After surviving the hustle and bustle of the city for years, many retirees prefer to settle down in the quiet countryside.
But the coastal region, with its alluring beachfront and ideal weather, is probably one of the most fancied retirement and holiday destinations.
And holiday homes are mushrooming on the Kenyan coast with no shortage of takers.
On Kilifi’s Vipingo area, barely two kilometres off the Mombasa-Malindi Highway, Pazuri is slowly taking shape. Pazuri at Vipingo is a masterplan gated community that, once completed, will have 378 standalone houses, every one of them offering a pristine view of the ocean just across.
So far, 38 units of the first phase have been completed, with 20 of them ready for occupancy. Already, some families have settled in. By November, all 38 will be ready to accommodate people, and then phase two will have commenced.
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Edwin Were Okal, the project manager, says the open-rooftop design was chosen for, among other reasons, its ability to allow excellent views of the ocean.
“The design of this land is sloping towards the western gate. Each is able to get an ocean view. They have been arranged in such a design that every occupant is able to see the ocean,” he says.
Okal says the flat roof is an aesthetically appealing design, a departure from traditional pitched roofing. The concrete roof also reduces the amount of heat getting into the house.
“Flat roofs can also be used as a sitting area,” he says, insisting that this kind of roof is, in a number of ways, more advantageous in this coastal setting compared to the pitched roof.
But it is a little more expensive “because of the concrete and the steel used”, he says, with the pitched roof “10 to 15 per cent cheaper”. The maintenance costs, however, are lower, with pitched roofs needing regular attention, such as treatment of timber used in trusses and rafters.
The houses at Pazuri, a development of Superior homes, are themed beige and soft white. Mr Okal says that this is for simplicity and camouflage.
The houses here have a ceiling height of three metres, which is more than the usual 2.5 metres, to allow for a bigger area for air circulation and keep the interior of the house relatively cooler, Mr Okal says.
Superior Homes have also employed the use of solar water heating systems and aim to put up a wind plant as an alternative for the provision of energy. Clients are also being urged to install solar panels for backup.
The houses, built on 105 acres of land, will have a clubhouse and swimming pool by the end of the year. 45 plots in the land are offered for people who want to build their houses themselves, albeit under observance of regulations such as building houses that are not more than two floors in height and completing construction within a stipulated time, says Clive Ndege, the head of sales at Superior Homes.
Pazuri is being dualled, and being near to the airstrip at Vipingo Ridge (five minutes away from the development), makes the developers believe that it is an ideal location for customers.
People working in Kilifi and Mombasa have bought into the idea as well as those working out of the coastal region but coming here for their holidays.
“People are increasingly buying into holiday homes because about 80 per cent of costs in holidays are spent on accommodation. If you can cut that out by acquiring your own holiday home, then you will have a lot of weight off your shoulders,” Ndege says.
True to this, he says that about 60 per cent of those who have bought units here are using them as holiday homes, renting them out when they are away to secure an additional income.
The rest are retired or working in the coastal region.
“Many people are moving from being renters to owning their own houses. As long as you have an increasing population and people turning from being low-income earners to middle-income earners, you will have more construction happening,” says Ndege.
“The construction costs have gone high but the magnitude of construction has also gone high.”
The project started in 2019, then took a halt after the Covid-19 pandemic came in, before continuing in December 2020. The site is now a beehive of activity. There are two and three-bedroom bungalows, three-bedroom maisonettes and four-bedroom villas.
Two-bedroom bungalows cost Sh14.48 million, three-bedroom bungalows cost 16.98 million, three-bedroom maisonettes cost Sh18.98 million and the four-bedroom villas set one back Sh20.9 million. Plots cost between Sh5 million and Sh8.5 million.
“Most buyers are typical families with mainly two, three children, which is why the best-selling units have been the three-bedroom and four-bedroom houses,” Ndege says.
“Retirees and single people who have just started off are going into the two-bedroom bungalows, mostly,” he says. Most of the customers prefer to pay in instalments, while a few prefer to pay cash upfront. The rest go for mortgages.
Mr Ndege says more people are moving away from Mombasa and Nyali and northwards towards Kilifi, which increases the customer base of the developers in the area.
For nights, bed and breakfast, customers pay Sh15,000 for the two-bedroom bungalows and Sh20,000 for the same in the peak season.
A short-term renting agreement is also available with a payment of Sh75,000 a month for the same bungalow. For the three-bedroom one, an off-peak night (bed and breakfast) costs Sh25,000 and Sh5,000 more in the peak season.
A short-term rental agreement costs Sh85,000.
After years of toil and the need to retire, or months of hard work and the need for a holiday, Kenyans want a scenic urban setting to rest - watching the sun setting.
Coastal developers have discovered this as have buyers, and the business is now in high gear.