On the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kiambu County, several posh looking high rise buildings rise up above the old styled shops and scattered low density houses built years back around the shopping centre.
The red and white â€˜To Letâ€™ signs, sway in the wind hoping to attract tenant. Up along Limuru road, still in Ruaka, another five-storey apartment bears an attractive vacant sign.
The sign reads: â€˜Spacious one and two-bedroomed apartments, DSTV, CCTV and electric fence.â€Â In less than a month, the house will be ready for aspiring occupants.
The skyline of Ruaka, once a small rural centre better known for its security challenges seems to be changing more rapidly than adjacent satellite towns.Â On both sides of the road, there is a new apartment block – either under construction or taking in new tenants.
The finishing is impeccable and one to-die-for, at least as each development goes up. But, this final look comes at a cost, the more magnificent the finishing; the deeper you need to dig into your pocket.
Job Ngugi, General Manager Fotcom Consult Ltd, a real estate management firm is among realtors leading the movement. Ngugi fondly recalls the first time he set his foot in Ruaka four years ago in search of land.
â€œWe are real estate managers, but we also deal in sale of land and development,â€ he says. â€œWe visit every location where land is available for sale and that was how we got to Ruaka.â€
Fotcom initially invested in three acres of land, subdivided it and sold. However, he says, at the time, purchasing and reselling land in Ruaka was not a booming business. Many people preferred to invest in the construction of rental units. Fotcom, however, got 90 per cent return from the sale, 10 per cent less what they had anticipated.
They went ahead to develop a 47-unit apartment on a half-acre plot by the road just after Rosslyn. They are currently adding up more units to maximise use of the space.
Fotcom is now among the growing number of developers, changing the face of Ruaka, by offering Kenyans well-built, accessible and affordable units. The residential rents in Ruaka range from Sh18,000 to Sh25,000 for a two-bedroomed apartment.
Most of the houses in the area are studio apartments and spacious one and two-bedroomed apartments. Three-bedroomed apartments are mostly for sale. The cost per apartment is in the range of Sh7.8 million to Sh12million depending on the location, finish and materials used. This is Sh3million-Sh7million more than the cost three years ago.
According to Ngugi, most of Nairobiâ€™s working population is showing interest in Ruaka because of convenience, serenity and improved security.
â€œRuaka has the potential for rental units because of the upper market neighbourhoods.Â The area also currently enjoys ample security owing to the surrounding posh estates,- which was not always the case before the modern apartments came up,â€ said Ngugi.
Ruaka borders Rosslyn awnd Runda estates. Itâ€™s also a just few minutes away from the Village market. It has good transport network system connecting it to the City Center via Limuru Road, Thika using the Muthaiga route or the newly constructed by-pass and Limuru town.
It is the next real estate frontier in Kiambu County and is. It is not only attracting discerning investors but young cosmopolitan professionals from the neighbouring UN agencies are among the growing number of home seekers looking for houses in the area.Â Then there is the ease of shopping at malls such as the village market next door.
With this kind of tenants behind the guarded gates, the message here is that Ruaka is no longer a rural shopping centre with major security issues, but a cosmopolitan discerning community.