Situated west of Machakos County, south of Nairobi City and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, also known as JKIA, lies Syokimau, a satellite town, which in recent times has experienced a population influx resulting into numerous developments which have earned it residential area status. Syokimau also doubles up as a commercial center.
History of Syokimau
Syokimau town, derives its name from the legendary Kamba prophetess cum medicine woman known as Syokimau. Sykoimau rose into fame for prophesying the coming of the white man and the construction of the railway line running from Mombasa to Kisumu. In regard to this, she prophesied seeing a long snake, whose head was in the Indian Ocean and tail in Lake Victoria. Her prophecies eventually came to pass in the 20th century when the Kenya-Uganda Railway was constructed and the white man finally coming to Kenya.
In her remarkable prophecy, Syokimau prophesied that she could see people of a different colour emanating from “Kisuani”, which is now the modern day port of Mombasa, carrying fire in their pockets, which was later understood to be matchboxes and firearms.
Administratively, most of Syokimau falls within Syokimau/Mlolongo ward in Mavoko Constituency of Machakos County.
Syokimau town continues to be known as one of the fastest growing satellite towns in Kenya with more people choosing to live there with their families due to its affordability. Another factor that keeps it ever growing is its proximity to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Africa.
Transport systems in Syokimau
There are two main modes of transport in syokimau. Namely:
Being home to the Nairobi RailwayTerminus, syokimau has lots to pride itself for. Nairobi Terminus is a railway station situated on the renowned Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, also known as SGR by locals.
Two passenger trains leave the station every day; an inter-county train that stops at all stations and an express train that goes directly to Mombasa Railway Terminus. The Nairobi Terminus station was built next to the existing Syokimau station, which allows passengers to transfer from standard gauge trains to meter gauge trains to get to the Nairobi city center.
And as the railway transport services in Kenya continue to expand due to the introduction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network, popularly known as The Madaraka Express train Syokimau has been given a platform to expand due to the exposure involved.
Thus, if you are commuting from Nairobi to Syokimau, it is now easier to get around thanks to the commuter train in Syokimau which offers services in the morning and evening helping you avoid the Mombasa road traffic. In addition, you will avoid the fare hikes in experienced in matatus especially dueing peak hours and pay a standard rate. If you happen to be traveling in any of the locations before you get to Mombasa, you can leave your car at the train station. All you will be required to pay is parking fees and there being guards, adequate security is guaranteed to for vehicle.
Besides rail, you can also get to Syokimau by the use of road transport, which is by far popular as compared to its predecessor. Being 19.9 kilometers from the Central business district Nairobi, it is quite easy to commute to and fro on a daily basis. During your daily commute, you may opt to use a matatu, bus or taxi to get to Syokimau. If you opt for the former, you are likely to spend 58 minutes to get there, while the later will only take you 30 minutes at most, depending on whether you will encounter traffic on your way there.
In case you are wondering which matatus or buses ply that route, and where to find them, worry no more. Route 110 buses situated at bus station or railways will take you there at a rate of 70 Kenyan shillings during off-peak hours which range between 10 am and 3 pm, and a rate of 100 Kenyan shilling during peak hours which are between 6 am to 10 pm.
Schools in Syokimau
Syokimau is a lovely place to call home, especially if you have children or you intend on staring a family. When it comes to availability of quality schools, Syokimau never runs short. It features myriad schools of repute which are close to the residence; hence your child not getting stuck in traffic while commuting to and from school which is a plus.
Whether you are looking for Montessori schools in Syokimau or international schools, there are various schools to select. Schools that you can make a choice from in Syokimau based on your child’s needs as well as how hefty your pocket is include;
- Syokimau Blessed Assurance Academy
- The Daniel School
- Almasi School,
- St. Francis of Assisi Mlolongo,
- Zuwena International School
- Acacia Plains Academy,
- Mt. Sinai Primary School,
- Viraj International Academy;
- Day Star University,
- Epren College of Professional Studies,
- African Center for Research and Technology,
- Tourism Institute of Kenya; among many others. You will literally be spoilt for choice.
Hospitals in Syokimau
Being outside of Nairobi, it is very easy to panic when a medical emergency comes up especially if your locality offers no access to medical facilities. But worry not. Syokimau offers the whole package, saving you the trip to Nairobi to get the medical assistance you need. There are a number of medical facilities in Syokimau which offer quality and specialized medical care and they include:
- Syokimau Health Center
- Aga Khan University Medical Center,
- Vantage Health Care,
- Baspen Syokimau Cottage Hospital; and
- Ecopharm Health Services
Places to visit in syokimau
Despite being a small upcoming majorly residential and commercial town, Syokimau too has its attraction points which are a must visit whenever you are in the area. These places include:
As the name suggests, The African Heritage House is full of African culture and art from all over the continent. This place is tranquil, breath-taking, and serene filled with amazing decor. It offers an experience that leaves you feeling educated, inspired, and eager to tell more friends to visit. Not to forget that they offer a wide array of scrumptious cuisine which will leave you licking your fingers as you relish the taste.
Go Clubbing With Your Friends
Do you love the nightlife? If you do, you will love going out in Syokimau and spending time with your friends in these clubs: Lounge 254 at the Gateway Mall, Club Xenon, and the locals pubs in the area.
Visit the SGR train station and Take a Train Ride
If you have never taken the train before, this is your opportunity to do so and see Nairobi in a different light. A train ride costs approximately Kshs 50 which departs Syokimau to Nairobi at 6.55 am and 9.05 am and leaves Nairobi to Syokimau at 8.05 am, 5.55pm and 7.55pm.
The beautiful scenic environment when it comes to wildlife and terrain is one that sets us apart from other parts of the continent. And with the SGR running in the middle of the Nairobi National Park means that you get to see a vast array of wildlife such as buffaloes, giraffes, elephants, hyenas, cheetahs, rhinos, leopards and a wide variety of bird species.
Restaurants in Syokimau
As an upcoming satellite town, there are not many restaurants in Syokimau yet since it is still in its developmental stage. However, this should not dampen your spirits since the ones available serve the entire community as well as visitors to Syokimau satisfactorily. Let’s take a look at some of them;
Pot Afrique Restaurant is an African restaurant in Easy Hotel located 5 minutes away from the JKIA which serves African, Indian and Continental cuisine.
Another restaurant situated in the Easy Hotel in Syokimau is the Lulu Terrance Hotel which has a beautiful, and cosy ambience and offers mouth-watering dishes. To go with your food, it also serves amazing views of the surrounding areas like the airport and the Syokimau Train Station.
The Maverick’s Restaurant found at the Gateway Mall is a new restaurant and wine bar that offers different cuisines such as seafood, steaks and much more. They also sell amazing coffee made by their in-house barista. Once you set foot at the Maverick’s Restaurant, your taste buds will want to sample no other kinds of food in the locality.
Situated on the second floor of Gateway Mall is the Secret Ingredients restaurant offering Goan and barbecue foods that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Let’s not forget T. Tot restaurant with the best samosas in town. Ask anyone who has had them before and you will get some really positive reviews of the place located in Mlolongo.
As an upcoming town, Syokimau has outdone itself when it comes to availability of shopping malls. This has made shopping for house supplies, electronics, furniture and all other household goods very convenient. These shopping malls also offer excellent stop-over points whenever you are travelling as they house restaurants and supermarket complexes that you can buy your meals and snacks from. Below are some of the malls situated in Syokimau:
- Gateway Mall
Strategically located close to the Airport is the Gateway Mall which provides an all-in-one shopping experience.
- Signature Mall
Besides Gateway Mall, is the Signature Mall which is beautiful, spacious and quite modern considering where it is situated (outside Nairobi). These malls have banks, ATMs, retail stores, pharmacies, restaurants, supermarkets, entertainment spots for the kids and ample parking spaces.
Housing Market in Syokimau
Of late, Syokimau has experienced a tremendous population influx that has not been experienced before. Lots of people are opting to move away from the city and settling into the outskirts such as Syokimau. Being a prime location, the more people move to Syokimau, the higher the property prices rise mostly due to its strategic position, its proximity to the capital city as well as its potential to grow into a major town and ability to attract investors. Because of this, there has been a boom in commercial and residential property in Syokimau.
Additionally, more companies such as Airtel, KQ, Standard Group, Liquid Telcom among others have their offices along Mombasa Road which has resulted into an increase in demand for both commercial and residential property around the area.
Recent surveys on Property Price trends shows that, Syokimau has so far seen a 4% increase in the rental prices within the past 3 years. Previously, renting in Syokimau was cheap as compared to nowadays. Renting a family home, a three bedroomed apartment to be precise will now cost you between Kshs. 40,000 to 45,000 service charge included per month , unlike before when all you needed to cough up for the same three bedroomed apartment was just Kshs. 25,000.
Renting a one and two bedroomed house currently ranges between Kshs. 15,000 and 28,000. Alternatively, if renting does not interest you, there are plenty of tastefully developed bungalows, penthouses, town houses located in gated communities as well as stand-alone houses with their own compounds if you hold privacy dear, that you can make your purchase from depending on the number of bedrooms that you would prefer you home to have.
Buying a one bedroomed house in Syokimau will cost you Kshs. 4 million while a 4 bedroomed house with a domestic servant’s quarter with cost you a whopping 16 million shillings. While a 2 and 3 bedroomed house will fall in between 8 to 14 million shillings.
When making the choice between renting and owning a house, a lot of factors ought to be taken into consideration.
Renting vs owning a home
So you’re thinking of buying a home, perhaps the very first one? But you wonder whether you might be better off continuing to rent; and you have no idea how to figure out which choice makes more sense for you? Ultimately, the answer is dependent on a number of factors discussed below.
Whether to rent or to buy, the home location is highly influential. It not only affects your disposable income but also your lifestyle and the size of the savings you accumulate over the years. Most times, people buy homes when financially they would be better off renting, because to them, owning a home is a form of an investment and minimizes tax and other deductions on their income. Similarly, people rent all the time for the flexibility and minimal responsibility it offers, even though they would amass a larger net worth over time if they bought a house.
Of the two options, the preference often veers toward ownership. Why? It’s a big business opportunity for everyone; from mortgage lenders to real estate agents to home improvement stores, and so we are bombarded with the message that being a homeowner is the key to happiness and part of most, if not all, of our dreams. Ideally, owning isn’t universally better than renting, nor is renting always simpler than owning. It is a matter that requires decision making, analyzing both the pros and cons of each and figuring out which works best for you.
Here’s what people should take into account when deciding whether to take the leap into homeownership or stick to renting:
The first step when deciding your housing future is to figure out just how much you can comfortably spend. First, calculate how much money you bring in every month from all your different hustles. Next, deduct what you spend on essentials like food, transportation and some emergency cash. The remainder is what you can comfortably use for your housing. A good rule of thumb is to keep the total housing costs, whether renting or owning, at around 28-30% of your gross monthly income. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.
The Financial Impact and Predictability
Financial planners recommend running a simple price-to-rent ratio analysis whereby you divide the home price by the annual rent of a comparable unit. If the ratio is less than 20%, buying/owning would probably be a better bet.
When you rent, you know exactly how much you’re going to spend on housing each month, although on rare occasions, renters could face unpredictable rent increase from time to time. Owning a home is associated with many upfront bills; on one month, you might only pay your mortgage or regular bills, the other month the roof could start leaking, the other month some renovations may come in handy; meaning more additional costs. Its therefore hard to predict the expenditure per month when a home is owned, as opposed to when its rented.
Stability Versus Flexibility
Home ownership brings intangible benefits such as a sense of stability, belonging to a community and pride of ownership. But other factors should be considered as well when making this decision. For instance, how long do you plan to stay in the area? Typically, the longer you plan to stay in a home, the more financial sense it makes to buy. However, for persons with a variety of work stations, home-ownership would not be such a good idea; it would be more practical to rent out as opposed to buying a home. Real estate is the original illiquid asset. You might not be able to sell when you want in case the housing market is down, and even if it’s up, there are significant transaction costs involved in the process. Changing your mind about where you want to live is far more expensive when you own.
Renting, on the other hand, means you can move without penalty each time your lease ends, but it also means you could have to move suddenly if the landlord/lady decides to sell the property, turn your apartment complex into condos or bump up the rent by more than you can afford.
Another bit of misleading conventional wisdom: Get a mortgage to get a tax deduction. True, the home mortgage interest deduction reduces your out-of-pocket expenses for mortgage interest early in your loan term (and the property tax deduction reduces property taxes), as long as you are itemizing. However, tax deductions are not a reason to buy a house. Here’s why; for every Ksh1 you spend in interest, you might save Ksh25 on your tax bill. You’re not coming out ahead. What’s more, as you pay down your mortgage and the proportion of your payment that covers interest decreases, so will the tax break.
Renters, in contrast, get no mortgage tax deduction at all. But they can take the standard deduction that’s available to all taxpayers.
Buying a home involves serious financial considerations. Most people think in terms of mortgage loans, but there are other payment options as opposed to mortgage that may favour the buyer’s financial situation of other. Understanding the basic principles that come therein or the various payment options, before making the discussion would be apposite.
Builders have provided four payment plan options- Down-Payment Plan (DPP), Construction-Linked Plan (CLP), Flexi-Payment Plan (FLP) and Time-Linked Payment Plan (TLPP). Here is a brief description of each payment option:
Traditional down payment plans require you pay 10%-15% of the purchase price when you book your property/home, another 80%-90% within a given time-frame, say 45-60 days and the rest, at the time of possession. This remaining amount will include the balance amount of the cost of property and all charges levied by different authorities including Stamp Duty and Registration Fee, around 5% of the value of the property and maintenance charges e.g garbage collection and security charges. Risks involved in such cases include delay in construction and delivery of property that happens in most cases, actual delivered property differing from what was shown in the sample and increase in property prices by the time the house is officially yours. All these problems discourage buyers from buying property
Construction-linked plans require you paying a booking amount—around 10%-12% of the purchase price upfront while the rest is linked to construction milestones, 20% with each floor constructed, for example.
Flexi payment option, on the other hand, is a combination of both the above options, where the buyer has to pay about one-third of the price while booking and another one-third linked to milestones, while the remaining amount would be paid at the time of possession.
In comparison to one another, the construction-linked payment plan is more suitable than the other two since the risk is the least, if the payment is not timed and completely linked to construction completed. From the loan aspect however, construction linked loans are more expensive of the two, since that have a longer tenure; only interest payment is due till the property is under construction, principal repayment starts after possession.
Time linked-repayment plans: Repayment of these loans has to be made at a pre-decided point in time and in pre-decided proportion and are therefore riskier in terms of combating delay of construction. In case you pay 10% of the total amount at the time of booking and the rest at regular intervals of say, one year each, in three equal installments, your payments are not in tandem with the construction of the property. And according to the agreement, in case you fail to pay on time you are saddled with huge penalties that you accepted to pay it the time of signing the agreement.
The final decision of whether to buy or rent a house/home is ultimately upon you; and the above pointers will play a role in advising on the decision. All in all, whatever option you choose, ensure your finances and comfortability are in check.
Which option is best for you is not just about the money; it’s also about comfort and your vision for your life. Ignore people who tell you that owning always makes more sense in the long run, that renting is throwing away money, or that it makes more sense to buy if your monthly mortgage payment would be the same or less than your monthly rent payment. The final decision is ultimately upon you; to know what works best for you and adopt it as your homeownership option. I believe the above pointers will aid in the decision-making process.
Owning land in Kenya is now a dream come true. People with families are looking for spacious compounds and an environment where their children can play. If you are looking for such place, then Syokimau is the place to look. It will cost you less to buy a piece of land in Syokimau than the same land in Nairobi. The commuter train at Syokimau Railway Station also makes it easier to move around and avoid the Nairobi traffic; another reason why people prefer staying in Syokimau.