Cost of Living in Kigali

If you’re moving to Kigali, you need to figure out the cost of living. Kigali is a pretty affordable place to live compared to other cities around the world, and even around East Africa (like Nairobi and Arusha). However, things can get quite expensive when you’re new to town. Between highly inflated tourist prices and trying to maintain a lifestyle similar to back home, your budget can get pretty high.

But I’m here to help. This guide to the cost of living in Kigali is based on my experience since moving to Rwanda in 2018, friends, and the helpful community in the Living in Kigali Facebook group.

Let’s start with a quick overview of average monthly expenses.

Average Monthly Expenses

The monthly expenses listed here belong to a person who:

  1. Lives alone in a two-bedroom house
  2. Cooks on most days and eats out three or four times a week
  3. Doesn’t drive and uses public motorbike taxis to get around 

Even if this sounds different from what you’re looking for, you can still use it for a rough idea of what it would cost you to live in Kigali.

ExpenseRWFUSD
Rent450,000$450
Bills, utilities, subscriptions70,000$64.64
Groceries140,000$129.28
Eating out208,000$192
Insurance*250,000$230.86
Transport**84,000$77.57
Laundry and cleaning20,000$18.47
Leisure and entertainment50,000$46.17
Gym membership35,000$35
Visas***54,150$50

* This is the cost of an in-patient only package by a private insurance provider in Kigali.

** Motorbikes are the most common means of transport for many expats and quite convenient, so the budget only includes the cost of motorbike use. Check out our guide to transport in Kigali for more information on moving around in Kigali

*** Since visa fees tend to vary, I’ve used the 30-day tourist visa costs. You can find more information about different visas on the guide to visas in Rwanda.

With that done, let’s get deeper into the specifics, beginning with finding a place to live.

Housing

Renting a house in Kigali is quite affordable if you’re coming from Europe or the US. And if you would love to live in a house with its own compound, perhaps even a garden, then you’re in luck, because these kinds of houses are even more affordable than apartments. The few apartments in Rwanda tend to cost much more, because they attract expats working in Kigali, who often pay higher rent prices.

If you’re also willing to explore areas unpopular with expats, like Kimironko or Nyamirambo, then you can get even lower-priced houses. 

That said, here’s a quick breakdown of what it would cost you to rent a house in Rwanda. Check out our guide to renting in Kigali for a deeper dive into the housing market, and some tips on what to look out for.

Type of HomeRWFUSD
Room in Shared Apartment or House250,000+$250+
1 Bedroom Unfurnished Apartment200,000$200
1 Bedroom Furnished Apartment270,000+$270+
2 Bedroom Apartment300,000+$300+
3 Bedroom House with Garden (furnished)800,000+$800+

Bills, Utilities, Household Expenses

Your monthly household expenses are most likely going to vary depending on your preferences and family size. But, here’s a rough idea of what it would cost you. 

ExpenseRWFUSD
Electricity20,000$18.47
Water15,000$13.85
Unlimited WiFi*25,000$23
Data, Calls, SMS Package**10,000$9.23
Laundry and Cleaning40,000$37+

* Based on Canal Box (an internet service provider in Rwanda) basic monthly package.

** 10GB, 2200 Min, 200 SMS from MTN.

General Living Expenses

You’ll find that vegetables in Kigali are pretty affordable, especially those local to Rwanda, like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and bananas. But because Rwanda imports many food items, a lot of groceries are quite expensive. Apples and mangoes, for instance, will cost you double the price you’d find them in neighbouring Kenya. Similarly, dry foods like cereal, snacks, pasta, and spices will also be much higher priced than what you’d find in your home country. 

Other general living expenses are pretty much dependent on your lifestyle. You’ll notice that a haircut costs 10,000 Rwf on our list, but you’ll also find places that charge 5,000 Rwf. Costs would be even lower (about 3,000 to 4,000) for you if you have kinky hair native to Africans, as you’ll find a lot more people with the skill to work on such hair. 

ExpenseRWFUSD
Groceries140,000+$130+
Taxis and Transport70,000$64.64
Motorbike Transport56,000$52
Gym Membership35,000$32.32
Data, Calls, SMS Package10,000$9.23
Women’s Hairstyling*20,000$18.47
Men’s Haircut10,000$9.23

*Based on my hairstyling cost as a Kenyan woman (black) including hair extensions and braiding costs. Cutting women’s hair also costs the same.

Activities, Events, And Sightseeing

ExpenseRWFUSD
Museum Entrance*6,000$5.54
Massage22,000$20
Concert30,000$27.70
Dance Classes10,000$9.23
Yoga Classes8,000$7.39
Cinema Tickets4,000$3.69
Picnic in Private Gardens**4,000$3.69

* Kandt House Museum Rates. Some places like Kigali Genocide Memorial are free to the public, taking donations so you can donate what you’d like to. Learn more about museums in Rwanda.

** Based on entrance fees to a popular hangout location, Fazenda Sengha.

Food & Drink

If you prefer to eat out most days of the week, then a sizable chunk of your monthly budget will go to food and drink. Restaurants and cafes in Kigali can get quite expensive. And if you come from a place where fast food is super affordable, then you might be surprised by the cost of fast food in Kigali. Pizzas cost about $8 (8,000 Rwf), with similarly high prices for other fast food dishes.

Apart from fast food restaurants, Rwanda’s food scene features local Rwandan restaurants that will often have a limited menu. You may get a serving of rice, some beans or beef, and some veggies, perhaps a salad of carrots and onions, all for about 3,000 Rwf a plate. You also have mid-range restaurants with a larger menu and the higher-end restaurants whose prices could go as high as $50 for a meal (three course).

Here is a more detailed breakdown of what it would cost you to eat out, or perhaps even buy a bottle of wine to take with you to a party:

ExpenseRWFUSD
Eating Out (per month)*208,000$192.07
Meal at a local Rwandan restaurant3,000$2.77
Meal at a mid-range international restaurant15,000$13.85
Cup of nice coffee2,500$2.31
Bottle of wine (mid range)15,000$13.85
Cocktail8,000$7.39
Bottle of beer1,500$1.39

*This total is the same one used in the very first list of average monthly expenses. It’s what you’d spend if you ate out 3 or four times a week in a mid-range restaurant, with the occasional beer.

Coworking Costs

Kigali has some pretty neat coworking spaces for those days when you need a change in scenery. Some spaces also come with gyms, like Waka Global, where you’ll get access to the fully equipped gyms on top of the coworking spaces.

We’ve created a list of the best coworking spaces in Kigali in case you’d like to look around and see what’s on offer. Otherwise, here’s how much coworking spaces cost on average.

Type Of MembershipRWFUSD
1 Month Full Time150,000$138.51
1 Month Part Time100,000$92.34
Day Pass8,000$7.39+

Travel

There are some absolutely beautiful destinations in Rwanda outside of Kigali. You can choose to go on safari, or lounge by a lake, or even immerse yourself in a Rwandan cultural experience. But to do any of these things, you need to first get an idea of how much it would cost you to travel. So here’s a list of things that you would add to your travel budget as you seek the adventure that Rwanda has to offer.

Rwanda Travel ExpensesRWFUSD
Bed in hostel dorm (per night)11,000$10+
Budget hotel room incl. Breakfast (per night)38,000$35+
Mid-range Hotel room incl. Breakfast (per night)75,000$70+
Budget 3-day safari488,000$450
Mid-range 3-day safari1,300,000$1200
3 Day Gorilla Trekking3,900,000$3600
One way flight to Nairobi282,000$260
Motorbike Rental per day22,000$20
Car rental per day35,000+$32+
Car rental with driver per day76,000+$70+

Medical & Healthcare

If you’re not employed in Rwanda, or under a school, then getting personal health insurance cover is crucial. The medical costs for general issues like the occasional cold or cuts and bruises are affordable enough to pay out of pocket. So some expats prefer to only take in-patient insurance covers.

It can get quite expensive if you have to stay at the hospital overnight or for a couple of nights, and require several tests. So definitely invest at the very least in in-patient cover. 

Have a look at average costs for walk-in doctors’ visits, as well as in-patient insurance. 

Health ExpensesRWFUSD
Consultation fees15,000+$14
Dentist Visit10,000+$10
Health Insurance250,000+$230+

International Schools

Kigali has multiple international schools offering Belgian, Montessori, American, and British curricula. The costs of each of these schools varies, but here’s a range of school fees costs per year for kids of different ages/grades:

Grade LevelsAnnual Tuition Fees
Kindergarten$350 – $12,700
Elementary Grades 1-5$400- $17,500
Middle School Grades 6-8$400 – $18,200
High School Grades 9-12$400 – $20,400

There’s more that goes into choosing a school than the school fees alone. And so, to help you learn some more about each school and what it offers, we have a guide to international schools in Kigali. Discover what’s on offer before you come and personally scope out the schools to find the perfect place for your little ones.

Bottom Line

The cost of living in Kigali can be quite high, especially if you don’t know what to expect. But this guide is the perfect place to start from. Now you can negotiate costs like the best of us when they try to give you the ‘visitor rates.’

I hope this guide gives you all the information you need on the cost of living in Kigali as you plan or contemplate your move. In case there’s anything you’d like to add or inquire about, do leave a comment.

About the Author

Related Posts

16 thoughts on “Cost of Living in Kigali”

  1. if you’re that much bored, and don’t know where to get cheap things, just ask me. got some interresting place to recommend.

  2. i am an african who lives in switzerland . i planned to visit rwand esecially kigali . I heard that it is quite peace but goods and items are more expensive . How can i enjoy my stay in kigali with cheaper price ? can some one recommend me the places that i should go and enjoy in kigali ? thanks

    1. Hey Abraham,

      Yep Kigali is very safe but it can also be expensive for goods if you want imported things. Buying local isn’t too bad, though. If you’re a good bargainer, buying food at markets will save you.

      If you want to eat out but not spend a fortune then local bars are a good place to start. Cheap beer, good food (fish, brochettes, pork, roasted goat) and a relaxed environment. Check out this page for some places we’ve reviewed – https://livinginkigali.com/category/reviews/kigali-local-bars/ – but there are hundreds of them around town.

      Have fun!
      Kirsty

  3. Hi Kirsty,

    I have been offered a teaching job in Kigali starting this August. Please let me know if USD1700 would be sufficient for upkeep. How much of that could I save in a month?

  4. hi! am a tanzanian so destined to visit kigali even for somedays be vacation or jus visiting, i love kigali i love rwanda the place looks green and i like that, maziwa na asali tamuu!!! beautiful ladies woooooohh!!!

  5. You’ll have to update the part about “Due to the lack of bowling alleys, cinemas…” since there is the bowling alley at Mamba Club and the new cinema at KCT. The cinema great!

  6. Hello everyone, I am moving soon right to Kigali and I have a bunch of questions. I am Carolina from Colombia and I’m being offered a job in Kigali with free acomodation and 250$ US per month. Will that be enough? I would like to hear your opinion. Thank you all!!

  7. Hi there. I will be doing an internship for three months. Can anyone tell me what my budget should look like? I already found a room for 400$. How much will I need for food and transport? Are 800$/month enough?

  8. Hi,

    Presently I am working in Malawi. One of my friend who is working in Kigali at the moment was told that the Kigali is a good city and Rwand is a big country in Africa region.
    So, let me know is it easy find the job opportunities in there as a foreign employee?

  9. You’re welcome to Kigali ,The life is not expensive in Kigali ,House for rent are there for low price ,organic tropical and Mediterranean foods are abundants ,western foods are available for more details contact me as guide :mukizaphelin @gmail.com,linkedln,faceebok, or 250784485665 Thks

  10. Am a Nigerian doing my business in Uganda I planed moving to Rwanda please I need an advice i want to deal on smart phones but I don’t know how the market is any advice on any kind of good business will help please and is it possible to get accommodation of 100$ per month

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *