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Modern day explorers pursuing adventure in the name of housing

By Ferdinand Mwongela | July 30th 2015

NAIROBI: What drives people to build or buy in certain places? You may ask. The latest Kenya Bankers Association Housing Price Index pointed to apartments as the fastest-moving units.

Like many other housing indices, it is — quite, heavily — skewed towards Nairobi and its environs. But Mombasa, Kisumu (Milimani), Nakuru and Eldoret make an appearance.

That is not the point though. I was attracted to a section that sought to look at what drives these price changes and preference for houses in certain areas. Location is key, of course, and amenities too.

But away from a lot of all these is the simple consideration for many - affordability. Which would be a quick way of explaining the thousands who are building on black cotton soil in the middle of nowhere with no rumour of sewerage services, piped water or electricity poles anywhere near them.

And before you shoot me, these people are not in the minority. If you live in Nairobi, just take a walk to the outskirts that are today teeming with land agents. Look out for the house you see standing in the plains like a lone sentry.

If you live in any other area we are probably talking about you. You are the chap who can eloquently explain the workings of a septic tank and the value of carrying two pairs of shoes to work. You might know that a bypass will be built in the area, or you might just be winging it.

These are the modern-day explorers we are talking about. The people who walked into an area when all that could be seen was an odd antelope and set up roots. Then waited for civilisation to catch up with them.

These are the people who know what basic infrastructure is, because they would killed to have it.

Not all of us are these explorers though. Some little piece of land I have, lying so far away I have to get a guide to show me where it is, is still waiting for a few such people to open the area up.

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