how to mitigate the effects, as many locals have caved in and sold the land, where dozens of apartments now stand.
How to get to ruaka
To get to Ruaka, from the Nairobi CBD, you will take route number 106 that goes to Ruaka and its environs such as the UN, Two Rivers Mall and the Village Market. You can board these matatus at Khoja stage or at Odeon Cinema stage. In the alternative depending on where you are, you can also take route number 125/126 buses located at Railways station bus stop.
During peak hours, it will cost you around eighty to a hundred Kenya shillings (Kshs.80-100/-) to get to Ruaka, and fifty shillings (Kshs.50/-) during off peak hours. Peak hours start from 6 am to 10 am and 4pm to 9pm, while off peak hours start from 11am to 3 pm and 9pm to 12 am.
Since Ruaka is just a stone throw away from the city save for when there’s traffic, it will only take you approximately 30 minutes to get there by matatu and 15 minutes if you opt to take a cab or if you decide to drive yourself there.
There has been a construction boom in Ruaka town with a growing demand for residential property. As a result, it has become easier to move in and out of Ruaka thanks to the government improving the road network and constructing the Bypass.
Ruaka attracts young professionals and expatriates working in multinationals in the area. Because of the distance to Nairobi, beautiful landscape, cool climate, and close proximity to different social amenities like restaurants, retail stores, and more, the growth in Ruaka is impetus.
Property Prices in Ruaka
Investment firms have for the umpteenth time reiterated the “unique” investment opportunities in Ruaka in reports and publications. Key among our findings is the property appreciation in Ruaka that makes established city suburbs such as Karen trail.
Land in Ruaka is currently priced at about Sh89.7 million per acre, and this is relatively high compared to other satellite towns such as Ngong, Utawala and Ruiru, whose prices per acre are Sh13.8 million, Sh12.8 million and Sh20.6 million, respectively,” said the report.
The growing demand for land and housing in such satellite towns together with the construction of the Western Bypass will continue to drive investments in Ruaka. While some are taken aback by the apparent meteoric rise in Ruaka’s property prices, land and planning experts say this is not unexpected.
In addition, there are few development controls here unlike suburbs like Karen where one cannot subdivide land beyond a particular acreage or build high-rise apartments. In Ruaka, developers get more units on a small piece of land, thus getting better returns on investments. The more units you can erect on a given piece of land the better for an investor.
Developers are therefore taking advantage of this growth by constructing multiple apartments to cater to the high demand which has seen a rise in the property prices in the area.
Ruaka’s growth has come about due to various factors such as:
- Presence of recreational facilities such as Two Rivers Malls, Village Market, Riviera Mall, the Tribe Hotel and Trademark Hotel.
- Improved infrastructure with the Northern ByPass linking to Kiambu Road connecting to other neighbourhoods such as Westlands, Runda, Waiyaki Way and Limuru.
- Enhanced security from the presence of international organizations like the American Embassy, the United Nations and Hope Worldwide.
- Cheaper available land compared to the neighbouring suburbs such as Runda. Many locals are willing to sell their land to investors.
- Availability of unused bare land behind the properties along the main road which creates an opportunity for developers and agents to supply more properties to meet the ever-growing demand.
Ruaka Property Performance
80% of the demand in rental property comes from Ruaka with most property seekers looking for bedsitters, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. The average rates are shown below.
Between 2015 to 2017, prices were on a steady uphill trend mainly due to increased demand and limited supply. This was also because of the inflation rate in 2017 which was at 8%, the highest it had been since 2012.
In late 2017 and early 2019, there was a fluctuation in prices from the increase in bedsitters and 2 bedroom apartments. The high demand in these areas caught the attention of agents and developers which made them come up with fairer prices to meet the needs of the property seekers.
The political instability in 2017 and part of 2018 caused a drop in property prices in most parts of the country but we are seeing a change in pricing in 2019. The inflation rate drop from 8% in 2017 to 6% in 2019 is also another reason why we expect to see different pricing trends in Kenya. The government’s focus on providing affordable housing through the Big 4 Agenda, reduced costs in construction materials have played a major role in the reduced property prices.
The price of a 2 bedroom apartment in Ruaka had initially dropped from Kshs 35,000 in quarter 1 2018 to Kshs 30,000 in quarter 1 2019. In the past 6 months, the price has shot up to Kshs 35,000 from high demand in the area. The same effect is seen with the 3 bedrooms apartment prices going up from Kshs 50,000 to Kshs 55,000 and bedsitters up from Kshs 6,000 to Kshs 8,000.
The price of a 3 bedroom apartment for sale is up from Kshs 10.5M to Kshs 13M between late 2018 to mid-2019 with prices expected to continue rising. We predict this trend will go on for the next year with an 8% increase by 2021.
Supply and Demand Analysis
Ruaka has seen a significant increase in the supply of all property types YoY (year over year) more significantly in apartments and land. In the coming months, we expect an increase in the property types in Ruaka and the surrounding areas.
Further out, in locations such as Banana and Ndenderu which are 3kms away from Ruaka, there is available land which means building more affordable townhouses/houses compared to the ones in surrounding suburbs like Runda which are quite pricey and lock out most people. Affluent people such as expatriates looking for more living space would be the ideal market; however safety, convenience and accessibility is paramount.
Most of the demand in Ruaka comes from young families who want to purchase their first home which in most cases is a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment. This shows from the social amenities within the area e.g. when it comes to schools, Ruaka has kindergartens showing the youthfulness of the demographic that lives here or that which it attracts.
With the shift to micro living, more property seekers prefer smaller affordable rental spaces hence the increased demand for bedsitters, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
The size of the house, property type, and proximity to local amenities, interest rates and inflation rates from the Central Bank of Kenya all affect the property price changes. Based on these factors and our research, these are the expected returns from Ruaka.
With an initial amount of less than Kshs 15M, you can invest in an apartment ideally 2 or 3 bedroom or several bedsitters as they are highly sought after. For amounts greater than Kshs 20M, you can build well-serviced townhouses and huge for investments above Kshs 25M to Kshs 30M, it is wise to invest in Houses.
Apartments have an approximate ROI between Kshs 1.5M and Kshs 4.5M p.a. On the other hand, townhouses priced between 15M and 35M have an expected ROI of Kshs 0.4M and Kshs 5M. The most expensive properties there are houses. Their ROI can scale up to between Kshs 1M and Kshs 10M p.a.
To calculate price change, we tracked the changes in the price of the property relative to the price it had at a reference period in time
NB: Data used in computing price change and volume was sampled to reflect properties in Ruaka between 2015-2019.
If you are looking for a place to call home with an abundance of schools, and fun activities for the kids to participate in, look no further. Ruaka is the most preferred place by many young families who put emphasis on the development and growth of their children. Some of the schools in Ruaka include:
- Bloomsfield School
- Lily of the Valley Junior School,
- Kingsmead Junior Academy,
- Royal Brain School,
- Foresight Junior, among many others.
Hospitals in Ruaka
If you are worried about your healthcare needs being met at ease, you need not worry as Ruaka entails a number of modern health facilities with competent health practitioners hence you need not rush to the city whenever a health emergency comes up. Below are some of the hospital in Ruaka. Take a look:
- Aga Khan University Hospital Ruaka
- Ruaka Healthcare Hospital
- Gertrude’s Ruaka Clinic
- St. Peter and Ann Medical Center Ruaka
- AAR Healthcare Ruaka
Restaurants in Ruaka
Ruaka has something different for everyone when it comes to restaurants, whether you are looking to enjoy an evening with your friends or family, or grab a quick bite.
If you have been to Ruaka before, you know about the nyama choma joints that are located along the Bypass. There is something about the meat they sell here. People who go to Ruaka to either view property to rent or buy frequent this place a lot over the weekend. The meat is sold in open grills by different vendors, which leaves you with plenty of options.
Another one of Ruaka’s famous eating spots is the Pork Pit, opposite Quickmart Supermarket. As a pork lover, you’ll enjoy sampling the variety of meals which are all made from pork. You’ll definitely want to sample the pork burgers, mishkaki, pork mutura, pork sausages, pork dry and wet fry.
At Two Rivers, the restaurant options are endless. Whether you are in the mood for fast food, Chinese or Italian, they’ve got you covered. Some restaurants at Two Rivers include Olpus Steak House, Colosseum Restaurant & Lounge, Aldar Restaurant Lebanese & Oriental cuisine, Nagala’s Chakula, Sabor a`Mexico, Afghan house, Lotos, and Adega Express. Other restaurants include Mister Wok, Teriyaki Japan, Burger King, Btzek Lounge and Artcaffe.
Shopping Malls in Ruaka
With different fashionable shops such as Nike, Woolworths, LC Waikiki, Two Rivers will cater to your entire family. Other places to shop include the Rosslyn Riviera Mall, Quick Mart Supermarket, Tuskys, Carrefour among others.
Besides shopping malls and supermarkets, Ruaka also has open air markets which sell fresh produce, cereals and fruits. As you can see, Ruaka never disappoints.
The following are the main factors boosting real estate in Ruaka;
1. Good Transport Network: Limuru Road, the Northern Bypass and the proposed Western Bypass will enable easy access to Nairobi CBD and other transport nodes such as Waiyaki Way, Kiambu Road, the Eastern Bypass, Thika Road and Mombasa Road,
2. Hotels, Malls and Recreational Facilities: Ruaka boasts of hosting one of the largest mixed–use development in East and Central Africa, Two Rivers’ Mall, opened in February 2017. Other neighbouring recreational facilities include the Rosslyn Riviera Mall, The Village Market, Tribe Hotel, Sahara West, Village Falls Park and Herisquare Lounge, ensuring leisure facilities are in the nearby vicinity,
Ruaka enjoys a certain level of security because it borders the affluent suburbs of Runda, Nyari and Rosslyn. It is also minutes away from the United Nations Complex, and certain embassies like the American Embassy. Those areas have a high-security presence which spills over to Ruaka.
4. International Organisations: The presence of the United Nations Environmental Program in Gigiri (8 minutes away from Ruaka) has attracted foreigners who not only boost the appeal of the town, but also create a market for residential and commercial real estate,
5. Zoning: Due to relaxation of zoning restrictions, the town has seen an increase in high density developments that have resulted to an increase in the value of real estate.
Key attractions in Ruaka
If you are looking for a healthy dose of fun and retail therapy, Ruaka is the place to head out for such. Let’s take a look at some of the key attractions at Ruaka;
Two Rivers Mall
If you are looking for a full day of adventure and fun, the enormous Two Rivers Mall is an excellent destination. Though, be warned, you may need to spend more than a day at the mall to discover everything it offers.
Spread across 65,000 square meters, the mall boasts of an enormous shopping and retail space. It is home to big brands such as Carrefour, LC Wakiki, Hugo Boss and Nike.
Ride the Ferris Wheel
The largest Ferris Wheel in Africa is at the Two Rivers Mall. It offers riders spectacular views of Nairobi and neighboring areas, and is aptly called the ‘Eye of Kenya‘.
Therefore, if you are not afraid of heights, this is the perfect activity to give you an adrenalin rush while giving you a bird’s view of the Nairobi skyline. The Ferris Wheel rotates slowly and constantly to allow people to get on and off without it coming to a stop. With 40 cabins, each sitting 6 people, one ride takes approximately 17 minutes and will cost you Kshs 500 per person.
If you are not afraid to bring out your inner child, you will have the perfect opportunity at Funscapes. It has games for children of all ages. As an indoor mini-park, you don’t have to worry about your kids wandering off or constantly keeping an eye on them to see what they are doing because it is a safe space for the kids.
No need of doing the same things over and over again. Why not try something new and learn how to skate?
Having dinner in most restaurants in Nairobi, all you have is the view of the person you are with and artwork on the walls. However, at Two Rivers it’s a different dining experience. Apart from the lovely food, brighten your evening with the beautiful view of the dancing fountains.
Several hours of shopping and time at the theme park will help work up a healthy appetite. You can choose from the wide range of dining options available here. So, whether you are looking for fast food, or fine dining, you will be pleased with the excellent choice before you. From traditional indigenous cuisines to an international fare, patrons can enjoy it all.
The Swahili words ‘Nyama Choma’ translate as ‘roast meat’. Roasted goat or beef meat is served with ugali and kachumbari salad, and is traditionally eaten with the hands. Ruaka has emerged as one of the best places to get Nyama Choma in Nairobi. Located on the bypass, you will find meat being cooked on open grills and sold by several vendors. Of course, you can also opt to visit a restaurant that offers Nyama Choma.
Red Hill Art Gallery
The Red Hill Art Gallery is set amidst a beautifully verdant garden, and showcases modern and contemporary African art. It has an interesting and eclectic collection of art and sculpture that has been carefully and painstakingly collected by the owners of the gallery over a period of twenty five years.
The gallery proudly hosts exhibitions of works by renowned artists, as well as new talent. You can expect to see breathtaking collage art, narrative painting and much more. The art on display is as unique as the medium used to create them. If you intend to visit the gallery, it would be a good idea to check the exhibition schedule on the gallery’s official website.
The Karura Forest is unique and unusual because of several reasons. The most important of these is that it is an urban forest and only a few minutes’ drive from Ruaka. This is why it is an attractive option on your list of things to do in Ruaka Kenya. There are several pathways and trails you can choose to explore parts of the 1,000 ha forest. In fact you can cover as much as 50 kilometers of the forest on the marked trails. It is a good idea to wear comfortable and sturdy footwear so that you can make the most of your visit to the Karura Forest.
For bird and game watchers, Karura Forest will definitely indulge you as it home to as many as 200 species of birds and wild animals. It lies on the drainage basin of several tributaries of the Nairobi River, including the Rui Ruaka, Getathuru and the Thigirie.
Visitors to the forest will enjoy exploring it and can visit the mau mau caves, the waterfalls and the bamboo forest. After several hours of hiking you may enjoy relaxing by the river café. If you need to take a break from the rigors of urban life, the Karura Forest offers an excellent getaway.
Shopping for traditional and indigenous handicrafts has never been so much fun, as it is at a Masai Market. The location of the market changes every day, and so it would be a good idea to check where it will be set up on the day you intend to visit. Some of the locations for the market include The Village Market in Ruaka and the Westgate Shopping Mall in Westlands.